Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Diary of Anaïs Nin #1

The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1: 1931-1934

Rate this book
This celebrated volume begins when Nin is about to publish her first book and ends when she leaves Paris for New York. Edited and with a Preface by Gunther Stuhlmann.

384 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1966

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Anaïs Nin

245 books7,127 followers
French-born novelist, passionate eroticist and short story writer, who gained international fame with her journals. Spanning the years from 1931 to 1974, they give an account of one woman's voyage of self-discovery. "It's all right for a woman to be, above all, human. I am a woman first of all." (from The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. I, 1966)

Anaïs Nin was largely ignored until the 1960s. Today she is regarded as one of the leading female writers of the 20th century and a source of inspiration for women challenging conventionally defined gender roles.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
2,927 (42%)
4 stars
2,453 (35%)
3 stars
1,173 (17%)
2 stars
237 (3%)
1 star
77 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 388 reviews
Profile Image for Rowena.
500 reviews2,440 followers
September 9, 2017
What a diary! Definitely nothing like any diary I’ve ever read or written. Anais Nin is truly engaging. Each diary entry is so candid and shows her deeply introspective and artistic nature.

For the most part I’d say nothing truly remarkable happens in the diary; yet Nin is the kind of person who could turn a normal, everyday event into something magical and profound. This is a woman who really lived, who really experienced life, who aimed to fully understand human relationships, both edifying and destructive ones. This is a flawed woman who recognizes her imperfections but does not apologize for them.

In Nin’s world we enter the world of the Bohemian artist in Paris, where everyone and everything can be a subject. We enter the circles she moved about in, including lots of famous literary people and doctors.It was also interesting to find out how D.H. Lawrence inspired her.

Nin’s writing style, as always, is very elegant, lyrical and articulate. Her adeptness at describing relationships and personality is wonderful. Reading her diary definitely caused me to be reflective.

The most interesting part of the book for me was Nin’s fascinatingly-weird relationship with Henry and June Miller. I still can’t quite wrap my head around the intensity of this unconventional relationship.

A couple of parts were not very pleasant to read but I do respect her frankness and willingness to share all parts of her life, pleasant or not.

To end with one of my favourite quotes from this volume:
“Introspection does not need to be a still life. It can be an active alchemy.”

Links to my other Nin diary reviews

Volume 2: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Volume 3: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Volume 4: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Volume 6: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1...

Volume 7: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
Profile Image for Michael.
657 reviews966 followers
April 3, 2020
Novelistic in detail and full of insight into the creative process, the first volume of Anaïs Nin’s diary sketches a vibrant portrait of the artist as a young woman. Set mostly in France, the work begins in 1931 with the writer having just finished her first book, a biography of her literary idol D. H. Lawrence, and ends two years later on the eve of her trip to America, in the wake of a tragic miscarriage. For much of the volume, Nin—always sensitive and self aware—thoughtfully outlines the characters of her famous literary peers, from Henry Miller to Antonin Artaud, and charts the turbulent trajectory of her own development as a thinker, within a sexist social set. The work’s a moving account of a talented writer’s beginnings.
Profile Image for Alan.
Author 2 books30 followers
December 8, 2008
Taste shmaste. She is real. A real woman, who lead a free life. The fashion of hating her is as lame as the knee-jerk love of Wilco. It is like putting on a pair of Ugg boots in the city. Though there is certainly plausible cause for doing so (snow), it is generally a blind and embarrassing act of striving. There are several more nuanced alternatives to her, yes. And certainly, there are legitimate reasons to dislike her (her appetite for such words as "ensorcellment" and "elixers" being among them) but the elite fashion of loathing her has more to do with the age-old resentment accorded to unapologetic women––and a residual American Puritanism masquerading as refinement––than with the real human and linguistic value of her impassioned, fraught, obfuscated, and well-laid life in words.

This talk about her narcissism and the 'dishonesty' of the expurgated journal (there is an unexpurgated version, published much later, that is much juicier) only reinforces the point. It is called literature. Other than trains of words stapled together with narcissism and lies, what the fuck is it? This is a woman who, uncoerced, had sex with her own father, and wrote about it. As with Harriet Jacobs, you either call her a liar to her face, or you carry the weight. Emotionally, the incentives argue for disbelief. But no one questions Henry Miller in his confession of rape. Possibly because men more want to rape than they want to believe that a free woman could go Electra at least in part for the sake of the story.

Those of us who have fled the academy shrieking and nearly ruined, never to return, are in best position to immolate its assiduous blowhards. You are likely in suede elbow patches or a chunky bracelet, possessed of better cheeses than books. This one could do you some good. Because it is––as you say––bad.
Profile Image for Anna.
19 reviews18 followers
June 27, 2008
Annnnnnaaaaaaiiiiiiisssss (pronounce Anna!!-eeeeeees)

Dear Anais,
So far I have read Volumes 1 and 2 of your diary, Henry & June and that diminutive book of racy short stories, Little Birds. I ordered 11 more of your works online (used) and am compiling a library that will contain everything you've ever written, and then expand to include the books of authors you mention reading in your diary and/or befriended in life.

