Originally published in book form in 1954, this authoritative edition of Anais Nin's A Spy in the House of Love contains Nin's introduction, character descriptions, publishing history, and an author's chronology.
A Spy in the House of Love contains some of Nin's best poetic prose. The main character, Sabina, realizes that she is a composite of many selves, each one seeking identity within relationships with five very different men, and while she seeks to live out each part of herself, she also craves unity, setting the stage for the battle for self-awareness.
Consider the following passage, which describes Sabina's encounter with Philip, whom she has met in a nightclub:
"The trembling premonitions shaking the hand, the body, made dancing unbearable, waiting unbearable, smoking and talking unbearable. Soon would come the untamable seizure of sensual cannibalism, the joyous epilepsies.
"They fled from the eyes of the world, the singer's prophetic, harsh, ovarian prologues. Down the rusty bars of ladders to the undergrounds of the night propitious to the first man and woman at the beginning of the world, where there were no words by which to possess each other, no music for serenades, no presents to court with, no tournaments to impress and force a yielding, no secondary instruments, no adornments, necklaces, crowns to subdue, but only one ritual, a joyous, joyous, joyous, joyous impaling of woman on man's sensual mast."
Part realism and part fantasy, A Spy in the House of Love achieves a level of writing that is very rare in the English language.