Hope you enjoy reading these excerpts from Linotte. UPDATED JUNE 13TH 2000. NEW EXCERPTS THROUGHOUT EACH YEAR!!!!! Anais Nin Club Anais Nin BOOK OF THE MONTH reading for JUNE/JULY;LINOTTE
We were all dressed and on deck. It was 2 o'clock and one could vaguely see a city, but very far away. The sea was gray and heavy. How different from the beautiful sea of Spain! I was anxious to arrive, but I was sad.
I felt a chill around my heart and I was seeing things all wrong.
Suddenly we were wrapped in a thick fog. A torrential rain began to fall, thunder rumbled, lightning flashes lit the heavy black sky. The people promptly took refuge in the lounge. None of the Spanish passengers had ever seen weather like that, so the frightened women wept,the men prayed in low tones. We were not afraid.
Maman had seen many storms and her calmness reassured us. We were the first to go back up on the wet deck. But the fog continued and we waited.
It was 4 o'clock when the ship began to move again, slowly, as though she approached the great city with fear. Now, leaning on the railing, I couldn't hear anything. My eyes were fixed on the lights that drew closer, I saw the tall buildings, I heard the whistling of the engine, I saw a great deal of movement. Huge buildings went by in front of me. I hated those buildings in advance because they hid what I love most--flowers, birds, fields, liberty.
Maman came up to me and took me for a walk, whispering in my ear the wonderful things I was going to see. But although I admire New York for its progress, I hate it, I find it superficial. I saw it as an ugly prison. Maman was still walking, but seeing that I wasn't paying the slightest attention, she didn't talk to me anymore, but her eyes looked worried. my head felt heavy, my heart seemed full enough to burst, I felt sad and unhappy.
I envy those who never leave their native land. I wanted to cry my eyes out.
Maman went away again and again I leaned on the railing and filled my lungs with the pure evening air. It was growing dark, we were arriving, and I had to come out of my sad reverie. I cast a last glance around me at this last bit of Spain, which seemed to have wanted to accompany me this far, to remind me of my promise that I would return. Inside myself I answered, Oh, yes, I shall return to Spain.
Maman led me away and i set foot on land. The earth was burning hot. I woke up. People were running, shouting and waving. I found myself on a large quay. I kissed Godmother, Rafael, Carlos, and Coquito, who had come to meet us. Uncle Gilbert arrived soon after. They desided that Thorvald and I would spend the night at Aunt Antolina's and the next day we would rejoin Maman and Joaquinito, who were going to Aunt Eldemira's.
The night went quite well. Before going to bed, I resigned myself to not feeling sad about New York, to keep still and keep my thoughts against this country to myself. Only I am indiscreet and I have told my diary everything. You wont say anything, will you, if I tell you that I hate New York and that I find it too big, too superficial, everything goes too fast. It is just hell.
The first thing I saw was a large door supporting two life-size angels on two columns. A priest guided us through the church. The gilded silver altar was very large indeed. In front of it, on an antique table built entirely of oak was a huge book, a very old bible. Great beams everywhere in every nook and cranny of the altar. At one moment, when I had lagged a little behind, it became very dark. It was impressive and I felt as though I were in an ancient castle, but all those ideas flew away when maman called me. After crossing several galleries supported by beams and columns carved Latin scripture, the priest led us down a dark little staircase. We went down, not without risk of breaking our necks, and found ourselves in something like a walled dungeon. A shudder chilled my blood. The priest explained that this room was dug twelve feet below the sea, his voice resounding loudly amid those gigantic walls.
Next he led us into the wall; at the back a 200-year old crucifix dominated the cave. The priest showed us three graves of preists and a bishop. Then he led us farther on to where the wall was entirely made up of holes that were used as tombs. He showed us a Virgin sculpted out of a single block of stone, very beautiful. The priest guided us toward a little staircase which we climbed, opened a large door to a kind of sacristy, but very big. He spoke a word to another preist, who opened a wardrobe and took out a huge bunch of keys. He opened another big wardrobe where we could see a magnificent minitiare altar, 18 inches high, all in gold. The cross was made of pearl mixed with gold thread, a marvel.