I guess it's no secret - I love you Anais. Because of you I started writing again. Because of you I feel re-inspired to live life to the fullest. Realizing I am master of my own destiny. Etc. So lovely and small, but such a dynamic personality. Your description of expat life in Paris, your affair with Henry Miller, the artistic community that YOU fostered and maintained, working as an analyst in New York...Right now I'm up to the part (vol. 2) where you must leave Paris and return to America. War has sunk its dirty claws into Europe and rent asunder the perfect world you dreamed and in dreaming made real.

I've started underlining phrases in your books that I find inspiring, but also parts where you seem to be articulating a concept that half-hides in my own muddled thoughts.. Here are a few I really love...

"I feel the need to swing away from constant explanations. I want to run away from too much consciousness, too much awareness. At night, I seek dancing, friendships, nature, forgetfulness, music, or sleep."

"The more I explore neurosis the more I become aware that it is a modern form of romanticism. It stems from the same source, a hunger for perfection, an obsession with living out what one has imagined..."

"The body is an instrument which only gives off music when it is used as a body."

"What makes people despair is that they try to find a universal meaning to the whole of life, and then end up by saying it is absurd, illogical, empty of meaning. There is not one big cosmic meaning for all, there is only the meaning we each give to our life, and individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person."

"It seemed that by living by my feelings and impulses I was happier."

"Men think they live and die for ideas. What a divine joke. They live and die for emotional, personal errors, just as women do."

"Limitations, restrictions, defeats, come from within. I am fully responsible for my own restrictions."

"Too much awareness, without accompanying experience, is a skeleton without the flesh of life."

"Love attracts love."
Profile Image for Cheryl.
464 reviews583 followers
February 1, 2015
I have always believed in Andre Breton’s freedom, to write as one thinks, in the order and disorder in which one feels and thinks, to follow sensations and absurd correlations of events and images, to trust to the new realms they lead one into.

I have always believed in a writer’s choice to write about the mundane affairs of life, and by so doing, turn it inward out, so that the reader sees the world through her mirror. After all, the greatest tool available to a biographer, are the letters of his or her subject, so imagine the depths that one can explore when one has the words from a subject’s daily recordings. Through lyrical synapses and storytelling, Anaïs Nin tells her story in this first volume of her diaries: she never really knew her father intimately; her mother tried to kill her when she was a child (though it was her mother who raised her and taught her most of what she knew); all she wanted to be was a writer surrounded by other writers; she was timid, insecure, and most likely because of this, her friendships were peculiar. What is the "so what," the literati asks: nonfiction is supposed to have an indication of what makes it different, a story.
Enter this laboratory of the soul where incidents are refracted into a diary, dissected to prove that everyone of us carries a deforming mirror where he sees himself too small or too large, too fat or too thin…

Enter her world and you’ll ask yourself: can diaries really answer this nonfiction “so what” demand? If the self is a fragment, and the diary records these fragmentary moments in real time, can the self be expected to understand the story even while discovery still unfolds? After all, the beauty of a diary resides in the vulnerability of soul:
Curse my image, the image of me which faces me every day with the same over-fineness, over-delicacy, the pride, the vulnerability which makes people want to preserve me, treat me with care. Curse my eyes which are sad, and deep, and my hands which are delicate, and my walk which is a glide, my voice which is a whisper, all that can be used for a poem…

It was easy to become one with Anaïs as I read along, to know that her thoughts were not too different from mine. She is a perceptive writer who, through self, gives birth to a reader’s introspection and still manages to insert prosaic imagery of place. Besides, who can’t help but admire a woman who appreciated D. H. Lawrence’s works enough to see his feministic approach, even when in her day, his writing was controversial: “I am aware of being in a beautiful prison, from which I can only escape by writing. So I have written a book about D. H. Lawrence out of gratitude, because it was he who awakened me.” Sure, I read her diary wishing I had less of Henry (her self-consumed friend), but when she bid me enter her world in the beginning, I couldn’t help but follow and towards the end, when she bared her soul in that dark and doomed birthing room, it was frightening and compelling enough to keep me wanting to read more of this person who makes life lucid through articulate prose.
Profile Image for Emily.
71 reviews7 followers
September 19, 2007
I feel kind of cheated. I'm fascinated with Nin's writing and ideas. I'm interested in her work. I can forgive the solipsism of the diary, since it is, after all, a diary. But I read this collection of writing feeling like I was getting only half the story. Because of legal constraints, the book has been so heavily edited that it makes literally no mention of the man who was her husband for this entire period. Not only does it make for jarring reading (you find yourself reading a gutwrenching miscarriage story when you have no idea about the circumstances of her pregnancy), but it made me feel like I was ultimately being misled about the details of her life. If I'm reading something as intimate as a diary, I'd like the whole story, please.
Profile Image for Bloodorange.
660 reviews182 followers
February 21, 2023
Reading this, I was struck by a feeling I often have when reading children's fiction: who finances all this? And where are the responsible adults? In Nin's diaries, we see a woman nearing thirty, who apparently lives with her younger brother, a musician, yet does not seem to depend on him financially; who has a beautiful, nicely furnished house, and extravagant clothes; and yet we have no idea what she might do to pay for all this.

