Anais Nin Anais Nin was a passionate woman, not only in her works but also in her life. The fact that she lived life to the fullest is what made her books so intriguing. Although her diaries were a chronicle of her experience, her fiction showed the reader sides of her while displaying everyone’s innermost desires. In her own words Nin says, “the role of the writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say” (Rollins), and she does exactly that. For this reason her works take one on a journey through one’s soul and allows the pondering which may never have been considered.
This feeling of self discovery is quite powerful and erotic; the enpowerment supplies a feeling of utter enjoyment. This is why Anais Nin’s books are ageless, and they are impossible to parallel or surpass. Though many author’s draw their story ideas from life experiences. Anais takes most directly in order to make them pure and unclouded by the imagination. This is why her favorite method of writing was the use of her actual diaries. She wrote of her many love affairs and personal traumas in order to educate the reader as well as to examine her true self. For it is known that one person could not experience all that is possible, and therefore one must learn from others mistakes as well as their own.
Nin is greatly renown for her diaries, especially for her famous letters of her affair with Henry Miller . This later amounted to a movie based on the relationship “Henry and June” in 1986 (site 1). Yet her fiction, although quite intellectual and harder to grasp than her diaries, also reveals a lot about the writer and open views on all aspects of living. She is creative enough to allow all to draw something personal from her writings, and this makes reading her novels an experience that one could associate with some aspect of their own life. Nin’s heightened “sensitivity and perception” (site 1) are derived from her fiery lifestyle which started when she was very young.
She was born in France, a country of vast influence, and she traveled throughout Europe for most of her childhood. When She was twelve years old she was relocated to New York, where the culture and diversity is unparalleled. She experience d so many lifestyles as various occupations: a dancer, a teacher, and later on even a psychoanalyst (Scholar 5). She lived a very “free” life style for the time period, and she enjoyed this liberation to the fullest. She had many affairs, but she also had many great relationships that helped her improve and most of all “experience”. Through all of this she never lost the ability to appreciate her solitude.
As her fictitious novels are analyzed it will be shown that a large part of Anais Nin resides in every one of her works, but she made sure to leave enough to allow a little piece of every reader to fit.! In this way the reader may be alone but in good company. Anais creates this aura by using the literary device known as negative capability, which is basically concurrence with the philosophy of “saying less is saying more” (Walsh). She writes in such a way that allows one to see a general idea that does not cheapen a complicated idea by trying to isolate and define it. The theories which she attempts to explain are often too complicated for words, so Nin often turns to surrealism when she can think of no other way to address them. Human emotion and existence is not something that can be black or white, and Nin describes it as somewhere in the gray area (Knapp 39-68).
The use of poetic and stream-of-conscientiousness phrasing allows the reader to find there own relative truth, since absolute truth in these situations are impossible. Her metaphors are powerful and shocking, but Nin was not an extreme surrealist. She believed in the fusing of the conscious and unconscious minds to allow one to see the total picture, instead of only looking from one point of view. Negative capability is best displayed in The House of Incest since this book was based largely upon Nin own dreams. She embarks upon a journey of self-discovery in this novel and starts out in a very logical place, the womb. The idea of a sense of peace and structure are seen through liquid and fuzziness which seem to make one want to remain there forever.
Yet one does not attempt to live then one may be punished for this passive approach. Intellectual and social growth is a human need and must be met or else despair is inevitable. Therefore Nin traces the paths of human emotions and stances through many different people, who in actuality are all parts of a whole. She also explores the themes of lesbian love and incest by detailing how they allow the whole to feel safe and nurtured. Nin feels that one can not become too comfortable in one position or stuck in a rut that can cause on to die emotionally. Therefore her incestual character Isolina is sent to a horrible place, the house of incest, because she has tried to hide behind her brother’s protection. Isolina never escapes or repents for her sins unlike her counterpart “the dancer” who recovers from selfishly cling to the ones she loved (Nin House of Incest).
Therefore she escaped her torment: “And she danced, she danced with the music and with rhythm of earth’s circles, she turned with the earth turning, like a disk, turning all faces to light and to darkness evenly, dancing towards daylight” (DISCovering Authors). In these vague identifications and character references Anais presents, she suggests to the reader that man is a sum of many parts that will never equal the ideal self. Consequently one can not ignore any of their personalities or demand perfection without falling into decay or someplace equal to the dreadful “house of incest” (DISCovering Authors). The prose style of the work lends to the subject matter extremely well and makes the insinuations appear simpler than they actually are. The Four-Chambered Heart investigates the complications of love, which will be contemplated by humans until no more exist. The relationship of Djuna and her musician lover, Rango, is again set in the fluctuating water on a house boat.
She uses this to show the reader more than what is said; the relationship has the potential to sail, but instead it stays moored an increasingly in need of repair. This whole boat acts as a microcosm for their relationship throughout the novel. Rango is a married man which is attached to the shore by his hypochondriac wife who is comparable to Zeena in Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome. She uses her manipulative powers to connect them all in a chain of mutual parasitism. They eventually come to resent each another, and they become parts of heart that are unable to communicate but able to work together to nearly emit life. This dependence eventually becomes unbearable.
Nin relates this feeling to the reader by using the metaphor of a rag doll who has committed suicide. Djuna feels that by entering this relationship she has given up her life, which is very true. She eventually obtains release but feels as if her heart has stopped. This writing device allows the reader to identify with her dejected situation and the destruction of her dreams and the pain of her being. (Nin The Four-Chambered Heart).
This tale was taken from an actual point in Nin’s life in which she had an affair on a house boat on the Seine (Knapp 122-130). She used this story to analyze her situation and let others grow from her disheartening experience. This novel was a therapeutic device for Nin in which she could review her life objectively from different perspectives. Similarly, the diaries helped sort her feelings, and The House of Incest allowed her to delve into her surrealistic side. Nin’s flowing style and intangible ideals allow her novels to grow and influence the individual reader on many different levels, both of the subconscious and conscious mind.
She was a writer who transferred her passion for life into the written word by the closest resemblance to actual thought. The more one tries to explain the greater the meaning is lost in translation. Nin had a passion like no other author I have read, as she states: “If what Proust says is true, that happiness is the absence of fever, then I will never know happiness. For I am possessed my a fever for knowledge, experience, and creation.” (site 1). This “fever” is found in every page of the author’s works, especially her erotic novels which are blunt and an education of experience that remains unparalleled.
Yet with more subtlety she displays this burning in her “tamer” fiction, if one can read between the lines and fuse their beliefs with those that Nin wishes to convey. Her tales ignite the fire burning in the curious soul who has not yet to live or imagine half of what the author has experienced. Consequently she is an influential author on many young minds because she feels that her books are an emulation of her morale. The major themes found in The Four Chambered Heart and The House of Incest are presented in a way that allow everyone to be satisfied because Nin believed that “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are” (site 2). In conclusion, the use of negative capability permits the reader to “see things as we are”. This warrants the endurance of her writings through the passage of the decades for they still remain relevant to all of society.