Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Nin, whose first published work was entitled D. H. Lawrence: An Unprofessional Study (1932), was clearly influenced by Lawrence’s work. Although her characters lack Lawrence’s complexity and her plots lack his excitement, she shares his interest in exploring the interior lives of men and women, especially women. Nin said that her aim was to strip through the facades that human beings present to the world in order to get to the hidden self. Having practiced psychotherapy under the supervision of Otto Rank, Nin clearly had the tools for such an investigation. The room of mirrors in which images reflect images becomes a metaphor for Jeanne’s attempt to discover the secrets of her soul.

Perhaps the most distinctive characteristics of Nin’s style are the visual images and verbal beauties that give a poetic quality to her prose. For example, such phrases as “minuet lightness of step,” “gardens cottoned the sound,” Jeanne’s “stemless” face, “little silver hooks clutching emptiness,” and the “glass bushes” convey the dreamlike quality of life as it is lived under the glass bell.