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A spy in the house of love [Unknown Binding]

Anaïs Nin
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding: 140 pages
  • Publisher: Swallow Press (1959)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0007EOJFG
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

More About the Author

Anaïs Nin (1903-1977) was born in Paris and aspired at an early age to be a writer. An influential artist and thinker, she wrote primarily fiction until 1964, when her last novel, Collages, was published. She wrote The House of Incest, a prose-poem (1936), three novellas collected in The Winter of Artifice (1939), short stories collected in Under a Glass Bell (1944), and a five-volume continuous novel consisting of Ladders to Fire (1946), Children of the Albatross (1947), The Four-Chambered Heart (1950), A Spy in the House of Love (1954), and Seduction of the Minotaur (1961). These novels were collected as Cities of the Interior (1974). She gained commercial and critical success with the publication of the first volume of her diary (1966); to date, fifteen diary volumes have been published. Her most commercially successful books were her erotica published as Delta of Venus (1977) and Little Birds (1979). Today, her books are appearing digitally, most notably with the anthology The Portable Anais Nin (2011).

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First Sentence
The lie detector was asleep when he heard the telephone ringing. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Captivating, Complex Female Character 22 May 2002
Anais Nin superbly creates a captivating, complex female character – Sabina – divided between her will to live multiple lives, and escape the routine of an ordinary existence; and her sense of guilt, personified by the Lie Detector, which follows her virtually everywhere. Her promiscuous search of love culminates in an emotional break down which revels her fragile nature and her naiveness in trying to escape reality by constructing her perfect, idyllic love dimension, out of multiple superficial love relationships.
The story line is not meant to be followed in a chronological order. There is an element of repetition that, though has been criticized, in my opinion works in favor of the concept on which evolves the whole story and Sabina’s psychology. There is also a poetic component that enriches the narrative, although it is not as keenly developed as in other works of Anais Nin, such as in Under A Glass Bell.
A Spy In The House Of Love can be a perfect introduction to Anais Nin and her writings, but it can be also appreciated as a distinct fiction story. This book, although relatively short, manages perfectly to develop Sabina’s complicated character and her psychology, absorbing completely the reader in its dimension. Therefore, I vividly recommend this book to all readers in search of a short fiction story but still capable of captivating the reader through the complexity of its main character.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Spy in the House of Love 1 Jun 2009
On first reading this book I was immediately struck by its depth of characterisation and originality. Formally in the mode of 'By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept' it is a novella written in beautiful abstract prose. Where as much of Nin's work is concerned with reportage of sexual adventure, this book depicts her emotional response to a number of relationships. Her rich use of imagery and dense language make 'A Spy in the House of Love' a memorable and inspirational book that goes some way to transporting the reader back to the streets and hotels of post-war New York.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Eve and her many Adams 3 July 2011
By Sam Quixote TOP 50 REVIEWER
A woman who loves her husband but has a need to sleep with other men feels guilty about these infidelities and does her best to keep them from him. In this way she feels herself split into different personalities and different people and discovers things about herself though this sexual odyssey.

If you've read my summary and felt "so what?" then you'll have been like me while reading it, thinking that the book has lost it's impact in 21st century Western culture because in the 50s and in the eyes of many people today, marriage and fidelity are things everyone should want and have and that the kind of sexual exploration and adventure seen in the book are things to be ashamed of. Not anymore though! Men and women frequently live lives where they are no longer tied down by conventional sexual mores and live differently (and happily) the lives they want to.

That said, I'm sure the book caused something of a stir when it was first published. The book also addresses the lack of feeling Sabina (the main character) has when she is in these extramarital affairs (hence the title) so it isn't totally risqué, there are morals presented.

While the book is little over 100 pages long, the writing style is at times laborious as Anais Nin likes to use a lot of metaphors, similes and descriptive words in her work, making a single moment stretch beyond it's use. Her characters, while varied, often fail to come to life and despite being told that they're exciting, vibrant people, I never felt this in Nin's writing. Her style leans toward the abstract which is more suited to concepts than people. The dialogue often felt too much like she wanted to make a point and so it goes from being artful to being unrealistic and turned the characters into ciphers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A short book that took a long time to read 28 Jun 2013
I read a lot, and easily get through a substantial volume of pages in a few days. But this story I found only mildly interesting, and I'm struggling to find motivation to actually completely finish it. Perhaps it is because I don't care enough about the main character and found her "dramas" a bit dull, and her histrionic behaviour rather irritating. I suppose this was a revolutionary book for its time, but now women experience other dilemmas of rather opposite nature... namely, how to find a steady relationship in a sea of choices. Peaceful domesticity looks today less like a trap to run away from into night bars in red glittering dresses and "stare angrily at dawn" when it's time to go home. It is quite beautifully written, though, and for that reason I might give Nin another try in the future.
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