‘I create an artificial paradise,’ Anaïs Nin wrote in her diary in January 1937, ‘and human life destroys it, is against it’. Reality, never Nin’s strong point either as a writer or as a human being, was getting in the way of the Baudelairean structure she had gradually been erecting round herself ever since she began her journal, aged eleven, in 1914. What she believed to be a quest for love actually consisted of a behavioural pattern of seduction, betrayal and deceit. She persistently played her sexual partners, male and female, against each other and consistently told repeated lies to their faces.
By 1937, the multiplicity of partners was such that the façade was beginning to crack. She was struggling to maintain a quadrangular situation between herself, her husband Hugo Guiler, Henry Miller, and the expatriate Peruvian revolutionary Gonzalo Moré. ‘I want to give each man the illusion he needs of loyalty,’