Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Women Who Dare - Anais Nin
"We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection."Anais Nin
Anais was born in Neuilly, just outside Paris. She spent her childhood in various parts of Europe until, when she was eleven, her father, Spanish composer Joaquin Nin, abandoned his family. In the same year, her French-Danish mother, Rosa Culmell, took Anais and her two sons to New York. On the boat that brought Anais away from Europe and from her father she began to write her journals. In 1923 she married Hugo Guiler, who had studied literature and economics and had acquired a good position in an international bank, allowing them to live comfortably.
The couple moved to Paris in 1924. There they lived in various appartments, among them a beautiful house in Louveciennes, but Anais also often had a studio for herself and lived in a houseboat on the Seine for a while. In Paris she and Hugo supported various avant-garde artists, among them Henry Miller with whom Anais started an affair and exchanged hundreds of letters. The book A literary passion includes a great number of the letters these two artists exchanged over the years and provide an interesting documentary of their struggle for recognition as writers as well as their relationship.
Anais moved back to New York just before the outbreak of World War II. After a turbulent time in New York she divided her life between New York and Los Angeles, between Hugo and Rupert, a much younger lover and friend. From being a cult figure of the early feminist movement, Anais later rose to international prominence with her writing. She is best known for her diaries but also produced a number of novels and a prose poem in surrealistic style as well as wonderful erotic short stories, published posthumously. Characterized by the use of powerful and, at times, disquieting imagery, her work reveals great sensitivity and perception.
In 1973 she received an honorary doctorate from Philadelphia College of Art. She was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1974.