A few weeks ago when I was talking to Tille del Negro about her amazing new SkinSins project, she told me that Anais Nin visited Mallorca and set one of her short stories in Deià. I didn’t know this and I was pleased to add yet another name to my list of the famous and not-so who have visited the village.
Anais Nin was a writer of erotic fiction. She was born in France in 1903 and died in California in 1977. Her father was a Cuban pianist of Catalonian descent and her mother a singer who was part French and Danish. According to the first volume of her diaries, Nin had a steamy relationship with the American writer Henry Miller in Paris in the early 1930s. Miller was married and the subsequent literary love triangle inspired the 1990 movie Henry and June.
The short stories set in Mallorca appeared in Nin’s Delta of Venus collection, published posthumously in 1977. One of these is called ‘Mallorca’ and begins ‘I was spending the summer in Mallorca, in Deià…’ It goes on to tell the story of a virgin Spanish girl named Maria who is takes a midnight swim with an American girl named Evelyn that turns into something else altogether. The erotic and bewitching story captures the sensual, seductive nature of skinny-dipping by Deià moonlit so perfectly it seemed obvious Nin must have come to the village.
But did she?
Print the legend
I wrote to the official Anais Nin blog run by Sky Blue Press and asked the question. Paul Herron who runs the blog replied:
Anaïs Nin’s mother, Rosa, and her brother Joaquín visited Mallorca in 1935. Apparently Rosa was meeting a man for possible marriage, but she left unmarried. Mother and son returned to Mallorca in 1936 just before the revolution, but Nin, via contacts in certain places, helped them escape just in time.
Some months before the revolution, Nin travelled to Morocco and wrote extensively about her visit, but she left out details of her trip back to France—according to the editor of Fire, Nin stopped in several Spanish cities. It is reasonable to think she had stopped in Mallorca, especially if her mother and brother were there. But there is no proof in terms of her recording the visit in her diary. However, the fact she wrote knowingly about it in the erotica suggests that she did indeed visit Mallorca.
I would love it if Paul was right. But wouldn’t you think that, if Nin’s primary means of recording her life was her diary, she’d have written about the actual visit if it took place?
Perhaps Nin didn’t visit Mallorca at all and based the story of the same name on her mother and brother’s descriptions of Deià. If, indeed, they actually came here themselves.
For a long time, it was believed that Picasso visited Deià. The evidence was a painting of our coastline by him. As far as we know, he never did. It turned out that the sketch that inspired Picasso’s painting was by his friend Sebastian Junyent who had owned a house in Llucalcari since 1902.
But does it matter whether Anais Nin, Picasso or anyone you care to mention came to Deià or not? This is a place of myth and we should be creating our own. However, I do know for certain that John Lennon and Yoko Ono holed up in the village in 1971. I think.
Listen to and download Nin’s ‘Mallorca’