This Is What Happens When You Tell Anaïs Nin How to Write Erotica


When an anonymous patron instructed Anaïs Nin to “leave out the poetry” and “concentrate on sex” in the erotic fiction that he was paying her $1 a page to compose, she was, understandably, quite put out. “Sex loses all its power and magic when it becomes explicit, mechanical, overdone, when it becomes a mechanistic obsession,” she wrote him in response. “It becomes a bore… You do no know what you are missing by your microscopic examination of sexual activity to the exclusion of others, which are the fuel that ignites it. Intellectual, imaginative, romantic, emotional. This is what gives sex its surprising textures, its subtle transformations, its aphrodisiac elements. You are shrinking your world of sensations. You are withering it, starving it, draining its blood.”

We’re also madly in love with her parting line: “Only the united beat of sex and heart together can create ecstasy.” Sigh. If your balmy summer Friday could use some more impassioned prose, head over to Letters of Note to read the full text now. Just out of curiosity, what do you think Nin would have made of 50 Shades of Grey?