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Anais: The Erotic Life of Anais Nin Paperback – November 1, 1994

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Anais: The Erotic Life of Anais Nin + A Literate Passion: Letters of Anaïs Nin & Henry Miller, 1932-1953 + Henry and June: From "A Journal of Love" -The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin (1931-1932)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 536 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books (November 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316284319
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316284318
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,355,547 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Anais Nin (1903-1977) projected the image of a free woman designing her own life and world into something beautiful, but the multiple selves of her diaries, in Fitch's estimate, are fictive constructs. Tapping hundreds of interviews, library archives and Nin's unpublished erotica and fiction, Fitch ( Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation ) convincingly portrays Nin as a complex, neurotic artist, alienated from her own anger and pain, who worked out her neuroses through her art. She traces the psychological damage inflicted by Nin's father, who photographed her nude, beat her and seduced her in childhood, then seduced her again in 1933. Fitch ably reconstructs Nin's simultaneous romantic involvement with Henry and June Miller in Paris, and her bicoastal, bigamous life divided between Hugh Guiler in New York and Rupert Pole in California. Written in the present tense, a risky device that wears thin, and occasionally marred by rose-tinted Nin-like prose, this remarkably intimate, hypnotic, probing portrait nevertheless helps explain the charismatic power and abiding appeal of Nin. Photos.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

When Nin's diaries began appearing in the mid-Sixties, their popularity earned her a bigger audience than she had ever had. The question that always teased readers of the Franco-American novelist was whether and how her fiction depended on her life experiences. It is now generally acknowledged that her novels are pallid reflections of her own journey, detailed here by Fitch, author of Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation ( LJ 8/83) as well as literary guides to Paris. Fitch presents more than a sensational biography of a sensual woman, also depicting a tumultuous and harrowing life. From her early life, Nin suffered acutely, first after her father deserted the family, then during years of solitude and loneliness. As Fitch shows, her struggle to achieve as a woman and artist was arduous. Recommended for large collections and as a companion to Nin's diaries where they are popular.
- Ali Houissa, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, N.Y.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 31, 1998
Format: Paperback
A scholarly biography need not be boring, and one written of the life of Anais Nin cannot be. Fitch's work is creditably balanced in an attempt to sort fact from fiction in Nin's writings. Though some considered her a pathological liar, Nin considered herself simply the creator of her own life. Her Diaries, the most widely known of her writings, suffered, some believe, from her extensive editing. Though Nin claimed the editing was for the purpose of protecting the many players in her life, there is evidence that much of it was simply so that she could be remembered as she wished to be. Sculptor Isamu Noguchi was among her New York circle, and legendary writer Henry Miller was her lover in youth and dear friend in age. These were only two among perhaps hundreds of important figures of her time in literature, art, and psychotherapy, whom she counted as friends and acquaintances and who give a broad appeal to a study of her life. Artists, writers, and those in the various ! fields of psychology and psychiatry can be informed by the way she lived her life and the people she drew into it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Audra Alexander on April 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
I have to agree with some of the other reviews here that Fitch's work can be cumbersome at times. It is a little confusing in spots, mostly due to the tricky present-tense and Fitch's tendency to make giant, intuitive leaps from one reference to another. I do not, however, feel that this detracts one bit from the subject matter.

I can't imagine another biography addressing Nin's complicated life and neurosis with the same unflinching honesty and compassion. Nin was an extremely complex woman who spent most of her time and energy trying to compartmentalize her life, then painfully pushing against the boundries of those compartments with her life and work. Fitch pulls from multiple sources to draw a more cohesive picture of Nin's life than Anais herself ever did. Though that's rather the point, isn't it? The original published diaries are now understood to be a construct of Nin's talented metaphorical writing: true in a sense, but bearing little resemblence to hard facts. One doesn't read Nin's rich, feminine, lyrical prose for an accurate histoical record. And although it's difficult to be accurate about history under the best of circumstances, Fitch does a fine job piecing together the available clues not only for an accurate timeline, but for some kind of insight into Anais Nin's motivations.

Overall, Fitch portrayed Nin without prejudice, balancing the horrors of childhood abuse and neglect against the adult Nin's conscious betrayals of lovers and friends. Ultimately, she shows Nin to be a very flawed, very passionate artist without excuses. She neither condemns Nin, nor places her on a pedastal. I prefer this way... it's like seeing Nin through the eyes of a true friend;one that loves her for who she was, with no excuses.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By bookkitten on September 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is a thoroughly delicious read for the Nin fan. Noel Riley Fitch's fine scholarship, deft analysis, and solid writing make vivid what is surely one of the most fascinating lives of the 20th century. As the title indicates, this books focuses on Nin's love/sex life, but it uses all available diaries and fictional works to piece together what can sometimes be a real puzzle. And, unlike the biography by Deirdre Bair, Ms. Fitch has an obvious affection, admiration, and appreciation for Nin which does not compromise the objectivity of her analysis.
The one possible problem in Fitch's analysis is that she makes the presumption that Nin was physically violated by her father. There is no doubt whatsoever that Nin was emotionally abused by the man, but Fitch is the first to suggest actual sexual molestation. Though she makes an excellent case for this possibility, her daring thesis caused a bit of an uproar amongst Nin's family and close friends who believe Fitch played fast and loose with the facts. I can understand their concern; it is a serious thing to accuse someone of such a crime. Still, Fitch's argument is so compelling that I don't believe it can be easily overlooked.
For anyone interested in understanding Anais Nin, this book posits a provocative theory while also pulling together the facts of her life.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Zelda on March 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
I've read several biographies of 20th century female writers, and this was the worst.

This was a frustrating read because the biographer seemed to dislike Nin, and I felt that Fitch somehow blamed her poor biographical work on Nin's so-called "double life." Fitch reacts to Nin's life as if it were far more pathological and complicated than any other artist a biographer ever had to deal with.

Fitch's telling of events is confusing. The story goes back and forth between decades, enemies, versions of what may or may not be truth- it's a mess. It goes on for pages mentioning this lover and that lover, and then there's little more than a tiny paragraph about a major career step Nin achieves, but little, if any credit, is given to Nin for her work and effort. Fitch never misses an opportunity to explain why Nin was not talented, not a true artist, not a good wife, not a true Parisian, not a true American, not a good daughter, and just does not deserve to be known, appreciated, published or even remotely liked.

The only redeeming point that Fitch can be proud of is sort of investigating a possibly incestuous relationship Nin experienced with her father. Even this uncovering is a half-baked attempt at taking a feminist point of view about sexual abuse and female artists and popularizing it into something salacious and one dimensional. Fitch's inclusion of this relatively new information about Nin is a transparent attempt at making this biography seem scholarly. Biographers who have delved into the lives of Anne Sexton, and other writers who may have been sexually abused should be offended by Fitch's treatment of this information.

Despite the fact that Nin helped and nurtured many artists, this book is full of catty swipes from several of those people.
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