It turns out Nin chose to erase from her (published) diary the existence of her banker husband, Hugh, who paid for her bohemian lifestyle. The meticulously described house in Louvesciennes was bought and furnished with his money, which enabled her to pursue her love for clothing and design, and also help (and publish) Henry Miller.

Hugh loved her (and his life with her) so much he refused to acknowledge the blatantly obvious signs of her affair with Miller, even though she basically begged to be found out - she would literally write honest account of her days with Miller sitting at his feet, and slept with letters from her lover under her pillow.

Aside from her very physical affair with Miller, which she left out from the published version of the diary, she decided to omit other extramarital flirtations/ affairs: that time she slept with her gay cousin after having flirted with him for thirteen years (they later went to the cafe and had two big sandwiches each); the fact that she slept with her father when she was about thirty (and that he had molested her in her childhood, which likely made her prove her attractiveness by seducing anything that walked). Flirtations with women, including Miller's wife, Anais's cousin and Hugh's sister. The seduction of her married psychoanalyst (however, she decided to first end the therapy). Heck, she didn't even write about her nose job (she told her husband and Henry she was going on vacation, and the gay cousin received a letter explaining she was being hospitalised after taking cocaine).

To sum up, there is as much truth in this as in a carefully curated instagram feed, the aim of which is to represent the owner as God's gift to men in her life, a caretaker and a muse.
Profile Image for Janet.
Author 19 books87.7k followers
February 22, 2012
This was my introduction to the work of Anais Nin--the very first volume that fell into my adolescent hands. Anais, with her house in the suburbs of Paris in which every room was painted a different color, and she lived with her husband, and met a man named Henry Miller. In which she investigated the possibility of being a woman writer, of writing things that she knew as a woman, a voice which she had not yet seen in print, completely subjective, Piscean, mutable, veiled.

the unexpurgated diaries have also been printed now, but I have not yet returned to them--because the self censoring of these diaries was part of their art, their veiled magic. But having read these, yes, I would like to go back and see names named, to unlock more of this story.

Yet this is the book which will always be dearest to me, just as it is.

Profile Image for Kecia.
911 reviews
June 7, 2007
I am not certain exactly what I found so compelling about this book but it sucked me right in. It is very dense but I could not put it down and breezed thru it in about a week. There were times when I wanted to yell at Anais to not be so full of herself...but then I remember this is a journal...she's supposed to write her innermost secrets here. I will never think about journaling the same way again.

Spring day: Walking home from the market with the weeks's greens tucked in my canvas bag I stopped by a yard sale. There were several boxes of old books, 50 cents each. I fought and clawed my way through the boxes with others and pulled out Ntozake Shange, Pynchon, Checkov and this book. The cover is creased and the spine is cracked. The pages are sepia-toned with age. The sides of the pages are worn and feel as soft as velvet from countless fingers turning the pages. Sentences underlined. Paragraphs blocked out. It is ugly with age but it is a book that has been well loved. I think it is beautiful. The woman in a pink t-shirt, a baggy black shorts, tevas, wants to know which books I am purchasing...she parts with old friends and I leave with new ones.

Note to self: Read Henry and June soon rather than later.

Profile Image for Danielle.
22 reviews4 followers
January 5, 2009
It's her diary. It's all about her. Get over it.
Profile Image for Kate.
Author 4 books37 followers
September 1, 2007
I had to stop reading this book, though i did thoroughly enjoy Nin's lengthy ruminations about life and its general contents. It was not helping me take the giant leap of faith necessary to live my artist life. The woman never had to have a job, all she did was roam around doing things she wanted to do all the time, then writing up beautiful philosophical commentary. Certainly not helpful in boosting my morale as I'm leaping off a cliff, living more like Henry.
Profile Image for Jessaka.
870 reviews106 followers
December 7, 2016
I used to sit in coffee shops with my friends while living in Berkeley in the 70s. I often brought this book along with me to read as I found her journal writing and her life fascinating. I got as far as finishing volume 2 before finally becoming bored.
Profile Image for Edita.
1,293 reviews378 followers
November 20, 2016
That is why the writer is the loneliest man in the world; because he lives, fights, dies, is reborn always alone; all his roles are played behind a curtain. In life he is an incongruous figure. To judge a writer it is necessary to have an equal love for writing as for the man.
I am always between two worlds, always in conflict. I would like sometimes to rest, to be at peace, to choose a nook, make a final choice, but I can’t. Some nameless, undescribable fear and anxiety keeps me on the move. On certain evenings like this, I would like to feel whole. Only a half of me is sitting by the fire,
How can I accept a limited definable self when I feel, in me, all possibilities?
With you I might return from the abysses in which I have lived.
We get drunk with images, words, scenes, possibilities.
I am not asking for anything,” I said, “except that you be real.
Profile Image for Rosa Ramôa.
1,570 reviews65 followers
May 25, 2014
"Eu sou uma pessoa excitável que só entende vida liricamente, musicalmente, em quem sentimentos são muito mais fortes que a razão. Eu estou tão sedenta para o maravilhoso que só o maravilhoso tem poder sobre mim. Qualquer coisa que eu não possa transformar em algo maravilhoso, eu deixo ir. Realidade não me impressiona. Eu só acredito em intoxicação, em êxtase, e quando vida ordinária me algemar, eu escapo, de uma maneira ou de outra. Nenhum muro mais."(Anais Nin)

