Study Guide

Anaïs Nin

Anaïs Nin Biography

Biography (Masterpieces of American Literature)

ph_0111226280-Nin_A.jpgAnaïs Nin Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Anaïs Nin was born near Paris on February 21, 1903, into an international, aristocratic, and cultured family. Her parents were Joaquin Nin y Castellano, a Spanish composer and pianist, and Rosa Culmell Nin, a classical singer of French and Danish descent. Their marriage was volatile and ended with Joaquin’s desertion for a younger woman. In 1914, the young Anaïs, with her mother and brothers Thorvald and Joaquin, sailed from Barcelona to a new life in New York.

On this journey, Nin began keeping a diary, first as an ongoing letter to her estranged father and then as a detailed record of her experiences and feelings, a record she would maintain throughout her life. The move to the United States was not a happy one for her; she struggled to learn English and felt unwelcome in the impersonal metropolis. An introspective, sensitive, critical, and imaginative child, she attended Catholic school in New York without enthusiasm. At the age of sixteen, after a teacher criticized her writing, she dropped out and pursued self-education in public libraries. Meanwhile, she worked as a model for artists and illustrators to augment her family’s income.

In the early 1920’s Nin studied briefly at Columbia University and spent time with relatives in Havana, Cuba. She fell in love with a New York banker named Hugh Guiler, and the couple was married in Havana in March, 1923. Though the passion of the marriage faded within several years as Nin realized its limitations and developed her identity as a writer, it remained intact and was, in an unconventional way, successful. Guiler, under the name of Ian Hugo, later provided illustrations for his wife’s novels. Nin rarely talked about him, however, and all references to him were edited out of her diary before its first publication in 1966.

Shortly after their marriage, Guiler was transferred to Paris. For Nin it was a return home. In 1924, she saw her father for the first time in a decade and confronted their complex relationship. She continued her self-education and writing, pursued a brief career as a Spanish dancer, and developed many lasting and influential friendships. A teacher named Hélène Boussinescq introduced Nin to modern writers; she and her cousin Eduardo Sánchez shared a fascination with psychological pioneers Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung and novelists D. H. Lawrence and Marcel Proust.

Nin’s continuous writing led to her first book, D. H. Lawrence: An Unprofessional Study, published in Paris in 1932. Financial difficulties she suffered following the stock market crash of 1929 led Nin to...

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Anaïs Nin Biography (Masterpieces of American Literature)

“I believe one writes because one has to create a world in which one can live,” Nin wrote in 1954, responding by letter to a reader’s question. “I had to create a world of my own, like a climate, a country, an atmosphere in which I could breathe, reign, and re-create myself when destroyed by living.” More than most writers, Nin’s work and life were intricately interwoven; through her novels and diary, she created a world ideally suited to her unique sensibility and filled with imagination and insight that speak to generations of readers.

Anaïs Nin Biography (Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

The Nin family broke up in Spain, and in 1914 Rosa Culmell-Nin and her three children, of whom Anaïs was the oldest, left Barcelona for New York City. In 1918 Anaïs, age fifteen, left school, and in 1923 she married Hugh P. Guiler (known as engraver and filmmaker under the name of Ian Hugo). Nin returned to New York City in 1934 from Paris, where she had been living with her husband, to practice psychotherapy briefly under the supervision of Otto Rank. Then, in 1935, she returned to France until 1939, when the approaching war caused yet another removal to the United States. After nearly thirty years of publishing her works without much acclaim, Nin in 1966 began to receive national and international recognition with the publication of The Diary of Anaïs Nin: 1931-1934 (1966). There followed a decade of public appearances and other forms of recognition until her death from cancer in January, 1977.

Anaïs Nin Biography (Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Anaïs Nin was born in Paris on February 21, 1903, the oldest child of musicians Joaquin Nin and Rosa Culmell-Nin. Her parents’ marriage was turbulent, and in 1913, Joaquin Nin deserted his family at Archachon, France. The following year, Rosa Culmell-Nin transported her daughter and two sons, Thorvald and Joaquin, to the United States. For some years, they lived in New York City and in Queens, actively participating in the lively Cuban community there, many of whose members were musicians. Nin has recorded this period of her life in Linotte. What stands out most poignantly is her inconsolable grief at the loss of her father and her intense worship of her mother. At this time, Nin’s aspiration to become an artist of one sort or another strongly manifested itself, and her account of her adolescence is a rich study of the formative years of an artist.

In 1918, Nin left school to manage the household for her mother, who worked for Lord and Taylor as a special buyer for the Cuban clientele, and in 1923, Nin married Hugh P. Guiler (known as an engraver and filmmaker under the name of Ian Hugo). As a young married woman, Nin lived in France. Marriage caused her to experience intense conflicts, which she has described and analyzed in her diary. During those years, as in adolescence, Nin continued to write, and in 1932, she published her first book, D. H. Lawrence. This work brought about the explosive friendship with June and Henry Miller that she describes in the first published diary. Nin and Miller maintained a relationship until Nin’s death.

In Paris during the 1930’s, Nin embarked upon a lifelong devotion to psychotherapy. Her therapeutic relationship with the renowned Viennese psychoanalyst Otto Rank is recounted in the first volume of The Diary of Anaïs Nin. An independent, original, and forceful thinker whose special area of interest was the artist, Rank was of great assistance...

(The entire section is 792 words.)

Anaïs Nin Biography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

ph_0111201259-Nin.jpgAnaïs Nin Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Inexorably self-scrutinizing, constantly searching for the truths within rather than the reality without, Anaïs Nin is best remembered and most admired for her voluminous diaries. She was also a writer of fiction (short stories, novels, and erotica), but she has received the most critical acclaim for her remarkable achievement in recording, from the age of eleven, her own life.

Nin was born in Paris on February 21, 1903. Her Cuban father, Joaquin Nin, was a concert pianist and composer; her French-Danish mother, Rosa Culmell-Nin, was a singer. When Nin was young, her father deserted the family. This abandonment was probably the central traumatic event in her diverse life, which included work as a writer, a model, and...

(The entire section is 724 words.)