The writer and diarist Anaïs Nin was born on February 21, 1903 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, a suburb of Paris, in France. She moved to the United States in 1914 with her mother, opera singer Rosa Culmell and her two brothers, Thorvald and Joaquin. Her father was Joaquin Nin, a Spanish pianist and composer, who abandoned the family after leaving his family at various intervals in his career to tour Europe and Cuba, when Nin was eleven. Shortly afterward, on the boat Monserrat, Nin began her childhood diary, "Linotte", written as an extended letter to her papa.
Anaïs Nin wrote about her desire to be come an artist from the first moment she put pen to paper in her epic literary journals. She described her love of books, stories, artists, musicians, fine music and good food. Admist her parent's fin-de-siecle bohemian friends, she grew accustomed to being surrounded by the sounds of late night laughter from her parents dinner parties heard from the downstairs parlor before the two were separated. Anaïs was a model for her father's early photographs at this time and used to steal into his study when he was away and read all his books voraciously. She was always looking for a connection between herself and her aloof father. Reading words his eyes had moved over, touching the leather and the paper his elegant pianist finger's had touched made her feel tiny and strange and temporarily less alone. She was seriously ill as a child and nearly died twice from various internal organ afflictions. If not for a kind Belgian couple and the care of three Belgian nurses, Anaïs Nin might never have made the impact on literature and the feminist movement that she did later on in life, from her work spanning her Diaries written in the the tumultuous 30's to her eventual critical success in the socially aware 60s and 70s.
In New York, Anaïs loved writing in her diary, dreaming, philosophizing, and recording her thoughts and reflections as she grew into a beautiful young woman with grand dreams and a host of insecurities. She had an active imagination and preferred rainy days of reading curled up with a wonderful book or her diary at the little windowsill seat - and she loved to dance and had a connection to nature heavily influenced by poets like Byron, Blake and the New England Transcendentalists. Her Catholic faith wavered in and out due to philosophical doubts about the meaning of life and suffering, caused by her anguish over her beloved war torn France and the deep rift felt inside her since being uprooted.
After living in New York for nine years, at twenty Anaïs married Hugh Guiler (later known as engravist and filmmaker of "Bells of Atlantis" and "Jazz of lights" Ian Hugo), a banker in the twenties and thirties, and moved back to Paris with him. Nin began writing short stories (later published as Waste of Timelessness) with publication in mind, but felt torn between her duties as a conservative banker's wife and her desire for artistic expression. Nevertheless, it was around this time that Nin published her first work, D. H. Lawrence: An Unprofessional Study (1932), which was well-received.
Then she met self proclaimed gangster-poet 'Henry Miller'(I), a struggling Brooklyn writer in Paris, through her lawyer. Miller and especially his wife, the mythic June Mansfield Miller, enchanted Anaïs by their 'hard' bohemian living and their associations with the crème de la crème of Paris' underbelly (including actor and creator of theatre de cruelte, Antonin Artaud).
She became deeply influenced by writers like Lawrence, Proust, and in particular Djuna Barnes' novel Nightwood. Nin channeled her evolving psycho-sexual impressions of the vicious circle/love triangle between her, Henry and June into the surrealistic prose-poem House of Incest and in her Diaries. She also worked along her compatriots on a dollar a page erotica, later the poetic, emotive bestselling Delta of Venus and Little Birds.
In the mid-to-late 1930s, Nin, Miller, Lawrence Durell and other writers in the Villa Seurat circle who experienced difficulty finding publishers founded Siana Editions (Anais spelled backwards!) to publish their own works. Nin in particular could find no one to publish House of Incest (1936) or Winter of Artifice. In 1939 these books were well-received in Europe. However, when Anaïs eventually moved back to New York City in 1939 with her husband, she found American publishers and the average reading public closed off to her work. Miller achieved critical and commercial success decades before Nin, despite her initial efforts to edit, support and publish him along with her own work. After several years of trying to place her works with American publishers, Nin bought a second-hand printing press with a loan from Bookseller and founder of New York's famed Gotham Book Mart and with the help of Anaïs' latest paramour, Peruvian political activist Gonzalo More, she began to typeset and print her own books. Nin's work eventually caught the attention of critic Edmund Wilson, who praised her writing and helped her on the road to obtaining an American publisher.