Profile Image for Leilani.
28 reviews10 followers
July 26, 2007
what insight! this woman was my hero until i read the excerpt:

man can never know the loneliness a woman knows. man lies in the woman's womb only to gather strength, he nourishes himself from this fusion, and then he rises and goes into the world, into his work, into battle, into art. he is not lonely. he is busy. the memory of the swim in amniotic fluid gives him energy, completion. woman may be busy too, but she feels empty. sensuality for her is not only a wave of pleasure in which she is bathed, and a charge of electric joy at contact with another. when man lies in her womb, she is fulfilled, each act of love a taking of man within her, an act of birth and rebirth, of child rearing and man bearing. man lies in her womb and is reborn each time anew with a desire to act, to BE. but for woman, the climax is not in the birth, but in the moment man rests inside of her.

i find this to be a gross negligence of the power of a woman. in addition, what about lesbian relationships? the act of love between two women is not contingent on penetration but rather friction (in my experience ..) personally, i just can't bear the thought of deriving complete fulfillment by being filled by a man.
Profile Image for Emily Gallagher.
14 reviews3 followers
September 3, 2007
It is best to read this while sitting in Les Deux Magots in Paris, sipping coffee, and watching the world go by.
Profile Image for Pearl.
244 reviews18 followers
February 2, 2023
I’ve had to adjust my ratings, retroactively, because of how incredible this diary is.

Anais, Pearl, Anais. This diary was like holding up a mirror. I saw myself reflected not just in her, but in June Miller, in Allendy, in her maid Emilia, in her dandy father and stoic mother. She even made me understand Henry Miller’s quest for truth and his German romantic nature (she made me appreciate Germans! Who I’ve been trying to escape from since I realised I was one!).

This is a diary about coming out of your shell in a vibrant city, and then, more importantly, beginning to come into your own as an artist. Anais’ experiences in 1930s Paris, while not the same as mine in pre and post-pandemic Berlin, feel the same. In my little fantasy, we could have met at a nightclub, jazz drifting in from behind her, techno thumping behind me. We would have shared a cigarette together outside, huddled up in big coats (hers real, mine synthetic) and watched the people streaming around us, as we talked and as we were silent. We would have left without saying goodbye to anyone.

She gave me hope is what I’m trying to say I guess. These days I’m usually questioning everything I’ve done so far, and every inch of my personality, and to have someone show their oddness, their neurosis and their love for the world, not only touched me, but encouraged me. If she managed it, then maybe I dont have be lonely. Maybe there’s a life I enjoy, just waiting for me to pay attention to it.

Today I’m going to write the first page of my journal.
Profile Image for Montserrat Letona.
86 reviews19 followers
September 10, 2021
“Dear Diary, pity me, but listen to me.”

She does goes on a little bit… And we learn in the introduction that this was heavily resumed. Imagine that.

Sometimes the parts of Henry are very repetitive but with different words, whenever she talked about him I felt bored after a while and the jumps between people are very sudden.
I have to say I was very impressed by the writing skills her father showed in the letters sent to her (I couldn’t help but wonder if they were maybe touched up a little bit?)

She has a magnificent flow of words and thoughts and this is probably one of my most highlighted books, however it is too much at times, overwhelming, but hey! Isn’t this the way life works?

I wonder if the fact that this is resumed version of the 1931-34 diaries didn’t make her enough justice or if it did us a favor.

One thing is true, she writes beautifully.
Profile Image for Ciara.
Author 3 books342 followers
December 11, 2008
i bought these books years ago & didn't get around to reading them until the summer of 2007. i mean, i bought them like five years before that & just couldn't get into them. anais nin kept a journal for pretty much her entire life, ever since she emigrated to the united states originally when she was eleven years old. her diary was her life's work, according to her, her publishers, her peers, etc. she actually let her friends read her diaries & sent excerpts around for publication even while she was writing them, which boggles my mind. i keep a diary too & i can't imagine just foisting it off on my friends to read. then again, anais nin's diary is more a kind of, "henry miller & i sat in a cafe this afternoon. later i read some proust," diary. mine is much more critical of just about everything, including myself. she also writes a lot about her philosophies on art, writing, psychology, etc, which is kind of interesting, kind of indulgent. i mean, i think most people who keep diaries touch on these issues, & it is interesting to read the later volumes & see how nin's thoughts on various issues changed as she grew up & shed some of her naivete. this volume is totally devoted to her friendship with henry miller & her bizarre infatusation with his wife, june. she goes on a lot about how june is the ideal woman, which is interesting, because like twenty years later, she is very critical of her memories of june. but whatever, i'm often critical of people i used to be friends with in my diaries.
Profile Image for Melanie.
14 reviews7 followers
February 28, 2009
i like these much more than her novels. a beautiful woman. i love her notes about dreams. and one of my favorite quotes: "Anxiety is a woman screaming without a voice," paraphrased because my memory is terrible. ok i'm just going to list some quotes: "But this woman, who could undress at the request of any man, make love with anyone, go to orgies, act as a call girl in a professional house, this Beth told me she found it actually difficult to talk about sex!"
"Far below a rather pale nature, a subdued tropical life, lay a scenery of dreams, a dream born out of continuity impossible to an artist.
"(...) A dream from which all violence was absent.
"Here lay a dream entombed."
"The softer the velvet box, the deeper the rugs, the warmer the rooms, the greater the abundance of food, the more I miss what I have lost, the lonelier I feel."

