Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Anaïs Nin, born Angela Anaïs Juana Antolina Rosa Edelmira Nin y Culmell

French-born American Novelist, Short-Story Writer, Dancer

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."

"All the art of analysis consists in saying a truth only when the other person is ready for it, has been prepared for it by an organic process of gradation and evolution."

"To me the truth is something which cannot be told in a few words, and those who simplify the universe only reduce the expansion of its meaning."

"Art is the method of levitation, in order to separate one's self from enslavement by the earth."

"People living deeply have no fear of death."

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."

"I postpone death by living, by suffering, by error, by risking, by giving, by losing."

"There are very few human beings who receive the truth, complete and staggering, by instant illumination. Most of them acquire it fragment by fragment, on a small scale, by successive developments, cellularly, like a laborious mosaic."

"What the psychoanalysts stress, the relation between dreams and our conscious acts, is what poets already know. The poets walk this bridge with ease, from conscious to unconscious, physical reality to psychological reality."

"Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don't know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings."

"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born."

"There is not one big cosmic meaning for all, there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person."

"We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another, unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another."

"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are."

"Beware of allowing a tactless word, a rebuttal, a rejection to obliterate the whole sky."

"The artist is the only one who knows that the world is a subjective creation, that there is a choice to be made, a selection of elements."

"If what Proust says is true, that happiness is the absence of fever, then I will never know happiness. For I am possessed by a fever for knowledge, experience, and creation."

"The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery."

"Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibition, instabilities and it always balances them."

"You live like this, sheltered, in a delicate world, and you believe you are living. Then you read a book (Lady Chatterley, for instance), or you take a trip, or you talk with [someone], and you discover that you are not living, that you are hibernating. The symptoms of hibernating are easily detectable: first, restlessness. The second symptom (when hibernating becomes dangerous and might degenerate into death): absence of pleasure. That is all. It appears like an innocuous illness. Monotony, boredom, death. Millions live like this (or die like this) without knowing it. They work in offices. They drive a car. They picnic with their families. They raise children. And then some shock treatment takes place, a person, a book, a song, and it awakens them and saves them from death."

"Some never awaken. They are like the people who go to sleep in the snow and never awaken. But I am not in danger because my home, my garden, my beautiful life do not lull me. I am aware of being in a beautiful prison, from which I can only escape by writing."