It was Nin's Diary, however, that brought her the greatest success and critical acceptance that she was to receive. Nin never intended the two hundred manuscript volumes for publication, and many, including Miller, Rank, Alfred Perles, Durrel and Allendy, tried to convince Anaïs that her obsessive diary writing was destroying her chance at writing the great American novel. However Nin decided she had to "go her own way, the woman's way" and continue her lifelong odyssey of self exploration and reflection through the Diaries. To reconcile fiction and fact Nin eventually began rewriting diary entries into her fiction and vice versa, protecting those who wanted to maintain their privacy (usually lovers) while still writing in her preferred medium.
Nin was involved in the some of the most interesting literary and artistic movements of the 20th century including the outskirts of Paris' 1920's Lost Generation, the psychoanalytic and surrealist movements of the 30s and 40s, the Beat movement of the 50s in Greenwich Village, the avant garde crowd in 60s California and the women's movement of the 70's. She maintained relationships (and kept two bi-coastal "husbands" in the later part of her life) with many vital artists and writers over her lifespan and was in great demand as a lecturer at universities across the United States until she died of cancer in 1977.
Two Other Biographical Takes on Anaïs Nin
from the Gale Group & the Info Lit Database
“Anaïs Nin was born in Paris, France, in 1903, and moved to the United States in 1914 with her mother and two brothers. Her father was Joaquin Nin, a Spanish pianist and composer, abandoned the family when Nin was eleven. Shortly afterward, Nin began her diary, written as an extended letter to her father. In Europe, Nin's family was included in wealthy artistic circles because of her parents' musical careers. However, in New York City--for which Nin held a lifeling disdain--Nin and her family lived a comparatively poor life, and Nin helped support the family as a part-time model. At sixteen she dropped out of school after a teacher told her she had a stilted writing style. After dropping out of school, Nin educated herself by reading alphabetically through books in the public library.
At twenty she married Hugh Guiler, a banker, and moved back to Paris with him. Nin began writing with publication in mind, but felt torn between her duties as a conservative banker's wife and her desire for artistic expression. Nevertheless, it was around this time that Nin published her first work, D. H. Lawrence: An Unprofessional Study (1932), which was well-recieved. Around this time, she met Henry Miller, then a struggling writer in Paris, through her lawyer. Miller and his wife June associated with members of Paris' underworld of prostitutes, thieves and drug addicts. Once introduced to this world, Nin felt her own life even more stifling. To resolve her inner conflicts she entered therapy with the prominent Parisian psychoanalyst Rene Allendy and, later, with Otto Rank. Eventually, Nin studied under Rank, working in his practice in New York City. In her writing, Nin combined her knowledge of psychoanalysis with vivid depictions of the love triangle she entered with Henry and June Miller, creating her own highly acclaimed style of psychologically incisive erotica. Nin heavily edited her diaries before publication and, at her husband's request, removed all references to him. Nonetheless, the two remained legally married until her death.
In the mid-to-late 1930s, Nin, Miller, and other writers in the Villa Seurat circle who experienced difficulty finding publishers founded Siana Editions (Anais spelled backwards!-Rebecca) to publish their own works. Nin in particular could find no one to publish her extended prose poem, House of Incest (1936). House of Incest and Nin's next book, Winter of Artifice (1939), were well-received in Europe. However, when Nin moved back to New York City in 1939 with her husband, she found American publishers even less receptive to her work than those in Europe initially were. Many publishers found Nin's open exploration of female sexuality scandolous and decadent. After several years of trying to place her works with American publishers, Nin bought a second-hand printing press and began to typeset and print her own books. Nin's work eventually caught the attention of critic Edmund Wilson, who praised her writing and helped Nin find an American publisher.