The priest locked the wardrobe carefully and opened another, in which we could admire a magnificent gold chalice set with pearls and with a big emerald in the center. What wealth! After closing that wardrobe, he opened another where we admired the hilt of a sword that had belonged to a king of Spain. Maman then remarked,"Here you are able to preserve these things because the churches have never been pillaged, but in France all the relics were burned and looted." It's true, my poor country expelled her priests, her nuns, threw out everything, everything. I blush to think of it. For the first time France committed an act of which I shall always be ashamed. No, I don't mean France, but her people, who really were not the French people but proud, envious, evil-minded, selfish people who joined together under the name of the French people.
A Frenchman could never have had a dishonorable idea like that of driving out priests and nuns who only did good. No, no, I repeat, they were not French.
I am eleven years old, I know, and I am not serious enough. Last night I said to myself: tomorrow I will be good. Good? I wasn't any better than I was the day before. Now here is a new month, and I haven't yet thought out how to be more sensible, how to master my impulses and my temper. I am ashamed to be so undisciplined. I hereby resolve that with God's help I will be more reasonable. Today the day is nearly over and it isn't much, but for the rest of the day I will observe silence. Not talk, but answer politely. Not seek out conversation, but work on my shawl, which must be finished at least by day after tomorrow.
It is evening, I have been lost in contemplation and here is all my achievement:
The moon shines, the stars come out, a soft breeze caresses my meditation. On the right, one still sees the setting sun showing itself humbly behind the moon, which now rules the heavens. Finally the sun disappears altogether and then the moon, shining still more brightly, proudly ascends the throne of the sun. I greet you, Madam, the stars seem to say.
One day at my window, where I had so often wept and where so many bitter tears had fallen, I saw the one I love, the one I adore, suddenly appear. Full of love, I rushed into the arms that were stretched out toward me. Oh, what joy! Oh, happiness! I can't believe it! That day I knew the happiness of my father's kiss.
How happy I am! I took Communion this morning and I have Jesus in my heart, so I feel very calm. I had lunch, prayed again, and here I am. I shall stop for now...It is late, everything is quiet, and in this silence I come to entrust my thoughts to my faithful confidant. I have thought deeply about the happiness that some children must feel having their father and mother near them. This morning at Communion I saw a father and a mother with a little girl of about six, all three taking Communion. Why can I not have my father with me as well? Why can I not have the joy of Communion together with Papa and Maman?
Alas, how long it has been makes me weep many times. Today I thought about it even more deeply and my Communion was just for Papa. For a long time I repeated Papa, Maman. What sweet words! But afterward the truth came to me and my heart wept, wept. No one but God knows my bitter sorrow. My dreams are always about Papa. He comes back, I kiss him, he presses me to his heart. That moment is sweet, but afterward sadness comes again with the truth and my heart weeps and weeps again. Tonight I am sadder than ever and my sorrow is greater still. I am too sad to continue.
Each time I take Communion the thought of Papa becomes sadder and I don't know why. Last night I dreamed that I recieved a letter from Papa in which he said: I am coming. Oh, if it were true! What happiness, I would be the happiest girl in the world. I write to Papa and always ask him to come. I keep hoping and perhaps he will come. At the moment of Communion, it seems more as though I am kissing and hugging Papa, rather than recieving the body of Christ. That moment is sweet. I am tired of saying to Papa, I send you a big hug. I would like to hug him for real. I am jealous of the other little girls with their papas. I think that I might also be with him again. Well, no more about that.
I think that here I shall never have occasion to write poetry because everywhere all one sees are busy people, red stores and houses that are so tall one can hardly see the sky, which is always gray. Since this morning there hasn't been one minute without rain. The sky is darker still and the day is sad.
