The Illustrated Delta Of Venus

ISBN: 0491027737
ISBN 13: 9780491027731
By: Anaïs Nin

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About this book

In Delta of Venus Anaïs Nin penned a lush, magical world where the characters of her imagination possess the most universal of desires and exceptional of talents. Among these provocative stories, a Hungarian adventurer seduces wealthy women then vanishes with their money; a veiled woman selects strangers from a chic restaurant for private trysts; and a Parisian hatmaker named Mathilde leaves her husband for the opium dens of Peru. Delta of Venus is an extraordinarily rich and exotic collection from the master of erotic writing.

Reader's Thoughts

Deepa Ranganathan

Fascinating stories, powerful imagery, impact story-telling. Nin's personal life, however, seems more interesting than the stories she weaves.


I truly didn't know what to expect but was impressed with her descriptions and her stories. And I have such a high regard for her as a sexual, female libertine in that time period. I didn't feel that any of the stories in Delta were perverse at all. They were all sexually charged people enjoying themselves. She did not delve into the world of any fetishes or anything super kinky so this is mainstream. She words things so eloquently but isn't too verbose. Her language is just perfect for eroticism. What I loved is how she phrased things. As a woman, I have seen the standard porns that are made for men of course. Watching a blow job where the guy typically just rams his dick in the chicks mouth, we see him get excited and her fake boobs bob, is quite frankly not very exciting. In her book, she describes fellatio as "he offered his penis to my mouth" and then goes on to describe how hot it is. Her descriptions are definitely more made for women. But they are also more just realistic of real life sex and real fantasies of sexually charges people. Another great example is the woman and her lover having sex by the window as people walk by. This is the stuff that a couple would really do and try to get away with. I liked it because to me it was somewhat realistic which made it totally hot. Expect to be aroused the entire time by Anais's vivid fantasies!


A broke Anais Nin wrote porn at a dollar a page for an unknown collector who kept telling her to write less literary crap, more of the in and out. Which infuriated her, because she thought he was destroying everything interesting about sex. Which is basically the same debate people are having today about internet porn.And she keeps punishing him for it. In one story a woman has an erotic opium experience, and it's pretty hot I guess, and then suddenly it's like (view spoiler)["And then the guy almost slashed her vagina up because he was a psycho! The end." (hide spoiler)] Which is basically just Nin saying "Ha ha, I killed your boner." In the first story, a dashing guy who's basically The Most Interesting Man in the World from the Dos Equis commercials is bored by normal sex and starts seeking out increasingly perverse experiences. So the first bit, where there's this hot singer lady who goes around to the private booths after her act and blows guys, is - again - pretty hot; but by the end of the story, (view spoiler)[he's trying to shove his cock into his sleeping preteen son's mouth. (hide spoiler)]And that's also a debate that continues today: some anti-porn folks say that the ubiquity of porn encourages people to search out ever-more-extreme forms just to find something new. For what it's worth, anecdotally, this has not been my experience.In any case, I don't know why this guy kept paying Nin. She was pretty much just fucking with him.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>


I was first introduced to Anais Nin by my boyfriend, who bought me a first edition of Little Birds on Valentines Day a couple of years ago. I was surprised to discover that it wasn't raunchy or esoteric at all, but very accessible, very beautiful, and (naturally) very sensual. At an estate sale recently I came across Delta of Venus and picked it up partly out of interest in Nin's writing and partly because it was a vintage book and I love vintage books. Delta of Venus is far sexier than Little Birds to be sure, but the beauty of Nin is that no matter how racy she gets, it's never distasteful or off-putting like a lot of erotica can be, just for the sake of shock value. Nin's erotica is sensual not only because of the sex that the characters are engaging in, but because the entire time you're reading you're reminded that Nin was writing in the 1930s, when sex was relatively freer than the puritanical decades before, but not nearly as free as the sex we know (and are numb to) today. Thus there's an inherent tension created from the restraint of the characters as they toe the line of social decorum, taboos, and what was/wasn't acceptable sexually at the time, as well as attempt to understand and temper (or, most often, indulge) their lust and experimental curiosities. Nin's erotica isn't dirty or depraved at all...rather, it's beautifully written, imbued with surprising insights and psychology, and, best of all, is written from a woman's perspective...and not in an in-your-face "I'm an empowered, sexual female, hear me roar" kind of way. There's something for everyone here...unless you like your erotica to be more of the Hustler ilk. (Ew.) None of that here. I highly recommend any of Nin's work if you're at all curious about erotica (or even you're'll like it, I promise).


