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Anaïs Nin’s Los Angeles Hideaway Still Keeps Her Secrets

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AMONG MANY WRITERS, there’s a commonly held belief that a desk must be organized, an office must be tidy, an entire home must be cleaned, before one can finally sit down and fill the empty pages before them. One can’t help but think of such habits — the physical manifestation of routine and discipline — when visiting the completely preserved home of the midcentury French American eroticist Anaïs Nin, who died at 73 in 1977 in Los Angeles. Here, hidden among pines overlooking the Silver Lake neighborhood’s reservoir, Nin envisioned a low, single-story aerie, which she called her “one large studio, no separate, small partitions.” This description appeared in the first edition of her diary (originally published in 1966), which she began writing at 11 as a child traveling to America from the Parisian suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine and continued until her death. Today, there are 18 volumes — with a final one left unpublished — comprising an oeuvre that also includes frank, feminist, sexually explicit, oft-censored essays about her various lovers; literary criticism (the English writer D.H. Lawrence was a favorite); and beloved works of fiction like “House of Incest” (1936) and “Delta of Venus” (1977), many of which she initially printed herself.


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It’s easy to see why this house, completed in 1962, was where she got much of this work done: There are hardly any distractions, visual or otherwise. Approached from the end of a long driveway off a steep, winding road, it resembles a pavilion clad entirely in rich, dark Douglas fir. Inside, the original 1,300-square-foot interior incorporates lots of wire-brushed plywood in the form of heavily striated boards and built-ins, alongside two other materials: concrete blocks and plate glass. Massive windows front one side of the house, providing views of a rock garden, a small pool, scruffy cliffside brush and the city beyond. Aside from the narrow kitchen, there are few well-defined rooms: The living area connects with a sleeping space that’s separated only by an accordion-style, floor-to-ceiling wooden partition that usually remained open; Nin didn’t have children and preferred not to have any guests staying overnight. Next to the bedroom is her small private study, about 100 square feet, in the building’s back corner.



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