Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis


English Language and Literatures

First Advisor

Brian Glavey


During their creative and sexual relationship, Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller together shaped their identities as artists. When they met, both were married and had tried writing before, but their partnership pushed them into a new kind of life in which writing took precedence. During this process, they described their relationship as literarily fertile; a few years later, Nin actually became pregnant with Miller's child and decided to have an abortion. In Nin's diary, metaphor and reality overlap as she anxiously makes sense of her decision that is informed by her belief that an artist cannot be a mother. In his novels, Miller discusses abortion with a casualness undercut by a conflict between morality and necessity.

By looking into passages produced during this time in Nin's and Miller's relationship that concern fertility, contraception, and abortion, this thesis aims to gain understanding of how Nin and Miller shaped their identities as artists, particularly in terms of how artistic creation and procreation interact in the life of an artist. Furthermore, this thesis explores the relationship between Nin's and Miller's fertility metaphors and the reality of Nin's abortion and concludes that their bodily metaphors often serve to shift responsibility for difficult decisions onto cosmic forces, a mechanism that indicates a nervousness about the interaction between human choice and divine plan.


© 2013, Kathryn Holmes