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Diaries and Debauchery: Anais Nin and The Winter of Artifice.


welcome Books have always been filthy, perverted and totally wild - right? You might not think so, but you’d be surprised. Books represent so much about society, they are the first things facists burn as they represent total freedom of imagination, you can’t dictate imagination. At tabÚ we are embracing the side of literature you might not have seen before, we are embracing problematic themes, out of control authors and general literaterary debauchery of all kinds. Brace yourself.


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Diaries & Debauchery: Anais Nin

welcome to her world

The Winter of Artifice is a novel by Anais Nin, written and published in 1936. It was banned in the United States shortly after release, though many copies were smuggled into the county and the ban was later lifted. In order to get the book published officially Anais edited it heavily and omitted one of the short stories, Djuna, completely. The three stories were reunited and republished after Anais’s death and the triple collection is available today. Anais Nin was notably confident with her depiction of taboo subject matter, her first full novel, The Winter of Artifice, is definitely no exception. Within the book are three short stories; Djuna, Lilith and The Voice. These stories,


Diaries & Debauchery: Anais Nin

though modest in length, tackle some of the most taboo subjects literature has ever tackled. Djuna tells the story of a woman embarking on a passionate affair with a married author in Paris, told in first person Djuna is explicit and erotic in nature, adultery is the main theme as the male character is married. The story also tackles bisexuality and lesbianism, which was very rarely spoken openly about at the time, as Djuna goes on to fall in love with her lover’s wife. The bizarre love triangle persists through the narrative and was allegedly based on the

true story of Nin’s relationship with Henry Miller and his wife June. Lilith was the more controversial story in the book, interestingly not the one Nin decided to exclude when republishing. Lilith follows another female character as she seeks out her father, who abandoned her as a child, and seduces him as a way to regain control over their relationship. The incestuous themes in Lilith divided audiences and all but destroyed Nin’s already strained relationship with the rest of her family. It was not stated that this was autobiographical until much

later; though there is recent doubt about the credibility of Nin’s accounts, the story may well have been a figment of her imagination. The final story, The Voice, goes some way as to tie the other narratives together, The Voice depicts a series of female characters, including the two from the previous stories, visiting a psychoanalyst who gradually begins to abuse his position in order to seduce the women in his care. This again is claimed to be autobiographical as Nin had many affairs with famous psychoanalysts in her life.


Diaries & Debauchery: Anais Nin

lust, lies and literature Anais Nin was born in 1903 into a liberal and artistic family, she was taught to prioritise art and culture above all else and left school at just sixteen. Her life beyond education was a whirlwind of romance, sex, lies and general debauchery. Anais Nin’s family were eccentric and artistic, they valued experience over education and encouraged Nin to leave school at a young age to become an art model and muse in Paris. When her parents separated Nin moved with her mother to New York, here she met her first husband Ian Hugo. Ian Hugo, real name Hugh Guiler, was a banker when Nin met him in New York, they embarked on a passionate relationship and married in 1923. Hugh was an artist of sorts, though he felt there needed to be a professional disconnect between his financial occupation and his art, upon marrying Nin he began to release his artwork, in the form of etchings, under the pseudonym Ian Hugo. These etchings frequently feature in Nin’s early manuscripts, with one gracing the cover of the first edition of The Winter of Artifice. Together the pair moved back

to Paris, where Nin immersed herself in the literary scene, rubbing shoulders with many famous figures of the time. One of the people Nin met in this period was Henry Miller, also an author. Miller was born in 1891 and was originally from the United States, he was in Paris researching for a book when he met Anais. The two began seeing each other despite both being married, this love affair is the subject of Nin’s short story Djuna. Miller was a poor man and was relying on friends and contacts to survive in Paris, as Nin’s husband Hugo was wealthy, she used his money to support Henry’s lifestyle in Paris, paying rent for a flat in which he lived and giving him allowances weekly. He relied on her financially almost entirely during his stay in Paris, it seems Ian Hugo was unaware of the affair at the time and allowed Nin access to his finances, blindly trusting

her - this would become a common theme throughout their relationship. Miller and Nin’s relationship eventually ended, she went on to meet Rupert Pole, whom she married in 1955. Ian Hugo and Nin did not separate at this point, he had no knowledge of her second marriage. She lived a dual life for years until eventually tax complications revealed her bigamy, her marriage with Pole was annulled, though she continued to live with him until her death. Nin was known for her controversial relationships and affairs with high profile authors, these were documented in her autobiographical diaries which were published posthumously by Rupert Pole. Throughout her life Nin was notoriously deceitful, despite explicitly detailing her affairs within her diaries she still denied them frequently to her partners and friends.


