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Rowena's Reviews

My true loves: Wilkie Collins, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Anais Nin, George Eliot, James Joyce, James Baldwin, George Orwell, Oscar Wilde, bell hooks, Chinua Achebe, Langston Hughes, William Shakespeare... I'm falling for : Italo Calvino, Toni Morrison, Frantz Fanon, Wole Soyinka, Ralph Ellison, Zora Neale Hurston, Albert Camus, Margaret Atwood, Somerset Maugham, Junot Diaz, A.S. Byatt... And the lists continue to grow! I will read almost anything, as long as it's well-written. I always love to expand my reading horizons.

Currently reading

Edward W. Said
Infinite Jest
David Foster Wallace
Finnegans Wake (Trade Paperback)
James Joyce

The Diary of Anais Nin, Volume 3

The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 3: 1939-1944 - Anaïs Nin, Gunther Stuhlmann

“Night. The stars and the moon impassive, undisturbed, eternal. A little of their impassivity flows into me. They are consoling. They reduce the intensity and acuteness of human sorrow.” - The Journals of Anais Nin, Volume Three

I love reading diaries in general and Nin’s are probably my favourite. I love the things she values in life; meaningful relationships, art, literature, music, culture. And not to mention she is the most feeling writer; her rich inner life comes across very well in her writing.

Nin has moved back to the USA following the break of World War 2. Having to leave Louveciennes, a place that she loves, where she writes and knows people is not easy for Nin. She experiences culture shock in the States and finds it difficult to integrate. Her European-style writing isn’t well-received in the States; it’s considered too surreal and flaky. As a result, she finds it difficult to publish and ends up printing her own books with a printing press.

I think this may be my favourite volume of Nin’s journals yet. During the first two volumes, Nin seemed to me a sort of ethereal being; a superwoman even. In this volume she was a bit different, a bit more “real.” Perhaps it’s to do with her homesickness, the outbreak of war, and also age, which often comes with realization after all. In this case, it’s the realization that she’s everyone’s “mother”; people take and take from her (and I have to say she’s a bit of an enabler too), very few give back. It was so sad to see so many of her “friends” sucking her dry, Henry Miller included. Feeling under-appreciated and overwhelmed, Nin suffers from fatigue and illness:

“I fell into a trap because of my compassion. At what point does self-injury begin?”

I always find it fascinating to see the famous people Nin met and what she thought of them. In this volume she met Dali and Tennessee Williams among others.

Her exhortation of the artist in society is something I appreciate. A reminder that we all need art in our lives.

“To say that the artist is not serving humanity is monstrous. He has been the eyes, the ears, the voice of humanity. He was also the transcendentalist who X-rayed our true states of being.”

As always, beautiful and engaging writing. I read this diary in record time, considering how busy I am.