The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 7: 1966-1974

“How often we make these circular journeys into the past, linking fragments of an incomplete puzzle, seeing a complete image…As we make the return journey it is not only to pass judgement on our past selves, it is to crystallize, reinforce, consolidate what we have gained.”
— The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol. 7For me, reading Nin for me has always been a journey and a revelation of the inner-self. Through her writing, she reminds us of things that are important,good for the soul, things such as relationships, the arts, self-care, and dreams. I learned a lot from her over this two year journey of reading her journals. As somebody who has kept a diary since the age of 8, it’s only when I read these that I realized just how lacking my own journaling was,and just how powerful a journal can actually be. This is probably something Nin knew from the first, from when she started writing a diary for her father who had abandoned her family: the healing and therapeutic power of journaling:“So I may say, all the Diaries are a tribute to psychology and to Dr. Rank, because they are a story of growth, and there seems to be no growth without confrontations with the unconscious and a unification of conscious and unconscious.”I think Nin helped revive the diary and I am glad she shared her diaries. They might be heavily edited and written for an audience, but to me they are still inspirational regardless of whether one reads them as true autobiography, or as a more fictionalized form of biography.There were several points during the diaries that Nin spoke to my experiences, and that’s another reason I felt a sort of kinship with her:“I think it is a loss to be uprooted, but a loss which can expand our life, that is, instead of just being French, or American, you become all artist, a writer and international.”

It was interesting to see Nin change over the years and what I liked about her was that she owned every stage of her life and vowed to enjoy her life, gain deeper understanding of herself and others.

As much as I adore Nin and her writing, she is , like everyone on the planet, not without her flaws. She made some relatively homophobic comments in other journals, and in Volume 7 there were so many cringe-worthy examples of exotification and Orientalism. As Nin travels to several Asian countries, she describes the people she meets in complimentary ways but in an “othering” manner. Also, the way in which she describes some feminists seemed to me quite severe. I think she believed women should be gentle all the time, and she admired the Japanese women for this, but I really don’t buy into that philosophy. Even so, she was a product of her time and we are more enlightened now about many things, such as race, feminism etc.

As Nin has cancer for much of Volume 7, she does a lot of reflection on her life:

“The past has not left me bitter or vengeful. I face the love, tributes I receive with pleasure. I am like a new woman, born with the publication of the Diary. This new woman is at ease in the world because whatever shyness Is left over from the past is helped by the fact that when I enter a room or a lecture hall people know me already and they rush towards me. Their warmth creates a climate in which I can open, flower, respond, return their love.”

I am so glad Nin finally got recognition and lived to see some success. I think she taught me something about tenacity and never giving up. She spent the early years printing her own books, being rejected by publishers, people misunderstanding her work, yet she soldiered on. To me it’s always been ironic that I stayed away from her work for so long also due to my preconceptions. How wrong I was about her and how happy I am to have read her. I am a fan for life.

“Do not ever falter from the dream. Someday they will understand.”


4 thoughts on “The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 7: 1966-1974

  1. Beautiful review Ro. I’ve had a book of hers for nearly 20 years now, that sits in my bookshelf. Maybe it is time to finally pull it out!

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