Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Anais Nin (1903 – 1977) was born in Paris, France. She was a child of a Spanish father and French-Danish mother. She and her mother moved to New York City in 1914 where she attended Catholic schools. Anais Nin left school when she was sixteen and worked as a model, studied dance, and returned to Europe in 1923. In 1923 she married a New York banker, Hugh Guiler. Although he would later illustrate some of her novels under the name “Ian Hugo,” little is known of how long this marriage survived.

During the mid thirties, Anais Nin investigated psychoanalysis under Otto Rank, and briefly practiced the discipline under his supervision and on her own in New York City. She returned to France in 1935 and helped establish a publishing house, Siana Editions, because no one would publish her erotically charged works. In 1935, she returned to New York City and continued writing but it would be the 1960s before she began to be discovered by the literary world at large.

Anais Nin would eventually become best-known for her series of intensely personal journals begun in 1931, The Diary of Anais Nin (10 vols. 1966–83); additional journals have since been published. She is also known for her intimate relationships with Henry Miller and Lawrence Durrell, among many others described in her writings. She also wrote novels, short stories, and erotica, all clearly drawing on the contents of her journals. While Anais Nin’s lifestyle and personal choices may not have modeled those expected of someone who grew up as a Christian child, she still can offer us a sense of witness and worldly wisdom having been where we should never go.

“The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.”

“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.”

“Each contact with a human being is so rare, so precious, one should preserve it.”

“Good things happen to those who hustle.”

“If all of us acted in unison as I act individually there would be no wars and no poverty. I have made myself personally responsible for the fate of every human being who has come my way.”

“Life is truly known only to those who suffer, lose, endure adversity and stumble from defeat to defeat.”

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

“There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

“When you make a world tolerable for yourself, you make a world tolerable for others.”