For Valentine’s Day this year Bushwick performed original music inspired by Anaïs Nin’s Delta of Venus. Even though that event was last month, I’ve been left haunted by Anaïs Nin’s work. I’m not so interested in her erotic fiction, and instead have been thinking about the honesty found in her diaries. I needed to know more about her life, so I took to the Internet to find out which of her works I should read next. Expecting to find salacious gossip, what I read was a lot more interesting and inspiring.
She Had Simultaneous Marriages
Married to Hugh Parker Guiler, an engraver and filmmaker, in 1923, Nin continued to pursue other relationships and lead a “bohemian” lifestyle. She spent time with Tropic of Cancer author Henry Miller and then eventually went on to marry actor Rupert Pole. She kept her marriage to Guiler a secret from Pole for 11 years, until both men claimed her on their tax returns. She received an annulment from Pole, but the two continued to live together until her death in 1977.
Her work is Trending 39 Years After Her Death
A 2015 article by The Guardian cites Nin as a “style muse” to many current artists including Swedish indie pop singer Lykke Li. It also notes that during her lifetime, Nin and her work were very polarizing and included a headline that called her “a monster of self-centeredness whose artistic pretensions now seem grotesque.” Now though she’s considered a feminist icon because of her frank writing on women’s sexuality.
She Candidly Wrote About Her Own Abortion
Undergoing the procedure without anesthesia back in 1940, she wrote in her diary about her experiences that day, especially about her connection with a women on the other side of the curtain about to undergo the procedure herself. Brainpickings covered this in a 2014 article, including the quote from Nin, “The abortion is made a humiliation and a crime. Why should it be? Motherhood is a vocation like any other. It should be freely chosen, not imposed upon woman.”
Current Visual Artists are Inspired by Her Words
The author of the Brainpickings blog is a huge Nin fan and collaborated with artists and illustrators to include Nin’s words in their work. From this collaboration, a partnership was born and Brainpickings and artist Lisa Congdon started a yearlong series called The Recontructionists to celebrate remarkable women using their words and likeness. They chose this title based on Nin’s own words who wrote of “woman’s role in the reconstruction of the world” in her diary. The first piece in the series depicts Nin.
She Recorded Part of Her Diary
Nin recorded at least part of her diary back in 1966 and the recordings were preserved with the help of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Some longer passages are available and so is a moving 1974 recording from “The New Woman” where Nin explains why she writes.
How do you feel now that the Delta of Venus show is over? Are you left wanting more of Nin’s work? What are your favorite facts about the author or her work?