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Diaries & Debauchery: Anais Nin

Nin was writing for many years before her big break came with The Winter of Artifice, during this time she was solely funded by her husband Ian Hugo, who also supported many of Nin’s lovers unknowingly. Before Nin found fame she found criticism, her writing style was hugely unpopular, one Parisian newspaper review described her writing as ‘vague, dreamy, mercilessly pretentious and a great bore’, which is not exactly a glowing endorsement. Upon meeting Henry Miller she became inspired and began to take her formal writing more seriously, all the while still writing daily in her personal diaries, her work of this period is widely said to be some of her best; many literary critics have observed Miller’s influence on her writing style - he edited and reviewed her work frequently before she published it.

Nin’s career quietened when her affair with Miller came to an end, she moved to America and fell out of the infamous Parisian author’s loop which granted her constant access to feedback and inspiration, at this point Nin decided to publish her diaries. The diaries Nin kept throughout her life were explicit and supposedly unedited accounts of her life, the result of 50 years of writing was released as seven volumes, they were incredibly well received. In 1966 feminism was a big deal and Anais’s diaries were music to the ears of young and liberated women, she was unashamed of her sexuality- proud of her femininity and allure. Nin was able to travel around America in the following years giving talks to avid fans and reading passages from her diaries to awestruck audiences, this was the peak of her career.


Diaries & Debauchery: Anais Nin

“How wrong it is for a woman to expect the man to build the world she wants, rather than to create it herself.� 4


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Diaries & Debauchery: Anais Nin

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Diaries & Debauchery: Anais Nin

resurrection In the last thirteen years since the autobiography was published Anais Nin's work has found an audience once again, somewhat proving that all trends, opinions and criticisms are subjective. A new generation of strong and independent women are once again finding the good in Nin's work, with her frequently being compared to modern day counter parts such as Lena Dunham, whose own memoirs were slated by many for similar reasons. Anais Nin now finds herself being circulated mercilessly as a sound bite or inspirational quote on social media, she has been named as a muse by many authors, actors and musicians, with one stating "Anais is my hero, I feel so connected to her femininity"exactly the thing Anais was criticised for just over a decade ago. Photographs of her have been re-released, her books have received updated Penguin covers and renewed publishing contracts, Nin is once again an 'it girl' of feminism and female literature. Though not everyone subscribes

to this evaluation, her books still receive as many bad reviews as good, she remains ultimately polarising. Whatever your opinion of Anais Nin she can surely be respected, she unashamedly shared the most intimate and damning passages of her life, weaving them into female centric narratives that captivated and shocked audiences in equal measure, Her romantic life was convoluted and complex, with men and women revolving around her like moths to a flame. This passion bled into her literary style - people gravitate towards her work, regardless of whether they love it or hate it. In a political climate where women did not always have the freedom to speak openly about themselves, their sexual preferences or their desires. Nin was a martyr, offering herself up for criticism, exposed and vulnerable, just to get her voice heard by other women. In today's testing times there may be lessons to take from her unapologetic and somewhat shameless approach to herself and her needs.


Diaries & Debauchery: Anais Nin

"the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom"


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thank you As always thank you for reading, but don't let the conversation stop here. Head over to our little corner of the internet and keep the contorversy going. Be a proud bookworm and wear your kooky and kinky book knowledge with pride - you know something that other people don't know, and you've got to love that feeling.


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Diaries and Debauchery: Anais Nin and The Winter of Artifice  
Diaries and Debauchery: Anais Nin and The Winter of Artifice  
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