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Thirsty for the marvelous


Monday would have been Anaïs Nin’s 108th birthday. I remember reading her diaries as a teenager and yearning for transatlantic crossings, opium masquerades and rollicking affairs (just not with Henry Miller who, literary stature aside, I found rather trollish).

Mostly I remember being awestruck by her remarkable talent, insight and intense passion–for beauty, for creating and for living.

This passion is evident in much of her writing, but particularly so in this excerpt from her diary:

“I am an excitable person who only understands life lyrically, musically, in whom feelings are much stronger as reason. I am so thirsty for the marvelous that only the marvelous has power over me. Anything I can not transform into something marvelous, I let go. Reality doesn’t impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another…”

Well put, Madame.

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  • Reply Cesar Reyna February 28, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    Interesting lady. I remember Maria de Madeiros as Anaïs Nin’s in Henry & June, which I deeply recommend.

    P. s. : Don’t want to argue about the great Henry Miller.

    • Reply Erin March 1, 2011 at 9:56 am

      I saw the film ages ago. Not bad, but there is so much more depth and beauty in her diaries. I will not argue re the greatness of Henry Miller either, just wouldn’t be keen on having a horizontal liaison with the guy.

  • Reply Mari May 17, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    I love Anais and this blog. Did you ever read Gore Vidal’s “Palimpsest”? I read it for the account of his friendship with her, which actually displayed a terrible contempt for her. It amazes me that such an esteemed author would publish a catty and unlikely kiss-and-tell with such mean content.

  • Reply Erin May 27, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Hi Mari, thanks for stopping by and for the compliment! No, I have not yet read “Palimpsest,” but I heard Vidal was pretty nasty all around and skewered several fellow writers. Didn’t know that Anais Nin was one of his targets, however. Being a famous and esteemed author does not put one above vengeful, childish antics, I am afraid, and writers have been using their works as ammo against each other forever.

    If you’ve ever read “Quartet” by Jean Rhys, she paints a really unflattering picture of the character that is clearly based on her mentor and former lover Ford Madox Ford. The best part is that on the back cover of the paperback version there is this glowing quote from Ford extolling the “passion” and “terrific insight” within the book. Did he not realize?

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