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Children of the Albatross

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Children of the Albatross is divided into two sections: "The Sealed Room" focuses on the dancer Djuna and a set of characters, chiefly male, who surround her; "The Caf�" brings together a cast of characters already familiar to Nin's readers, but it is their meeting place that is the focal point of the story. As always, in Children of the Albatross, Nin's writing is insepara Children of the Albatross is divided into two sections: "The Sealed Room" focuses on the dancer Djuna and a set of characters, chiefly male, who surround her; "The Caf�" brings together a cast of characters already familiar to Nin's readers, but it is their meeting place that is the focal point of the story. As always, in Children of the Albatross, Nin's writing is inseparable from her life. From Djuna's story, told in "The Sealed Room" through hints and allusions, hazy in their details and chronology, the most important event to emerge is her father's desertion (like Nin's) when she was sixteen. By rejecting realistic writing for the experience and intuitions she drew from her diary, Nin was able to forge a novelistic style emphasizing free association, spontaneity, and improvisation, a technique that finds its parallel in the jazz music performed at the caf� where Nin's characters meet.


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Children of the Albatross is divided into two sections: "The Sealed Room" focuses on the dancer Djuna and a set of characters, chiefly male, who surround her; "The Caf�" brings together a cast of characters already familiar to Nin's readers, but it is their meeting place that is the focal point of the story. As always, in Children of the Albatross, Nin's writing is insepara Children of the Albatross is divided into two sections: "The Sealed Room" focuses on the dancer Djuna and a set of characters, chiefly male, who surround her; "The Caf�" brings together a cast of characters already familiar to Nin's readers, but it is their meeting place that is the focal point of the story. As always, in Children of the Albatross, Nin's writing is inseparable from her life. From Djuna's story, told in "The Sealed Room" through hints and allusions, hazy in their details and chronology, the most important event to emerge is her father's desertion (like Nin's) when she was sixteen. By rejecting realistic writing for the experience and intuitions she drew from her diary, Nin was able to forge a novelistic style emphasizing free association, spontaneity, and improvisation, a technique that finds its parallel in the jazz music performed at the caf� where Nin's characters meet.

30 review for Children of the Albatross

  1. 4 out of 5

    Elia

    This is one of very few books where I can not sum up the line of thought. It's as if you had a private tour in the many narrators' minds, streams and journeys. I would definitely read other Nin books. The way she writes is just mesmerizing. This is one of very few books where I can not sum up the line of thought. It's as if you had a private tour in the many narrators' minds, streams and journeys. I would definitely read other Nin books. The way she writes is just mesmerizing.

  2. 4 out of 5

    ciel

    / djuna is lovely/ airier and opener than ladders to fire/ paris scenes reminded me of hemingway combined with clarice's heat/ lillian's re-appearance spiced things up again/ not sure about the focus on paul beyond djuna's feelings/ / djuna is lovely/ airier and opener than ladders to fire/ paris scenes reminded me of hemingway combined with clarice's heat/ lillian's re-appearance spiced things up again/ not sure about the focus on paul beyond djuna's feelings/

  3. 5 out of 5

    Adrienne

    To appriciate Nin you actual have take the time absorb what you are reading. Beautifully written, this volume follows Djuna and just when you think you know all about her Nin takes you off to meet Lillian who sees Djuna in a completly different light thus throwing all you believe into a whirl. Although the publishers encourage you to read this by flaunting it's eroticism, this volume barley hints at that side of Nins writting, it does however take you on a journey exploring mind and soul. Nin is To appriciate Nin you actual have take the time absorb what you are reading. Beautifully written, this volume follows Djuna and just when you think you know all about her Nin takes you off to meet Lillian who sees Djuna in a completly different light thus throwing all you believe into a whirl. Although the publishers encourage you to read this by flaunting it's eroticism, this volume barley hints at that side of Nins writting, it does however take you on a journey exploring mind and soul. Nin is very intuitive. This is a quality I like. So, whilst regaling us with tales about Djuna and her desire to cocoon herself in her inner child, Micheal and his seemingly unrequieted love for Donald, the wonderfully mercurial Sabine or Lillian whose insecurities and her desire to be loved make her one of Nins most likeable characters, she gives us strong insight into our own human conflicts, freedoms and desires and how our reltionships are held very tenuously together. Nin has become a firm favourite on my shelves.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    Wasn't that into this one; I think it skipped around from character to character too much for me to get attached to it, and it took me way longer to read than it should have because of that. Wasn't that into this one; I think it skipped around from character to character too much for me to get attached to it, and it took me way longer to read than it should have because of that.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Greta

