January’s Mucky Book: Delta of Venus

Delta of Venus is a collection of short stories with fascinating provenance.

Anaïs Nin wrote them during the 1940s, when she found herself short of money. Her literary friends – including Henry Miller – were earning a living by writing erotic narratives for an anonymous ‘Collector’ (as the writers called him) for a dollar a page. Nin joined them, and, at the request of the Collector, gradually honed her words down to the pornogaphic acts with no embellishment. The Delta of Venus owes its straightforward, brittle style to this.

Delta of Venus was not published until 1978, after Nin’s death. Despite the Collector’s guidance, it has a distinctly literary style with exquisite atmospherics. However, it is also notable for its use of incest, paedophilia and violence alongside less contested expressions of sexuality.

Delta of Venus is our Mucky Book Club read for January 2011. We’d love to hear what you think of it, either by adding your comments at the bottom of this page, or by joining the discussion at Facebook.com/MuckyBookClub.

There will be a real-life Mucky Book Club meet on 16th January, 7pm at The Ship, Wandsworth. We will live tweeting from this event, #MuckyBooks. Join us!

If you’d like to run an outpost of Mucky Book Club in your area, do get in touch.

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One Response to January’s Mucky Book: Delta of Venus

  1. Betty Herbert 18/01/2011 at 14:50 #

    Well, I shall be the first to weigh in. I found it difficult at first, both in terms of style (a bit too much ‘tell’ and not enough ‘show’) and content (rape, incest, mutilation and paedophilia, all in the opening chapters). I began to worry that we’d picked a howler, at least politically.

    But as the book wore on, it felt to me like Nin relaxed and began to inhabit her own stories a little more. They became more sensual and seductive, focusing on scenarios and sensations rather than concepts. And then, suddenly, I began to find the book arousing. Now I feel like I’d read more of her work.

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