A Spy in the House of Love by Anaïs Nin


“Beautiful, bored and bourgeoise, Sabina leads a double life inspired by her relentless desire for brief encounters with near-strangers. Fired into faithlessness by a desperate longing for sexual fulfilment, she weaves a sensual web of deceit across New York. But when the secrecy of her affairs becomes too much to bear, Sabina makes a late night phone-call to a stranger from a bar, and begins a confession that captivates the unknown man and soon inspires him to seek her out…”


Why should you read this book?

Reading certain authors is sort of a mandatory task for a reader. That’s what I feel about Anaïs Nin (1903-1977). Nin was a French essayist and diarist, having also lived in the United States. The 20th century is known to be a period of sexual liberation, with a new feminine identity paradigm, and Anaïs Nin is widely considered the best female erotic writer. The French author not only established several liaisons in the literary sphere, but also in the psychoanalytical field, linking herself to names such as Otto Rank and René Allendy and, by enhancing the oneiric activity, she ended up affiliated with the Surrealists.

Seduction plays a great part in Nin’s biography and literary work. After meeting the American writer Henry Miller, she embraced her sexual desires and freed herself from all the repression imposed to women at the time. Nin embarked on several excessive and chaotic love affairs, expressing a deadly will to destroy men.

However, nymphomania isn’t the only excessive trait in Nin’s biography. She’s also known for incest. Having been abandoned by her father at an early age, the French writer developed an erotic fantasy about him.

A Spy in the House of Love is a novella published in 1954 and integrates a collection of her novels known as Cities of the Interior. Nin saw her diaries as a mode of confession and creation; however, during her husband’s lifetime, she could not write about her infidelities and promiscuous and secret thoughts. Her novels were born from the urge to tell the unspeakable at the moment.

Just like Anaïs Nin, Sabina is feeling very conflicted because she is divided between her authentic artistic and sexual expression and the social repression and moralist paradigm. Her writing is extremely poetic, profound and sensitive. Although it’s a novella – and a short book consequently – it takes time to read it, understand it and reflect upon it. You will find yourself sailing the depths of your soul. What I can promise you is that you won’t be the same person after reading A Spy in the House of Love. I’ll leave you with one of the most famous quotes (and one of my favourite):

“The enemy of a love is never outside, it’s not a man or a woman, it’s what we lack in ourselves.”

Book details:
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Published on: August 2001
Format: Paperback
Pages: 124
Price: £8.99

4 stars




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