    Anais Nin is a woman who wrote fiction and non-fiction in Paris in the early 20th century, and yet she isn't mentioned often among the Americans in Paris around the same time. Her fiction is interesting and pleasant to read. I look forward to reading more of her work. Anais Nin is a woman who wrote fiction and non-fiction in Paris in the early 20th century, and yet she isn't mentioned often among the Americans in Paris around the same time. Her fiction is interesting and pleasant to read. I look forward to reading more of her work.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Fiona

    A coming-of-age novel but Anaïs Lin's writing is so lyrical it often blurs the boundary between poetry and prose. I could re-read passages over and over to savour her writing. One of the most uniquely female world-views I've ever read with such a strong sense of identity in the main character, Djuna. Loved it and didn't want this book to end. A coming-of-age novel but Anaïs Lin's writing is so lyrical it often blurs the boundary between poetry and prose. I could re-read passages over and over to savour her writing. One of the most uniquely female world-views I've ever read with such a strong sense of identity in the main character, Djuna. Loved it and didn't want this book to end.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I really wanted to like Anais Nin, and this is the first writing of hers that I've read. I found it very hard to follow the daydreamy fights of fancy and must confess that I sped-read most of the first half. Would rather read her lover, Henry Miller. I really wanted to like Anais Nin, and this is the first writing of hers that I've read. I found it very hard to follow the daydreamy fights of fancy and must confess that I sped-read most of the first half. Would rather read her lover, Henry Miller.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Hurley

    Nin was an unusual figure, perhaps to be identified with people like Goethe (discounting Faust) and Wilde who were more known for their social presence and their way of seeing the world than for any individual work. Indeed a google search of her name identifies her profession as 'diarist'. Of Spanish heritage and midway between French and American sensibilities, she was very firmly in the school of DH Lawrence, her first book a study of him and her diaries and tales filled with references ... of Nin was an unusual figure, perhaps to be identified with people like Goethe (discounting Faust) and Wilde who were more known for their social presence and their way of seeing the world than for any individual work. Indeed a google search of her name identifies her profession as 'diarist'. Of Spanish heritage and midway between French and American sensibilities, she was very firmly in the school of DH Lawrence, her first book a study of him and her diaries and tales filled with references ... of course Nin is more of a peer in my eye to Lawrence than an imitator, at least inasmuch as her style derives from an independently thorough study of psychoanalysis and beauty-in-the-world as did Lawrence' work. Her general theory of writing seems to have promoted A) poetic sentences, which 'transform' the world through surreal or profound metaphors, and B) genuine erotic titillation, considered fully. This book, a volume from an open-ended 'novel' that resembles more an undivided collection of short stories with recurring characters, seems to me indicative of her literary intentions: her style is very direct and elliptic, many "she felt [x]. She felt [x]. She felt [x]" paragraphs, with occasional runs of beautiful sentences (or mangled attempts thereat); her narratives are about the same, mostly featuring indeterminate sexual relations and emotional developments, occasionally peppered with hallucinatory sequences (whether from dreams or opium), rarely concluding or coming to any definitive point. To me her style seems to work best when read in short bursts, perhaps aloud or otherwise in intense personal regarding, in that sense quite poetical; if you read more than twenty pages at a time the thinness of her worldly insight and repetitive aesthetic devices become much more apparent. She was the one who taught Henry Miller to write erotica (both on, it seems, a literary and personal level); I think of the scene in Seinfeld where Jerry recalls wooing a date by reading passages from Tropic of Cancer to her. To me, it seems that Nin's work has a similar intent, providing short bursts of intense impressionism and encouragement towards a more fluid, appreciative experience of sexuality to its readers, suggesting a personal experience less typical of literature and more typical of special social / romantic / sexual encounters. Of course, both the notoriety of Nin's personal life as well as the dubious character of many of her fans may give qualifier to the authenticity of this unique social-therapeutic literary phenomenon; but I enjoyed it all the same and perhaps so will you

