Sunday, December 04, 2005

Anais Nin's Thoughts On 'The Booster'

Back in August, I began profiling The Booster magazine, a mouth-piece of the Villa Seuart circle from 1937 - 1939. Anais Nin was both published and "boosted" within its pages (along with Henry Miller, Lawrence Durrell and Alfred Perles) but was not a fan of the project.

From the pages of her diary, here are her thoughts and observations on the subject.

August 1937 -- "The birth of the magazine the Booster, inherited by Fred and dominated by Henry, reawakened my rebellion against Henry's atmosphere of begging, stealing, cajoling, school-boy pranks, slapstick humor, burlesque...." [p 236]

Fall 1937 -- "The sculptor Hughes says to me: 'When I was poor and worked in restaurants, I thought and felt like those I worked with.' I envy him. When I was poor and worked as a model and as a mannequin, I never became like the others. I remained myself. I played roles, but I remaned myself.
This incapacity to alter myself, remaining myself, deep down, is painful to a woman. Woman should be born blind so that she may serve blindly. Unquestioningly.
For this reason I had to give up my association with the Booster. Too much slapstick. Reichel, who was being praised by Henry, did not sleep for several nights wondering how he could tell Henry that he was ashamed to be so crudely 'boosted.'" [p 243]

October 1937 -- [anecdote of Henry's visit to a chiropodist to raise money for The Booster, already transcribed in my blog here.] [p 261]

October 1937 -- "I do not like the Booster. It is vular and farcical. Strident. Then I feel guilty: 'Perhaps I am too austere.'"[p 264]

November 1937 -- "The activity Henry has created is extraordinary. He lives in a whirlpool, drawing everyone to him. I am to edit a number of the Booster containing women's writing. It is out of a discussion of him and Larry [Lawrence Durrell] one night that my essay on woman's creation was born. Larry has written a voyage through the womb which is unmatchable." [p 267]

November 1937 -- "Henry says ' I want to live a deeper life, I know my defect, I expand too much, I should not, for instance, have done the magazine.' The Booster has dispersed his energies." [p 273]

November 1937 -- "Work on diary for Perkins. Work for Paix et Democratie. Work for the Booster." [p 279]

January 1939 -- "When Larry made a vivid description of Anna Wickham, enormous body, moustache, hair in her nose, heavy pawlike hands, her heavy voice, I said: 'She must have hair in her womb too, like a sea urchin.' This set Larry laughing and gave birth to the 'Paper Womb' printed in the Booster, December 1938, later known as The Labyrinth." [p 322]

February 1939 -- "Henry is going through a mystic stage, he looks fragile, luminous almost.[...] We can talk laughingly about his 'errors.' I had opposed the Booster, the letter about Alf, the Gold pamphlet, the letters from the messanger boys, all because they took so much of his energy, they were mere jokes, and they cost all the money which could have been applied to a book. He had to give them away, and very few people liked them. I felt they were mere practical jokes. All these are now piled up in his closet, wasted. He admitted I was right, laughing too, yes, he knew, he confessed they were childish, and then he added: 'But I would do it all over again.'
Now he wants to print Seraphita. [...] However, he has dropped the Booster, which was bleeding all of us." [p 325]
______________________________________________________

Here are some quick links to my previous entries on The Booster: Introduction; Sept 1937 issue; Oct 1937 issue; Nov 1937 issue; Dec-Jan 1937/38 issue.

19 Comments:

Anonymous jen said...

What a beautiful woman Anais was. People don't seem to find her very attractive nowadays, but I still think she was insanely beautiful. What do you think, RC?

3:38 pm  
Blogger RC said...

Hey Jen,
Nin was a beautiful woman, without a doubt. She maintained her best qualities throughout her life; the worst I can say is that she shouldn't have gone in for those crazy 1960's eyelashes when she was older. Her face is very pretty, with an distinct elegance. Her eyes are engaging and soft. She's adorable too, as most petite women are, and even a bit exotic, which adds to the allure. These are all external qualities, but, for someone like myself who finds intellectuallism and creativity to be pretty hot attributes in a woman, Anais ascends up to an even higher level. Henry, how could we blame you? (except for losing her).

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