Anais Nin (1903-1977)

“French-born American novelist and diarist. Although she had written over a dozen books, Nin was not widely known until the publication of The Diary of Anais Nin 1931-1966 (7 vols. 1966-80). A record of avant-garde life in Paris and New York, with portraits of friends like Henry Miller and Lawrence Durrell, the diaries essentially chronicle a woman’s coming to terms with her identity as a woman. They served as the source of much of Nin’s fiction, which shows the influences of surrealism and psychoanalysis. Her first novel, House of Incest (1936), is a prose poem dealing with psychological torment. The second, Winter of Artifice (1939), examines a daughter’s relationship to her father. The series Cities of the Interior includes Ladders to Fire (1946), Children of the Albatross (1947), The Four-Chambered Heart (1950), A Spy in the House of Love (1954), and Solar Barque (1958). Both in her fiction and her diaries, a dreamlike, sensuous prose expands personal concerns to a universal level. Nin’s essays on literary theory include Realism and Reality (1946) and The Novel of the Future (1968). The Delta of Venus (1977) and Little Birds (1979) are books of erotica she wrote in the 1940s.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

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