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Auletris: Erotica Kindle Edition
|Length: 118 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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What we know and take for granted today as literary erotica would be utterly unimaginable without the work of Anaïs Nin. Yet, as editor Paul Herron tells us in his concise yet densely informative introduction to 'Auletris', the author “didn’t take her erotic writing seriously…” Famously paid a dollar a page by a private collector for her now-classic tales, the writing of which she rather dismissively likened to forays into “literary prostitution”, Nin’s erotica was heavily edited for posthumous publication. 'Delta of Venus' appeared in print shortly after the author’s death in 1977. 'Little Birds' followed in 1979. One of the stories in Auletris is the unedited version of 'Marcel', which appears, severely pruned back, in 'Delta of Venus'. The other story in this new volume, 'Life in Provincetown', has never before been seen beyond private circles: only five copies of 'Auletris' were produced, the original type script and four carbons, which were “bound into books by the Press of the Sunken Eye” in 1950. This new edition, according to Herron, “is reproduced as it appears in the original (typescript) minus misspellings, typos, and minor formatting problems, allowing the reader to see Nin’s words as they were intended for the collector.”
And what extraordinary words they are! Everything we have come to love and revere in Nin’s work is here: the writing is, by turns, poetically inspired, sublime, sensuous, cerebral, steamy, trangressive, disturbing, psychologically searing, and joyfully sumptuous in its amoral abandon.
This being said, it would be dishonest to say that 'Life in Provincetown', for all its beauty and narrative surprise, is a perfectly finished work. More a promising chunk of literary ore not fully refined, the series of small erotic episodes that make up the whole can feel disjointed at times, even somewhat perfunctory, though this might be expected from “writing to entertain under pressure from a client” as the author herself described it, something that had to be turned out in a terrible hurry. Yet, make no mistake, had Nin cared to apply her brilliant, painstaking perfectionist’s attention to the polishing of this work, it would—I have no doubt—be among the greatest, most daring erotic stories of the twentieth century.
"Auletris" consists of two parts - "Life in Provincetown" and "Marcel." These parts contain several stories within each. "Life in Provincetown" takes place in a fishing town where artists lead sexually liberated lifestyles. Families who also live there complain when the artists do things like sunbathe in the nude, but to no avail, as the artists will not be forced to change their ways. Nin skillfully interweaves these characters within all these stories and also in the stories of "Marcel." Her trademark of describing settings in sensual and detailed manners remains.
The stories in "Auletris" show Nin as a master of suspense. many conclude in twists that shock and lead us where we never expect. Most of the stories feature sexual taboos - you name the taboo, and it's in at least one of these stories! Some of the twists are an erotic encounter culminating in a sexual taboo, so prepare to be shocked.
In "Auletris," one can see why Nin is a pioneer of modern day erotica. She is fearless in exploring every aspect of sexuality. But "Auletris" also shows the pride and care she takes in creating her characters and stories. She doesn't write erotica solely to arouse. Instead, she crafts complete tales where the reader is brought into her characters' outer and inner worlds. "Auletris" is the type of book that needs to be read more than once. I've found my favorite parts, and I believe I will be rereading them on a regular basis!