It was Nin's Diary, however, that brought her the greatest success and critical acceptance. Nin never intended the two hundred manuscript volumes for publication, and many, including Miller, Rank, and Allendy, discouraged her obsessive diary writing. Others in her circle eventually persuaded her to publish the work, which is considered her magnum opus. Following publication of the multi-volume Diary of Anais Nin, the author became a controversial figure in the feminist movement. She was at once praised for her unflinching examination of the female psyche and vilified as someone who upheld archaic feminine stereotypes. Nevertheless, Nin remained in great demand as a lecturer at universities across the United States until she died of cancer in 1977.”
“Most critics assess the seven published volumes of Nin's Diary as a story delineating the birth of Nin as an artist and the development of her feminine artistic temperment. Nin's diaries relate incidents in the present tense, featuring real people who appear as carefully rendered characters in fuly realized settings. The diaries share many concerns expressed in Nin's fiction and are divided according to themes such as the life of the creative individual, the effectiveness of psychoanalysis, the relation between the inner and outer worlds, and the nature of sexuality. The volumes include photographs, conversations presented in dialouge form, and letters from Nin's personal correspondance, completing the impression of a thoughtfully orchestrated work of art rather than a spontaneous outpouring of emotions.
Nin's first published work, House of Incest, is often considered a prose poem due to its intensely resonant narrative. Emphasizing psychological states rather than surface reality, House achieves a dream-like quality. Winter of Artifice contains three long stories, the first of which, "Djuna", concerns a love tiranlge that closely resembles the relationship Nin had with Henry and June MIller. Under a Glass Bell (1944), another collection of short stories, contains, "Birth". one of Nin's most celebrated pieces. In this story, a woman undergoes an excruciating labor, bearing a stillborn child in an expeirence that symbolically frees her of her past.
This Hunger...(1945), Nin's next collection of short fiction, extends her exploration of the female unconscious in psychoanalytic terms. Cities of the Interior, which Nin described as a "continuous novel," is often considered her most ambitious and critically successful project. Between 1946 and 1961, Nin published the work in four parts: Ladders to Fire, Children of the Albatross, The Four-Chambered Heart, and Seduction of the Minotaur. Each of the four installments follows a female character through her journey to self-discovery.
Much of Nin's noteriety is a result of the short erotic pieces she wrote for a patron while living in Paris in the 1940's. Collected in Delta of Venus (1977) and Little Birds (1979), these works have garnered much commentary regarding their status of literature.”
Critical Reception of Anais Nin
“Nin gained wide acceptance among artists and writers when she first began publishing, largely because of the surrealist elements in her work. But publishers and critics were divided over the "decency" of her writing, which often contained psycho-sexual material. Feminist critics since the 1960s have also questioned the relevance of Nin's work to the women's rights movement and whether it represents support of the movement. On the issue of whether feminine nature is essential (in-born) or material (learned behavior), Nin believed the former. However, some critics point out that Nin's diaries were so heavily edited that they seem contrived. Nin's erotica--labeled by some as outright pornography--earned greater regard in the 1990s/ Nin also gained a wider reputation as a brilliant recorder of the mind as a female artist in the twentieth century.”
SOURCE: COPYRIGHT 2001 GALE GROUP Information Integrity
(a now defunct library information database - All Rights Reserved)
“On a ship bound for New York from Barcelona in 1914, eleven-year-old Anais Nin began writing the journal that would gradually evolve into the most acclaimed work of her literary career, a journal that Henry Miller, writing in the Criterion, predicted would someday "take its place beside the revelations of St. Augustine, Petronius, Abelard, Rousseau, Proust, and others." Aboard the ship with young Anais were her two brothers, Thorvald and Joaquin, and her mother, Rosa Culmell Nin, a classical singer of Danish and French descent. Absent was Anais's father, Joaquin Nin. A respected Spanish composer and pianist, he was, Rosa told her children, on an extended concert tour and would join them in New York City later. In fact, Joaquin had deserted his wife and three children forever. Suspecting the truth, Anais began her diary as an extended letter to her father, one intended to coax him back to his family. For the first ten years of her life Anais moved in some of Europe's most glittering circles. Her parents were from aristocratic families, and their musical careers enabled them to associate with the finest artists of their day. While Anais enjoyed this cosmopolitan life, she was also shaken by her parents' private battles at home--violent arguments that stemmed from Joaquin's endless infidelities.