...I haven't read this in years. I'm skimming through my used, worn copy now to see what I (and the previous owner) underlined. I forgot what it meant to me. Recommended for any woman who feels too deeply for her own good.
Profile Image for Nicole D'Settēmi.
Author 15 books61 followers
August 2, 2018
THE DIARY OF ANAIS NIN: Vol. 1: 1931-1934 By Anaïs Nin
A Review By Nicole D'Settemi

No book has affected me in the way that this book has. Not a novel, but told more interestingly than most creative writing and fictional works I've read, this diary is the most compelling piece of literature I've ever read.
Nin's language flows beautifully, her descriptions rich, her portraits of "characters," leaving one to always want to know just a little bit more! Her pages on Henry and June (and unexpurgated diary) especially June Miller, are so strongly written, she exercises such an inquisitive, inexperienced voice in the diary, one of a grown woman who was never given the chance to really grow, to expand, to embrace her sexuality, until she runs into this duo.
We watch Henry use both June and Anais as muses for his greatest works during these times. Just the same, Anais is also inspired by June, as well as Henry, and produces the beginning to this lengthy volume of adult journals that are truly some of the most remarkable works of the century.
I will never be the same after having viewed her line of work. It changed my ideologies, my philosophies, my way of life, my writing, and my entire view of the literature world. It took Nin more than three decades to successfully publish Miller's work, and then her own. She had brilliance and resilience and I am so impressed with everything that she has written in these journals.
I would HIGHLY recommend Nin to somebody who wants to venture into creative writing, especially artists who are sometimes looking to approach writing from a more authentic angle.
Profile Image for Aric Cushing.
Author 9 books91 followers
February 11, 2014
One of my favorites. Nin can write about a tired old piece of toast and make it beautiful. Seeing history through her lens IS magic.
Profile Image for Jimmy.
511 reviews696 followers
August 29, 2022
Anais Nin goes through men in a way that parallels how her absent father went through women. But instead of sleeping with them (or maybe, in addition to), she analyzes them, mothers them, worships them, excuses their bad behavior, entertains their theories, dismisses them. In the end, she seems much smarter than her men, yet she listens and gains profound insights from them.

This is the first time I've read anything by her, and from her reputation, I thought this was going to be 90% sex and incest. But it's almost none of that. I mean, I'm sure she has a lot of sex, but it's mostly off screen (or expurgated)

She's an extremely intellectual and abstract thinker, and this makes her diary unlike any other. There is very little of the day to day happenings, and it's almost entirely filled with her psychoanalyzing herself and her friends. (I've read some reviews that say she's self absorbed, but I mean, this is her DIARY, she's allowed to be a little self absorbed here of all places, right?)

Like any complicated person, she's full of contradictions. She's extremely radical yet at the same time, kind of conventional. On the one hand, she's completely free of social and sexual boundaries. Many of her relations overflow into uncomfortable (for most) situations, like how she has sexual relations with most of her therapists. And obviously her father is hugely problematic as well. She seems to be a feminist in how strong and independent and free she is. Yet at the same time, she listens and submits to men and their sometimes sexist views without any pushback. She even accepts certain assumptions they have about the differences between men and women that seem quite a stretch to my ears:
Women, said Rank, when cured of neurosis, enter life. Man enters art. Woman is too close to life, too human. The feminine quality is necessary to the male artist, but Rank questioned whether masculinity is equally necessary to the woman artist.
Overall, this was way more interesting than a diary should ever be. There's something seductive about the serpentine intuitive pathways of her mind. Also, she's just a damn good writer. I would read more of her, but maybe one of her novels next. I think I need a little break from this, as good as it was.

Some choice quotes:
“What is this powerful magic we create together and indulge in? How can Henry be excluded from it when he has genius? What do June and I seek together that Henry does not believe in? Wonder wonder wonder.”

“Perhaps we have built a false concept of wholeness and, under the pressure of an artificial unity, people like June explode and fly in all directions.” (reminiscent of Golden Notebook)

“This love of cruelty must bind them indissolubly. Would they take pleasure in destroying me? For jaded people, the only pleasure left is to demolish others.”

“Writers do not live one life, they live two. There is the living and then there is the writing. There is the second tasting, the delayed reaction.”

“I have no brakes on," I said. "Analysis is for those who are paralyzed by life.”

“I feel like a well-appointed laboratory of the soul—myself, my home, my life—in which none of the vitally fecund or destructive, explosive experiments has yet begun. I like the shape of the bottles, the colors of the chemicals. I collect bottles, and the more they look like alchemist bottles the more I like them for their eloquent forms.”

“Enter this laboratory of the soul where every feeling will be X-rayed by Dr. Allendy to expose the blocks, the twists, the deformations, the scars which interfere with the flow of life. Enter this laboratory of the soul where incidents are refracted into a diary, dissected to prove that everyone of us carries a deforming mirror where he sees himself too small or too large, too fat or too thin, even Henry, who believes himself so free, blithe, and unscarred. Enter here where one discovers that destiny can be directed, that one does not need to remain in bondage to the first wax imprint made on childhood sensibilities. One need not be branded by the first pattern. Once the deforming mirror is smashed, there is a possibility of wholeness; there is a possibility of joy.”

“If we could only write simultaneously all the levels on which we live, all at once. The whole truth! Henry is closer to it. I have a vice for embellishing.”

“If unity is impossible to the writer, who is a sea of spiritual protoplasm, capable of flowing in all directions, of engulfing every object in its path, of trickling in every crevice, of filling every hole, at least truth is possible in the confession of our insincerities.”

“How the aim of analysis resembles the old Chinese definition of wisdom: wisdom being the destruction of idealism. The basis of insincerity is the idealized image we hold of ourselves and wish to impose on others—an admirable image. When this is broken down by the analyst's discoveries, it is a relief because this image is always a great strain to live up to. Some consider the loss of it a cause for suicide.”

“Henry has asked the impossible of me. I have to nourish his conception of June and feed his book. As each page of it reaches me, in which he does more and more justice to
her, I feel it is my vision he has borrowed. Certainly no woman was ever asked so much. I am a human being, not a goddess. Because I am a woman who understands, I am asked to understand everything, to accept everything.”

“I laugh at my old fear of analysis. The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.

I have no fear of clarity.”

“I have a feeling that the masochism of woman is different from that of man. Hers comes from her maternal instinct. A mother ... suffers, gives, feeds. A woman is taught not to think of herself, to be selfless, to serve, help. This masochism is almost natural to woman.”

“I told [Henry Miller] my theory of skipping meaningless details, as the dream skips them, which produces not only intensity but power. He begins, "Wednesday morning I stood at the corner..." I say, drop "Wednesday"; drop the extra weight to achieve speed, the essential ... a literature of "cuts.”

“To the poets, insanity seems closer to divinity than sanity. The madman arrives at death not by human progression, the disintegration of cells, but by a series of holocausts.”

“He said, "I always thought that one had to deserve love, I worked so hard to merit it."

This phrase was so much like what I often wrote in my diary. The idea of deserving love. And then watching love being given to people who did nothing to deserve it.”

“There is a great continuity in my relations and devotions to people. For example, I remember what Allendy and I talked about the last time, and if a thread remained loose I pick it up and set about untangling it and placing it where it belongs. It is a work of minute cellular construction which all life constantly strives to destroy. The entire mechanism of practical life obstructs such a construction. The telephone rings; the patients are waiting; the conference has to be written, prescriptions, and my own mass of cares, duties, the house, the friends, the garden, the needs of others. All this brutally submerges the pattern, the web of profound correlations. I fight hasty, casual, careless contacts. Just a patient, subterranean, delicate effort to destroy the solitude of human beings, to build bridges. To achieve this in relationship and in writing takes much time. Proust had to retire from life to do it in writing.

I give to this creation a care I give to none other. When we are interrupted, it is characteristic of me that my thread remains unbroken. I stand in the room possessed by the theme, and I do not let go.”

“When I came home I sat by the fire and, staring at it so long, I became hallucinated. I thought I was standing inside a glass bell such as I have as a paperweight, a ball of glass which I shake and then the flurries of snow dance inside of it and cover a diminutive castle.” (reminiscent of The Bell Jar)

“I can only tell you that my surroundings are me. Everything is me, because I have rejected all conventions, the opinion of the world, all its laws. I am not obliged, as you and Jeanne are, to play a social role.”

On Artaud giving a lecture: “Is he trying to remind us that it was during the Plague that so many marvelous works of art and theatre came to be, because, whipped by the fear of death, man seeks immortality, or to escape, or to surpass himself? But then, imperceptibly almost, he let go of the thread we were following and began to act out dying by plague. No one quite knew when it began. To illustrate his conference, he was acting out an agony.”

Artaud: “They always want to hear about; they want to hear an objective conference on 'The Theatre and the Plague,' and I want to give them the experience itself, the plague itself, so they will be terrified, and awaken. I want to awaken them. They do not realize they are dead. Their death is total, like deafness, blindness. This is agony I portrayed. Mine, yes, and everyone who is alive.”

Rank: “'The precondition, then, of the creative personality is not only acceptance, but its actual glorification of itself.'

Cannot or will not accept himself. How can I accept a limited definable self when I feel, in me, all possibilities?”