  9. 4 out of 5

    yassie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 'I am the dancer who falls, always, into traps of depression, breaking my heart and my body almost at every turn, losing my tempo and my lightness, falling out of groups, out of grace, out of perfection.' 'She failed to hear some of his words because she was following with her eyes and her feelings the contours of his lips moving as if they were moving on the surface of her skin.' 'Carmen was eating the mock orange of love: the white blossoms which she bit were like skin. Her lips had pressed arou 'I am the dancer who falls, always, into traps of depression, breaking my heart and my body almost at every turn, losing my tempo and my lightness, falling out of groups, out of grace, out of perfection.' 'She failed to hear some of his words because she was following with her eyes and her feelings the contours of his lips moving as if they were moving on the surface of her skin.' 'Carmen was eating the mock orange of love: the white blossoms which she bit were like skin. Her lips had pressed around the mock-orange petals of desire.' 'Through all the mists as her body approached to greet him there was an echo of her movements within him.' 'Through this fear of loss she took longer glances at his face, and every facet of it, every gesture, every inflection of his voice thus sank deeper into her, to be stored away against future loss' 'Tears from this unbearable melting of her heart and body—a complete melting before the face of Paul, and the muted way his body spoke, the gentle way he was hungering, reaching, groping' 'When he tasted her he tasted a suffering which had borne a fragrance, a fragrance which made deeper grooves.' 'Her hands always appeared first from out of the sheets, hands without memories, wounds, weights, and these hands danced.'

  10. 4 out of 5

    S

    A friend suggested that I read Anais. So I did. And. I am in love with her writing. Her thoughts: the independence. The sensuality. The depth. The connection. I read the words again and again. Went back to my favourite passages and savoured them. "They persisted in living on familiar terms only with the surface of their personalities, and what she reached lay deeper where they could not see it." "She had always liked objects without solidity. The solid ones bound her to permanency. She had never A friend suggested that I read Anais. So I did. And. I am in love with her writing. Her thoughts: the independence. The sensuality. The depth. The connection. I read the words again and again. Went back to my favourite passages and savoured them. "They persisted in living on familiar terms only with the surface of their personalities, and what she reached lay deeper where they could not see it." "She had always liked objects without solidity. The solid ones bound her to permanency. She had never wanted a solid house, enduring furniture. All these were traps. Then you belonged to them forever."

  11. 5 out of 5

    Meg

    This was the first book of Nin's that I have read and it was so beautifully poetic that I found myself quite mesmerized by it. The way in which Nin writes about intimacy is iconic in my eyes. The vivid descriptions capture the elements of a love affair that are much deeper than the physical realm. The whole book is a playground for psychoanalysis too, which made it extremely interesting to read. I read half the book before bed and ended up waking hours earlier than normal with the dire need to k This was the first book of Nin's that I have read and it was so beautifully poetic that I found myself quite mesmerized by it. The way in which Nin writes about intimacy is iconic in my eyes. The vivid descriptions capture the elements of a love affair that are much deeper than the physical realm. The whole book is a playground for psychoanalysis too, which made it extremely interesting to read. I read half the book before bed and ended up waking hours earlier than normal with the dire need to keep reading.

  12. 5 out of 5

    DonutKnow

    I feel like this book was a step up from the last one, perhaps due to the fact I was already introduced to the characters and I can see their growth in the second book. Everyone's a little messed up inside, which I find poignantly realistic. However, I must say that sometimes I don't understand the winding descriptions or the references that are made; but I guess its fine because I just skip over them and continue on with the story. I feel like this book was a step up from the last one, perhaps due to the fact I was already introduced to the characters and I can see their growth in the second book. Everyone's a little messed up inside, which I find poignantly realistic. However, I must say that sometimes I don't understand the winding descriptions or the references that are made; but I guess its fine because I just skip over them and continue on with the story.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Timothy S

    The subtlety and complexity which with Nin writes is superb. She winds her way into emotional worlds in ways that can appear opaque at first, though are expansive when you sink into them and understand that the words are often more evocative than literal.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stella

    Wonderfully poetic and invocative. There's hardly any traditional storyline to it, so I needed to really focus on it to enjoy it. It's not something to read on the side - you can't read small bits and pieces. But if you take the time, it envelopes you. Wonderfully poetic and invocative. There's hardly any traditional storyline to it, so I needed to really focus on it to enjoy it. It's not something to read on the side - you can't read small bits and pieces. But if you take the time, it envelopes you.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lance Grabmiller

    Anais Nin is at her best in pure surrealism or her diaries (and at her worst in her paid pornography). This was neither of those. It was something a bit more lyrical, perhaps sentimental even.

