April 17, 2012

April, 1932

Filed under: books — theresaurus @ 2:30 pm

From The Diary of Anais Nin 1931-1934:

April, 1932:

“A few pans, unmatched dishes from the flea market, old shirts for kitchen towels. Tacked on the walls, a list of books to get, a list of menus to eat in the future, clippings, reproductions, and water colors of Henry’s. Henry keeps house like a Dutch housekeeper. He is very neat and clean. No dirty dishes about. It is all monastic, really, with no trimmings, no decorations. Plainness. The white and light grey walls.

“If what Proust says is true, that happiness is the absence of fever, then I will never know happiness. For I am possessed by a fever for knowledge, experience, and creation. I think I have an immediate awareness in living which is far more terrible and painful. There is no time lapse, no distance between me and the present. Instantaneous awareness. But it is also true that when I write afterwards, I see much more, I understand better, I develop and enrich. I live more on time. What is remembered later does not seem as true to me. I have such a need of truth! It must be that need of immediate recording which incites me to write almost while I am living before it is altered, changed by distance or time.

“We sit in the Clichy kitchen having lunch. Books piled up, records on the floor. Charts and drawings on the walls.

“I have just stood before the open window of my bedroom and I breathed in deeply all the honeysuckle perfumed air, the sunshine, the snowdrops of winter, the crocuses of spring, the primroses, the crooning pigeons, the trills of the birds, the entire procession of soft winds and cool smells, of frail colors and petal-textured skies, the knotted snake greys of old vine roots, the vertical shoots of young branches, the dank smell of old leaves, of wet earth, of torn roots, and fresh-cut grass, winter, summer, and fall, sunrises and sunsets, storms and lulls, wheat and chestnuts, wild strawberries and wild roses, violets and damp logs, burnt fields and new poppies.

“The same thing which makes Henry indestructible is what makes me indestructible. The core of us is an artist, a writer. And it is in our work, by our work, that we reassemble the fragments, re-create wholeness.

“I am amazed how many streets he can walk through in a day, how many letters he can write, how many books he can read, how many people he can talk to, how any cafes he can sit in, how many movies he can see, how many exhibitions. He is like a torrent in continuous movement.

“We were walking to the Place Clichy, Fred, Henry and I. Henry makes me aware of the street, of people. He is smelling the street, observing. He shows me the whore with the wooden stump who stands near the Gaumont Palace. He shows me the narrow streets winding up, lined with small hotels, and the whores standing by the doorways, under red lights. We sit in several cafes. Francis Carco cafes where the pimps are playing cards and watching their women on the sidewalk. We talked about life and death, as D. H. Lawrence talked about it, the people we know who are dead, those who are alive.

“Henry and Fred were both at work when I arrived at Clichy for dinner. … Henry falls into a thoughtful quietness, musing, chuckling over his work. … As he sits there sipping coffee, I see a new aspect of him: I see his richness, the impulses which blow like gusts and carry him everywhere, his letters to people all over the world, his curiosity, his exploration of Paris day and night, his relentless investigation of human beings. His charts on the walls are enormous, filled with names, incidents, titles of books, allusions, relationships, places, restaurants, etc. A giant task, a universe. if he can ever write it all.”



  1. I really have to read this book. I think I’d like to read it on paper. Oh, BTW, volcano frog, rainfrog, whatever, they’re all frogs, it’s all me.

    Comment by Kazangaeru — April 19, 2012 @ 2:11 pm

    • My copy is ancient, has stains all over and the cover and first few pages are long gone. I read this every spring. I’m amazed at their energy: writing endless letters and diaries besides their work and hanging out at cafes and going out to the theater and movies and parties.

      Comment by theresaurus — April 22, 2012 @ 9:10 am

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