When he finally deserted Rosa, she decided it would be best to take their children as far away from him as possible. Although Anais had feared her harsh, critical father, she also idealized him and suffered keenly from his absence. Trained only as a musician, Rosa Nin managed to support her children by taking in boarders and giving singing lessons in New York. The family led a life that was poor and drab compared to the one they had left behind in Europe. Anais was isolated by her limited knowledge of English as well as by her deep sadness over the changes in her life. She turned to her journal for companionship and escape.
"I hate New York," she confided in its pages at the age of eleven. "I find it too big, too superficial, everything goes too fast. It is just hell."
Although filled with a strong desire for learning, Anais did poorly in school, preferring to educate herself by reading alphabetically through the books in the public library. When a teacher criticized her writing style as stilted, the sixteen-year-old dropped out of public school permanently.
She remarked to her diary, "I leave . . . with the greatest pleasure in the world, the pleasure that a prisoner feels on leaving his prison after a sentence of a thousand years."
When not studying in the library, Anais helped to support her family by working as a model for artists, illustrators, and fashion designers.
Nin married Hugh Guiler, a banker, when she was twenty. Not long after their marriage, Guiler was transferred to a bank in Paris. Nin had been writing regularly in her journal since 1914, but it wasn't until her return to Paris as an adult that she began to work seriously at writing for publication. As she struggled with her early fiction, she began to feel a powerful inner conflict between "her desire to be a woman--as she saw it, one who gives, is involved in relationships--and an artist--one who takes, is unfaithful and abandons loved ones (like her concert pianist father)," noted New York Times Book Review contributor Sharon Spencer.
Nin felt unable to follow her artistic inclinations while also carrying out her duties as a banker's wife. Guiler's work kept the couple in conservative circles, and Nin, who craved the company of artists, found herself stifled by long hours spent in social intercourse with bank employees. But although she was beginning to "acknowledge disappointment with her marriage to the banker . . . Hugh Guiler," explained Spencer, Nin maintained a "madly romantic ideal of married love with remarkable tenacity." In spite of her personal difficulties, Nin managed at this time to publish her first book, a commentary on D. H. Lawrence. Nin had been strongly influenced by Lawrence's style and "shared with him belief in the value of the subconscious, myth, progression, and the recognition of the physical," stated Benjamin Franklin V in the Dictionary of Literary Biography.
While Nin's book D. H. Lawrence: An Unprofessional Study is still recognized as a sensitive and original discussion of the English novelist's work, its greatest importance was probably the change it helped bring about in Nin's private life.
The lawyer she engaged to negotiate the contract for her book introduced her to a poor, unpublished American writer living in Paris named Henry Miller, whose works Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn would later be widely banned as obscene. Miller lived in an underground world different from any Nin had ever known. His companions were the gangsters, prostitutes, and drug addicts of Paris. He and his wife June lived a life of extremes, and it seemed to Nin that they were fully alive in a way that she was not.
Franklin pointed out their differences in his essay: "Nin was personally elegant, Miller was not; she was selective, Miller voracious; in their writings Nin was implicit, Miller explicit; she was sensual, he sexual. But despite these and other differences Nin and Miller inspired each other, and each performed as a sounding board for the other's ideas."
As Nin became increasingly involved with Henry and June Miller, the tension she felt between her life as Hugh Guiler's wife and her life as Anais Nin the artist became intolerable.