  16. 4 out of 5

    tegan

    i’m silly for reading this book while knowing it is a sequel to another book so i was a bit confused but it also was easy to follow along her writing is so beautiful and i love her a lot 3.5

  17. 4 out of 5

    Meghan Fidler

    Nin captures the delicate details of the mind, the stranglehold of memory and self, the sensuality of exposure to another. Don't believe me? Allow me to demonstrate: a young lady, Djuna, just finishing her Ballet lesson, is followed into the dressing room by her instructor. "She had not yet taken off the voluminous skirt of the dance, the full-blown petticoat, the tight-fitting panties, so that when he entered the dressing room it seemed like a continuation of the dance. A continuation of the danc Nin captures the delicate details of the mind, the stranglehold of memory and self, the sensuality of exposure to another. Don't believe me? Allow me to demonstrate: a young lady, Djuna, just finishing her Ballet lesson, is followed into the dressing room by her instructor. "She had not yet taken off the voluminous skirt of the dance, the full-blown petticoat, the tight-fitting panties, so that when he entered the dressing room it seemed like a continuation of the dance. A continuation of the dance when he approached her and bent one knee in gallant salutation, and put his arms around her skirt that swelled like a huge flower. She laid her hands on his head like a queen acknowledging his worship. He remained on one knee while the skirt like a full-blown flower opened to allow a kiss to be placed at the core. A kiss enclosed in the corolla of the skirt and hidden away, then he returned to the studio to speak with the pianist, to tell her at what time to come the next day, and to pay her, while Djuna dressed, covering warmth, covering her tremor, covering her fears." From finding ourselves in our homes, making the self into the home, we wander around the labyrinths of complex feelings and needs as the characters learn about themselves as through others. This book is amazing, a brilliant combination of poetics and social politics. I admire Nin enormously.

  18. 4 out of 5

    El

    Djuna is the central character in this portion of the five-volume Cities of the Interior (incidentally the first of the five that I have read). The story details her adolescence and, of course, her sexual awakening. Later in life she is a source of solace by others, some of with which she has sexual encounters, others that she has helped "free". There are a lot of the same themes in this book that comes up in a lot of her writing, including her diaries, such as freedom and independence (from lov Djuna is the central character in this portion of the five-volume Cities of the Interior (incidentally the first of the five that I have read). The story details her adolescence and, of course, her sexual awakening. Later in life she is a source of solace by others, some of with which she has sexual encounters, others that she has helped "free". There are a lot of the same themes in this book that comes up in a lot of her writing, including her diaries, such as freedom and independence (from lovers, from family, from oneself) which is an interesting motif that does not grow old for me when it appears in Nin's writing. While I still find it hard to stomach some of Nin's personal behavior in her life (being married to two men at one time, with neither man knowing about the other and her relationship with Henry Miller is absolutely baffling to me), her writing is interesting and generally quick to read. I look forward to reading the rest of the books in this collection since I had not realized it was part of a larger work - but I picked it up for a buck, so who am I to complain?

  19. 4 out of 5

    Marsha

    These stories continue the exploration of the inner lives and outer struggles of Lillian, Djuna and Sabina. Their lives intertwine, separate and come together. What they possess doesn’t seem like friendship so much as a collective and shared bond, almost as if they were separate aspects of the same woman. They all seem to suffer from poor judgment of men, frequently finding themselves taking care of or giving money and attention to weaklings who don’t deserve them. Yet Ms. Nin manages to make the These stories continue the exploration of the inner lives and outer struggles of Lillian, Djuna and Sabina. Their lives intertwine, separate and come together. What they possess doesn’t seem like friendship so much as a collective and shared bond, almost as if they were separate aspects of the same woman. They all seem to suffer from poor judgment of men, frequently finding themselves taking care of or giving money and attention to weaklings who don’t deserve them. Yet Ms. Nin manages to make their couplings more than boring iterations of tawdry affairs as the women muse on what draws them to these particular specimens of manhood. We learn to understand and sympathize with what makes the men so fascinating and what draws these males to the ladies. But the novel also explores the various locales the women travel to, how they seek to understand the light, the noise, the architecture, the natives as well as themselves. It’s dizzying literature that dazzles and obfuscates at the same time. As with the first volume, it’s not easy reading but it pulls you into its undertow with its abrupt but dazzling metaphors and awe-inspiring vistas of known and unknown worlds.

