Anaïs Nin

Anaïs Nin (1903–1977) is an iconic literary figure and one of the most notable experimental writers of the twentieth century. As one of the first women to explore female erotica, Nin revealed the inner desires of her characters in a way that made her works a touchstone for later feminist writers. Swallow Press is the premier US publisher of books by and about Nin.

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Trapeze · The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1947–1955
By Anaïs Nin · Edited by Paul Herron · Introduction by Benjamin Franklin V · Preface by Paul Herron

Anaïs Nin made her reputation through publication of her edited diaries and the carefully constructed persona they presented. It was not until decades later, when the diaries were published in their unexpurgated form, that the world began to learn the full details of Nin’s fascinating life and the emotional and literary high-wire acts she committed both in documenting it and in defying the mores of 1950s America.

“Trapeze gives us the iconic writer leading a teetering, emotionally jet-fueled existence, torn between her attachment to her husband of decades and her passion for a much younger lover. The intense, intimate portrait of the woman behind the mysterious Nin legend—and all the hunger and charm and deception that comprised this high-wire act of a life—makes addictive reading indeed.”

Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander and Paint It Black: A Novel




Written when Anaïs Nin was in her twenties and living in France, the stories collected in Waste of Timelessness contain many elements familiar to those who know her later work as well as revelatory, early clues to themes developed in those more mature stories and novels. Seeded with details remembered from childhood and from life in Paris, the wistful tales portray artists, writers, strangers who meet in the night, and above all, women and their desires.




Winter of Artifice · Three Novelettes
By Anaïs Nin · Introduction by Laura Frost

Swallow Press’s reissue of Winter of Artifice, with a new introduction by Laura Frost, presents an important opportunity to consider anew the work of Anaïs Nin who laid the groundwork for later writers, but whom critics frequently dismiss as solipsistic or overblown.

“The lead female characters begin small and damaged and eventually emerge at the other side more complete people at the expense of the men in their paths. But Nin accomplishes this with such delicacy and style that one would swear there was no other way.”

Bookslut




Ladders to Fire
By Anaïs Nin · Introduction by Benjamin Franklin V · Foreword by Gunther Stuhlmann

Anaïs Nin’s Ladders to Fire interweaves the stories of several women, each emotionally inhibited in her own way: through self-doubt, fear, guilt, moral drift, and distrust. The novel follows their inner struggles to overcome these barriers to happiness and wholeness. The author’s own experiences, as recorded in her famous diaries, supplied the raw material for her fiction. It was her intuitive, experimental, and always original style that transformed one into the other.

“Anaïs Nin writes sensitively, with psychological training as well as insight…. She has a subcutaneous interest in her characters and Lawrence’s sixth sense.”

Times Literary Supplement




“Some voyages have their inception in the blueprint of a dream, some in the urgency of contradicting a dream. Lillian’s recurrent dream of a ship that could not reach the water, that sailed laboriously, pushed by her with great effort, through city streets, had determined her course toward the sea, as if she would give this ship, once and for all, its proper sea bed…. With her first swallow of air she inhaled a drug of forgetfulness well known to adventurers.”

“Beautiful, rare novels.”

Karl Shapiro




In The Novel of the Future, Anaïs Nin explores the act of creation — in film, art, and dance as well as literature — to chart a new direction for the young artist struggling against what she perceived as the sterility, formlessness, and spiritual bankruptcy afflicting much of mid-twentieth-century fiction.

“Modern fiction has seldom been so incisively and sensitively analyzed.”

Library Journal




Although Under a Glass Bell is now considered one of Anaïs Nin’s finest collections of stories, it was initially deemed unpublishable. Refusing to give up on her vision, in 1944 Nin founded her own press and brought out the first edition, illustrated with striking black-and-white engravings by her husband, Hugh Guiler. Shortly thereafter, it caught the attention of literary critic Edmund Wilson, who reviewed the collection 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…. Miss Nin is a very good artist, as perhaps none of the literary Surrealists is.”

Edmund Wilson, The New Yorker




Although Anaïs Nin found in her diaries a profound mode of self-creation and confession, she could not reveal this intimate record of her own experiences during her lifetime. Instead, she turned to fiction, where her stories and novels became artistic “distillations” of her secret diaries.

“Real and unmistakable genius”

Rebecca West




Mirages · The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1939–1947
By Anaïs Nin · Edited by Paul Herron · Introduction by Kim Krizan · Preface by Paul Herron

Mirages opens at the dawn of World War II, when Anaïs Nin fled Paris, where she lived for fifteen years with her husband, banker Hugh Guiler, and ends in 1947 when she meets the man who would be “the One,” the lover who would satisfy her insatiable hunger for connection. In the middle looms a period Nin describes as “hell,” during which she experiences a kind of erotic madness, a delirium that fuels her search for love.

“The celebrated diarist, novelist and electric personality reappears with all the fire of her eroticism in pages untouched by a Bowdler or a Puritan…. Readers will find Nin a most entertaining companion—her multiple simultaneous relationships with men, her gleefully graphic descriptions of sex acts…. In one late entry, Nin complains, mildly: ‘My world is so large I get lost in it’; readers will do the same—and gratefully so.”

Kirkus Reviews




Ladders to Fire, Children of the Albatross, The Four-Chambered Heart, A Spy in the House of Love, Seduction of the Minotaur. Haunting and hypnotic, these five novels by Anaïs Nin began in 1946 to appear in quiet succession. Though published separately over the next fifteen years, the five were conceived as a continuous experience—a continuous novel like Proust's, real and flowing as a river.

