‘In a sea of lies’, by Lonie Bischoff, draws a poetic and fascinating portrait of the writer in the 1930s: the ‘mnage trois’ with Henry and June, the trauma of incest, the publication of her diaries …
- Profile. Anas Nin: life of a saint
All the masks, all the characters she made of herself … All the Anas Nin are drawn with a single colored pencil, one of those multicolored pencils for children. There is something random and magical about the multi-colored stroke. Many times I don’t know what color will come out. It is almost a metaphor for Anas herself, for her personalities: the writer, the flamenco dancer, the wife, the lover …, he says Lonie Bischoff while drawing a portrait of Anas Nin with that magic pencil, worn and so simple.
It is in a coffee shop in the center of Barcelona, just two streets from the building where little Anas lived with her brothers and her mother. after their father, the composer Joaqun Nin, abandoned them for a young – and wealthy – student hers. It was here, in the typical Eixample building, when a 10-year-old Anas began to write letters addressed to her father and, months later, on the ship in which she left for the United States, her first newspaper.
Anas Nin has been counted (she left more than 35,000 pages written) and has been counted in many ways: essays, plays, movies (the emblematic Henry y June of the 90s, with Maria de Medeiros as the writer) and even a new series, Little Birds, based on his erotic stories and starring Rossy de Palma. But Lonie Bischoff, a Swiss artist based in Brussels, resurrects her with a poetic graphic novel, In a sea of lies (Garbuix Books), which goes beyond biography: its pencil and watercolor draw the words of Anas Nin, her hopes and frustrations.
Based on his own diaries and correspondence with the novelist Henry Miller, the comic focuses on the 1930s, when Anas sought her voice as a writer while debating between her perfect (and boring) marriage to Hugo and that three-way relationship with Miller and his wife June, while maintaining various affairs (his homosexual cousin, his two psychoanalysts) and the murky episode of incest with his father.
Anas Nin’s modernity not only resides in the free life she led, in that polyamory before the letter… I understood ahead of time the idea that the intimate is political, that talking about your private and personal relationships is political. It is something that feminism and the LGTBI community claimed much later: the world makes society. Anas was not a militant of anything, he did not want to change society or fight for laws, he only vindicated his own freedom, says Bischoff, who for eight years combined his adaptation of Camilla Lackerg novels to the comic with this graphic tribute to Anas Nin.
I read a lot of biographies about her, they helped me to get data and information, but they unnerved me. It seemed to me that they judged her very harshly, from a Judeo-Christian perspective. Even a biography written by a woman. It was so moralizing …, he adds.
Anas Nin escaped from that morality by writing in her two newspapers: an official one, which her husband could read; and the other secret, in which he recounted his clandestine adventures, his darkest fantasies. When he met Henry Miller, the penniless American who had just arrived in Paris (and who had left his first wife and son in the United States to marry young June), the crush was literary. When he met June, the crush was even more brutal. Of that stranger mix three, Bischoff not only narrates the sentimental implications, but also the literary construction That meant for Miller and Nin.
On a single page he captures the Miller-Nin opposition, his two ways of understanding writing: the raw and stark prose of him versus the beauty and abstraction that she made of language.
Bischoff draws Miller with a scalpel, dissecting June like an autopsy, exposing her internal organs, literary material for him. Anas wants to fight Henry’s scalpel, and uses that word. They are two visions of how to seek the truth: for him one must sink into ugliness, viscera, sordidness. For her the truth is in the masks, in appearances, he points out.
In a sea of lies It is a bright comic, with a clear line and beautiful illustrations. There is only one page in black, as if it were a photographic negative. It is the most difficult scene, the great taboo: that night when Anas had relations with her father … A father who already took nude photos of her and touched her when she was a child. It was the most complex scene to draw. She takes up many pages of her diary and writes it in a very descriptive, almost pornographic way, but at the same time you feel that she is frozen and horrified inside. There is that psychological phenomenon of dissociation of victims of sexual trauma. He couldn’t skip it. It is too extreme and also fundamental in the mental construction of Anas’s relationships with men, Bischoff explains.
If Anas Nin wrote the unspeakable, the disturbing sensations but also intuitions and hopeBischoff draws it from an impressionistic sobriety. With a simple colored pencil.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism