Thursday, July 3, 2008

Anais Nin

I have once again become entranced by the writer, Anais Nin. (anna-eese). She lived from 1903-1977. She was a woman ahead of her time, most notably for her sexual exploration and expression at a time when women weren't publically showing interest in sexuality. But above all she was a writer. (She did write erotica, but only to make some money at a time when she needed it badly.) She wrote novels and a study of D.H. Lawrence, but in the end her diaries brought her attention as a writer. She filled so many journals that eventually she had to store them all in a bank vault. (see photo) While in New York City my daughter took me to Strand - a two-story book store of old and new books. I purchased one of her diaries and read it, and now I am delving into her other writings. She wrote the kind of books that you want to underline because there are so many beautiful passages. The diaries are edited, but there are also unexpurgated copies. Either way they are a little disconnected and confusing as reading anyone's diary would be - but fascinating just the same. I think I mentioned that a main character in my new novel is named Anais, and I've become extremely fond of the name itself.

Anais Nin is of French and Spanish parents, but raised mostly in the US. She was one of those writers who lived in Paris, lived in New York, lived in LA - that always intrigues me - how writers and artists could just pick up and move thousands of miles away for the sake of their work. It somehow appears that it was easier in the earlier part of the twentieth century. A Parisian writer would get up one day, pack up her pen and journal, hop on a ship, land in New York, walk down the street, find a small apartment and start writing again. So easy!

Here are a few Anais quotes:

There were always in me, two women at least, one woman desperate and bewildered, who felt she was drowning and another who would leap into a scene as upon a stage, conceal her true emotions because they were weaknesses, helplessness, despair, and present to the world only a smile, an eagerness, curiosity, enthusiasm, interest.

There is not one big cosmic meaning for all, there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person.

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.

The dream was always running ahead of me. To catch it, to live for a moment in unison with it, that was the miracle.


Kathiesbirds said...

I have never heard of this writer but I like the quotes you published, especialy the first one about 2 women living inside. I didn't put it in those words but I wrote about something similar when I was a teen, only I was much more violent. I use to want to be able to take one self and have it beat the other one until it behaved! I think I've made peace with myself since then, but it's interesting to see someone else felt that divided.

For The People said...


Mary said...

Anais Nin is a new author to me. I really like the quotes and have added her diaries to my "Want to Read" list. Thanks for sharing.

SOUL: said...

she sounds interesting.. i may look for one of her books.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

I haven't read her in a long time. I think the book I read was called A Spy in the House of Love. I don't remember much about it.

Thanks for bringing her to our attention.