Bettina L Knapp
The Diary of Anaïs Nin, which spans a lifetime, details Nin's early and glamorous years in Paris, her birthplace. Despite a philandering composer and concertpianist father, Joaquin Nin, she, her two younger brothers, and her French-Danish mother, Rosa Culmell, seemed to be a well-knit family. In 1913, however, the whirlwind tours and the travels throughout Europe to meet influential and fascinating people ended abruptly when Nin's father deserted the family. A sense of harrowing loss impacted on her. Deprived of her confidant and of the one she loved most, she began writing her diary, through which she sought to make the past manifest, the dream reality, and which accompanied her wherever she went.
Mother and children settled in New York City in 1914. Anaïs felt constrained by her parochial school, went on to high school, but dropped out. Humiliation followed as a result of her mother's renting out rooms in their home. Meanwhile, Anaïs had grown into a slender, regal young lady with an oval face and haunting almond-shaped eyes. Her aunt invited her to Cuba, where in 1923 she married Hugh P. Guiler, a banker, later known as an engraver and filmmaker under the name of Ian Hugo. They left Cuba a year later for Paris, where she started creative writing, beginning in 1923 Waste of Timelessness, a series of vignettenovellas describing Parisian life.
The entire family moved in 1931 to Louvenciennes outside Paris, where Nin entertained, among others, Henry Miller and his wife, June. While Nin's oblique and indirect world of subtle emotions was closed to the realistic Miller, the writings of D.H. Lawrence and Proust influenced her profoundly. Her D.H. Lawrence: An Unprofessional Study was published in 1932.
Her growing interest in fragmented personalities and their image equivalents drew her to Picasso and Braque. Dreams, automatic writing, archetypal images,