The people I follow on tumblr seem to absolutely adore Anais Nin and they have reblogged or posted some very choice quotes and excerpts from her writing that made me give into curiosity and borrow some of her works from the library. A few other times when I’ve tried erotic fiction I end up laughing because the writing is just so cheesy and phrases are so overused; but I don’t think I once laughed in ridiculousness when I read this book. My cheeks flushed regularly going through the book though, for sure! At one point I bought it into class to read during the break and what should have been a quiet 10 minute reading session for me turned into a whole class discussion about erotica (my teacher included) when a male classmate read the blurb, saw Anais Nin's name and started pelting me with questions.There were definitely some of the stories where I just thought, ‘ok that’s not really right’ but I remembered quickly that whether I thought the actions carried out in the book were ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ that it wasn’t the point of the book, and I think if you read the book in terms of your own morals, Anais Nin’s book will fall completely flat in trying to convince and help you appreciate that there are all types of love, whether we think it right or wrong. This book is all about exploring human sexuality, and no matter how shocking/erotic some of the descriptions can be, I thought Nin wrote about it in the most beautiful and engaging way.

John Doe

This book of porn could not have been written by a man. There is too much caressing with hands, lesbian kissing orgies, and breathing on naked bodies in opium dens. Don't get me wrong, Nin is my kind of woman, but she is very feminine...and not always in a sexy way. For example, a man would never call a woman's sex 'that wound that never heals' completely. Seriously, someone has issues with her body! However, she writes well and most of it is pretty hot. I would recomend this book to drug adicts and lonely women.


I think you have to be a little on the sick and twisted to get off on this book. Well, parts of it. Here are some examples of the icky ickiness Anais Nin writes about in Delta of Venus.-Dude lays in bed early in the morning, and some kids who live in the house come in and horse play around his room. He gets a hard on and encourages them to frolic about on top of the covers.-Same dude, decades later, takes custody of his teenage son and daughter. Then he fucks 'em.-A different dude burns some lady's cootch with a hot pipe.-Another dude helps some man take a dead body out of the river and then he fucks the dead body while water pours out of her orifices. -A lady rides a horse bareback, and gets all horny from the feel of the horse's rough coat against her clit.-etcEw, right? I mean, she does have some good stuff in the book, but honestly, it's so overshadowed by the ick, that it's hard to lose oneself in the writing. That being said, I'll admit that the reason we read Anais Nin in 2009 is to gain some perspective on the history of erotica, moreso than for sexy fun times. There's no doubt that Nin was remarkable--after all, she's female working in a male-dominated industry--but her writing is flat and stale (kinda like this review). Very few of her stories were fleshed out, and I found that she was missing the intense emotional connection I'd expect from a woman writer; the poeticism is noticeably absent. I'm completely and utterly disappointed. Maybe I set my expectations too high...Here's the blurb on the back of the book (this edition published in the 1970s):Thirty-five years ago, Anais Nin created the female language for sexuality. She did it for a wealthy male patron for $1.00 a page. He ordered her to "leave out the poetry," but she simply couldn't. The publication of Delta of Venus now makes available to the rest of us the seductive, erotic and full-bodied nature of her writing. And it reveals Anais Nin as a woman ahead of her time.Well Mr. (or Ms.) Blurbist, you couldn't be farther from the truth. Or further. Whatever.


These erotic short stories, published after Anais Nin's death, were the first by a woman to deal with frank sexuality in an open and celebratory way.Neither pornographic or exploitative, yet explicit at the same time, Nin brings imagination and insight to a subject usually lacking in both.Inventive, elegant, and sophisticated, this collection makes the everyday seem both unique and magical.

