Mar 14, 2010

The Early Diaries of Anais Nin

by Anais Nin

Anais Nin was a famous feminist writer. She lived in France, and had a long friendship with Henry Miller. From an early age she knew she wanted to be a writer, and began writing poetry and short stories. She became famous for her erotic writing and is well-known for her extensive diaries, which she began at age 11 and continued for sixty years. At the time I read the first few volumes of her diaries, I really didn't know much about her, or why her writing was famous. All I knew was that I was reading the innermost thoughts and aspirations of a young girl who was a fabulous writer. She has a beautiful way with words that I still remember impressing me greatly, even though I can't recall any particulars now about the events described in the diaries.

I'm not sure what made me pick up the first volume of Anias Nin's diaries, which I first borrowed from the library as a teen, and later sought out further volumes at used bookstores. (I no longer have any of them). I know I had a goal in mind to read through them all, and took particular pains to search out the early volumes, so I could read them in chronological order. I never made it to the main volumes, which were published first, and start at the point where Nin was recently married to her first husband and about to meet Henry Miller. I made it through the first two early volumes, and perhaps part of the third. I'm not sure now what made me stop. Perhaps my interest lagged. Perhaps the hint of erotica to come unsettled me- sensuality in books could make me very uncomfortable as a teen.

Anais Nin's diaries are among those books I'm sure I didn't fully appreciate as a teenager, and think about revisiting someday. Have any of you read her diaries? What did you think? Should I try them again, or attempt some of her fictional works?

Rating: 3/5 ....... pages various, 1914-1927

Besides searching on Wiki, you can read more about Anais Nin (including extensive quotes from her diaries) on the Official Anais Nin blog and at Her Happy Highness.

6 comments:

Nymeth said...

I haven't read her diaries, but I was reading an article about her just the other day and she sounds like a fascinating woman. So I'd definitely like to someday.

bermudaonion said...

I haven't read her diaries - I think I'm intimidated by them!

Danielle said...

I've always been very curious about her and would love to read her diaries. I think I have a few of them on my shelves and maybe even a biography. She seems like a fascinating woman and it would be interesting to know if everything she writes about is true or, being a writer, if she sort of explored her writerly side in her diaries.

Bybee said...

I tried to read them when I was too young and was bored. A lot of it went over my head.

Jeane said...

Nymeth- She sounds so inspirational. I think I just wasn't able to appreciate it when younger.

Bermudaonion- We're in the same boat.

Danielle- I've heard that some people question the veracity of her diaries, that some of it appears to be embellished in one way or another, but I'm not clear on that.

Bybee- I felt the same when I first tried them.

Jenny said...

I've read absolutely nothing by or about Anais Nin. I feel like I am going to have my feminist card revoked if I continue like this much longer. :P I would love to give her diaries a try, as I am addicted to diaries and letters.