Here I am once more, still in my humdrum life. My efforts are crowned by small successes that make me very happy. Ah, what wouldn't I do to please Maman and Papa. I don't like the piano, but if it's Maman who gives me my lesson, then I go at it with a great deal of pleasure. Maman sings, which makes me very sad because I remember when Papa accompanied her, and then I think of Brussels and the war. Today I fought against it but I am seized by a desire to become a nurse or something that would take me to France. I would like to be a man so that I could bear arms. Oh, how many thinks I would like to be, for I envy the sisters, too, who care for the soldiers, but alas, I am too little and I should give up those ideas. It's music that makes me sad. I am going to try and amuse myself. Last night I dreamed about piano music slow as a lullaby, about langorous and sad songs, about the harp with its sweet harmonious sounds, then about the faint voice of the guitar. I woke up crying, but I fell back asleep and dreamed that I was saving France, that I was Joan of Arc and that she sang, Rise up, Anais, save France since that is your wish. I rushed forward and a quarter of an hour later the whole city shouted, Victory! Vive la France, vive Joan of Arc who gave Anais her strength. How happy I was. If only it were true. Vain illusions, I a girl, I who am so small, saving France.May 11 1915
I wonder, when I let so many days go by without writing, if my diary thinks I have abandoned it! Oh, no, never. Fortunately I am not an ungrateful person, and I promise my diary never to give it up, oh, no, never. I already feel very remorseful because I didn't begin my diary sooner. But I must admit that it was only when I began to keep a diary that my ideas began to take shape and pour forth. To whom could I have confided all the thoughts that fill my mind if not to a diary? Cinfidant that I love, do you promise always to keep the heart that I have given you, the thoughts that I have expressed only to you?May 20 1915
I am Angela Anais Juana Antolina Rosa Edelmira Nin y Culmell. I am twelve years old at present. I am rather tall for my age, everyone says. I am thin. I have large feet and large hands with fingers that often are clenched with nervousness. My face is very pale and I have big brown eyes(1) that are vague and that I am afraid reveal my crazy thoughts. My mouth is big. I have a funny laugh, a passably nice smile. When I am angry, my mouth becomes an ugly pout. Usually I am serious and somewhat distracted. My nose is a bit the Culmell nose, by which I mean it is a little long, like Grandmother's. I have chestnut hair, not very light in color, which falls a little below the shoulder. Maman calls them locks of hair. I have always hidden them, either in a braid or tied back with a hair ribbon.
My disposition: I get angrily easily. I can't stand to be teased but I like a little to tease others. I like to work. I adore my mother and father and above all my aunts and all the rest of the family, not counting Maman, Papa, Thorvald, and Joaquinito. I love Grandmother. I am crazy about reading, and writing is a passion with me. I believe fervently in God and in everything God tells me through His holy Church. Prayer is something to which I have always had recourse. I don't love easily and become attached only to whom people I respect in my own way. I am a French girl who loves, admires, and respects her country, a real French girl. I admire Spain, although less, of course, and I especially admire Beligium.
In front of me stretches a green lawn shining in the sun. On theleft, a clump of trees. In the distance, in front of me and behind me, the main avenue through the park. I am sitting all alone on a bench in the shade of a big tree. I was looking for solitude. I would liked to have been more alone, but Joaquinito didn't want to walk any farther, so without paying attention to the passerby, without listening to the murmur of the branches that are shaken by a very cool wind, I shall begin. Now, that is to say exactly today, if I am not mistaken, we have been here just a year. At this hour (noon) we were having dinner for the last time on the Monserrat, which now has been replaced by a new boat whose name I can't remember. It is one year, one year I have been in New York, a year full of work, of walks, and of endless dreams. I am too fond of dreaming. Is it because reality seems to me too sad? I am afraid so. Papa's absence turns into wishes, into dreams that are full of melancholy. But lets stay on the track. I said it was a year, a year that we are here, that I breathe the air full of ambition that fills New York, and heaven help me not to fall victim to it because ambition counts many victims. If I am not mistaken, it is two and a half years that I have been away from Papa...
So I always come back to Papa and I shall stop because I don't want my diary to become as melancholy as I am.