In 1932 she sought to resolve her conflicts through therapy with the prominent Parisian psychoanalyst, Rene Allendy, and later with Otto Rank, a brilliant though unorthodox student of Sigmund Freud. Spencer believed that the insights Nin gained through "therapy with Otto Rank and a love affair with Henry Miller freed her to live a greatly expanded life--without sacrificing the marriage that had such great psychological and spiritual value for her."
Details on how she accomplished this were for many years not known, for Nin heavily edited her published journals from those years and omitted all references to her husband at his request. It is known that he later established a secondary career as an artist and film maker under the pseudonym Ian Hugo. Nin appeared in some of his films, and his engravings illustrated some of her books.
They remained legally married until her death, but they may have established an open relationship. During her lifetime, "Nin refused to discuss her marriage or even name her husband in interviews," revealed Rose Marie Cutting in Anais Nin: A Reference Guide. Psychoanalysis became a lifelong fascination for Nin. She studied it under Rank and eventually practiced with him in New York City. Its influence on her fiction was profound, for in all her novels she attempted to illustrate her characters' inner landscapes rather than to describe their external lives.
The first work to show evidence of Nin's liberation was a long prose poem entitled House of Incest. In a surrealistic style, the narrator recounts her nightmare of wounded souls, trapped by their unresolved inner conflicts in the dark, airless "house of incest." Only one inhabitant can find an exit from this sealed environment--a dancer who has lost her arms as punishment for clinging to all she loved in life. When she learns to accept her flaws, she is able to dance her way to the daylight outside the house. Incorporating Nin's own recurring dreams, House of Incest was symbolic of her feelings of suffocation from childhood traumas and her rebirth through psychoanalysis.
"Nin's message is clear," explained Benjamin Franklin V in one of his Dictionary of Literary Biography essays. "The nature of man's existence is multiple and imperfect. Every individual has many parts, the sum of which is something less than one's ideal self. But if one ignores that multiplicity or demands perfection, that person will not be able to function in life. . . . Nin never expressed these basic concerns as eloquently or convincingly as she did in this first volume of her fiction, even though almost all the rest of her fiction is similar to it thematically." Franklin added: "Such an esoteric book doubtless could not have been written or published in the United States at that time."
Indeed, Nin had trouble finding a publisher for House of Incest even in France. Eventually Nin, Miller, and the other writers with whom they associated (a group sometimes called the Villa Seurat circle) established Siana Editions to publish their own works and those of other avant- garde writers.
With the encouragement of the Villa Seurat writers, Nin's style continued to develop, and by the time she published Winter of Artifice in 1939, her prose showed much less of an obvious debt to surrealism. While House of Incest cautions against the danger of becoming trapped in one's dreams, Winter of Artifice stresses that "dreams have to be probed, not to the exclusion of conscious reality, but rather to nourish it," wrote Franklin.
The story centers on Djuna and her reunion with the father she has not seen for twenty years. Nin's narrative recreates Djuna's yearning to penetrate the many illusions with which both father and daughter have surrounded themselves. Little by little, she succeeds in exposing the true nature of their relationship. Besides illuminating the psychological drama played out between Djuna and her father, Nin's intent in Winter of Artifice was to create prose that would provoke the immediate emotional response usually associated with music. Her success is unquestioned by Spencer, who wrote in Collage of Dreams: The Writings of Anais Nin that "Winter of Artifice is a mature work, very sophisticated technically, in which Anais Nin first fully displays her talent for adapting the structure of the non-verbal arts to fiction. It is a ballet of words in which music and movement are . . . skillfully balanced and . . . subtly interwoven." Bettina L. Knapp, in her critical volume entitled Anais Nin, praised the author's skillful use of "the literary devices of repetitions, omissions, ellipses, dream sequences, and stream-of- consciousness" that have the cumulative effect of "jarring the reader into a new state of awareness."
