Incest in the 1990s: reading Anais Nin's 'Father Story'

Charnock, Ruth (2013) Incest in the 1990s: reading Anais Nin's 'Father Story'. Life Writing, 11 (1). pp. 55-68. ISSN 1448-4528

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In the summer of 1933, diarist, author and critic Anaïs Nin joined her father for a short vacation in France. Nin wrote about the trip in her diary afterwards, referring to it as the ‘Father Story.’ In the story, she details how, aged 30, she embarked upon an affair with her father which would last for several months. Rather than displaying the signs of trauma that we have come to expect from the incest narrative such as dissociation, blame and recrimination, the ‘Father Story’ is more ambiguous in its tone. Part-tribute to the father, part-seduction narrative, part-confession, this is a story that resists categorisation – a resistance that has ethical, critical and formal ramifications for our reading of incest narratives.

Upon its publication in the early 1990s, critics responded to the ‘Father Story’ as fantastical, excessive and vulgar. These responses form part of a wider American father story during this period; a story about memory, therapy culture, family values and the concealed rules of testimony. This article reads Anaïs Nin’s narrative as a text which raises fundamental questions about why certain father (and daughter) stories are culturally acceptable and others are not.

Additional Information:Published online September 20th 2013 Volume 11/1 january 2014
Keywords:Anais Nin, Incest, 1990s, refolf
Subjects:T Eastern, Asiatic, African, American and Australasian Languages, Literature and related subjects > T720 American Literature studies
Divisions:College of Arts > School of English & Journalism > School of English & Journalism (English)
ID Code:11712
Deposited On:20 Aug 2013 13:01

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