“We are punctual, a stressed, marked characteristic. We need order around us, in the house, in the life, although we live by irresistible impulses, as if the order in the closets, in our papers, in our books, in our photographs, in our souvenirs, in our clothes could preserve us from chaos in our feelings, loves, in our work.”

“There are two of us. The fragments of our life which do not fit into a desired image, we discard. But I cull them in the diary, and I cannot forget them. My father forgets them.”

“The immense pride in my father. True, he did not love us humanly, for ourselves, just this reflection of himself in three human beings reproducing him, continuing his attitudes. He loved us as his creations.”

“[My father] tells me the story of the humble and rather homely little governess no one paid attention to. "Without me she would never have known love. I used to cover her homely little face to be able to make love to her. It transformed her. She became almost beautiful.”

“In front of me there is a deep abyss, and if I continue to fall into it, deeper and deeper, how long will it take me to reach the bottom? I imagine that life is such an abyss, and that the day I strike bottom will be the day I cease to suffer. One of these days I will say to my journal: "Dear Diary, I have touched bottom.”

“We talk about the dream—return to my original statement that most dreamwriting is false and intellectually composed, that the real dream has an authenticity and can be recognized. The intellectually composed or fabricated dream does not arouse the dream sensation in others (like Cocteau's film, for instance).”

“Immediately I catch the elements I do not like, which leave me cold. Logic, order, construction, classicism, equilibrium, control. I wanted to shout: I admire imperfections, Dostoevsky, Lawrence, and Henry. There is a power there.”

“Wasn't it D. H. Lawrence who wrote of how women took their pattern from man, and proceeded to be what man invented? Few writers have had a direct vision into woman. Few women had vision into themselves! And when they did, they were revolted at what they saw, just as people were revolted by what Freud exposed.”

“Romanticism was truly a parallel to neurosis. It demanded of reality an illusory world, love, an absolute which it could never obtain, and thus destroyed itself by the dream (in other centuries by tuberculosis and all the other romantic illnesses).”

“The happiness described by Rank, then, is the one of positive, creative assertion of the will through the consciousness of creation; and that, by this highest of efforts, I can arrive at a self-abnegation or forgetting of myself to a greater whole. An artistic enthusiasm for a variety of manifestations is the basis of creative exuberance.”

“When others asked the truth of me, I was convinced it was not the truth they wanted, but an illusion they could bear to live with. I was convinced of people's need of illusion.”

“George Sand, Georgette Leblanc, Eleonora Duse, women of yesterday and today. The mute ones of the past, the inarticulate, who took refuge behind wordless intuitions; and the women of today, all action, and copies of men. And I, in between. Here lies the personal overflow, the personal and feminine overfulness. Feelings that are not for books, not for fiction, not for art. All that I want to enjoy, not transform. My life has been one long series of efforts, self-discipline, will. Here I can sketch, improvise, be free, and myself.”

“[Dr. Rank] knew, perhaps, that the woman would soon fade because there was no role for her; that the woman's role to live for a man, for one man, was denied to me by my neurosis; and that to live fragmented was a negation of the wholeness of woman. And he knew that I would be driven back to art.”

“One might say that it is natural that a mechanical feeling should arise in the analyst who is confronted, say, a hundred times a year with a drama of incest; but if he had not hastened to the conclusion that all dramas of incest resemble each other, he would not have lost the vital interest in how or why the incest drama developed. It is very much like demanding a sincere participation on the part of the analyst; and no such participation would be possible if we did not refer back to the feelings of an artist when he is about to paint, for the thousandth time, the portrait of the Virgin and Child. The real artist is never concerned with the fact that the story has been told, but in the experience of reliving it; and he cannot do this if he is not convinced of the opportunity for individual expression which it permits.” (reminiscent of TMwoQ / Musil)

“The scientific attitude skeletonizes the personality and produces a contraction, a reduction to phenomena. Otto Rank emphasizes the difference between individualities and produces the expansion of it. The stressing of differences enlarges his universe. Rank seeks and delineates the individual mold into which each one is helped to enter, his own mold, as against the general mold imposed by scientific analysis.” (systems vs. the individual, again reminiscent of Musil for me)

“The act of self-creation which the neurotic must make with the analyst is only possible if he is convinced that the invention of his illness is a symptom of the power to create, and not a symptom of impotence.”

“The cause of discord in the personality is usually the tragic disparity between the ideal goal of the individual, the image he creates of himself, and his actual self. It is this which he projects on the world, on his relationships with others. Most analysts immediately seek to reconcile the individual to the world without realizing the deeper, inner discord, or considering what world it is the individual should be adapted to.”

