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Henry and June: From A Journal of Love: the Unexpurgated Diary of Anais… (1986)

by Anaïs Nin

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin (1931-1932), Diary of Anais Nin (15)

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2,011245,830 (3.76)21
Overview: Drawn from the original, uncensored journals of Anais Nin, Henry and June is an intimate account of a woman's sexual awakening. It covers a single momentous year - from late 1931 to the end of 1932 - during Nin's life in Paris, when she met Henry Miller and his wife, June. She fell in love with June's beauty and Henry's writing and, soon after June's departure for New York, began a fiery affair with Henry, which liberated her sexually and morally but undermined her marriage and led her into psychoanalysis. One question dominated her thoughts: what would happen when June returned to Paris? That event took place in October 1932, leaving Nin trapped between two loves - Henry and June. Drawn from the original, uncensored journals of Anais Nin, this is an intimate account of a woman's sexual awakening.… (more)



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English (19)  Swedish (2)  Italian (1)  Dutch (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (24)
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
The sensual yet morally-dubious companion to volume one of Anaïs Nin's expurgated journal.

Just when I thought Nin could not be more open and frank* with exposing herself in her diaries, these unexpurgated excerpts take me even deeper into her psyche. Her fears and deceptions and desires, all laid out, the uncertainties layered with inchoate convictions that melt into more uncertainties.

It could very well be that her entire diary is mere narcissism and performative, what with her obsessive recording of dialogues and letters and emotions, and with her willingness to give her diaries for her acquaintances to read. Yet the mellifluous way she writes and the rawness of the senses she so successfully conveys - her words thrumming with such intensity and honesty -, it's all so touchingly and embarrassingly human.

*it's odd to claim that the expurgated version is honest when Nin purposely cut out very pertinent events, claiming to wish to protect her husband Hugh. Yet even after reading the unexpurgated version, my first reading still doesn't feel like a lie by omission. Nin still comes across as incredibly candid (as much as she could be in that instant at that particular time).

Aside: June features so little, even in Henry and Anais' subconscious, that to read this without having read the corresponding expurgated journal would only be confusing the reader as to the attraction of the titular characters.

Sympathy: poor poor Hugh. I would like to read his version of events. I feel like he knew but just didn't want to know or have it confirmed for him. ( )
  kitzyl | Nov 5, 2020 |
I made it almost 50 pages into this book & realized Anais Nin was a selfish whore.
I'm all for discovering & exploring your sexuality...but not with multiple partners when you're married.

The writing's not great. Not bad...but not great.

I felt like I was reading a 16 yr old girl's diary...only with better vocabulary...and more sex.

( )
  PiperUp | Aug 14, 2015 |
In 1931, Anais Nin was 28 when she met Henry Miller, who was 40. Both of them were married; Nin to Hugh Guiler (“Hugo”); Miller to June. Miller’s writing was “flamboyant, virile, animal, magnificent” to Nin, a man who “life makes drunk”; meanwhile, she was bored both mentally and physically in her marriage. She was actually first highly drawn to June and began fantasizing about a relationship with her, and when June went away, she began a torrid affair with Henry.

Nin entered the affair with less experience, but was open to being taught by Miller and being submissive to him, despite the strength of her nature. She’s an interesting character, insecure in some ways, incredibly bold in others, and always intelligent. “Oh, the joy when a woman finds a man she can submit to, the joy of her femaleness expanding in strong arms.” She awoke with a furor, and Miller was equally voracious. She had connected to other men with her heart, or with her mind only, but with Miller everything clicked, the mind, heart, and the sex.

One can look at their relationship cynically – they were both cheating, she supported him financially (and got ‘Tropic of Cancer’ published for him) while he led the life of a vagabond, he kept visiting prostitutes with her knowledge and support, and she carried on multiple lovers of her own. In his writing he seems misogynistic; in hers, she sometimes seems manipulative.

On the other hand, Nin took control of her life, and was searlingly honest about her sexuality at a time when it was unheard of. As Alice Walker said, her diary is “closer to what many sexually adventuresome women experience than almost anything I’ve ever read … I found it a very erotic book and profoundly liberating.” I always find it erotic when an intelligent woman is open about sex, but what I found compelling was that her writing is also introspective about love, obsession, and psychology.

Nin felt guilty towards her husband but knew she could never be faithful to him, and kept her relationships secret to avoid hurting him. “Faithfulness is one of the perfections”, she writes, “It seems stupid and unintelligent to me now because I have bigger plans in mind. Perfection is static, and I am in full progress. The faithful wife is only phase, one moment, one metamorphosis, one condition.”

Over the course of the book, her emotions swing from June to Henry to Hugo to Henry to the joys of concurrent affairs with Eduardo and her annoying, misogynistic psychologist for the fun of it, and to ensure she wouldn’t be crushed if Henry went back to June when she returned. She’s criticized for all this ‘activity’, but I think she would be less so if she were a man, and isn’t intense love and passion always bound to be hard for others to understand?

