Wednesday, 5 November 2014

The End of Love: What if Anais Nin and Henry Miller had Skyped?

I had a thought. Young Diva Daughter (who doesn’t read this) spends much time with her Beloved on Skype. They are bewitched. Captivated. If not Skyping, they are furiously typing on whatsapp. Everything is short and furious and oh-so-immediate. No chafing at the postbox and ripping open envelopes with foreign stamps. No scribbled-on sheets of paper to clutch to the heart.
It makes me think of love letters. I mean Love Letters.
Did you ever write reams and scrolls and reams to your Beloved? Hell yeah. (And I didn’t pick up any of them online either.) Ahh, it’s going to sound very old-fashioned to say this, but Weren't Those The Days…
I honestly remember twenty-page intercontinental letters (the girl was verbose; and I couldn’t blog!) and I’m talking about twice a week. I remember notes scribbled after making love, when another Beloved had fallen asleep. The first thing he would read when he got up to go to work! Written with – yes! – a biro on paper. Bits of poems copied out (not copied and pasted). Queasy declarations in bad French or Italian. Collages of dumb photos.. metro tickets.. 
But mostly words words words. Written words where you had to get a flow going and edit yourself as you flew along (no auto-correct or spell-check or any form of self-editing). These words were raw and full of flight, they were scrawled high or crinkled in the corner, cramped along the sides of the page.
Do you remember? Do you remember word love?

And now imagine this. Some of last century’s great lovers (or the most show-offy ones, probably) have just spent an amorous afternoon together. The man – the sexy/sleazy Henry Miller – rushes home to his poor digs and he logs on, and here is Henry looking worse for wear filling up Anais’ screen with his crooked bookshelves on the wall behind. Would we ever have been handed down words such as these to savour if Nin and Miller had skyped??

Don’t expect me to be sane any more. Don’t let’s be sensible. It was a marriage at Louveciennes – you can’t dispute it. I came away with pieces of you sticking to me; I am walking about, swimming, in an ocean of blood, your Andalusian blood, distilled and poisonous… You became a woman with me. I was almost terrified by it. You are not just thirty years old – you are a thousand years old… I read the paper about suicides and murders and I understand it all thoroughly. I feel murderous, suicidal. I feel somehow that it is a disgrace to do nothing, to just bide one’s time, to take it philosophically, to be sensible..

Quelle fever!
Now do yourself – and the Beloved – a favour. Get out your pen. Find some beautiful paper.

And write a Love Letter.


  1. I so agree with that. Despite the fact that a) I used to correct letters from my lovers with red biro in high school (well, they insisted on writing in English, which was not their native language); b) at some point with later lovers we transitioned to emails; but I printed them out and kept them. They were just like letters back then (and very, very long). That's what happens when you're alone in a foreign country and don't have a lot of friends - you start writing to the lovers and friends you do have.

    1. When I was young I confess I had to stop myself from correcting mistakes in love letters and wanted to be corrected myself, but now I find it somehow endearing. What does this mean??
      You printed all your emails? Now this worries me because I haven't..

  2. I fear that love letters may be gone forever. I wish I had kept some of mine. It was lovely to be loved that way.

    1. I do think things have changed.. sadly! An email will never be the same things, perhaps not even printed..

  3. Beautiful post, Catherine. And too true! I have two young Skype-SMS-addicted kids and I tell them this all the time. When I was young, I read beautiful love letters my great-grandfather wrote to my great-grandmother when he was for some time in Cairo and she was back in Boston. I love actual letters, and am also of the generation to have my old physical love letters... not some silly e-mail, or memories of a Skype conversation. Not all things improve with progress. Thanks for the food for thought...

    1. How lovely to have held those letters in your hands.

      I found it was also surprising to read Anais Nin's handwriting (also reproduced in my book) as it wasn't as scrolled and sensual as I'd have imagined. Rather grim and uptight. Now that's another thing we are losing - how much of our deeper self is revealed in our handwriting!

  4. Once again you have hit the nail on the head Catherine. Beautiful post. I miss many of the "old ways" but that is the way it is now. Changes are life. At least we have the memories that we can treat ourselves to. Lyn

    1. Thanks Lyn. Ahh memories! I have cupboards full of letters! I was always a prolific letter writer and I cannot throw away a thing! Sometimes I sit down on then floor and spend a day going through them..

