"INCEST: From ""A Journal of Love"": The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1932-1934" by Anaïs Nin

"INCEST: From ""A Journal of Love"": The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1932-1934"

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A previously suppressed portion (1932-34) of Nin's near-endless diaries that's shocking for its boundless narcissism, preciousness, and grandiosity--especially when Nin swoons over her sexual affair with her father or describes a late-term abortion. Unexpurgation, in this case, overwhelms the famous, liberated love scenes with Henry Miller and June, making Nin seem paltry and pitiable because she is so blindly self-absorbed. ""A marvelous story,"" Henry Miller writes to Nin in these pages--""but a bad diary."" Sprinkled throughout these dreamlike fragments are the names of fascinating lovers: Henry and June, of course; Nin's long-suffering husband, Hugh; French poet and dramatist Antonin Artaud; and Otto Rank (Nin's analyst as well as her lover, who warns her that diaries are her opium habit, unlikely to lead to enlightenment). But Nin's prose is muddied and sketchy, always circling back to her moods and qualities and neuroses, never touching down long enough to give the reader a sense of place: ""I leap like a squirrel about Paris, laughing at astrological predictions."" Indeed, Nin leaps from bed to bed, always ending up with Henry. But external events, even the Great Depression, concern her only as they, advance or limit her own enjoyment. In a rare moment of unadorned candor, she admits ""that there is a deformity in my vision which no intelligence can cure;"" This is never more apparent than when she describes her sexual affair with her father, her ""double"" or ""male half"": ""Is this love of my double that self-love again?"" Most readers will answer with a resounding ""yes."" Though it will probably generate some prurient interest, in the end this is an overheated muddle of thoughts and notes about a black hole of self-absorption.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1992
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich