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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Anais Nin

KMSA ..............
May I ask you to charge your glasses and raise a toast to Anaïs Nin (born Angela Anaïs Juana Antolina Rosa Edelmira Nin y Culmell) who was born on this very day February 21, 1903

She was a Cuban-French author who became famous for her published journals, which span more than 60 years, beginning when she was 11 years old and ending shortly before her death.

They provide a deeply explorative insight into her personal life and relationships. Nin was acquainted, often quite intimately, with a number of prominent authors, artists, psychoanalysts, and other figures, and wrote of them often, especially Otto Rank. Moreover, as a female author describing a primarily masculine constellation of celebrities, Nin's journals have acquired importance as a counterbalancing perspective.

She is also hailed by many critics as one of the finest writers of female erotica. She was one of the first women to explore fully the realm of erotic writing, and certainly the first prominent woman in modern Europe to write erotica. Before her, erotica written by women was rare, with a few notable exceptions, such as the work of Kate Chopin.

According to Volume I of her diaries, 1931-1934, first published in 1966, Nin first came across erotica when she returned to Paris with her mother and two brothers in her late teens. They rented the apartment of an American man who was away for the summer , and Nin came across a number of French paperbacks: "One by one, I read these books, which were completely new to me. I had never read erotic literature in America… They overwhelmed me. I was innocent before I read them, but by the time I had read them all, there was nothing I did not know about sexual exploits… I had my degree in erotic lore."

Faced with a desperate need for money, Nin and Miller began in the 1940s to write erotic narratives for an anonymous "collector" for a dollar a page, somewhat as a joke. Nin considered the characters in her erotica to be extreme caricatures and never intended the work to be published, but changed her mind in the early 1970s and allowed them to be published as Delta of Venus and Little Birds.

Nin was a friend, and in some cases lover, of many leading literary figures, including Henry Miller, Antonin Artaud, Edmund Wilson, Gore Vidal, James Agee, and Lawrence Durrell. Her passionate love affair and friendship with Miller strongly influenced her both as a woman and an author. The rumor that Nin was bisexual was given added circulation by the Philip Kaufman film Henry & June.

Although this rumor is widely believed to be false, Nin's journals leave many questions about her relationship with Henry Miller's wife, June. In her unexpurgated journals, she wrote that she had an incestuous relationship with her father, and refers to experiments with bestiality, and sexual relationships and experiences with women.

In 1973 she received an honorary doctorate from the Philadelphia College of Art. She was elected to the United States National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1974. She died in Los Angeles, California on January 14, 1977; her body was cremated, and her ashes were scattered over Santa Monica Bay.

Which all goes to show; there is gold in them there Moleskines, if you mix in the right circles and keep at it diligently. Failing that, just keep jotting down your thoughts.

I leave you with a few of her bon mots, and say Happy ( what would have been 106th) Birthday Lady Anais of Santa Monica, if the FF's would allow her in.... ....

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

* "This diary is my kief, hashish, and opium pipe. This is my drug and vice."

* "...for no one has ever loved an adventurous woman as they have loved adventurous men."

* "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."

* "I do not want to be the leader. I refuse to be the leader. I want to live darkly and richly in my femaleness. I want a man lying over me, always over me. His will, his pleasure, his desire, his life, his work, his sexuality the touchstone, the command, my pivot. I don’t mind working, holding my ground intellectually, artistically; but as a woman, oh, God, as a woman I want to be dominated. I don’t mind being told to stand on my own feet, not to cling, be all that I am capable of doing, but I am going to be pursued, f**ked, possessed by the will of a male at his time, his bidding."

* "How wrong is it for women to expect the man to build the world she wants, rather than set out to create it herself."

* "Each friend represents a world in us, a world not possibly born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born."

* "I am an excitable person who only understands life lyrically, musically, in whom feelings are much stronger as reason. I am so thirsty for the marvelous that only the marvelous has power over me. Anything I can not transform into something marvelous, I let go. Reality doesn't impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls."

* "Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terror, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them."

* "Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don't know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of withering, of tarnishing."

*"Dreams are necessary to life."

Sir Dayvd ( a simple Knight, ever curious to the wonders of a Lady's mind )
of Oxenfordshire...


  1. good read! I was out of town with my daughters beginning the bridal shower journey with Lady Amy, staying with Lady Lucy in her apartment
    (can you say "adult children"?)

    The bridal shower of course brought up the subject of sex; the girls no longer whisper the word around me...a very strange weekend all around

    and I am probably one of the few blog readers who are familiar with Saturday's person - I particularly like bon mots 6 and 10

    they have been added to my journal

    Lady Suzanne of Greenbriar

  2. Been very busy of late, so I'm catching up on our blog this morning. I was somewhat aware of Lady Nin, but it is obvious she was a woman ahead of her time.

    We will have to honor her with a Feast Day and Honorary membership for her insight, mystery and journaling ability. As for the sex, well "dreams are necessary to life".

    Sir Hook a Knight of Nin of Warrick