“A prose/poetry dream; a lyrical celebration of the inner life and the images it evokes.”

Daniel Stern




These stories precede all of Nin's published work to date. In them are many sources of the more mature work that collectors and growing writers can appreciate.




In The Novel of the Future, Anaïs Nin explores the act of creation—in literature, film, art, and dance—to arrive at a new synthesis for the young artist struggling against the sterility, formlessness, and spiritual bankruptcy afflicting much of modern fiction.




Antonin Artaud · Man of Vision
By Bettina L. Knapp · Preface by Anaïs Nin

The extraordinary actor–director–writer who developed his talent for self-torture into art to become one of the most vital creative forces of the century.

“Fascinating… absorbing… a penetrating study!”

Saturday Review




Under a Glass Bell is one of Nin's finest collections of stories. First published in 1944, it attracted the attention of Edmond Wilson, who reviewed the collection in The New Yorker. It was in these stories that Nin's artistic and emotional vision took shape.




Although Anaïs Nin found in her diaries a profound mode of self-creation and confession, she could not reveal this intimate record of her own experiences during her lifetime. Instead, she turned to fiction, where her stories and novels became artistic “distillations” of her secret diaries.

“Real and unmistakable genius”

Rebecca West




D. H. Lawrence · An Unprofessional Study
By Anaïs Nin

In 1932, two years after D. H. Lawrence's death, a young woman wrote a book about him and presented it to a Paris publisher. She recorded the event in her diary: “It will not be published and out by tomorrow, which is what a writer would like when the book is hot out of the oven, when it is alive within oneself. He gave it to his assistant to revise.” The woman was Anaïs Nin. Nin examined Lawrence's poetry, novels, essays, and travel writing.

“Lawrence has … given me a world to live in, a world where I fit. Over and over again, in his descriptions of women I find myself. In his treatment of language, in the poetic intensity of his prose, I find courage for my own writing. I find, at last, a kind of home.”

Anaïs Nin




Collages began with an image which had haunted me. A friend, Renate, had told me about her trip to Vienna where she was born, and of her childhood relationships to statues. She told me stories of her childhood, her relationship to her father, her first love. I begin the novel with: Vienna was the city of statues. They were as numerous as the people who walked the streets.

“A handful of perfectly told fables, and prose which is so daringly elaborate, so accurately timed… using words as magnificently colorful, evocative and imagist as any plastic combination or canvas but as mysteriously idiosyncratic as any abstract.”

Times Literary Supplement




Winter of Artifice · Three Novelettes
By Anaïs Nin

Winter of Artifice is a collection of novelettes: ‘Stella,’ ‘Winter of Artifice,’ and ‘The Voice.’

“The cadences… are those of a musician; its colour that of a painter.”

London Sunday Times




An excerpt from Seduction of the Minotaur: Some voyages have their inception in the blueprint of a dream, some in the urgency of contradicting a dream. Lillian's recurrent dream of a ship that could not reach the water, that sailed laboriously, pushed by her with great effort, through city streets, had determined her course toward the sea, as if she would give this ship, once and for all, its proper sea bed.

“Real and unmistakable genius.”

Rebecca West




After struggling with her own press and printing her own works, Anaïs Nin succeeded in getting Ladders to Fire accepted and published in 1946. This recognition marked a milestone in her life and career. Admitted into the fellowship of American novelists, she maintained the individuality of her literary style.

“I have to begin where everything begins, in the blindness and in the shaddows. I have to begin the story of women's development where all things begin; in nature, at the roots. It is necessary to return to the origin of confusion which is woman's struggle to understand her own nature.”

from the prologue (first edition)




The Four-Chambered Heart, Anas Nin's 1950 novel, recounts the real-life affair she conducted with caf guitarist Gonzalo Mor in 1936. Nin and Mor rented a house-boat on the Seine, and under the pervading influence of the boat's watchman and Mor's wife Helba, developed a relationship. Mor named the boat Nanankepichu, meaning not really a home.

"The Four-Chambered Heart stands as a fine example of how Anaïs Nin used the incidents of her life to craft her novels. It is her clarity of tone and flair for magic and romance that give this work its unique potency. Essentially, it is fiction made rich by the inspiration of real life."

Susie Gordon, anaisnin.com reviewer




Children of the Albatross is divided into two sections: “The Sealed Room” focuses on the dancer Djuna and a set of characters, chiefly male, who surround her; “The Café” brings together a cast of characters already familiar to Nin's readers, but it is their meeting place that is the focal point of the story. As always, in Children of the Albatross, Nin's writing is inseparable from her life.




“The genesis of House of Incest was in the dream. The keeping of dreams was an important part of that exploration of the unconscious. But I discovered dreams in themselves, isolated, were not always interesting. Very few of them had the complete imagery and tension to arouse others’ interest. They were fragmented. The surrealists delighted in the image themselves. This was satisfying to the painters and to the film-makers.

"House of Incest is a strange and challenging work that demands the full attention of the reader. It is not so much a story of people (although it certainly is that) as it is a visit into the hellish nightmare of the narrator's experience from which she emerges satisfactorily. But, however one approaches the work, House of Incest is Nin's best work of fiction and one that contains most of her basic themes, images and patterns that she would use in her later work."

Benjamin Franklin V and Duane Schneider