Julie Rylie

Since a long time I wanted to read Anaïs Nin but seriously... this is not for me. I knew she wrote erotic stuff but I was totally looking for something else. I was reading this in portuguese and sometimes there was such cheesy terrible sex scenes that I was blessing myself for living in Germany and nobody could even sneak a pick on my book on the train and be able to read it (I would feel embarrassed - and believe me - that's hard!).Actually she wrote in the beginning they had this men paying for them to write this stories with no poetry or whatever just sex and that's it. Maybe if I would try another book I would feel more fulfilled.. I don't know. Maybe I'll give it a try someday. For now it was quite enough... After a while I was quite tired of the frigid women, the weird lesbian that also fucked with men, the prostitute with feelings and whatever the heck more.

Dan Keating

It's difficult to figure out where to begin discussing Anais Nin's masterful piece of overblown erotica, "Delta of Venus."Perhaps the best place is to begin by saying that this is not erotica that one would expect to find today. I've admittedly only read a small sampling of "modern" erotica, but what I have read there was extremely tame and inoffensive in comparison. This feels as though it comes from Nin's deep-seated desire to explore sexuality rather than just titillate. There's plenty of titillation too, don't get me wrong - but interspersed you'll find pedophilia, genital mutilation, necrophilia, and a whole ton of rape, almost all of which occurs without negative consequence. Indeed, many of these things are shown in a vacuum - a character loved fucking a fresh corpse and never suffered any repercussion afterward, save that his enjoyment of the experience left him yearning for a similar one from a still-living companion. The moral vacuum aside, there were several times throughout reading "Delta of Venus" that I actually found myself wishing that I'd read it in high school - or even that it was required reading in high school. So many people from my generation learned about sex through shoddy American pornography and even shoddier American pop culture. There's very little room in either of those mediums for an exploration of sensuality, of the ability to slow down while simultaneously becoming more heated, to see that sex isn't just a series of acts which are selected from a menu like one selects items at a fast food restaurant. Probably the greatest thing about "Delta of Venus" is its utter lack of shame, especially in its discovery of itself. That's a lesson more people should learn, as quickly as possible.And hey, a chick has an orgasm while kneeling in front of a priest and confessing, and in order to disguise it she falls forward and pretends to be weeping. That's just inspired."Delta of Venus" is, admittedly, over-the-top. The characters within are almost entirely ribald in their feelings, and many of them discuss in a terribly forthright manner exactly what is on their minds, in situations where it's difficult to believe that they wouldn't show a little more restraint. That, plus the exquisitely ridiculous character of some of the sexual encounters (which never become tacky), give the novel a kind of hyper-realistic quality. These are the real thoughts and feelings and actions of people who cannot possibly be real in the most literal of senses, but absolutely have to be real in the most metaphorical of senses. They represent some of the most extreme drives and desires which most of the time we keep hidden.I'd heavily recommend "Delta of Venus." It's definitely going to offend some people - okay, a lot of people - and I figure there would be some resistance to my feeling that teenagers, who are just beginning to develop their sexual identities, would be better off getting this perspective too than to just learn what sex is from rap music videos. All that aside, it's worth seeing another side to sexuality.

Ironman Ninetytwo

Some of the stories were somewhat interesting - although the most interesting stories really strained credibility. Perhaps I'm a prude, or perhaps modern times are somewhat different than the 70-odd years ago these stories were written - but surprise endings of pedophelia and incest really put me off and pedophelia, at least, I think should not be a subject for pornography, any more than snuff porn. The introduction says these stories were written for a patron with very specific requirements, and so perhaps there was some subversion, an attempt to provide exactly what was requested but still defy control.On the other hand, erotica written by a women from the pre-war "dark ages", when things were much more secret, and much more patriarchal, should be recognized.

