BOOK REVIEW / Her heart belonged to Daddy: 'Incest: Unexpurgated Diary 1932-34' - Anas Nin: Peter Owen, 25 pounds

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The Independent Culture
THERE WAS a 19th-century savant named William Buckland who wanted to eat one of everything. When he was sated with mole's haunches and bat's urine, he moved on to munch up the heart of a canonised French king in a cathedral reliquary, that kind of thing. I wonder why the sexual memoirs of Anas Nin bring Buckland to mind.

When she published Henry and June, Nin made public her 'scandalous' simultaneous relationships with Henry Miller and his wife June. Now here she is again, in Further Adventures with Henry and June, to reveal everything she didn't reveal the last time, and to add a few names: another writer (Antonin Artaud), two psycho analysts (Otto Rank and Rene Allendy), one gay cousin and one husband. And (hence the title), the real man in her life, her father.

It's all rather sad. Joaquin Nin, a handsome rake and famous pianist, left his family when Anais was 11, and her first diary jottings were pathetic little letters pleading with him to come home. So it hardly takes two shrinks to explain that she has been taking it out on men ever since, making them come home. She has been getting even with her womanising father in the bad

behaviour stakes - and, by breaking the last taboo and making love to Joaquin (who tells her she is 'the woman of my life, the ideal') she's also getting even with the women who took him away. To cap it all, she now has her chance to reject him.

This book provides 400 pages of the heart- searchings, the palpitations and the ins and outs of all these relationships. She writes about art, and her deep satisfaction with her own work; she describes in graphic detail a very late abortion; she lives life to the full: 'I spread, I sprawl, I feel the bench of the bistro, and I have never seen such golden mayonnaise.' But Nin's overriding obsession and craving is lurv, and (for her the same thing) the enslaving of men. She reminds us that she is, after all, different - 'I am not a normal woman. Outsizes in brains, in sex' - and wonders 'How many closenesses are there in the world for a woman like me? Am I a unity? A monster? Am I one woman?'

One woman or not, she was obviously a fire- hazard - she only had to get on the Metro to note that 'five pairs of men's eyes watched me - obsessively'. Just think, five. And although it is pleasing when a woman's behaviour challenges vocabulary (what is the female of Don Juan? the male of harem?), it's hard to forgive anyone for writing about their life in such a penny-novelettish way. One day when Anas comes home from some man or other ('always two men - the become and the becoming, always the moment attained and the next one divined too soon'), her long-suffering husband 'throws me on the bed, frenzied with jealousy, and fucks me deliriously, tearing my dress to bite my shoulders'. Anas is thrilled. Poor old hubby has done something right for once: 'I had always wanted my dress torn]'

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