  20. 5 out of 5

    James F

    This is the second book of the "continuous novel" Cities of the Interior. I won't repeat my review of the first book, but the same general description applies to this one. While the first book focused mainly on the character of Lilian, this book focuses on Djuna. Like the first book, it is divided into two parts; the first part, "The Sealed Room", is entirely on the earlier life of Djuna (before the first book) and introduces the characters of Paul (not the same Paul as in the first book, as far This is the second book of the "continuous novel" Cities of the Interior. I won't repeat my review of the first book, but the same general description applies to this one. While the first book focused mainly on the character of Lilian, this book focuses on Djuna. Like the first book, it is divided into two parts; the first part, "The Sealed Room", is entirely on the earlier life of Djuna (before the first book) and introduces the characters of Paul (not the same Paul as in the first book, as far as I can tell), Michael and Donald; the second part, "The Caf��", gives a character description (no actions) of Sabina, carries forward the story of Lilian and Jay, and then ends up with a scene in a caf�� which corresponds to the ending party scene in the first book, with most of the characters together, seen from the viewpoint of Djuna. The chronology is not altogether clear; while this may be a "continuous novel" it is not a continuous narrative.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    A bit better than I gave it credit for on the first read, but, not by much. I think the trouble is (as I said, previously), Djuna is my favorite character, but even in her own story, she's the "visitor" more than she is a focus, even when she is the focus, she's her own visitor. I liked Paul, everyone else is passable (And, for the most part, I consider Lillian a drag. Lillian is probably my least favorite character.) Again, tidbits I might go back and quote from the book on a third read, someti A bit better than I gave it credit for on the first read, but, not by much. I think the trouble is (as I said, previously), Djuna is my favorite character, but even in her own story, she's the "visitor" more than she is a focus, even when she is the focus, she's her own visitor. I liked Paul, everyone else is passable (And, for the most part, I consider Lillian a drag. Lillian is probably my least favorite character.) Again, tidbits I might go back and quote from the book on a third read, sometime in the future; but the lack of the feeling of completion in the book (Which is, after all, the main theme of the second book, and the reasons why), remains a touch of genius, as well as being a bit irksome.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sofia aaa

    again && again more than just reality, it's a living dream, a virtual reality. no rules no mistakes. to love without boundaries, to live without second thoughts and everything glows in Djuna/Nin's world. The first part was better in my opinion, but it was a pleasure to 'hear' again about other Nin's characters. (specially Sabina and Donald and Michael!) Nin's amazing. I can't wait to read more of her work/world. again && again more than just reality, it's a living dream, a virtual reality. no rules no mistakes. to love without boundaries, to live without second thoughts and everything glows in Djuna/Nin's world. The first part was better in my opinion, but it was a pleasure to 'hear' again about other Nin's characters. (specially Sabina and Donald and Michael!) Nin's amazing. I can't wait to read more of her work/world.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tripmastermonkey

    i can't quite remember when i read this book, but i did get it from the anarchist bookshop (when it was still that) Flor Y Canto. total aside... and my memory is a bit muddled, to be honest, but at the time it was a very powerful book for me because, as memory serves, it really explored the dynamics of interpersonal and romantic relationships i can't quite remember when i read this book, but i did get it from the anarchist bookshop (when it was still that) Flor Y Canto. total aside... and my memory is a bit muddled, to be honest, but at the time it was a very powerful book for me because, as memory serves, it really explored the dynamics of interpersonal and romantic relationships

  24. 4 out of 5

    Erika

    I absolutely loved this book. Nin's writing struck the perfect balance of poetry and prose. It's exactly what I've been looking for. This was the first of her work that I've read and it has spawned quite the interest in the rest of her work. I absolutely loved this book. Nin's writing struck the perfect balance of poetry and prose. It's exactly what I've been looking for. This was the first of her work that I've read and it has spawned quite the interest in the rest of her work.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lysergius

    Another journey through Nin's subconscious. Her interest in psychoanalysis has clearly driven her to expose large portions of her unexpurgated subconscious to the gentle reader. The trouble is it is not always interesting, often obscure and at time down right infuriating. It must be read though. Another journey through Nin's subconscious. Her interest in psychoanalysis has clearly driven her to expose large portions of her unexpurgated subconscious to the gentle reader. The trouble is it is not always interesting, often obscure and at time down right infuriating. It must be read though.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Gee, I like Anais. She's like an old, predictable, comforting friend. Gee, I like Anais. She's like an old, predictable, comforting friend.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Daetaya

    A book about growing up. About pushing limits and giving way sometimes. With the usual beauty of Anis Nin.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Keren

    Friendship and love among misfits in Paris. Interesting.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Nordquest

    This was really good. Quick and to the point, but with some fantastic descriptions and characters.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nomi

    Beautiful, powerful and revealing. A deft exploration of the many facets of a single woman ...

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