Delta of Venus

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Delta of Venus
First edition cover art
Author Anaïs Nin
Cover artist Milton Glaser
Richard Merkin (photo)
CountryUnited States
Genre Short stories, erotica
Publisher Harcourt Brace Jovanovich
Publication date
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
Pages250 pp (first edition)
ISBN 0-15-124656-4

Delta of Venus is a book of fifteen short stories by Anaïs Nin published posthumously in 1977 [1] —though largely written in the 1940s as erotica for a private collector. [2]


In 1994 a film inspired by the book was directed by Zalman King.


The collection of short stories that makes up this anthology was written during the 1940s for a private client known simply as "Collector". This "Collector" commissioned Nin, along with other now well-known writers (including Henry Miller and the poet George Barker), to produce erotic fiction for his private consumption. [3] His identity has since been revealed as Roy M. Johnson (1881–1960), a wealthy American businessman from Ardmore, Oklahoma, who had discovered the Healdton Oil Pool. [4]

Despite being told to leave poetic language aside and concentrate on graphic, sexually explicit scenarios, Nin was able to give these stories a literary flourish and a layer of images and ideas beyond the pornographic. In her Diary (Oct. 1941), she jokingly referred to herself as "the madam of this snobbish literary house of prostitution, from which vulgarity was excluded". [5]

While using the Kama Sutra and other writings such as those of Krafft-Ebing as models, Nin was very conscious that the languages of male and female sexuality were distinct. [6] Although at times she scorned her erotica, and feared for their impact on her literary reputation, [7] they have subsequently been seen by sex-positive feminists as pioneering work. [8]

Short stories

The short stories which Delta of Venus anthologizes are these:

  1. The Hungarian Adventurer
  2. Mathilde
  3. The Boarding School
  4. The Ring
  5. Mallorca
  6. Artists and Models
  7. Lilith
  8. Marianne
  9. The Veiled Woman
  10. Elena
  11. The Basque and Bijou
  12. Pierre
  13. Manuel
  14. Linda
  15. Marcel

The book, unlike the later Little Birds, contains no poetry as such. Its introductory preface contains entries from her Diary , which expressed her hope that its unexpurgated version would one day be published.

See also

Related Research Articles

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Angela Anaïs Juana Antolina Rosa Edelmira Nin y Culmell was a French-born American diarist, essayist, novelist, and writer of short stories and erotica. Born to Cuban parents in France, Nin was the daughter of the composer Joaquín Nin and the classically trained singer Rosa Culmell. Nin spent her early years in Spain and Cuba, about sixteen years in Paris (1924–1940), and the remaining half of her life in the United States, where she became an established author.

Erotica Category of sexually stimulating media

Erotica is any literary or artistic work that deals substantively with subject matter that is erotic, sexually stimulating or sexually arousing but is not generally considered to be pornographic. Erotic art may use any artistic form to depict erotic content, including painting, sculpture, drama, film or music. Erotic literature and erotic photography have become genres in their own right.

Henry Miller American novelist (1891–1980)

Henry Valentine Miller was an American novelist. He broke with existing literary forms and developed a new type of semi-autobiographical novel that blended character study, social criticism, philosophical reflection, stream of consciousness, explicit language, sex, surrealist free association, and mysticism. His most characteristic works of this kind are Tropic of Cancer, Black Spring, Tropic of Capricorn, and the trilogy The Rosy Crucifixion, which are based on his experiences in New York and Paris. He also wrote travel memoirs and literary criticism, and painted watercolors.

Erotic literature Literary genre

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Susie Bright American writer and feminist

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<i>House of Incest</i>

House of Incest is a slim volume of 72 pages written by Anaïs Nin. Originally published in 1936, it is Anaïs Nin's first work of fiction. But unlike her diaries and erotica, House of Incest does not detail the author's relationships with famous lovers like Henry Miller, nor does it contain graphic depiction of sex. Rather, House of Incest is a surrealistic look within the narrator's subconscious mind as she attempts to escape from a dream in which she is trapped, or in Nin's words, as she attempts to escape from "the woman's season in hell."

