The following review of the audio CD is written by Nin historian and writer of The Portable Anaïs Nin:
. . . Fortunately, the booklet accompanying the CD contains the complete text of House of Incest, so listeners can read along as they listen to the recording . . . The booklet also defines some of Nin’s words, such as “galena,” “tamarisk,” and “tourmaline.” In sum, I find no impediment to understanding and enjoying Nin’s reading . . . Perhaps the recording Nin made of House of Incest for the Barrons in 1949 will, in CD format, at last attract an audience, as it should . . . —Benjamin Franklin V, University of South Carolina
The Official Blog of The Anais Nin trust gave the following review
It is a little-known fact that electronic music pioneers Louis and Bebe Barron supplemented their income by recording avant-garde writers reading from their own work, including Aldous Huxley, Henry Miller, and Anais Nin, under the label of Sound Portraits. The Barrons had heard Nin reading and were captivated not only by the nature of her work, but by the author herself. Nin’s 1936 “prose poem,” House of Incest, was perhaps Nin’s most creative fiction, called “surrealist” by some, “French poetry written in English” by others, and “unique” almost universally. Some have devoted theses, articles, and books to the exploration of the meaning of House of Incest, but perhaps the best way to interpret it is to listen to Nin’s masterful performance of reading it aloud. It is then the words come alive and weave together in ways not obvious by merely reading them on paper. Nin breathes significance into each passage, each phrase, each word, masterfully emphasizing and enunciating only as she can. To listen to the entire work in 64 minutes parallels dreaming it with Nin. Her voice is the music, her words the lyrics, both of which precipitate images unique to each listener. This book has no definite and concrete meaning–it is an experience that we each can call our own. That is the magic of Nin’s work in general, and House of Incest in particular.
Here are three helpful customer reviews from the release of the Kindle Ebook of House of Incest. Clicking on the review title will link to the full review:
The House of Incest plot synopsis, below, is excerpted from Steven Reign’s commentary included in the lyrics booklet:
This prose poem does not follow a conventional plotline or narrative. It begins with the unnamed female narrator’s birth in water and her subsequent return to it in a dream. Awakening she meets Alraune and they develop a love that soon becomes sexual. Alraune is inspired by June Miller, Henry Miller’s wife. Nin read Henry’s writing of June and wanted to approach June differently, to “go up in my stratosphere and survey the mythology of June.” The relationship ends and the wounded narrator begins a long, desperate, and increasingly incoherent descent. Nin referenced the writing of this section as a “lyrical outburst.”
The story resumes with highly surrealistic and symbolic prose of the narrator’s encounters with several allegorical characters: Isolina, her brother, the paralytic, and the modern Christ . . . The characters are aware of their limitations but fear the emotional risk of a healthy relationship. Each is stunted by fixation on his/her own ego but the prose poem ends on a redemptive and hopeful note.
STEVEN REIGNS IS A POET, EDUCATOR, AND ANAÏS NIN SCHOLAR. www.stevenreigns.com
© 2012, Barron Sound Portraits