      And it's not a lost day!

  5. Whoa he got me all hot and bothered in one paragraph, exquisite.
    My mum kept all my letters home when I first backpacked in my 20's and I have kept everything she has written to me in a box for my daughter.
    My first boyfriend was in the army so yes lots of love letters, not quite up to these show offy standards LOL xxx

    sending love as always xxx

    1. HM is quite a trip, non? I have years of intercontinental letters too, not nearly as giddy either. I'm not sure I'm ready to box anything for my daughter... but then again !

      Hope all is good up there xxx

  6. Yes! I find myself muttering similar words to "weren't those the days...?" in front of my 22 and 19 year old over various observations (wise ones of course from Moi) and I end up feeling like a old person. But I'm with you on this subject. Love letters...sigh, have they become another dusty relic among this frenetic twitter minded generation? I fear so.
    By the way I just put a biography of Anais Nin on my Christmas list. Thanks for reminding me that I've always been fascinated by the tidbits I know of her life and can't believe I've never read more. On a personal note I'm so glad to catch up with your blog. So sorry to hear it's been a tough year, I'd love to sit down over a bottle of good wine and hear about your life. I hope the kids are well.

    1. Good to hear from you too Leslie. Yes all is well thanks. Hope so for you too. I've ended up devoting more time to the short story blog as it's where my current project lies, but this blog is so much fun. And how wonderful to be able to write about lovers such as Nin and Miller. I have their letters, an old hardback library copy bought on Amazon. Their youthful wordiness tapering to letters of brief and sage familiarity. I just wondered do we say 'sage' in English? I meant wise! It kills me when their love affair falls away.. I guess they always do..
      Take care! Xxcat

  7. My name is Helen, I want to use this great opportunity to Testify how the Great prophet saved my marriage, I'm from California. I want to use this opportunity to thank the great Prophet Ijeja the Great who really made my life a pleasurable one today. This great man IJEJA brought my husband back to me after 6years of breakup in our marriage, and i already had 3 lovely kids for my husband, before he left me for another lady, because she charmed him In 2007 some years ago i and my husband has been into one quarrel and some misunderstandings, life was so miserable for me, until he finally left me for the other lady. For 2years i felt my life was over and my kids thought they would never see their father again. i tried to be strong just for the kids but i could not control the pains that torments my heart, my heart was filled with sorrows and pains because i was really in love with my husband. Every day and night i think of him and always wish he would come back to me, until one day i met an old friend of mine that was also in a situation like this but hers was her ex-boyfriend who she had an unwanted pregnancy for and he refused to take responsibility and dumped her. she told me that MINE was a small case and that i shouldn't worry about it at all so i asked her what was the solutions to my problems and she gave me this great mans phone number and his contact email address i was doubting if this man was the solution, so contacted this great man and he told me what to do and I did them all, he told me to wait for just two day and that my husband will come crawling on his kneels just for forgiveness so i faithfully did what this great man asked me to do and for sure immediately after two days i heard a knock on the door, in a great surprise i saw him begging on his kneels and i was speechless, when he saw me, all he did was crying and asking me for forgiveness, from that day, all the pains and sorrows in my heart flew away,since then i and my husband and our lovely kids are happy family thats why I want to say a big thank you to
    Ijeja the Great Prophet This great man made me to understand that there's no problem on earth that has no solution so please if you know that you have this same problem
    (1) He will help you to Have promotion in
    anything you do.
    (2 )Earn a good money.
    (3)Success in business.
    (4)spiritual problems.
    (5) win court case.
    (6)Looking for a good man.
    (7)looking for job.
    (8)want to be in control of you marriage.
    (9)want to be attracted to people.
    (10)you have be scammed and u need your money
    (11)you have be working without promotion.
    (12)If you have any symptoms of sickness that is un cured
    (13)You have pregnancy problems with babies:
    (14)If you have problem about your womb,you
    want have or bear children.
    (If you have brain tumour, or mental problem, this is the time for you to contact him). You can Email
    or any problem that is similar, i will advise
    you to come straight to this great man.
    you can email