Both House of Incest and Winter of Artifice were well-received in Europe's avant-garde literary circles. But the rich cultural atmosphere that helped Nin to create those first books disintegrated as World War II drew closer. In 1939, Hugh Guiler was called back to the United States and Nin chose to accompany him. Just as she had in childhood, Nin found New York City cold and sterile in comparison to Europe. She also discovered that American publishers were unreceptive to her work, which they considered unhealthy, decadent surrealism. After a few years of consistent rejections by American publishers, Nin bought a secondhand, foot-operated printing press and began to set the type for her own books. In this way she produced limited editions of House of Incest and Winter of Artifice, as well as a volume of short stories, Under a Glass Bell, and another novel, This Hunger.
In time she attracted the attention of Edmund Wilson, a highly respected critic.
He praised Under a Glass Bell in the New Yorker: "The pieces in this collection belong to a peculiar genre sometimes cultivated by the late Virginia Woolf. They are half short stories, half dreams, and they mix a sometimes exquisite poetry with a homely realistic observation. They take place in a special world, a world of feminine perception and fancy. . . . The main thing to say is that Miss Nin is a very good artist."
It was through Wilson's influence that Nin was finally able to place her work with a commercial publisher in the United States. In novels such as Ladders to Fire, The Four-Chambered Heart and A Spy in the House of Love Nin continued the exploration of the feminine psyche she had begun in House of Incest and Winter of Artifice. Her novels have a fluid quality, found Spectator contributor Emma Fisher, "because her female characters are all faces of Woman. . . . The characters melt and dissolve into each other," even exchanging names as they reappear from one novel to the next.
William Goyen, who rated Nin "one of the most fiercely passionate practitioners of the experimental novel in America," stated in the New York Times Book Review that as Nin "follows the inner flow of her characters' drives and motivations . . . she occasionally directs the flow to the surface where she freezes it into something as plain and dazzling as ice."
Reviews such as these helped to bring Nin greater acceptance in the United States. But her fiction was still misunderstood and attacked by some critics, who objected to her experimental style as "murky and precious," to quote Audrey C. Foote in Washington Post Book World. "She covers her canvas too thickly," declared Herbert Lyons in the New York Times Book Review. "It tends to look like a used palette: the resulting abstraction is murky, meaningless and too often in bad taste."
Some reviewers felt the absence of conventional plot and characters rendered Nin's books inaccessible. Others found her recurrent themes and characters tedious. For example, Blake Morrison wrote in his New Statesman review of the five-volume "continuous novel," Cities of the Interior, "Nin herself described Cities of the Interior as `an endless novel,' and for anyone wading faithfully through 589 pages of such sub-Lawrentian wisdom as `A breast touched for the first time is a breast never touched before' the description is going to sound all too appropriate."
Franklin suggested that while Nin's fiction was very accomplished, it "was never popular, but understandably so: she wrote about psychological reality, not the surface reality that she called realism and that most readers desire." Franklin believed that "while her fiction may at first seem impenetrable because of its lack of surface reality, an attentive reading reveals a powerful psychological reality that is the hallmark of her writing." He concluded: "She was a great writer of psychological fiction. . . . Her work challenges the reader and involves him in the creative act."
When Nin finally achieved widespread acceptance it was with the work she never intended to publish--the diary she began on the ship to New York. Writing in the journal had developed into an obsessive activity which Nin sometimes compared to a drug addiction. She eventually filled more than two hundred manuscript volumes with the record of her transatlantic crossings, relationships with artists both famous and unknown, struggles with publishers, and efforts toward artistic success and self-fulfillment.
Many of those closest to her had at one time urged her to abandon her journal, including Allendy, Rank, and Miller. They felt that it was a hindrance to her career as a fiction writer, but the journal continued to grow. Eventually, Nin's supporters began to urge her to publish portions of it, believing that her finest writing was contained therein. After long deliberation, Nin consented. Her aim in editing her journal was similar to her objective in fiction: to illuminate the drama of individual growth.