What is my role in the world? My eyes shine, I long to pierce the night from which secrets of the future are hidden and I push from me a mad, happy dream of youth, telling myself my role is that of someone who is despised, repulsed, whom no one loves, alas! That is harsh, but then my soul, freed from the earth can soar toward the infinite, toward the blue sky and the land of dreams. "Life," a word that means pain, the devouring passion that seizes us and lets go only with death. Life, a mournful word that weighs down my heart, but that draws near. Life begins when one is grown and without parents to shape it. My Life is coming closer. In a little while I shall have to support Maman and Papa. I must live. If I am looked down upon, Life for me will be like something despised. Life will no longer be my friend. Dreams are my Life, the dream that sustains the solitary person that I shall be for I say again, no man will want to be my master. A disposition such as mine is made to live in union only with solitude.
I wanted to go over the last few pages that I wrote under the influence of a lot of sadness. The lines that follow will be the same, for if on the outside I seem fairly happy, rather rattle-brained, rather silly, inside I am very unhappy. I think and I gorget to be silly. The last time, my last words were, I run away from Life. What did I mean? I think I can explain. For me, life is: noise, madness, amusement or pleasure, bitterness. Since I run away from Life, I run away from all that, I long for silence. When there is no sound to be heard, when night covers the great city with her dark cloak, hiding the shining mask, then I feel as though I hear a mysterious voice speaking to me. I suppose the voice comes from me, since it thinks as I do. I stay a long time, half asleep. I don't feel anythin, I dream. I forget the earth, I forget everything, and I soar into an infinite without misery and without end. It seems to me I am looking for something, I don't know what, but when my free spirit escapes from the powerful claws of that mortal enemy, the World, it seems to me I find what I wanted. Is it forgetfulness? Silence? I don't know, but that same voice speaks to me, although I think I am alone. I can't understand what it says, but I say to myself that in this world, one can never be alone and forget. I call that voice "my genie." Good or Evil, I don't know which.
These are the thoughts of my heart, the deepest of my somber feelings, of...I am looking for a strange name for myself. Ah, of a Philanthropist. Oh, no, I believe that means someone who wants to do good, and I admit I feel more like punishing, avenging, opening human eyes and hearts to the bayonet. What will my bayonet be? My pen. I am out of my mind! But if it's crazy, and I think it is, I promised myself to make a picture of my heart, and there it is.February 22 1916 (Anais Nin's Birthday!)
13 years old! An age when the world gives a glimpse of its abyss of pleasures. 13 years old! An age when the future, which yesterday seemed far away, comes to haunt one's dreams. 13 years old! An age when a locked heart opens, when one that is open becomes locked. 13 years old! Ana age when a little girl breaks the frail cocoon and becomes a young lady. I am 13 years old!
April 14 1916
Description of Anais Nin by Marian Hearn
Anais' humorous comments refuting her friend's lovely description of her in parantheses!
Anais Nnn is very tall for her age, 13. (true) She has pretty dark-brown hair (very ugly) and big brown eyes (very ugly). When she laughs, you can see her white teeth (decayed, unfortunately), which are white as pearls (imitation). She was born in Paris (a great honor for anyone born there) and she has traveled almost everywhere in Europe (it's true).
She has been here only a year and she is remarkably intelligent (like a donkey).
She is gifted at composition and drawing (perhaps). She has a delightful disposition (I say, hum!) and is never angry (except when she flies into a rage). She is very good company because she is gay and polite everywhere. Everyone likes her (and hates her). The Sisters like her more (I suppose) because she is so good (bad) and so intelligent (I repeat, like a donkey).June 6 1916
So I dream about a tall, strong man with black hair, white teeth, a pale mysterious face, dark melancholy eyes, a dignified walk and a distant smile. Something like the Count of Monte Cristo. Above all, with a soft, clear voice. I would like him to tell me about his life, which will be very sad and full of terrible, frightening adventures. I would like him to be rather proud and haughty, fond of books, and able to write or play some kind of musical instrument. We would spend every evening at home, in front of the fire in winter, in the garden in summer, with a book or a pencil, his hand resting on mine! Isn't that the way husbands are?
If I ever should marry, I shall chose a man like that, and we shall write in this same diary together. Then my beloved diary will be the recipient of two great secrets and will have two hearts to watch over. It will know two signatures, A.N. and...I would like it to be a fantastic and unknown name like...like...I don't know. All the same, I shall think about it some more and look for a good name.