“Americans are never interested in abstract thought, never attracted by the idea of exercising the intelligence and the imagination for the pleasure of discovery, of the process itself, as they exercise their bodies for a physical pleasure. No. It must be a practical knowledge, applied immediately, immediately useful. Pure ideas, pure speculation, pure exploration without conclusions do not interest them.” (ha!)
Profile Image for Aubrey.
1,287 reviews730 followers
September 11, 2021
"What a lovely way you have of putting things."
"Perhaps it is another way of avoiding facts."
"No, perhaps you see more."
There's often a little bit of filth, a little bit of horseshit, when it comes to older European works. One often comes across tiny crystallizations of beautifully absolute resonance only after wading through swamps of nonsensically presumptuous categorization: women, queerness, black people, the entire country of China subsumed under the definition of Never Never Creative land by a lone troubled white boy and his coterie of groupies. The question, then,is not to ignore such, but to evaluate whether the rest of the work merits trudging through the filth, whether the moments of humanizing brilliance will be enough for the majority of the world's population. It's not objective work at all, but a popularity contest, so my support of Nin now due to solidarity and a fascination with a few remarks, a scatter of experiences, and a modicum of overall style of prose doesn't mean I've fully comitted to reading the next five parts of this diary of hers and searching up the penultimate seventh once I've run out of the portion that I own. It simply means that, for now, she entertains, and I find enough actual value in her entertainment to merit further reading. Once she overbalances, though, I'm out.
He has been neither realistic enough, nor fantastic enough.

Men can be in love with literary figures, with poetic and mythological figures, but let them meet with Artemis, with Venus, with any of the goddesses of love, and then they start hurling moral judgments.
To be perfectly honest, what made the beginning of this worth going through was Nin's obvious infatuation with the wife of an author she was acting as patron for, as it makes for an interesting picture when combined with the colder facts that weren't included in this expurgated version of Nin's diaries. Anaïs Nin was married at the time, and her affair with the aforementioned author is what drove the author's wife to both leave the two and divorce her husband. You wouldn't get this at all between the psychoanalysis and the miscarriage and father and the art, but Nin's writing and namedropping of famous figures amidst her sometimes keen observations is enough for me to not particularly care that I'm not getting the full, unabridged experience. Maybe this is because there are seven books already (eleven if you count the earlier diaries), or maybe because I doubt Nin's conscientiously apolitical pretensions, expurgated or no, is going to be worth my while for very long, or maybe it's because all people lie, and in certain cases, so long as I'm entertained, I don't particularly care. So long as Nin has a way with words when it when conversing with the creators of the Tropic of Cancer and the Theatre of Cruelty, I don't actually care whom she admits to sleeping with. Barring the last harrowing pages of giving birth to a dead child (and the status quo wonders why death rates in labor are still obscenely high or why doulas are reclaiming life from death), it was hard to emotionally invest myself in Nin's richlit wanderings beyond the level of a salacious detail or a cool turn of phrase. The book was worth my time, and I'm looking forward to the next installments, but the consequence of lazy metaphors is an audience left in relative indifference and superficial engagement.
There is no objectivity. There is only instinct.

A woman says: "I am jealous." A man covers it up with a system of philosophy, a book of literary criticism, a study of psychology.
The first two paragraphs of this may sound largely unimpressed, but I really am a fan of Nin's writing style, and some of what she has to say, especially regarding women in relation to men, is spot on. Again, I can't say I'll make it through six more books of this, but considering all the status quo crap I've shoved myself through so as to never have to read it again, I'm likely to keep going, and even enjoy myself at times. There are a number of elongated self portraits out there, but few are as well placed chronologically/geographically/socially/sexually as Anaïs Nin's, and even fewer who are as relevant to my interests. Besides, I can use all the bisexual ramblings I can get, and Nin herself wasn't bad to look at.
The fear that truth should prove uninteresting is known only to weak-stomached artists. Respect the mysteries, they say. Do not open Pandora's box. poetic vision is not the outcome of blindness but of a force which can transcend the ugliest face of reality, swallow and dissolve it by its strength, not evasion.
Profile Image for Crystal.
165 reviews32 followers
April 14, 2014
Anais Nin is absolutely the most fascinating woman I've ever come across. She dazzles intellectuals, has affairs with poets, and becomes psychoanalyst's savior. Nothing about her life was ordinary because she was determined to live, live, live in a big way. And her diary is filled with so much truth. Portraits of people stripped of idealism. Of herself, as well. She describes life as though it is made of poetry and beauty, even its problems. I drank in her every word because I related to her sincerity and deep sensuality. Her every moment was lived keenly through the senses. She was drunk on life and love. I feel that I could have had a great love affair with her, as I am through her diaries.
Profile Image for Margaret.
363 reviews55 followers
August 6, 2015
Not because I don't like Nin's writing style or her perspective, but there seemed like there was just something a little off in the editing that jumped from one thing to another a little too much, or wouldn't fully explain what was going on. Anais Nin is still definitely on my to read list, but it was a bit difficult as a newbie to see how everything was going to come together.

This was also part of a series of books on diaries, diary keeping, and actual diaries that I read, and was the most historical in that bunch.
Profile Image for S-Haq.
88 reviews
April 15, 2017
Anaïs Nin has a passionate narration of her life.. and I do like her honesty.
50 reviews
September 16, 2011
Anais Nin was a sensitive writer who truly understood that all life is art. I am mezmerized my her descriptions and radical insights. I would have loved to have known her.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 388 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.