Anais Nin's buried child translator's afterword to the Japanese version of The Winter of Artifice (the Paris edition, 1939).
Nin as a writer wrote novels that are often labeled as surrealistic or stream-of-consciousness. Yet she spent most of her literary life as a peripheral writer who belonged nowhere; she was referred to as "French-born Anais Nin" in the States, and "an American writer" in France. It was in 1966 that The Diary of Anais Nin, 1931-1934 was published, an event which gave her the long-awaited recognition. It coincided with the high tide of second wave feminism, in which what had been peripheralized in literary history and excluded from the canon--women writers, diaries and other autobiographical writing--came into the limelight. Nin reportedly received letters from women across America saying that she had written their diary. The Diary of Anais Nin is now available in fifteen volumes and three different series--edited, early, and unexpurgated-only three volume of which are translated into Japanese: The Diary of Anais Nin, 1931-1934, Henry and June, and Incest. Several of her novel(la)s can be read in The Anais Nin Collection, six volumes.
The Winter of Artifice was published by Obelisk Press in Paris in the summer of 1939. It was the third book by Anais Nin, following D. H. Lawrence: An Unprofessional Study (1932) and House of Incest (1936). Considering that House of Incest was deemed "a prose poem" by the author, Winter is thought to be her first book of short stories or novellas. It was, alongside Lawrence Durrell's The Black Book and Henry Miller's Max and the White Phagocytes (both in 1938), a part of the Villa Seurat Series, named after the street where Miller lived in Paris. Though there is about ten years' difference in age between Miller, Nin, and Durrell respectively, they were all aspiring, cosmopolitan writers. It took little time before they embraced each other's literary comradeship and named themselves "the three musketeers." The triangle of asterisks used to mark sections in Winter seems to symbolize these three musketeers of literature. It was Miller who called Nin "un etre etoilique'; surely the three must have been "artistes etoiliques." Nin wrote in her Diary that Miller came up with the title The Winter of Artifice (Nearer 20), which echoes The Decline of the West by Spengler. Winter is dedicated to "Nancy and Larry," i.e., Nancy and Lawrence Durrell, who are said to have given financial support to the publication of the book.
Why a Parisian press? The obvious answer is that the author was living in that city at the time. Yet taking a closer look at this peculiar small press will shed light on the situation Nin was in as a writer and on the Anglo-French connection in modernist literature. Between 1929 and 1939, Obelisk Press was founded and run by an Englishman, Jack Kahane, whose list of publications can be divided into two categories. One is a sort of soft pornography aiming to catch the attention of GIs and travelers from English-speaking countries. Many of the so-called "d.b."s (dirty books) were written by Kahane himself under the pseudonym Cecil Bar, a name taken from the bar "Cecil" that he frequented. The other category includes the abovementioned Villa Seurat Series, Miller's other early works, James Joyce's Finnegans Wake (a section), Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness, and D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover, among others--the basic canon of heterodoxy. Most books in the second category were banned in the United States and England. Yet they could escape censorship and be published in France, creating a kind of niche industry. The industry played a much bigger role than a mere niche, however, considering the fact that the ban on Tropic of Cancel, first published in 1934, was not lifted until 1964, when the U.S. Supreme Court finally deemed it as not obscene.
Kahane, as a publisher, followed in the footsteps of Sylvia Beach, who opened Shakespeare and Company in 1919 and left an indelible mark on literary history with the publication of Ulysses. She states in her memoirs that when she opened a bookshop in Paris she did not foresee that "it was going to profit by the suppressions across the sea" (23). Not a few masterpieces of modernism, including Ulysses, which arguably represents the pinnacle of the 20th century literature, and Lady Chatterley's Lover, which influenced Nin immensely, were branded as "obscene" and banned from publication by law. If we remember that Freud--another of Nin's mentors, who invented psychoanalysis by connecting sexual oppression with the unconscious--was their contemporary, we need not hesitate to assume that sexuality played an enormous role in the twentieth-century intellect. Anais Nin proved that she belongs to the same tradition of intellect by showing us what path she and Winter would follow in the decades to come.
