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True Love: Anais Nin & Henry Miller


“Life and literature combined, love the dynamo, you with your chameleon’s soul giving me a thousand loves, being anchored always in no matter what storm, home wherever we are. In the mornings, continuing where we left off. Resurrection after resurrection. You asserting yourself, getting the rich varied life you desire; and the more you assert yourself the more you want me, need me.”  

– Miller to Nin


Anais Nin was of Spanish decent, she studied psychology in Paris under Otto Rank and became acquainted with many well-known writers and artists during that ripe time of Bohemia and creative expression. Nin and Miller were both separately married when they met in 1931 but the attraction was so palpable they began an illicit affair, amongst a cavalcade of wife-swapping and threesomes of course.

Nin and Miller’s literary friendship and stretching of sexual boundaries moved into an intense romance that lasted for decades, and she aborted his child 1934.  It is worth noting that Nin documented her life in her colossal collection of diaries, within which she offered inexhaustible exploration and insight into her relationships. They were both consistent, insistent lovers; he wrote sexually detailed passages, she was deemed one of the finest female erotica writers, undoubtedly both encouraged by their passionate addiction to one another. In France, the triangulated love affairs were as common as the flow of wine.


“Anais, I only thought I loved you before; it was nothing like this certainty that’s in me now. Was all this so wonderful only because it was brief and stolen? Were we acting for each other, to each other? Was I less I, or more I, and you less or more you? Is it madness to believe that this could go on? When and where would the drab moments begin? I study you so much to discover the possible flaws, the weak points, the danger zones. I don’t find them—not any. That means I am in love, blind, blind. To be blind forever!”

– Henry Miller


This was another relationship where the geometry of love was neither plane nor solid; it was topic for debate, it was talkative, demanded constant immersion. Miller was reinventing the American Rogue and urban slave mapping the road away from a massified society, setting flares out for the territory ahead. Despite his celebrations bed-hopping through the Big Sur, he was a jealous lover and his work reflected his drunkenness and sexual complications with its hot, loud bawdy self-centredness and dash, brio, careless grammar. He was honest about his dependence on women, even for his miseries. Nin financed everything, from the first printing of his books to almost a decade of rent instalments, but thereafter he shied away from supporting her when he was commended huge advances for his novels, and this ultimately shred the relationship.

In later life Nin married again, she died in Los Angeles in 1977 after surviving three years of cancer, her ashes scattered over Santa Monica bay. Miller died a few years later, at the age of 88 from circulatory complications, he was also cremated and they both left behind a ‘singing universe, alive in all its parts’.


“Life moves on to death, and to deny one is to deny the other. The stern sense of destiny which every creative individual reveals lies in this awareness of the goal, this acceptance of the goal, this moving on towards a fatality, one with inscrutable forces that animate him and drive him on.”

from the essay ‘Creative Death’, The Wisdom of The Heart, an anthology of Henry Miller’s works


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Image: Anais Nin and Henry Miller