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.
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.
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.
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.
The Wife of Martin Guerre—based on a notorious trial in sixteenth-century France—is “one of the most significant short novels in English” (Atlantic Monthly). Originally published in 1941, it still raises questions about identity, belonging, and about an individual’s capacity to act within an inflexible system.
Originally published in 1947, The Trial of Sören Qvist has been praised by a number of critics for its intriguing plot and Janet Lewis’s powerful writing. And in the introduction to this new edition, Swallow Press executive editor and author Kevin Haworth calls attention to the contemporary feeling of the story—despite its having been written more than fifty years ago and set several hundred years in the past.
This historical novel is the third and final book in American poet and fiction writer Janet Lewis’s Cases of Circumstantial Evidence series, based on legal case studies compiled in the nineteenth century. In The Ghost of Monsieur Scarron, Lewis returns to her beloved France, the setting of The Wife of Martin Guerre, her best-known novel and the first in the series.
Lewis’ only collection of short fiction was first published in 1946, but remains as quietly haunting today as it was then. Set in small communities of the upper Midwest and northern California in the ’30s and ’40s, these mid-century gems focus on the quiet cycles connecting youth with age, despair with hope, life with death.
Against a Darkening Sky was original published in 1943. Set in a semi-rural community south of San Francisco, it is the story of an American mother of the mid-1930s and the sustaining influence she brings, through her own profound strength and faith, to the lives of her four growing children. Scottish by birth, but long a resident of America, Mary Perrault is married to a Swiss-French gardener. Their life in South Encina, though anything but lavish, is gay, serene, and friendly.