Several days after Winter was published as the final title in the Villa Seurat series, World War II broke out, followed by the death of Kahane. Historical turmoil together with the shutdown of the publisher hindered the distribution of the book, which was only printed in small numbers in the first place. In addition, Winter was banned in the United States, as the irony or necessity of fate would have it. When Nin returned to New York with her husband in December of 1939, she was forced to tear out the censored parts of the newly published book herself, which she had brought with her from Paris. We can see the shocking photo of the doctored copy of the book on the Sky Blue Press Web site, which published the Paris edition for the first time in the English-speaking world in 2007.
Winter can be considered one of the pioneering works on sexuality written by a female writer, and therefore had to suffer the same fate as other "major" works of heterodoxy. The supposition nevertheless does not answer the question of why it had to remain buried for nearly seventy years, while banned works by the other two musketeers went into publication after the Post Office repealed the obscenity law in 1961. To find the answer, we have to trace the odyssey called The Winter of Artifice a little more closely.
After saying good-bye to fifteen years of living in France, which had been "a homecoming" to Nin made possible by her husband's transfer to a Paris bank, she settled in Greenwich Village, New York. There she began printing her own books, just as Virginia Woolf and Gertrude Stein did. She chose Winter as the first book for publication under the imprint Gemor Press, named after the Peruvian Marxist Gonzalo More, her colleague and lover. The Gemor edition of Winter of Artifice (1942) omitted not only the definite article from the title but also the entire first novella of the Paris edition, "Djuna," the title "Lilith" from the second novella, and nearly one half of "The Voice." Expunged were sexually explicit expressions, and words specifying time and place or the characters' age. In consequence of "Djuna"'s disappearance, Hans, who is depicted in both "Djuna" and "The Voice," was removed from the latter. When we remember how Nin mourned for the fate of the Paris edition in Diary, saying, "My beautiful Winter of Artifice, dressed in an ardent blue, somber, like the priests of Saturn in ancient Egypt, with design of the obelisk on an Atlantean sky, stifled by the war, and Kahane's death" (Nearer 390), the revision cannot but give a strange and violent impression. But this is understandable if the book was mutilated due to censorship.
According to scholar/bibliographer Benjamin Franklin V, Winter of Artifice currently circulating widely on the world market is based on the Alan Swallow version published in 1961. In it, "Djuna" is replaced by "Stella," a love story supposedly modeled on the relationship between the actress Luise Rainer and the playwright Clifford Odets. The title of "Lilith" has been changed to "Winter of Artifice," and the voice of the narrator from the first person to the third. On the cover appear etchings by Ian Hugo (the artist name of Nin's husband, Hugh Guiler) for both the Gemor and Swallow editions. Furthermore, many other versions apart from Gemor and Swallow exist, which complicates the publishing history of Nin's works. Another question yet to be answered is why "Djuna" was never reprinted until 2007, long after the obscene law was repealed. Does it indicate that the novella, based on the convoluted love triangle between And/s, Henry, and June, was considered taboo by the author, even more so than the incestuous love between a father and a daughter depicted in "Lilith"/'Winter of Artifice"?
In what follows I will discuss the three problematic novellas of the Paris edition.
"Djuna" can be viewed as the twin of Henry & June (1986), published as the first volume of "the Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin" in 1986 and cinematized by Phillip Kaufman in 1990. Put simply, the former is a novelization of the latter; the latter the original of the former. However, the fact that the latter reached the general reading public earlier tempts us to refer to the former as the Ur-Henry & June. Henry and June Miller took on a strong presence in The Diary of Anais Nin, 1931-1934, a volume with an all-star-cast. Husband and wife, the two great friends of the diarist, are revealed as lovers in a bisexual triangle with Nin in Henry & June. Now we have three distinct texts based on the idiosyncratic threesome. Anais Nin was prone to writing variations on certain themes, and we are expected to read them as palimpsest.
