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Under a Glass Bell

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  1,318 ratings  ·  126 reviews
Under a Glass Bell is one of Nin's finest collections of stories. First published in 1944, it attracted the attention of Edmond Wilson, who reviewed the collection in The New Yorker. It was in these stories that Nin's artistic and emotional vision took shape. This edition includes a highly informative and insightful foreword by Gunther Stuhlmann that places the collection ...more
Paperback, 101 pages
Published January 1st 1948 by Swallow Press (first published 1944)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,318 ratings  ·  126 reviews

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Nate D
May 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ragpickers and mice, the veiled and the all-seeing
Recommended to Nate D by: an ignored letter
I've been meaning to eventually read some Anais Nin since learning that she had tried an failed to strike up a correspondence with Anna Kavan. (Here's a letter from Kavan to her publisher saying she should probably reply. As far as I know she didn't).

But reading this slim and originally self-published volume (type-set herself on a hand press! diy was way more diy pre-xerox) of stories, glimmmers, dreams, I can see exactly why Nin might have seen in Kavan some sort of kindred. In 1948 Kavan publi
Aug 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rowena by: Kirsty
This is my first Anais Nin book and I found it so beautiful! Her short stories are real poetry. She has a really unique command of the language. I really wasn't expecting to enjoy this book but now I'm definitely going to read more of her works. ...more
Mar 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
My best friend Elia, who is also one of the few persons whose opinion I trust, recommended this book to me. She was in her Nin phase and I thought I'd give it a try too. When I started reading it, I was very surprised. My first impression was that I can't understand anything! I like clear plots and these short stories were everything but clear. I tried to analyse what was happening and realized that they were written in such way on purpose. It is not simply the author's mark; because half way th ...more
Andrew Schultheis
A short book of short stories that read almost like prose poems. Lush, grotesque, strange and labyrinthine. To be savored.
Renée Paule
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are some lovely short stories in this book, with some important messages for Humanity. I particularly enjoyed reading 'Houseboat', 'Ragtime' and 'Hejda'.

Whereas Anais Nin is a lovely descriptive writer - overly so for my taste - I do sometimes struggle with metaphors such as "The bushes were soft hairy elbows touching mine".

tortoise dreams
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thirteen short stories by the infamous diarist.

Book Review: Under a Glass Bell is a collection of stories about language, the poetry of language, the beauty and magic of language, how to capture words that can describe indescribable emotions. In some of her work, Anais Nin can seem like one of those charming narcissists whose interest in their own life is so total that it becomes contagious, and only later does one wonder about spending a day wholly absorbed in someone else's, not-that-interesti
Erik Graff
Apr 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nin fans
Recommended to Erik by: Chelsea Rectanus
Shelves: literature
Back in seminary days, during the end of my infatuation with C.G. Jung, I took the Myers-Briggs personality test twice, the two occasions separated by a couple of years. One administration had me pegged as an introvert, the other as an extravert.

I must be back in an extraverted phase currently, Nin's work, in this, her first collection of short stories, being more or less introverted. In any case, I preferred the less subjective stories, the ones with reference to objective locations such as her
Andrew Schirmer
Mar 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: a-movable-feast
As I recall, a lovely collection. At some point I'm going to have to revisit and reevaluate Anais Nin. In high school, her diaries (picked up for reasons I can neither remember, nor fathom) were for me a gateway to a Paris and a literary world foreign and enticing. Nin introduced me to great writers and thinkers--Proust, Edmund Wilson, Gore Vidal--and those of a lower rung, but powerful yet--Henry Miller, D.H. Lawrence, Otto Rank, Djuna Barnes. And I will never forget the voice of the diaries. ...more
Aug 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am not the biggest fan of short stories, I'd rather relish in a good long one if I have the time and energy for it, but this was just lovely.
There are 13 short tales in this book, all of them very dreamlike, almost abstract in places but the writing is so excellent, the metaphors so well chosen they enchanted me into believing it was all real.

This was my first book of this author, but I am dying to read her journals which I have also purchased recently. I would highly recommend this colourfu
Sep 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really not sure what I’ve just read. A collection of stories, a string of words. Some quite lovely, particularly, oddly, the first one or two pages of each story. Around the third page they drift into something else, certainly plotless, at times tangentially wordy, stream of consciousness. I am certain I have missed the point, obscure but relevant as it is. Never sure if I am reading something difficult yet profound or just plain under-edited bunk. I may have needed more coffee, more wine or mor ...more
Oct 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure what I was expecting when I picked up this book but it certainly wasn't what I got! Under a Glass Bell is complex and brimming with cultural references I don't get. It was a hard slog of a read in places. The final two short stories in this collection, however, were amazing. I found myself identifying with Hejda and empathising with the journey of the protagonist in Birth. I'm glad I read this book but I suspect I'd need to read it several times to truly engage with what Nin is tryi ...more
May 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oct 24, 2020 rated it liked it
An collection of short stories, evocative of madness, poverty and the meaningless cruelty of life for those people who haven't kept up with the flow of the rest of society. ...more
Chris Watson
Nov 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I hadn't expected to enjoy this book. I'd gained a mental image of Anaïs Nin as an author and expected to hate this book. In fact, I was so certain I wouldn't like it, that I didn't want to waste my time starting fro the beginning, so I opened it up in the middle and read from the chapter, 'The Mohican'.