Volume One of The Diary of Anais Nin was published in 1966 and was received far more enthusiastically than any of the author's previous novels. Readers, particularly women and young people, identified strongly with Nin's quest for self-knowledge and personal freedom. Many critics called the Diary a far stronger literary work than anything Nin had published previously. For example, Jean Garrigue noted in the New York Times Book Review: "The best parts of this diary are written with a daylight energy and sharpness that are in marked contrast to the frangibilities and antennaed delicacy of Miss Nin's stories and novels. . . . This diary has the elusive fluidity of life. Its author-subject is neither moralizer nor judge but a witness, vulnerable, susceptible, subtle, critical. . . . It is a rich, various, and fascinating work."
Eventually seven volumes of The Diary of Anais Nin were published. Its success was summarized by Duane Schneider in the Southern Review: "The Diary stands as Miss Nin's most remarkable artistic achievement because its literary form provides the author with a more effective means to reveal her characters than her novels do. The Diary symbolizes a quest for complete self- introspection and understanding; the result of the quest is a coherent, organic, revelatory work of art." Shenandoah contributor Lynn Sukenick called Nin's diaries "books of wisdom which have elevated their author to the status of a sage and have had a healing effect on many of her readers."
The Diary of Anais Nin received some negative attention. Susan Manso remarked in the New Boston Republic that the journal's size was "matched only by its vacuity," and Susan Heath wrote in Saturday Review: "Only the self-absorbed will be fascinated by this solipsistic quest for healing and wholeness, for they will see themselves in the mirror Miss Nin has held to her soul. And the disenchanted will recognize it as the tiresome work of a querulous bore who cultivates neurosis in hopes of achieving self-realization."
But for the most part, The Diary of Anais Nin was accepted as an important document, both for Nin's insight into the development of individual personality and for her sketches of the many artists she associated with in her lifetime of world traveling.
After the publication of the Diary, Nin found herself in great demand as a lecturer. She became a controversial figure in the woman's movement, alternately praised for writing from a uniquely feminine perspective and denounced as a supporter of archaic feminine values.
Anais Nin died of cancer in 1977 and, in accordance with her wishes, her ashes were scattered over the Pacific. After her death, a number of books appeared which she had refused to have published during her lifetime. The first to appear were two volumes of erotica she wrote for a dollar a page in the early 1940s. Rosalind Thomas explained in Room of One's Own that Miller had first been approached to write erotica for a private collector willing to pay one hundred dollars a month for the material. Miller soon got bored with the arrangement, however, and "suggested that Nin write the stories instead. Like some of her other artist friends who needed money, she accepted the offer. She became what she called the `Madame' of an unusual house of literary prostitution." Her erotic fiction from this arrangement, the books Delta of Venus and Little Birds, put her name on the New York Times best-seller list for the first time. Both books were praised by Alice Walker in Ms. as "so distinct an advance in the depiction of female sensuality that I felt, on reading it, enormous gratitude."
Thomas remarked that "No one has suggested that Nin's erotica is great art. Its interest resides primarily in its feminine perspective and in its unmistakable poetical quality."
In addition to Nin's erotic fiction, full, unexpurgated versions of her diaries were also published after her death. These versions of the diaries, long suppressed by the author to spare the feelings of her husband and others, revealed a private life of immense passion. In the volumes Henry and June: From the Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin, Incest: From `A Journal of Love': The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin, 1932-1934, and Fire: From `A Journal of Love': The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin, 1934-1937 Nin details the numerous affairs of her life, including those with Miller, Miller's wife June, her psychiatrists Allendy and Rank, with playwright Antonin Artaud and with her father.
At one time in the 1930s, Nin was sexually active with three men and her husband at once, none of them aware of the others. During the 1960s, she was married to Hugh Guiler and Rupert Pole at the same time, and she traveled cross country to spend time with them both. As Joseph Coates remarked in the Chicago Tribune, "not till the unexpurgated Journal of Love series began . . . did we see the full emotional and sexual drama of a life lived on the line." Writing in the Times Literary Supplement, Erica Jong called the journals "unlike any ever published before."