First, attention should be paid to the name of the female hero in the title. The name was given to one who is possibly a double of the author, one who is in a triangular relationship of three lovers, not of two lovers and one beloved. The name Djuna not only embraces June in itself, but is the same name as a writer who is deeply respected by Nin. The woman named Djuna often appears in the continuous novel Cities of the Interior as well, which makes Shari Benstock assert, in her discussion of women of the left bank in the early twentieth century, that she is "the most important of Nin's characters" (429). Maybe Nin loved to transform herself over and again in her works into the two women she loved and admired. (It is reported, however, that Djuna Barnes blamed Nin for robbing the name given to her by her father.)
The representation of Henry Miller is a man called Hans, an aspiring writer who lives a hand-to-mouth life in Paris. The man is said to look "like Prokofieff. Like a Chinese sage. Like a German scholar" (9), one who is so happy that he cannot help laughing and shaking his head like a bear, one with bugs in his bed and no money in his pocket. Hans is definitely the most attractive portrait of Miller that Nin ever depicted. Hans and Djuna respect and inspire each other as artist, person, and man/woman; they may well be called the most powerful couple on earth. Nevertheless, at the height of their union, this incomparable relationship projects an aura of loss, a kind of nostalgia for the future. Felix Pollak believed the Paris edition to be Nin's best work and made a strong request to reprint it. He wrote in a letter to Nin that the scene in which Djuna prepares herself for a party in front of a long mirror while Hans, lying on a couch, watches her, was "not only my favorite one from all your books, but one of the most magical and enchanting and nostalgic of which I know in English prose!" (6). The relationship between Hans and Djuna may present one ideal prototype of heterosexuality in its admixture of love and friendship, passion and comradeship, yet is one lined with the ephemeral gold of Byzantine paintings--easily discomposed at any moment.
On the other hand, the relationship between Djuna and Johanna stands on the verge of insanity, as two abysses staring at each other, with difference and identification falling head over heels into a vortex. When the two women try to incarnate "new words" into "new bodies" with "a woman knowledge" (102; 105), Hans can only hit his head against the door closed on him. Djuna is ready to poison him with an inextricable mixture of Johanna and herself as "the deepest treachery to man ever played" (20). We have had such critics as Beauvoir, Rich, and Irigaray who would talk about the female bond in utopian terms. But this novella, describing it as a (sweet) poison or an evil (named love), would try to speak of an unknown love in "new words." Djuna makes us shiver or marvel especially when she, in the midst of a devastating quarrel between Hans and Johanna, looks compassionately at Hans and then follows and embraces Johanna, exactly in the manner of "a spy in the house of love and sexuality." Djuna declares soberly, "There is no treachery, only intermarriage, a trilogy, and passion running triangularly" (105), and convinces us that she is the only one aware of what she is doing and that this triangle will therefore not maintain its precarious balance for long. Even more so, Nin displays her artistry like a miraculous feast as she presents us the tragi-comic triangle of two women looking at a man "PROFOUNDLY ASLEEP AND SNORING [sic.]" (108) at the end of a story which is just about to collapse.
It was a Japanese writer/translator Sumiko Yagawa who called Nin "a father's daughter." It is true that Nin wrote father-daughter stories repeatedly and obsessively. We have four texts on this theme at hand: Diary, 1931-1934, the unexpurgated diary Incest, "Winter of Artifice," and "Lilith." Considering Diary's description, "I wrote the scene [of confrontation between the father and the daughter] straight into the novel, not the diary" (316), the novella "Lilith," titled after Adam's wife before Eve, should be regarded as the archetype of Nin's father-daughter stories.