Nin is on a path to discovering herself here. She wants passion, and in the extreme, not soft tenderness or warm-heartedness. She cannot live the conventional life of the devoted wife; she wants to push boundaries as a writer, and wants more out of life. While I may have found her hardness at times a little much, I could not help but be drawn to her, and respect her for living her life on her terms, as well as for her passion and honesty.

Quotes (explicit, so beware):
On adultery; it’s interesting to read these lines also in light of her secretly taking a second husband in 1955, while still married to Hugo:
“The truth is that this is the only way I can live: in two directions. I need two lives. I am two beings. When I return to Hugo in the evening, to the peace and warmth of the house, I return with a deep contentment, as if this were the only condition for me. I bring home to Hugo a whole woman, freed of all ‘possessed’ fevers, cured of the poison of restlessness and curiosity which used to threaten our marriage, cured through action. Our love lives, because I live. I sustain and feed it. I am loyal to it, in my own way, which cannot be his way. If he ever reads these lines, he must believe me. I am writing calmly, lucidly while waiting for him to come home, as one waits for the chosen lover, the eternal one.”

And this one, which is sad:
“He penetrated me so completely that when I returned to Louveciennes and fell asleep in Hugo’s arms, I still felt it was Henry. All night it was Henry at my side. I curled my body around him in my dreams. In the morning I found myself tightly entangled with Hugo, and it took me a long time to realize it was not Henry. Hugo believes I was so loving last night, but it was Henry I loved, Henry I kissed.”

“No one can help weeping over the destruction of the ‘ideal marriage.’ But I don’t weep any more. I have exhausted my scruples. Hugo has the most beautiful nature in the world, and I love him, but I also love other men. He lies a yard away from me while I write this, and I feel innocent.”

On her tastes, I smiled:
“Everything with me is either worship and passion or pity and understanding. I hate rarely, though when I hate, I hate murderously. For example now, I hate the bank and everything connected with it. I also hate Dutch paintings, penis-sucking, parties, and cold rainy weather. But I am more preoccupied with loving.”

On living:
“Both Henry and June have destroyed the logic and unity of my life. It is good, for a pattern is not living. Now I am living. I am not making patterns.”

“I have only three desires now, to eat, to sleep, and to fuck. The cabarets excite me. I want to hear raucous music, to see faces, to brush against bodies, to drink fiery Benedictine. Beautiful women and handsome men arouse fierce desires in me. I want to dance. I want drugs. I want to know perverse people, to be intimate with them. I never look at naïve faces. I want to bite into life, and to be torn by it. Henry does not give me all this. I have aroused his love. Curse his love. He can fuck me as no one else can, but I want more than that. I’m going to hell, to hell, to hell. Wild, wild, wild.”

“When I am most deeply rooted, I feel the wildest desire to uproot myself.”

On love:
“I have seen romanticism outlast the realistic. I have seen men forget the beautiful women they have possessed, forget the prostitutes, and remember the first woman they idolized, the woman they never could have. The woman who aroused them romantically holds them. I see the tenacious yearning in Eduardo. Hugo will never be healed of me. Henry can never really love again after loving June.”

“Life is not rational; it is just mad and full of pain. … Do not seek the because - in love there is no because, no reason, no explanation, no solutions.”

“I feel loved for myself, for my inner self, for every word I write, for my timidities, my sorrows, my struggles, my defects, my frailness. I love Henry in the same way. I cannot even hate his rushing towards other women. Despite his love for me, he is interested in meeting Natasha and Mona Paiva, the dancer. He has a diabolical curiosity about people. I have never known a man with so many sides, with such a range.”

On self-knowledge, and self-becoming:
“Last night I wept. I wept because the process by which I have become woman was painful. I wept because I was no longer a child with a child’s blind faith. I wept because my eyes were opened to reality – to Henry’s selfishness, June’s love of power, my insatiable creativity which must concern itself with others and cannot be sufficient to itself. I wept because I could not believe anymore and I love to believe. I can still love passionately without believing. That means I love humanly. I wept because from now on I will weep less. I wept because I have lost my pain and I am not yet accustomed to its absence.”

On sex:
“My hunger is not abnormal. With Henry I am content. We come to a climax, we talk, we eat and drink, and before I leave he floods me again. I have never known such plenitude. It is no longer Henry; and I am just woman. I lose the sense of separate beings.

That last afternoon in Henry’s hotel room was for me like a white-hot furnace. Before, I had only white heat of the mind and of the imagination; now it is of the blood. Sacred completeness. I come out dazed in the mellow spring evening and I think, now I would not mind dying.”

