Richard Centing (1936–2017) was Head of the English, Theater and Communication Graduate Library at Ohio State University in Columbus. He first met Anais Nin in Greenwich Village in 1967 and the two remained close till Nin's death in 1977. Starting in 1970, Centing edited a newsletter devoted to Nin, 'Under the Sign of Pisces: Anais Nin and Her Circle'. Nin and Centing were in almost constant communication by mail in the 1970's and Nin's letters reflect many aspects of her life: her health, her writing, her speaking tours, her involvement with the newsletter, her reactions to the tumultuous events of the decade.
Herewith, a brief sampling for the letters:
On 9 May 1970, Nin reacts to the killings of students at Kent State: "Yes the news are [sic] shattering—infernal really—The killing of the students affected me deeply, feel such love for them—could we dedicate Newsletter 3 to the young—say these are the sensitive ones who write such letters—comments—as I sent you. What could we do? The last words of my German TV [interview] were: I have faith in the young."
In an undated letter, Nin encloses a review she has written (for the newsletter?) of a book on Andre Breton: "American writers are not prone to admit any influence, but from Nathanael West to recent writers, surrealism has penetrated American literature, painting, and a way of life which is the only uncorruptible [sic] revolution and liberation of man's imagination we know. The revolution we learn from Breton is the liberation of the imagination, the exploration of the depths of the unconscious which give significance to life, and the capacity to convert into poetry the elements which would otherwise suffocate or robotize us."
7 May 1976: "News: UCLA bought the diaries. They found a donor, a charming woman who was once a teacher and is a fan of mine. They will slowly be transferred this year. Vol. 6 is ready but not out yet. I saw the first copy but gave it to the donor who wishes to remain anonymous. Diane Wakowski came to see me. Ex-Sister Corita who had cancer this year too."
The letters also reveal the ups and downs of Nin's relationship with Centing as editor of the newsletter. July 1976: "I am still under the shock of that insulting review and my faith in your friendship seriously affected. I still get letters of protest from friends asking why you did that and since I phoned you and had no explanation I can't explain anything." 18 October 1971: "The more you write about the diaries the more I feel you are on to an original interpretation in poetic terms. I hope you go on. No one has treated it that way."
The archive is also rich in ancillary material, including snapshots, posters, phonograph recordings of Nin, correspondence concerning the newsletter, etc.
A fine collection of letters by one of the most influential writers of the second half of the 20th century.
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