Lilith's father, like Nin's own father, Joaquin Nin, is an internationally acclaimed musician and Don Juan. Lilith's father left home when she was nine years old, inflicting a deep wound on her psyche. At eleven she migrated to America with the mother and two brothers. Leaving Europe, where the father lived, meant a double loss to her. On the sea, which divides the two continents like an immense abyss, she began writing a diary as a letter to the father--a monologue, a dialogue, or a confession of love. This story endorses Freud's hypothesis in "Beyond the Pleasure Principle" most dramatically and sensitively: that one begins to speak out of the absence of a loved one. The father plays a crucial role for Nin not only because he gave her emotional trauma, but because he stands at the origin of Diary, as culprit/muse who created "a speaking woman" out of her.
The father and the daughter see each other for the first time in twenty years, exactly as in the Pericles legend dramatized by Shakespeare. The daughter remarks that to have such a young father is scandalous. The father invites her on a short trip, saying that people will take her for his betrothed. In a hotel with no other guests than themselves, he calls her the synthesis of all the women he has loved, and asks, "Are you my daughter? Are you my father?" (127). He tells her to take her elbow off the table, which is a patronizing remark she finds comically repulsive, for she feels herself much more mature than he is. Judith Butler, in her attempt in Antigone's Claim to respond to the question "What if Oedipus were a woman?", points out that incest inevitably involves a dislocation of kinship (3). For Lilith and the father who meet in complicity and as two adults, kinship is dislocated from the beginning.
The concert going on in their heads is described in language rich in musical metaphors--also stimulating the senses of vision, hearing, and taste--and goes on for pages. It is an unprecedented expression of eroticism, if not sexuality. When at midnight Lilith returns from the father's room to her own, she is welcomed by a canopied bed as in an ancient bridal suite, and calls herself "the mythical bride of my father" (148).
There is a very impressive scene in which they go for a drive, and the father takes off a shoe that is giving him pain. When he pulls off a sock, there appears a foot delicately small and feminine. It is absolutely identical to the daughter's, which makes her feel, "It was my foot" (151). In front of the father, who has her foot, she cannot tell where she ends and where the father begins. Just as Dorian Gray or William Wilson draws the sword to his double, Lilith thinks she cannot put an end to the confusion of their identities unless one of them dies. This is the extreme north of the story of the double that never ceased to allure and repulse Nin ambivalently. Needless to say, one step beyond, a dark gaping hole of chaos and insanity opens its mouth.
A crucial difference between the father and the daughter, however, is that while he tries to close the cycle of his life in (re)appropriating her as an extension of himself, she longs to fly out of herself, out into love. To him love means nothing but self-love and self-closure; she knows that self-love can kill both self and love.
Lilith, in confronting the father, sets the tiger inside her free and declares, "I who stand here am not your daughter, nor my mother's daughter. It is me who escaped the stigmata of parental love" (168). As a child, she would imagine a story in which she was an orphan. Now that she has made a reunion/reconciliation with the father, she recognizes herself as an orphan again. On the other hand, finding herself at war with the father for the first and last time, she falls into the illusion of becoming the mother, and wonders if it was not herself but the mother who was hurling harsh criticisms at the father. As for being a story in which a mother as a ghost consolidates with the daughter to take revenge on a husband-father, what comes to mind is Sam Shepard's film Silent Tongue, which takes up the miscegenation between a Native American woman and a white man, which also became the last film starring River Phoenix. "Lilith" too is a drama of a ghost and revenge as well as of incest, and a poignantly uncanny love story with all these attributes rolled in one. The narrator/female hero Lilith presents herself as "the father's daughter" and "the mother's daughter," while rejecting both at the same time.
"Lilith" ends with a birth/abortion scene included in both the edited and unexpurgated Diary. The possibility of a life is embraced and then given up. With the death of the girl with long eyelashes and delicate hands, comes also the death of a little girl in Lilith and the need of a father--in exchange for these deaths Lilith manages to survive. This is how Anais Nin gives birth to herself as a woman-writer, by writing a story of a cruel initiation possibly involving the violation of a taboo.
