Friday, June 17, 2011

my current muse


If what Proust says is true, that happiness is the absence of fever, then I will never know happiness.  For I am possessed by a fever for knowledge, experience, and creation.
Anais Nin  


As my Facebook friends have noticed, my current muse is the French-Cuban author, Anais Nin. As required reading, I read portions of her diaries in high school, but lost touch with her until recently, when I ordered three of her books from Amazon.

I'm currently devouring Under a Glass Bell, 1944, a collection of eight short stories which she literally published herself, hand-printed on a rickety foot-pedaled press. Her dreamy, lyrical, intelligent style has completely entranced me.

Known for her published journals, which she began writing at age 11 and spanned more than 60 years, Nin is now most recognized for her sophisticated, highly elegant erotic literature and short stories, which were published posthumously, after her death in 1977.

She was brought to New York in 1914 by her mother, a classically trained singer, after the abandonment of her composer father, and was educated there, but later returned to Europe, where she married Hugo Guiler, an international banker, in 1923.

Nin launched her professional career with the publication of D. H. Lawrence:  An Unprofessional Study, 1932The book led to a lifelong relationship with the American author Henry Miller, with whom she exchanged hundreds of letters. A Literary Passion: Letters of Anais Nin & Henry Miller, 1932-1953, includes much of their correspondence, an interesting documentary on their struggle as recognition as writers, as well as their romantic relationship.

She returned to New York, just before the outbreak of WWII.  From being a cult figure in the early feminist movement, she later rose to international prominence with her writing. In 1973, she received an honorary doctorate from the Philadelphia College of Art, and she was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1974.

The function of art is to renew our perception.  
What we are familiar with, we cease to see.  
The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it. 

Anais Nin

52 comments:

  1. Hi! Willow...
    The painting [Of your muse] [and photograph Of Anais Nin] is..."beautiful...! ...and the shared information about Anais Nin, is very interesting too!
    Thanks,
    deedee ;-D

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  2. Brilliant quotes and thank you for the reading suggestions....xv

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  3. tess - i've not read anais' work that i can remember although i'm very familiar with who she is. summertime is coming and so i will pop her name on the reading list. thanks for the direction. steven

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  4. You wrote an interesting piece there. I will have to check the current read out.

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  5. thanks for sharing this...

    love the line: For I am possessed by a fever for knowledge, experience, and creation.

    JJRod'z

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  6. OH gosh, I was a avid Nin fan and reader back in the early 70's. Read all the diaries I think, plus the prose-- much of it. Did you know that after her death (I believe) it was discovered that she had two husbands at the same time, one on the east coast, Hugo and another on the west coast? I think I have that right.

    She was a radical any way you look at her, from my POV

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  7. Suki, yes, she was married to Rupert Pole in California, at the same time as Guiler, who remained in New York. Although she had the marriage to Pole annulled in 1966, for legal reasons, she remained with him until her death.

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  8. YOU are so 'into' everything, and you take me along for the ride. Each time I visit here I feel blest.

    And grateful!

    PEACE!

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  9. Nin's writing has always been a favorite of mine. I quote her often.

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  10. I have been enjoying your quotes on FB very much. This painting is total eye candy.

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  11. This is an enlightening post, Tess. I really like the quote at the end. It is the perfect description for all forms of art.

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  12. A terrific post, Tess. Loving Henry Miller's work and philosophy, and am equally interested in Anais Nin, though I have read little of her writings. The quotes you provide, however, have enticed me to dig deeper. Thanks.

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  13. Oh, I love the black & white portrait of her; how striking. That last quote should be inscribed on the heart of every artist..

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  14. Oh yes, Tess. I love her too. Another perfect example of the artist who pursued her art despite the world's reaction. An inspiration.

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  15. What a great photo of her; I love that. I read her diaries years ago--I should look at her work again. She was always kind of fascinating to me.

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  16. It is always a good thing to have a muse I think - it seems to increase ones creativity. Love her writing.

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  17. I find that line "For I am possessed by a fever for knowledge, experience, and creation" describes my family. My daughter = knowledge, my husband = experience and me the creation. Though I suppose we all have a little of each in us.

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  18. I am intrigued with her as well...I am wondering...what book would you suggest I read first? The short stories? I am excited to read more...

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  19. henry miller wrote one of my favorite books, the colossus of maroussi. i've never read nin, but after reading your post i intend to.

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  20. I went through an obsession with her in my mid-twenties -- particularly her relationship with Henry Miller --

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  21. Have you read "Collages" by Anais Nin? It has been on my bookshelf for years...a real favorite of mine.

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  22. I'm all for shaking up familiar scenes. I sense a change, of late, not just in myself, but in the spirits of other bloggers...yourself included. It's as though we've been caught in the same stroke of the brush.

