My rating: 4 of 5 stars
‘House of Incest’ by Anaïs Nin is her first published work of fiction. Published in 1935 under the name Siana (Anaïs spelled backwards). It is a free flowing narrative – with limited dialogue – that evokes haunting images of love, lust, desire, emotion, and pain. ‘House…’ does not have a “plot” in the classic sense. There is not natural “beginning” or “ending.” Instead, ‘House…’ deals with the universality of tangential relationships and enigmatic expression. Haunting images populate the narrative, giving the reader an intriguing glimpse into Nin’s thoughts.
‘House of Incest’ narrates the tale of a young woman involved in a loosely incestuous relationship. It is a relationship with a married couple, though the ‘marriage’ may not be obvious to some.
The story Nin complied has often been thought to have been a narrative loosely based on her relationship with Henry Miller, and his wife, June. The story also included obscure references to the incestuous relationship Nin had with her own father, Joaquin Nin. Nin’s imagery is obscure, but generates such passion that the reader cannot fail to notice it. The narrative is that of a tortured soul, battling her demons while reflecting on the pain of her companions. Her descent into despair is plain as she describes the affect the relationships have on her.
I found Nin’s narrative compelling. She isn’t afraid to describe her involvement with a married couple, nor, for that matter, her own father. Readers of passionate, poetic prose will enjoy ‘House of Incest.’ However, it is not for the easily offended.