At half past five this afternoon, I was on the swing. My hair, which Maman had curled, sometimes covered my face, sometimes danced around my head. I wasn't thinking of much of anything when suddenly Thorvald called to me. He was sitting not far from the swing, busily whittling a boat with his knife.
I turned red, and Thorvald, who was watching me, added: "And he told also me that he wants you for his girl." At that point I almost fell off the swing and if Thorvald hadn't stopped it, I would have taken a tumble. He had to repeat what he had said three times and I couldn't believe him. There. I preferred John O'Connell to the other boys in my class, and now he tells my brother that he wants me for his "girl." As I write that, I smile, I smile serenly, happily, but a bit mockingliy. My goodness, what a little girl I still am!
Is it possible! A girl of 14? Yes, my little diary, it's true! Your crazy little confidante has found her knight, her tiny and nice little knight (American)...But he has beautiful blue eyes, nice manners, he is brave, and that's all I want. If I build castles in Spain, if I dream of magic voyages, etc., it's John O'Connell that I'm thinking of.
Let happen what will happen! It's a school game, a bit of foolishness for girls like me who read too much, and who, alas! search too eagerly for the living image of the heroes whose lives they have read about. And I am still smiling...I smile as I shall always smile at those games, which later on will become serious.December 31 1917
"...I am considered a very well-behaved girl who studies hard and does very well. Only, as you see, I am sincere and I don't mind if my Papa knows that his daughter is a model of good conduct, kindness and above all, sweetness.
I wore my cape and my beautiful new shoes for the first time, which meant that I went to my dancing lesson putting on more airs than usual.
It's a little difficult to explain what I have been thinking about the last few days. I have been living in a strange world, in an attack of reverie, with a change in my character which astonishes me a little. This is the result of the long hours that I spend alone thinking, I suppose. I couldn't write because when I tried to discover what I was dreaming about, I found only a bottomless chasm the depths of which I couldn't sound.
Last night it was hot and I was leaning on the sill of the open window in the living room. Then my imagination got the better of me. A sinlge idea had taken possession of my dreams, a thing I had never, never thought of, an emptieness that I had never felt. I was alone and something was missing. It wasn't the love of my mother, my brothers or the rest of my family; I knew that I wanted someone very strong, very powerful, very handsome who would me and whom I could love with all my heart. It is an image or an idol that my dreams have created and that I am searching for in mortal form. Does he exist? And there, under the starry sky, the smiling moon, face to face with a horizon that doesn't go further than the end of the street, with my head in my hands, I sent a very sad prayer into infinite space: Love me, someone!
I don't understand it all. I had never been aware of that immense empty space that can only be filled by a Shadow that my mind has created, that my dreams have given a soul.
Then, with a calm smile, thinking no doubt of all the novels I have read, I took a large armchair and set it very close to my chair, and looking into the eyes of the one that my imagination placed there, I talked with him.
I can assure you that it isn't necessary to say more than 14 1/2 words per day. It's much simpler, much easier, much wiser, much more intelligent to listen to others talking and to think about what they say, instead of saying something stupid. First, there is less noise in the house, and second I had time to analyze all the conversations that I heard and to "ruminate" like a cow about what was said.
Also this great desire to write, and last, I guessed that everyone around me was very happy about my silence, because I never open my mouth except to say silly things. There is only one drawback. Today by chance I didn't see the person to whom I would find it impossible to say only 14 1/2 words in a day. I mean Mr. Madriguera.
Book after book. Gradening when my eyes refuse to read. Dreams and dreams. Zounds!
During the last two hours, I have been busy rereading several of my diaries, from the one I began in 1914 on the ship that was to carry me far away from Spain, down to the lines I wrote two hours ago.
I have gone through so many impressions. At first I couldn't read the dreadful handwriting and horrible spelling, for I was only eleven years old. But I could read my character, and with the help of memory, I could follow with breathless interest the changes that events have made on my personality. I arrived in New York with my mind made up to detest it. I was ignorant, shy, naive, like a country girl. Slowly I grew up; I wrote things that I found unexplainable at the time and that I now understand. I am sad and happy. Around me, the natural and inevitable tragedy of life unfolds. My personality is developing, my handwriting is changing, my spelling is a little better, my ideas are becoming clear and precise. I am neither naive or shy, and am less ignorant. At 16 I have changed so much that right now, when I analyze my feelings, I understand that the little eleven-year-old girl and her character exist only in the notebooks.
