Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

Meeting Anais Nin by Maryanne Raphael

anais-nin-head-shot-maryanne-raphael.jpgAnais Nin, photo courtesy Maryanne Raphael

Maryanne Raphael has written and co-authored 10 books, short stories, poetry, and articles. You can read more about Maryanne and her work on www.authorsden.com/maryanneraphael. She says: "No matter what I'm doing right now, I would rather be writing."

Anais Nin was important in my own life as a woman and as a writer. When I lived in Ghana, some friends came back from home leave in the United States and brought back a set of her journals for me to read which I proceeded to devour. I didn't think of her as someone you could actually meet until I was on my flight back to the States several years after that. I met a woman on that flight who'd met Anais. Now, we meet with Maryanne and listen to her story of how she met Anais Nin. ---Janet Riehl

This story is the introduction to Maryann Raphael's "The Voyage Within," copyrighted 2003.

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WHEN I MET ANAIS NIN
by Maryanne Raphael

I was first introduced to Anais Nin through her writing, when I was a student at the Sorbonne in Paris. Immediatley, I identified with her, for like young Anais, I was full of joy, desire, laughter, compassion and curiosity regarding the simple facts of life. I knew I wanted to meet her.

After I left France, I moved to New York City where I began working on a book of interviews called "Women on Women." When I learned Anais was coming to the city, I called her and she agreed to an interview.

I'll never forget the first time I met her. I was standing on the steps of her Greenwich Village apartment when she opened the door. She was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen. With high cheekbones, flawless skin, bright emerald eyes and hair pulled into a bun, her Greta Garbo beauty took my breath away. Dressed in an aquamarine, velvet, floor-length gown, that accentuated her firm and slender body, her presence gave forth an aura of mystery. It was hard to believe she was almost seventy.

With a dancer’s walk, she led me into the living room. Decorated in her favorite colors, lavender, sea green, and aquamarine, the atmosphere was one of tranquility and meditation. Multicolored Indian mirrored pillows enhanced the setting. I relaxed in this artistic environment. We drank light, fragrant tea served in delicate cups and saucers.

I asked, "Can writing improve the world?" Her voice was soft, almost a whisper, with a slight French accent. She said, "I think it depends on what kind of books you read. Many people told me some of the ‘Diaries’ helped them to live."

She laughed when I asked, "if you were marooned on a desert island, who would you like to have with you?" She said, "I can’t answer that. I would lose too many friends. That’s like asking who is my favorite writer?"

She glowed. Her energy was rich and positive. "I’m sorry for writers who succeed too soon," she said. "I think writing creates a world in which you want to live and then others want to live in it with you and that becomes a little universe."

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Anais Nin, photo courtesy of Maryanne Raphael

When I asked if she read many novels, she said, "No, I read mostly biographies. We need a fusion of novel and biography. I think we’re going to find a perfect fusion the psychological truth but fictionalized."

She surprised me when she said laughing, "Is it all right to interview the interviewer?" "Feel free," I said. "I’ve always wanted to be interviewed by a world famous author."

Anais laughed again. Then she began questioning me. It was hard to believe that this amazing exciting woman was so interested in my writing, my ideas, my life.

We talked about the place of sex in art. "I prefer to say sensuality, which means the whole range of our physical response to life," she told me. "Otto Rank said the more you give to living, the more you have to give." She sipped her tea, then said, "Most of our sexual vocabulary comes from men since they publish more erotica than female authors." She talked of the womb as the true source of women’s creativity and of the need for a feminine language.

When I asked, "What is your main goal in life," Anais became serious. "To be useful," she said. "If I hadn’t had writing, I wouldn’t have created a world in which I can live and breathe. I think the writing creates a world in which you want to live and then others want to live in it with you and that becomes a little universe."

[There's much more! Read on.]