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  23. As usual, you are the teacher who was missing for most of my schooling. Very interesting. I connect.

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  24. Tess -- Ah, Anais Nin an early movement figure. So inspiring and strong. -- barbara

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  25. Oh yes, she is one of those amazing writers that I have never read but I feel like I know her writing through her quotes...Need to change that!

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  26. ..ah, Anais Nin...she's awesomely adorable... i like the quote on both beginning and end of this post... and the Paris part on her Under a Glass Bell... thanks for the memories.(:

    Brightest blessings.

    ~Kelvin

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  27. Wonderful, Tess; absolutely wonderful! And a great introduction of Anais Nin. Thank you.

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  28. I enjoyed this post completely, the images and the text. What a beautiful woman. Now I want to read and learn more… Thank you

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  29. Anais Nin, yes. One of my favorite quotes by her:

    “I heard the rolling of my heart-beats; I heard the footsteps of my dreams, and the beat of time was lost among them like the face of truth.”

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  30. didn't discover nin until college, but she's been a mainstay muse ever since!

    happy bloomsday!

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  31. Terresa, that quote is new to me and so beautiful. Nin was a master wordsmith.

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  32. "For I am possessed by a fever for knowledge, experience, and creation."

    This is at once the problem and the solution. I think I live by this maxim. It's just hard to settle down and get anything done! This is why I love learning at your knee. Off to purchase Anais Nin. You've done so much on her, it's time.

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  33. I've noticed the Anais Nin quote on your page before and it always mades me smile. Anais Nin is one of my favorites. I love the way she couldn't help but poetry in her "pornography" (erotica). At the university I attended, they had a special collection of her work in the library.

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  34. Glad I read this post today. My introduction to Ms. Nin was in my early twenties when I began wearing the wonderful perfume Anais Anais. I was told to pronounce it exactly as I would the name of the writer. No, it wasn't named for her but rather for the Persian Love Goddess, Anaitis.

    I've never read her books but perhaps now...?

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  35. Terrific piece-- thanks for posting this! xxxj

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  36. I recognize her name but don't know much about her. Thanks for the introduction and the enthralling painting.

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  37. Hello Tess - I used to be so in love with Anais a few years ago. I read her In Favor of the Sensitive Man and Other Essays, plus I too have read bits and pieces of her diaries. She was such and interesting soul. And did you know that she used to keep her diaries in a bank lockbox? A tidbit I learned from somewhere...

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  38. What a brilliant gift she was..I'm with Nin..its the fever that contains our quest. So much to know about her..thanks for this lovely outline...

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  39. Oh, I shouldn't post, and you probably know this stuff already...
    Found her through Miller and read her diaries in my twenties. Many, many questions arose. What's up with this strange relationship with the father? And why the constant allusions to deep dark secrets that the diaries don't cough up?. We're talking diaries, right? Well...the diaries were expurgated. And come to find out through a later biography that the relationship with her father was literally incestuous. And the secrets alluded to the dual husbands. Except now some scholars believe she made the whole incest stuff up about her father to begin with! Round and round it goes. Obviously a woman who's fascinated and enthralled many, many people. And the diaries are still amazing records of their time and the people she ran with -- Antonin Artaud, Otto Rank, Caresse Crosby, Henry Miller, etc.

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  40. Coincidentally, I'm currently re-reading Miller's BIG SUR AND THE ORANGES OF HIERONYMOUS BOSCH -- I need to read some Nin.

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  41. Denise, yes, there's all kinds of delicious guesses about which of her writings were fact and which were fiction. That's what good writing is all about, is it not?

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  42. Tess, thank you for this interesting post!
    I have read some of her work and Henry Miller's, now I am looking forward to hear more from you.
    Love the photographs you chose,
    Merisi

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  43. I can't recall reading any of Anais Nin's works, but I have read Miller, including his lovely autobiography, 'The Books in My Life' where he mentions his friends and their impact on his life. Currently, I'm reading T.C. Boyle's 'The Women' about those special ladies in the interesting life of Frank Lloyd Wright. Afterwards, why, I'll just have to search the library for a copy of Nin's work. Thanks for the heads up on one who has inspired you.

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  44. Angella, isn't it fabulous? I absolutely love it. I found it in Google images without any notation of the artist, so unfortunately I am unable to give credit.

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  45. This is the third post I've seen today about her. She is in the air.

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  46. I'm mesmerized by chocolate chip cookie nipples.

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  47. Giggle...it must be the diet. I saw leopard patches.

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  48. I love your painting and page! A friend of mine was friends with Anais long ago... she was a daring, brilliant but more importantly, she was a kind woman when she did not have to be.

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Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)