This transformation, which is so normal, is like an abyss that makes me dizzy. It is a deep mystery of nature that takes my breath away. Even now, I may be on the threshold of another transformation, on the threshold of another being that will be added to or will replace the one I am about to leave behind, as one gets rid of an old worn coat. What food for thought.
Yesterday afternoon I wrote a short story. Suddenly, unexpectedly, a great many ideas have come to me and I recieve them with pleasure, as this doesn't often happen. When the story was finished, I got busy and copied it carefully. I fell asleep last night dreaming that I had taken it to a publisher who frightened me terribly and told me that I could do better. And now today, obsessed by that dream, I wrote another one that is much better. I am a tiny little bit discouraged because I write rather like a child, not like a lady, and I haven't yet been able to correct that. I have only one aim: as soon as I am in New York, I will type my story on the machine and putting all my sensitiveness and especially my fear of being ridiculous to one side, I will really go to see that terrible publisher...It's strange how this real ambition has suddenly come to life. For a long time I have written nothing except my diary, and I had somewhat lost hope of ever becoming an author. It's my French that worries me, but lo and behold, I have English at my disposal now, and I can write it better than any other language! Furthermore, I am here in the great country of opportunity, so I can try. And what enthusiasm is tied to this dream of hope and ambition! I have never taken lessons in how to write stories, I never went very far in school, and yes, there is a lot of discouragement, things that make me feel doubts about my career, but also there is that inexplicable something that I was born with it, and little by little experience will teach me all the things that I lack.November 22 1919
The thing i most want to tell you about is the few hours I spent outside. Thorvald has always aid that all of his friend's sisters are very jolly, whereas I never "play" with him. Today I was making the beds and when I opened the window to air the room, I became absorbed in watching Thorvald and Joaquinito playing ball, falling onto piles of dry leaves, running hard, and making the air ring with their shouts and laughter. I strted to think how young they are, how much fun they have, and that I would like to do the same. Suddenly the idea struck me that at 16, I am not old! So I made the beds in a few seconds and ran into my room to put on a sweater and a tam-o'-shanter. Before going out, I had time to notice that I was very pale. Once outside, I took part in all their crazy games, and I have never laughed so much or run so much. I played like a little girl! When I was tired of playing, I got on the swing and swung clear up to the branches of the big trees. I had to go in because I was hungry and all three of us had a snack of fruit and cookies.
When I went upstairs to take off my sweater, I was astonished at the transformation I saw in the mirror. Thorvald was extremely pleased as well!I dread Sundays because of going to Mass in that subterranean church! Luckily Sunday comes but once a week.
What a quiet way to await the beginning of another year! There must be many other things to think about that are more important than the passage of time, since so many other things stir our enthusiasm and drive us to act. That proves that Time doesn't rule through the power of the Inevitable, and that the Inevitable isn't Life.
There are the bells, the whistles. Happy New Year! Happy New Year!
JANUARY 16 1920
I am almost at the end of another notebook. But oh! how few adventures I will have written if nothing else happens before the last page! To be sure Maman is definately leaving for Cuba, but that is rather sad, and I always feel gloomy when she is going away.
Also, if I write so much everyday, I will not be able to tell you in here about my 17th birthday! I ought to shorten my chats, but I was born with a terribly long pen instead of a long tongue, and the dozens of letters I write seem like a drop in the water--I always want to write more!
If only you had a tongue, my little diary! You know that there was a sculptor who created a statue that came to life, and people made a snow-child that also came to life! From one moment to the next, I expect a little movement, a smile. I created you. Oh, become somebody!
Anais Nin sites
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I am a Pisces: Anais
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Anais cassettes of her reading her own diaries
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(1996) Preservation of Anais's Louvciennes house
Salon Weekly Interview w/Anais Biographer Deidre bair on the Secret Life of Anais
Anais Nin: Mistress of the Erotic
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