“He is so eager I do not have time to undress. And here I stumble, because of inexperience, dazed by the intensity and savagery of those hours. I only remember Henry’s voraciousness, his energy, his discovery of my buttocks, which he finds beautiful – and oh, the flowing of the honey, the paroxysms of joy, hours and hours of coition. Equality! The depths I craved, the darkness, the finality, the absolution. The core of my being is touched by a body which overpowers mine, inundates mine, which twists its flamed tongue inside of me with such power. He cries, ‘Tell me, tell me what you feel.’ And I cannot. There is blood in my eyes, in my head. Words are drowned. I want to scream savagely, wordlessly – inarticulate cries, without sense, from the most primitive basis of my self, gushing from my womb like the honey.
Tearful joy, which leaves me wordless, conquered, silenced.
God, I have known such a day, such hours of female submission, such a gift of myself there can be nothing left to give.”

“He guides my inexperienced hands. It is like a forest fire, to be with him. New places of my body are aroused and burnt. He is incendiary. I leave him in an unquenchable fever.”

“All he does to combat my phantoms is to push me against the wall of his room and kiss me, to tell me in a whisper what he wants of my body today, what gestures, what attitudes. I obey, and I enjoy him to frenzy. We rush along over phantasmagoric obstacles. Now I know why I have loved him.”

“Two hours later Fred has gone to work and Henry is kissing me in the kitchen. I want to play at resisting him, but even a kiss on my neck melts me. I say no, but he puts his hands between my legs. He charges me like a bull.
When we lie quiet, I love him still, his hands, his wrists, his neck, his mouth, the warmth of his body, and the sudden leaping of his mind. Afterwards we sit eating and talking about June and Dostoevsky while the cock crows…”

“He believes that I am extremely sensual and therefore I could easily leave him for another man and still another. At this I laugh. Yes, of course I would love to be fucked five times a day, but I would have to be in love. That is certainly a drawback, an inconvenience. And I can only love one man at a time.”

“I want to be there wherever you are. Lying next to you even if you are asleep. Henry, kiss my eyelashes, put your fingers on my eyelids. Bite my ear. Push back my hair. I have learned to unbutton you so swiftly. All, in my mouth, sucking. Your fingers. The hotness. The frenzy. Our cries of satisfaction. One for each impact of your body against mine. Each blow a sting of joy. Driving in a spiral. The core touched. The womb sucks, back and forth, open, closed. Lips flicking, snake tongues flicking. Ah, the rupture – a blood cell burst with joy. Dissolution.”

“I would like to be naked and cover myself with cold crystal jewelry. Jewelry and perfume. I see two very broad flat steel bracelets. Handcuffs. I am the slave of bracelets. They are soon clasped on my wrists. …. I chose the two bracelets with a feeling of absolute subjection to Henry and liberation from the tenderness which binds me to Hugo and Eduardo. When I showed them to Henry, I stretched out both my wrists as one does in being handcuffed.”

“I feel a powerful sense of life unimaginable to either Hugo or Eduardo. My breasts are swollen. I hold my legs wide apart in love-making instead of, as before, closed. I have enjoyed sucking to the point of almost coming to a climax while doing it. I have finally eliminated my childish self.
I push Hugo away from me, exacerbate his desires, his terror of losing me. I talk cynically to him, taunt him, call women to his attention. There is no room in me for sadness or regrets. Men look at me and I look at them, with my being unlocked. No more veils. I want many lovers. I am insatiable now. When I weep, I want to fuck it away.” ( )
2 vote gbill | Jul 9, 2015 |
This love story (or "erotic awakening" as it is sometimes described) is taken directly from the journals of Anaïs Nin, whose prose is utterly unique--a cross between the direct simplicity of Ernest Hemingway and the vivid sensuality of Pablo Neruda. Reading Nin is pure pleasure.

In spite of the beauty of the prose, Henry and June left me frustrated and unsatisfied (and not in the way you think). Perhaps it is unfair of me to expect any kind of plot or forward movement from what is admittedly a collection of journal entries, but after a while I felt I was reading the same thing over and over again. Experiences and thoughts that Nin felt were revelatory over the number of years during which the journals take place were repetitive and somewhat tedious when read in the course of a few days.

It was certainly interesting to read intimate details about the psyche of Henry James, another amazing writer. But--and as a die-hard fan of unabridged works I hate to say this--I might have been happier reading the Expurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin. ( )
  bkwurm | Jan 25, 2015 |
Better than fiction, any day. ( )
1 vote rubymadden | Mar 22, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nin, Anaïsprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ferguson, MargarethaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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My cousin Eduardo came to Louveciennes yesterday.
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Overview: Drawn from the original, uncensored journals of Anais Nin, Henry and June is an intimate account of a woman's sexual awakening. It covers a single momentous year - from late 1931 to the end of 1932 - during Nin's life in Paris, when she met Henry Miller and his wife, June. She fell in love with June's beauty and Henry's writing and, soon after June's departure for New York, began a fiery affair with Henry, which liberated her sexually and morally but undermined her marriage and led her into psychoanalysis. One question dominated her thoughts: what would happen when June returned to Paris? That event took place in October 1932, leaving Nin trapped between two loves - Henry and June. Drawn from the original, uncensored journals of Anais Nin, this is an intimate account of a woman's sexual awakening.

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