Because Anais said she'd prefer to study with Marguerite Young over any other writer, I signed up for her class. I sent Anais the first chapters of CHILDREN OF THE RENAISSANCE, the book I wrote in class. She said, "I find the work exciting, but you may have the problem I faced with my surrealistic novels. People were afraid to follow me into that dream state until they had read the diaries. You may want to publish something less threatening first."

I had hoped to publish my novel, but following Anais' advice, I published a nonfiction book, "Runaways" (co-author Jenifer Wolf). I was thrilled when, in spite of being ill with cancer, Anais took the time to write a Preface for my book.

After I moved to Los Angeles, I studied the Psychology of Women with Dr. Eve Jones. I met Ken Merrill, a longtime friend of Anais and her companion Rupert. Ken was the owner of the Yellow Rose Gallery, where Anais gave her first official reading of Volume One of her Diary.

In January 1977, I received one of Anais' famous lavender postcards with the two Pisces fish. It was my invitation to her Memorial service. Shortly afterwards, Ken took me to meet Rupert Pole in the beautiful house he had shared with Anais during the last 30 years of her life. As I entered the house, I could feel her spirit. When I was leaving, Rupert handed me a copy of Little Birds. Anais' ashes were spread over the Pacific so they could travel the world she loved so passionately.

Meeting and knowing this woman, whose works I'd long admired was one of the most exciting events of my life. Anais Nin lived her life in White Heat. The awe and magic I felt the first time I met her has stayed with me as it has with all who knew and loved her. Anais was a compassionate, passionate woman devoted to Peace and Love. She saw the earth with no artificial boundaries and wanted to make the world a better place. She touched me and changed my life.

Anais once told me that, even though she sometimes received 100 letters in a day, she answered every one of them. Today, thanks to her example, much of my daily joy comes from staying in touch with those I love.

Anais taught me to describe my emotions, my deepest thoughts, my worries, my despair, my joy and my growth in my diary. This Spiritual Journal has become a guide through the labyrinths on my own voyage within.

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6 Responses »

  1. Thanks, Janet, for this insightful post. Many of my favorite quotes are from Anais Nin but I have never read any of her Diaries. Ms. Raphael's recount of her interview and subsequent relationship with Nin has me heading to the library!

  2. I began reading the Diaries a few years ago after first reading one of her "surreal" novels (the name of which escapes me). I was disappointed in the diaries. I had not been aware that the novel was considered a dream state or otherwise odd. I reveled in the eloquent descriptions and longed to attain the same levels of compelling phraseology. I could become addicted to her novels. In comparison, the diaries seemed ... well, not within what I understood to be the realm of reality. Maybe hers, but definitely not mine! Or so I remember it. The words "shallow person" come to mind. Deeply emotional, but ... I might understand them differently today. Read and enjoy.

  3. Dear Maryanne: Believe or not I am Ken Merrills (Manny Meralovitz) Brother. As you probably know Manny was murdered in Long Beach CA, in 1994. I have his book collection and memorabilia, and was looking up Rupert Pole her Husband when I discovered your Blog. I Cannot tell you how exited I was... Wow I said to myself...Gosh I was their that day on Sunset Blvd. I am more than sure that I met you. It is a wonderful feeling to know that Ken or Manny was part of Anais life that day. It is a pleasure to see you article and history. God bless you. Much Success with your New Book. Seymour

  4. Dear Maryanne: Believe it or not,, I am Ken Merrills ( Manny Meralovitz ) brother Seymour. As you probably know Manny was Murdered in Long Beach Ca. in 1994. I have his book collection and memorabilia and was looking up Rupert Pole her Husband , when I found your Blog.I cannot tell you how excited I was. Gosh I said to myself.. I was there that day on sunset Blvd, when Anais was their.God bless you andmuch luck with yiur New Book. Seymour

  5. Janet, I love your website. I am so happy you included information about my relationship with Anais Nin, one of the most important people inn my life, a real inspiration for me as well as a true friend. Thanks for connecting me with Seymour, the brother of one of my dearest friends, Ken was the person who introduced me to Rupert a few years after I met Anais Maryanne

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