What a surprise, it was enchanting. Her writing is delicate and thoughtful; subtle and surreal; deeply perceptive, cool yet quite moving. It's prose-poetry really.

The book is a series of characte
Meghan Fidler
Jan 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
This collection of Nin's short stories written just after the second world war.
I have long been a fan of Anaïs Nin's writing, but, to be perfectly honest, I had not ventured beyond her erotica (which I love, filled with artistic female-centered descriptions of perceptions) until Under a Glass Bell.
The stories in this collection are prose narratives. Many of them accomplish this objective exquisitely. There are 14 stories in the collection, of which my favorites are "The Mouse," "The Mohican,"
Oct 29, 2009 rated it it was ok
Nin bugs me in general but I wanted to give her sexy style another try. Thought short, early prose might give me those small, potent doses I was hoping for. But at this moment I find her so pretentious, ridiculously serious...I don't know, it's like take your black lace veil off for a minute, lady, and sit in the sunshine with a margarita for a change. I think I'm more in the mood to go to the beach than read Anaïs Nin, which says more about me than the author. ...more
Mar 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I really have no words to describe the world this book can put you in. I'm quoting Edmund Wilson on this one "They are half short stories, half dreams, and they mix a sometimes exquisite poetry with a homely realistic observation. They take place in a special world, in a world of feminine perception and fancy, which is all the more curious and charming for being innocently international." No wonder this is by far the most printed work of the artist :) ...more
Jan 28, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
3.5 stars
William Cadle
Mar 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nin is a masterful writer and one I've come to admire as much for her lifestyle, her intelligence, her talent and skill as for her writing. She has a sharp mind and a quick wit. There are some videos about her and one in particular is a list of things she said. Well worth checking out. She is, I think unfortunately, too much tied to erotica, which is abundant, I gather, in Delta of Venus and associated works, but not so much here. These are primarily stories about lost souls, people on the verge ...more
May 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
Under a Glass Bell begins like a dream and never really wakes up. It is clear from the outset that Nin is no ordinary writer and you have to get used to the bizarre and vague world she mixes up. The stories have an otherworldly feel, but also the feel of being on the edge of society, the language and the world of the outsider, the non-conformist, the homeless and displaced, the nomad and the mystic. "Houseboat" is the first and longest story here and it sets the tone. Like many of these tales, N ...more
May 08, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At one point in this book, "Under a Glass Bell," Anais Nin refers to "kissing a shadow." That's what reading this collection of short stories is like. Or it's like holding a mirror to a mirror and walking disorientingly backwards.

These stories, which average about seven pages each and were written in the 1930s and ’40s, are dreamlike, often quite lovely enigmas that you can only see aslant, in, to quote another Nin phrase, "jellied colors." They're fragile, but also strong. Few have definitive c
Maria Reinhardt
May 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: anais-nin
Writings by Anais Nin are an inexhaustible well of inspiration for writers like me. What’s more, “Under a Glass Bell,” is a beautiful and rare work of art that uncovers many challenging subjects for a woman writing in this time period. What seems a commonplace discussion for us now—speaking of the issues in the plight of the female—were far more brave bridges to cross in Nin’s writing era. As such, they are woven throughout her prose with skill and poise. Nin’s poetic prose and dreamscape writin ...more
Claire P
Jan 11, 2019 rated it liked it
This collection of short stories was a challenge for me. A few of the stories were 4, maybe even 5 star reads, but there were also stories that I not only didn't connect to, but that I simply didn't understand. I'd probably have to dive into Nin's writing more thoroughly, preferably with someone to discuss it with in order to gain a fuller appreciation of it. As it was, this reading experience was a bit lacking. I often felt confused by her metaphoric language, though other times her style was i ...more
Dallas Reinhart
May 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent stories about her little slice-of-life in pre-WWII Bohemian Paris. I really got a feel for the characters, the places and herself in this collection. Much easier to read than her other book I read, House of Incest. A lot more straightforward, and romantic without going into the eroticism of her other works. I think this is a good book to start with if you want to read her works. Accessible, and if you're not really into sexuality or erotic novels, less offputting. ...more
Christa Krellwitz
Nov 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
She is artistic and poetic in her writing without being overly verbose...which is a fine line. They are stories but the whole book is also poetry in its finest sense. I haven’t read anything by anais nin in quite some time, but this might be one of my favorites. She reminds me a lot of Mary Oliver...Both have eyes to see and the words to record what most of us glaze over if we glance up at all.
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Favorite stories: The Labyrinth, The Mouse, Birth
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
So weird. So cool. Reading her stories was like seeing written descriptions of the way that my mind often perceives the world. Sometimes. Other times were... different.
Ruth Brumby
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
These stories work in a way which really makes sense to me, showing life made up of different sorts of reality. They are quite powerfully poetic but also very carefully and precisely written.
Feb 13, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Collection of very short stories. Enjoyable.
Ralph N
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
Thank you for introducing me to Anais Nin :)
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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

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