This was the year I discovered the diaries of Anaïs Nin, which she began writing at the age of eleven and wrote until her death in 1977. The resulting sixteen volumes of published journals are a treasure trove of insight on twentieth-century literary culture, the art of writing, human nature, the life of meaning, and the meaning of life. What makes Nin particularly mesmerizing is that she fuses the rigor of a nonfiction writer and the poetic reflection of a novelist, writing with equal parts vulnerability and courage.
This was, in fact, the year of the diary for me. As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964-1980, the second published volume of Susan Sontag’s diaries, took my breath away – an intimate glimpse of the inner life of a woman celebrated as one of the twentieth century’s most remarkable intellectuals, yet one who felt as deeply and intensely as she thought. Especially enchanting is the evolution of her relationship with love over that decade and a half, as Sontag settled into her own skin not only as a dimensional writer but as a dimensional human being.
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