The Voice is the name given to a man, a psychiatrist, who listens to people's confessions in a hotel room. Anais Nin began to undergo psychoanalysis in Paris in the 1930s, worked for a time as assistant/lay analyst for Otto Rank--who is believed to be a model for "the Voice"--and never let go of therapy in her lifetime. Psychoanalysis, founded by Freud at the beginning of the 20th century, left a tremendous influence on the framework of intellectual thought thereafter. Critics have since tried to analyze literature according to psychoanalytic theories. Surprisingly and interestingly, however, the number of literary works on psychoanalysis is quite limited, with "The Voice" and H.D.'s A Tribute to Freud being among the few.
Compared with "Djuna" and "Lilith," which were written relatively centripetally, "The Voice" may give a rather more oblique and obscure impression, in which not a few strangely ill people, Djuna and Lilith among them appear and scenes of dreams--an important device in psychoanalysis--are scattered as if in a surrealist film. Lilith declares, "I am a pervert" (212) in one of the "crazy" confessions given by patients. Then the Voice and Lilith trespass a psychoanalytic taboo in their love affair. The Voice, supposedly a guide/mentor, is portrayed by the words: "The scarecrow is agitated" (285). Behind all this lies a strong iconoclastic desire but a parodic sense of humor can also be detected.
Djuna in her dream encounters a robust, Rubenesque woman who looks like--but actually is not--her mother. She is called "the oldest of all the whores" (269), imaginably sharing with Johanna both motherhood and whorehood. Djuna enters her, as a man does a woman, feels her feelings, enjoying both a man's and a woman's feelings. This novella easily traverses the boundaries of genders/sexualities, species, even the animate/inanimate. In another episode, Lilith confides to the Voice that she spent a night with a man and a woman, the first woman she made love to was not so good, reminding her of the taste of a seashell, but her breasts and mouth were fantastic. She recalls that the two women, while physically caressing but psychologically ignoring the man, looked at and kissed each other passionately--the most exciting experience for her. (Deviant sexuality is written always with reserve.) Also noteworthy is a scene in which Djuna and Lilith, the two doubles of Anais Nin, love each other. Djuna says that only a man can possess a woman; Lilith replies that no man can make her feel as Djuna does. They speak of "the marvelous silence of woman's thoughts" (255), while disclosing the misogyny and homophobia belonging to themselves and to the world. Homosexuality can be thought of as love of the double, at least in one of its numerous layers. And Ana'is Nin's ambivalence about loving the double is so deep it can never be resolved. It should be added that "a pervert" Lilian and Georgia, who act like dykes more exaggeratedly than stereotypically, share something of Anais Nin as well.
That the psychoanalyst would be called the Voice is absolutely reasonable if we refer to Derrida who presupposes the voice of God behind the supremacy of spoken language in Occidental thinking. It is also often pointed out that psychoanalysis can be interpreted as a mimesis of Catholic confession. That is why the Voice is referred to as "a substitute for god, for the confessor of old" (203). The demi-god, however, is portrayed as an alienated being who is "only allowed to see spectacles" (239). Lilith is attracted by his intelligence and falls in love with him, which itself is nothing more than a therapeutic process called "transference." But Lilith takes a step further; she speaks of her uncertainty that nobody will love her because of her small breasts, and shows them to him, thus boldly seducing him. (An almost identical scene between Nin and Dr. Rene Allendy exists in Diary, 1931-1934. Did she change the name of the psychiatrist as she fictionalized the event, or was it her favorite act?) (2) Nin even dares to make the Voice lie on the patient's couch, while she seats herself on the analyst's chair and asserts, "Now I'm you and you're me" (241), in an offer of an exchange of roles. It is typically Anais Nin's way of reversing the subject-object hegemony; like in her young days as an art model when she recalled feeling like a piece of furniture sold at auction, but at the same time thinking she acquired a privileged seat of observation for watching artists at work (ED2: 403; 421). The Voice shows a small sign of resistance at first, but then breaks into tears, saying that nobody asked him anything of himself in his twenty-five years of psychoanalytic practice, thus precipitously falling in love with Lilith and falling into her arms. If we can say that the Voice as a person is saved by this relationship, may we go on to see it as both the violation of a taboo and the amorous deconstruction of psychoanalysis?
