Anaïs Nin - Ladders to Fire

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"This hunger of the eyes, skin, of the whole body and spirit, which made others criminals, robbers, rapers, barbarians, which caused wars, invasions, plundering and murder, in Djuna at the age of puberty alchemized into love. Whatever was missing she became: she became mother, father, cousin, brother, friend, confidant, guide, companion to all. This power of absorption, this sponge of receptivity which might have fed itself forever to fill the early want, she used to receive all communication of the need of others. The need and hunger became nourishment. Her breasts, which no poverty had been able to wither, were heavy with the milk of lucidity, the milk of devotion.

This hunger. . . became love.

While wearing the costume of utter femininity, the veils and the combs, the gloves and the perfumes, the muffs and the heels of femininity, she nevertheless disguised in herself an active lover of the world, the one was was actively roused by the object of his love, the one who was made strong as man is made strong in the center of his being by the softness of his love.

Loving in men and women not their strength but their softness, not their fullness but their hunger, not their plenitude but their needs."
p. 28-29

Ladders to Fire
  • Swallow Press 1995, Paperback
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  • Peter Owen 2003, Paperback 128 pages (Peter Owen Modern Classics)
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    This poetic, sensual novel focuses on the lives of a group of women as they undergo a period of emotional and sexual development. They record their experiences as they struggle to understand both themselves and each other.
    see Peter Owen for more info on this new edition.