David Gillespie

Delta of Venus is a book of short stories by Anaïs Nin. Though the stories were largely written in the 1940s while Nin was writing erotica for a private collector, the book was first published posthumously in 1978. The effect of Nin's dreamy prose, the heightened tease of her language, and the titillation of the poetic images of lovers experiencing the joys of the flesh converge to become one of the best collections of erotica ever written. In Nin's hands, the clinical is transformed into beauty. The descriptions are often graphic, but never cross the line into abject pornography. Some readers may have a problem with distinguishing erotica with pornography, as such, this is not a book they need to read. For readers who know how to distinguish between literary erotica and the Penthouse Forum column, this is a must read. In regards to my own writing, I often have a problem with how sexual matters are portrayed in most modern American literature and film. I much prefer the sensibilities of Nin, and how she is able to explore the combinations of love, lust, and the mysteriousness of human sexuality. I aspire to successfully reach that level of writing.

Susan Laine

This collection of short stories is hard to review. There's some stuff that in today's standards is considered obscene, unethical and illegal, like erotic scenes between adults and children, acts of violence toward a woman during sex, gang-rape of a pretty boy, and so forth.This was a challenging read, and I don't think Anaïs Nin would get her work published today-or she'd cause a scandal of epic proportions. What this book shows us is how erotica was seen before, and that's how these stories should be read. These are purely mental exercises of what might be seen as erotic. There's a lot of shock value here, and that's a value in itself in this day and age when we think we've seen and done everything imaginable.I pass no judgment here. I like her writing as it reveals an essence of a dark lust foreign to most people. Still, if you read this, be forewarned that there's a lot of set darkness here. Nin's grasp of erotica is worth the read-if only for the likelihood that censorship might soon take this away from the shelves.


I was near ready to give up on Nin's erotica about halfway through, rife though it was with the sort of kink and taboo I can almost always get behind. Particularly expectation-shattering was the collection's opener, featuring the pedophiliac fantasies of a "Hungarian Adventurer." The story morphs into a sort of cautionary tale wherein the Hungarian is punished, but not before putting on its darker forms of titillation. Many of the stories are tongue-in-cheek, satirical, hot-but-not, and to her credit, Nin really does run the gamut of deviant sexuality: rape, incest, bondage, role playing, voyeurism, formicophilia... One story of the not-hot variety manages to incorporate both necrophilia and bestiality. Which is all well and good, except that Nin's lack of character and plot begins to strain at about the middle point, when you realize she's recycling her themes and heroines.Of the stories meant to be actually poetic and sensual, most involve a central female character who opens up in her sexuality, trips through opium dens, experiments with lesbianism, etc. I'm not terribly convinced that Nin was a great writer of fiction; I think her legacy is her diaries, but she does manage to get some nice purple prose cushioning a trace of the feminist impulse. Still... not terribly compelling,Except for the 40-page The Basque and Bijou, which is by far the best thing in Delta of Venus. It's a subtle masterclass in the origins and perpetuations, the eroticism and ultimate sadness of fetishism. It has a beginning, middle and end, it's sexy as hell, and it has a kicker of a punchline. It's better than the 70-page Elena (a muddle of characters and contrived set-pieces), despite reprising some of the same characters. It validated the collection for me.


Hammer Presents readings by Anais Nin - Feb. 12By Rena KosnettAnais Nin would have been 105 this year, and if all the hype is anywhere near accurate, she probably would still be fucking. Every time I overhear or participate in discussions involving Nin, the conversation inevitably turns smutty. Granted, she did submit herself as a cultural galvanizer of female sexual liberation at a time in Europe when there was very little female-authored erotica available; but I've always believed that those diary entries concerning coital relations between her and her father were at best a metaphor inspired by her studies of Freudian psychology, and at most a pretty lucrative insurance policy for keeping her legacy eternally sensationalized. Rumors gold or pyrite, Nin was a powerful and courageous literary figure who happened to make many younger friends during her aging years in Silver Lake. Read the rest of Kosnett's pick at LA Weekly's website.Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Tues., Feb. 12, 7 p.m. (310) 443-7000.

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