Soon Lilith realizes that the Voice without the mask of a visionary is nothing but a jealous child. The old woman whom Lilith meets in a dream is as ugly as a monster, with leeches covering her six-toed feet. Though scared, Lilith keeps looking at the woman as if she were beautiful, until she grows to look almost beautiful. Then the dream is interrupted, when not the old woman but the Voice is heard knocking on the door. While the dichotomies of beauty/ugliness or man/woman are reversible, "a miracle" caused by "love" is possible only in a dream. The Voice follows the same path as the father in "Lilith." Both of them, once revered as bearing resemblance to God, are reduced to little, vulgar beings when obsessed with a desire for a woman and with gaining possession of her. The Paris edition of The Winter of Artifice can be viewed as a book of blasphemy against the male gender, norms of kinship, and the discipline of psychoanalysis, and therefore must have suffered a premature burial.
I am especially pleased with Winter's publication in Japan coming not long after it was published for the first time in the English-speaking world. How will Japanese readers receive the book, which came out in Paris at exactly this time of year seventy years ago?
"The Anais Nin Blog: News and Information about Anais Nin." Sky Blue Press. The Official Anais Nin Blog, n.d. Web. 1 Mar. 2012 <http://anaisninblog.skybluepress.com/2009/01/image-oftheoriginal-the-winter-of-artifice>.
Beach, Sylvia. Shakespeare & Company. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1991. Print.
Benstock, Shari. Women of the Left Bank: Paris, 1900-1940. Texas: U of Texas P, 1986. Print.
Butler, Judith. Antigone's Claim: Kinship between Life and Death. New York: Columbia UP, 2000. Print.
Fitch, Noel Riley. The Erotic Life of Anais Nin, Boston: Little, Brown, 1993.
Freud, Sigrnund. "Beyond the Pleasure Principle." The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works. Ed. and trans. James Strachey. Vol. 18. London: Hogarth, 1964-66.
Gallop, Jane. Feminism and Psychoanalysis: The Daughter's Seduction. Ed. Stephen Heath et. al. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1982. Print.
Nin, Anais. The Diary of Anais Nin, 1931-1934. Ed. Gunther Stuhlmann. New York: Harcourt, 1966. Print.
--.The Early Diary of Anais Nin, 11, 1920-1923. New York: Harcourt, 1983. Print.
--.Nearer the Moon. New York: Harcourt. 1996. Print.
--.The Winter of Artifice. Paris: Obelisk, 1939. Print.
Pollak, Felix, and Anais Nin. Arrows of Longing: The Correspondence between Anais Nin and Felix Pollak, 19521976. Ed. Gregory H. Mason. Athens: Swallow/Ohio UP, 1998. Print.
Shepard, Sam, dir. Silent Tongue. Trimark Pictures, 1994. DVD.
Yagawa, Sumiko. Chichi no Musumetachi--Mori Mari to Anaisu Nin [The Fathers' Daughters: Mari Mori and Anais Nin]. Tokyo: Shincho-sha, 1997. Print.
(1) While Nin's biographies often describe her grandfather on her mother's side as a successful merchant, Noel Riley Fitch cites that he was appointed Danish royal consul to Cuba in 1891 (425).
(2) Nin performed "the daughter's seduction" a half century earlier than Jane Gallop's theorization of psychoanalysis and feminism in Feminism and Psychoanalysis: The Daughter's Seduction.
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|Publication:||Nexus: The International Henry Miller Journal|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2013|
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