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Anais: The Erotic Life of Anais Nin [Paperback]

Noel Riley Fitch
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 1 1994
Anais Nin was the ultimate femme fatale, a passionate and mysterious woman, world famous for her extravagant sexual exploits, most notably her simultaneous affairs with Henry and June Miller and her bicoastal bigamous marriages. In the mid-1920s, eager to break the confines of American Victorianism both as an artist and as a woman, Nin traveled to Paris, where she fell in with the legendary artistic and literary circles of the Left Bank.

"Nin's Diary", published over the years in numerous volumes, has been hailed as a breakthrough document by literary critics and feminists alike. Yet in the published diary, Nin did not lay bare her true self. She instead constructed a carefully stylized image of the woman the world knew as "Anais" while keeping her inner self hidden. In "Anais", biographer Noel Riley Fitch presents an honest portrait of Nin's passionate, tumultuous, and sometimes bitterly painful life. Fitch reveals, among other things, that behind Nin's coquetry was the desperate yearning of an abused and abandoned child. This, the first biography of Nin, complements, corrects, and demystifies the image that Nin so artfully crafted in her diary.

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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 Tapping hundreds of interviews, library archives and Nin's unpublished erotica and fiction, Fitch ( Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation ) convincingly portrays Nin as a complex, neurotic artist, alienated from her own anger and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

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly Delicious Sept. 15 2002
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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5.0 out of 5 stars She created her own life unhampered by truth July 31 1998
By A Customer
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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4.0 out of 5 stars All is True in the Mind Nov. 8 2001
I agree that this is not the best biography of Anais Nin. Yet, we have to realize that she is not the easiest person to write a book about. I admire Noel Riley Fitch for attempting. I love reading about Anais--she was an amazing woman. And I think she knew more about the TRUTH then we think she did. She created atmosphere and breathable relationships. This biography tells of her friends and enemies alike---her success and failures.
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