<i>The Diary of Anaïs Nin</i> Book by Anaïs Nin

The Diary of Anaïs Nin is the published version of Anaïs Nin's own private manuscript diary, which she began at age 11 in 1914 during a trip from Europe to New York with her mother and two brothers. Nin would later say she had begun the diary as a letter to her father, Cuban composer Joaquín Nin, who had abandoned the family a few years earlier.

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<i>Under a Glass Bell</i> 1944 book by Anaïs Nin

Under a Glass Bell, originally published in 1944 and subsequently published with several more editions, was the first book by Anaïs Nin to gain attention from the literary establishment. It was published by Nin's own printing press, which she named Gemor Press.

<i>Little Birds</i> (short story collection) Book by Anaïs Nin

Little Birds is Anaïs Nin's second published work of erotica, which appeared in 1979 two years after her death, but was apparently written in the early 1940s when she was part of a group "writing pornography for a dollar a day."

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Rupert Pole was an American actor and the husband of author Anaïs Nin, as well as her literary executor.

Noël Riley Fitch

Noël Riley Fitch is a biographer and historian of expatriate intellectuals in Paris in the first half of the 20th century. She is the author of several books on Paris as well as three biographies: Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation (1983), translated into Japanese, Spanish, German, Italian and French; Anaïs: The Erotic Life of Anaïs Nin (1993), published in French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Polish, and nominated for the Grand prix des lectrices de Elle; and she is the first authorized biographer of Julia Child, with Appetite for Life: the Biography of Julia Child (1997). The Ernest Hemingway book, a biographical and geographical study of his Paris years, has been published in Dutch, the Cafés of Paris book in Dutch and German.

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<i>Delta of Venus</i> (film) 1995 American film

Delta of Venus is a 1994 American erotic drama film directed by Zalman King and starring Audie England, Costas Mandylor, and Marek Vašut. It is inspired by the posthumously published 1977 short story collection Delta of Venus by Anaïs Nin. NC-17 and R-rated versions of the film exist; the NC-17 rating is due to explicit sex. The DVD release contains both versions of the film. The film was released in June 1995 in the United States.

<i>Nearer the Moon</i>

Nearer the Moon: From a Journal of Love is a 1996 book based upon material excerpted from the unpublished diaries of Anaïs Nin. It corresponds temporally to part of Nin's published diaries. It consists mainly of material that was left out of the published version because it would have hurt people involved or their relationships with Anaïs Nin had it been published at the time.

Shosha Pearl is the pseudonym of an anonymous Orthodox Jewish writer, known for her erotic fiction that is set in the Orthodox community and adheres to Orthodox halacha. She has self-published two books, the anthology I Will Watch You (2015) and a novella entitled Her Neighbor's Pleasure (2016), in addition to several short stories. She has also been published by the websites Hevria and Jewrotica.


Auletris is a collection of erotic short stories by Anaïs Nin, published posthumously by Sky Blue Press in 2016. It features the short pieces "Life in Provincetown" and "Marcel," the latter of which appeared in a severely edited form in Delta of Venus (1977).

Denyse Beaulieu is a Canadian writer, translator, and instructor. She is the author of bilingual perfume blog Grain de Musc as well as the memoir The Perfume Lover: A Personal History of Scent, a book about her collaboration with French perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour to create the L'Artisan Parfumeur fragrance Seville à l’Aube.


  1. I. Ousby, ed., The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English (1995) p. 683
  2. Anaïs Nin, Delta of Venus & Little Birds (1996), pp. 13–16
  3. Anaïs Nin, Delta of Venus & Little Birds (1996), pp. 13–16
  4. Paul Herron, Anaïs Nin:A Book of Mirrors (Sky Blue Press, 1996), p.427
    • Anaïs Nin, Delta of Venus & Little Birds (1996), p. 16
  5. Anaïs Nin, Delta of Venus & Little Birds (1996), pp. 15 & 19
  6. Anne T. Salvatore, Anaïs Nin's Narratives, University Press of Florida (2001) ISBN   0-8130-2113-8, p. 17
  7. Susie Bright, Totally Heterotica (1995), p. 2

Further reading