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|Title:||The Feminine Artist in Cities of the Interior|
|Keywords:||English Language and Literature;English Language and Literature|
|Abstract:||<p>Certain themes recur in all of the writings of Anais Nin: psychoanalysis; the nature of the artist; the nature of woman. Cities of the Interior unites all these themes in a perceptive study of three female artists. The psychological theories that most influenced Nin were those of Otto Rank, who perceived many similarities between the creative and the neurotic personality. Both are strongly influenced by the subconscious mind, the source of both inspiration and disturbance. The artist, however, can channel his creative energies outward, into art or even into creative human relationships, rather than turning them neurotically inward. The artist develops and fulfills himself through creation. The neurotic, on the other hand, remains trapped in futile narcissism, and never achieves his potential. Nin accepted these ideas, but gave them an added dimension. Rank was concerned mainly with the male artist, but Nin was interested in the psychology of the feminine artist. Cities of the Interior explores the psyche of the feminine artist, using the parameters of Rank's theories.</p> <p>The three major characters, Sabina, Djuna, and Lillian, strive to overcome neurosis, and fulfill their creative potential on their own terms, without imitating male artists. In doing so, they also create themselves, and this self-creation is, according to Rank, the ultimate goal of the artist. Nin extends this idea. She believes that women are, by nature, in closer touch with the subconscious than men, -but that it is only recently that they have had the opportunity to make use of their tremendous creative potential. Thus a woman who reaches artistic self-realization creates not only herself, but a new king of artist and a new kind of woman.</p> <p>Sabina is the least successful of the three artists. Far from being a new kind of woman, she vacillates between stereotypically "feminine" seductiveness and mystery, and aggressive imitation of masculine Don Juanism. She shows many symptoms of neurosis, particularly fragmentation. She has at least as many "selves" as she has lovers, and is unable to unite the various aspects of her personality. As an actress, she is an undisciplined failure, since she can only play her roles for a masculine audience of one. Her creative forces are too scattered to make her a successful actress or a self-determining woman.</p> <p>Djuna is more successful as an artist, but she lives in a dreamworld, preferring the ideal to the real. According to Nin, the artist must "proceed from the dream outward", and Djuna slowly learns to do this. She must also go beyond a feminine stereotype -- the saintly, compassionate woman. She becomes a true artist and a more complete woman when she realizes, first, that destruction is part of creation, and, second, that the interior world of "the dream" should be used as an inspiration and a temporary refuge, not a permanent habitation.</p> <p>Lillian also goes from neurosis to creativity. At first she is destructive and aggressive, denying her own femininity, rejecting all artistic discipline, and refusing to acknowledge her own inner life. The result is chaos, in her music and in her relationships. As she learns to look inward and understand herself, she is better able to fulfill the artist's function of creating harmony out of unordered, "natural" reality, and better able to interact creatively with others.</p> <p>Cities of the Interior is marred slightly by didacticism, one-dimensional male characters, and, at times, an overly-psychoanalytical tone, but it is nevertheless a strong statement of Nin's concept of woman and of creativity, as well as being a perceptive study of three psychologically complex characters. Rank's influence is obvious, but it is Nin's own idea that it is not only possible for a woman to be a successful artist, but artistic expression is only one manifestation of woman's potential creativity.</p>|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Dissertations and Theses|
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