Thinking of Anais Nin: Barbara Sapp’s Efforts to Save Anaïs Nin’s Home

Barbara Sapp’s Efforts to Save Anaïs Nin’s Home

Association for the Preservation of the House of Anaïs Nin

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Anaïs Nin For those of you just discovering the Web page, welcome to the project. For those of you who have been supporting us all along, many warm thanks.

Anaïs Nin’s former French home, situated in Louveciennes, France, has stood abandoned and neglected for over fifteen years. The current owner, an aged gentlemanly French Military Doctor now retired, wishing to liquidate his assets, put the house up for sale last year, and it was quickly snatched up under a pre-sales agreement by a neigboring architect-land speculator, who, under the current contract, intends to split the property into three lots, selling off Anaïs Nin’s former home and splitting up her beloved garden for the construction of residential real estate. Both house and garden are the setting of Nin’s artistic genesis; her diaries are filled with the inspiration of this historic French village and the house, which she refered to at times as “prison” and others as “refuge” but always as her “Laboratory of the Soul.”

It was originally believed that the pre-sales agreement would become a full fledged sales act on or about the 25th of March, 1996. We have succeeded in obtaining a firm date of final sale as being mid-June, and the only route of intervention to protect the property now is the outright purchase of the land through a counter offer beyond the current sales price of 4.5millionFF. An Association was formed for the Preservation of Nin’s treasured home, thought a place of magic by many who could only stand outside its gates over the years and sigh at the state of neglect and disrepair of a house once so full of life. This is a timely opportunity in light of the recent regrettable loss of the American Cultural Centre of Paris, also due to lack of funding in these fiscal times. This SOS was launched the first week of March to let all readers and admirers of Nin, Miller and their circle know of the chance to save the house and the possibility of pulling together forces world-wide to offer a “living museum” a fully restored “Louveciennes”(Nin always referred to the house by the name of the village in her writings) as a potential museum and archive dedicated to all Anglophone writers and artists of Paris between the World Wars, a mythical destination many travellers today still look for, but rarely find save for on the crammed shelves of second hand bookshops or the flicker of a Hollywood classic film.

The International Press both helped and hindered this effort. Unfortunately, the most powerful and far reaching wire services, such as Reuters and Associated Press, had their interests piqued only by publicising the house as the sinful scene of Nin’s private life, flouting the sexual adventures Nin recounts in her recently published unexpurgated diaries, available to the public according to Nin’s wishes, only after the death of her first husband, Hugh Guiler. Thus there was a brilliant press flash which soon fizzled, as even the supermarket gossip tabloids would have a hard time finding new material on a sixty-years passed love affair. However this publicity in both the International and French papers made some members of the community of Louveciennes act towards the preservation of the site with enthusiasm, while still others were shocked at the scandal of the press and wanted nothing to do with the idea. Louveciennes has not seen so much fuss since the French Revolution two hundred years before when the Aristocratic lover of Countess du Barry had his head guillotined and tossed onto the lawn of her Chateau, situated on the edge of the town of Louveciennes near a lazy bend in the river Seine.

Then the Mayor of Louveciennes was asked how much money in French Government funds the village managed to raise to restore the Chateau of Mme du Barry, also neglected by its owner. The sum is a reported 15 to 19millionFF! Is scandal more noble and historic if Comptesse du Barry’s corsets were unlaced by a French King? Then the Mayor was asked what was the difference in wanting to save the home of Anaïs Nin, also neglected by it’s owner.

“Architecture” he replied, “Chateau du Barry is classified.”

Exactly! and that’s why we are asking for Nin’s Home to be classified.

Finally, after three hours of point/counterpoint, the Mayor softened and said (in English, he’s bilingual, born in London of French English parents, and really,quite a charming gentleman of the old school…) “There is nothing I can do legally. The dossier of Anaïs Nin’s House was refused classification ten years ago. This is not a public property. It is privately owned and is under a private sales agreement and the only possible way to “save” the property is to raise the money to make a counter offer. If your Association can come up with the over one-million dollars necessary to purchase all three lots and keep them in tact and propose to the Mairie a good restoration project the Association will have a chance. Otherwise, I cannot interfere.”

Continuing to send petitions is still a good idea, and we thank all those of you wholeheartedly who have sent yours along. So far we have three wine crates filled with letters and postmarks world wide to leave on the Minister’s desk.

So the newest information is that the French Government is still slow to acknowledge the historical significance of the former home of Anaïs Nin and its role in Anglo-French literary history of this century, and because of this, only a private bid for the property at great cost before June can actually save the home as an historic literary site. The Association sees the best chance to raise these tax deductible funds in another round of press campaigning to bring the message to those who can help. Let’s take a fresh approach and make this web site known to all journalists, writers and publishers that may be interested in taking this to the printed page. We have a grace period of no more than two months to preserve the very site that shaped the musings of a lifetime and touched us all.

Association for the Preservation of the House of Anaïs Nin:
Mme Barbara Ann SAPP
67, rue de la MARE
75020 Paris
tel: 33 (1) 43 58 55 32
It is best to telephone between 21.00h and Midnight Paris time. (EST +6h, California+9h)


Endorse a petition and join as a regular member of the Association for the Preservation of the House of Anaïs Nin