Anaïs Nin’s Diaries: From the Personal to the Universal

Anaïs Nin in Wrap

For Anaïs Nin, writing was essential as breathing, and this need inspired her Diaries series. What started as a voyage of self-discovery ended with the  transcending the personal to the universal.

Her Diaries became a touchstones for a generation of women (and Nin herself a feminist icon), not merely one woman’s private quest for identity and meaning.

By the standards of today’s confessional media, Nin’s frank writings may no longer seem as revolutionary as they did just a generation ago. In the final volume of the Diaries (Volume Seven, 1966 –1974), she delighted in sharing snippets from the countless letters of gratitude she received from women everywhere, in all walks of life:


“The Diaries wakened me”

“The Diaries wakened me, made me relive my life, enjoy it, find new aspects to dream about; you gave me a second life.” One reader wrote to Nin. Others wrote:

. . . . . . . . .

“My world is richer because you have given me yours.”

. . . . . . . . .

“You taught me to be a woman of tenderness, affection and independence.”

. . . . . . . . .

“Your writings, your honesty, helped me accept myself as a person, a woman, an artist.”

. . . . . . . . .

Anais Nin

See also: Anaïs Nin on Why She Wrote the Delta of Venus
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And so forth, many times over; declarations of self-acceptance such as in this last comment must have been particularly gratifying to the author. Here’s how she encapsulated the impact of her Diaries on herself and others.


“Many women felt I spoke for them”

“Having been told so often how wrong it is to write about one’s self—how I should take the self out of the Diary—I never expected the consequences.

Because I gave of myself, many women felt I spoke for them, liberated them from secrecy and reticence. I did not expect to get letters from women working in offices, on farms, married and lonely in little towns, nurses, librarians, students, runaways, dropouts, pregnant women without husbands, women in the middle of a divorce. Suddenly I was discovering a world.”


Loneliness and lack of confidence

“The dominant theme of the letters was loneliness and lack of confidence in whatever the writers undertook. The miracle was that my diary made them eloquent, confessional … I discovered women with talents never used before. One woman sent me her first drawing made after reading the Diary. The Diary cured depression, opened secret chambers.”

. . . . . . . . .

The early diaries of Anais Nin

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Anaïs Nin’s voice that spoke for thousands

“There was no ego in the Diary, there was only a voice which spoke for thousands, made links, bonds, friendships. All the clichés about self-absorption were destroyed. There was no one self. We were all one.

The more I developed my self, the less mine it became. If all of us were willing to expose this self, we would feel neither alone nor unique.

I was so tired of the platitudes hurled at me. The two most misinterpreted words in the world: narcissism and ego. The simple truth was that some of us recognized the need to develop, grow, expend—occupations which are the opposite of those two words. To desire to grow means you are not satisfied with the self as it is, and the ego is exacting, not indulgent.”

Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Volume Seven, 1966-1974

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Anais Nin and Her Diaries

Anaïs Nin Quotes on Writing, Life, And Love

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