The Four Chambered Heart by Anais Nin

The Nine Chambered Heart

The Four Chambered Heart by Anais Nin

The Four Chambered Heart by Anais Nin

Book: The Four Chambered Heart

Author: Anais Nin

Publication: Swallow Pr


Price: Click the link

“But love, the great narcotic, was the hothouse in which all the selves burst into their fullest bloom…
love the great narcotic was the revealer in the alchemist’s bottle rendering visible the most untraceable substances
love the great narcotic was the agent provocateur exposing all the secret selves to daylight
love the great narcotic-lined fingertips with clairvoyance
pumped iridescence into the lungs for transcendental x-rays.”


Before talking about the book or anything related to the book I want to share what prompted me to read the book. It was Janice Pariat’s that I planned to venture into. While taking little whereabouts regarding the author and the book on Google, I came to know about this book. They both are autobiographical and unfurl the life of a young woman and her journey through the alleys of love and loss.

The Four Chambered Heart (1950) is an autobiographical novel by French-American novelist Anais Nin.

She wrote many journals and dissertations on eminent writers and letters.

Her significant novels are:

House of Incest, Winter of Artifice, Cities of the Interior, Collages etc. Her short story collections are Under a Glass Bell, Delta of Venus, Little Birds etc. I feel interested to read them one after another after finishing this one.

The Four Chambered Heart is based on Nin’s own life tragedy…her destructive love relationship with Gonzalo More, a Peruvian poet.


The Nine Chambered Heart

The Nine Chambered Heart

Djuna is the alter-ego of Nin. In this novel, Djuna fell in love with Rango, a guitarist and became entangled in his chaotic life.

“Toward this ambulant Rango, Djuna leaned to catch all that his music contained, and her ear detected the presence of this unattainable island of joy which she pursued, which she had glimpsed at the party she had never attended but watched from her window as a girl. And like some lost voyager in a desert, she leaned more and more eagerly toward this musical mirage of pleasure never known to her, the pleasure of freedom…”

 She took Rango as the other name for freedom. But Rango’s life is in total bondage, entangled with his former wife Zora who is ill with mental disbalance, and hypochondria. She brought books on illness from Library and marked the lines in red when she felt syndromes were perfect for herself. She used her illness as her insanity and forced the others to suck in it. When Djuan met Zora in their house she discerned the shackled soul of Rango.

“The windows of the house were long and narrow. They seemed barred. She could not bear yet to see how he had been captured, tamed, caged, by what circumstances, by whom.”

Rango loved Djuna and they spent their time at night on a swaying barge…But their passionate love affair came to a halt and faced trouble when Zora came to know about them. Though apparently, she feigned relief and happiness at the presence of Djuna in Rango’s life she started manipulating Rango into the excuse of her illness deterring their rendezvous and panicking them in trouble.

“Zora had mysteriously won all the battles; Rango and Djuna could never spend a whole night together.”
Djuna recognized this duplicity of her character but could not make Rango acknowledge that. Rango was blind…Rango was mad…Djuan was also blind to Rango’s love…Djuan was also mad.

“She will laugh when he refuses to see Zora’s madness because it was like her refusal to see his madness, his impersonations, his fiction, his illusions…”
Djuna felt devastated, angry and helpless at Zora’s control and power over Rango. Her deep desire i.e. every woman’s desire to be the only righteous entity in a man’s heart crush every time. But Rango refused to understand.

In her tremendous self-effacing love for Rango, she became the victim of the same tragedy. Her pain, her sufferings, and her sacrifices alienated her from Rango’s blind responsibility to Zora. Rango could not understand that. This lack of understanding on the part of Rango made her life more miserable.

Djuna became the goat in the hecatomb of the triumvirate- Zora, Rango, Djuna.

“Suddenly Djuna looked down at her coffee and her eyes filled with stinging tears; the tears of irony burn the skin more fiercely. She wept because she had aroused in Rango the desire to serve a purpose which was not hers, to live now for others when already he lived for Zora and had so little to give her of himself. She wept because they were so close in that earthy darkness, close in the magnetic pull between their skins, their hair, their bodies, and yet their dreams never touched at any point, their vision of life, their attitudes. She wept over the many dislocations of life, forbidding the absolute unity.”






Our heart is made of four chambers separated by a wall no direct communication is possible. In Djuna’s heart in one chamber there is Paul, the memory of him…who loved her with a detachment.

“It was clear to Djuna now that the four-chambered heart was no act of betrayal, but that there were regions necessary to life to which Rango had no access. It was not that Djuna wanted to house the image of Paul in one chamber and Rango in another, nor that to love Rango she must destroy the chamber inhabited by Paul—it was that in Djuna there was a hunger for a haven which Rango was utterly incapable of giving to her, or attaining with her.”

In the other chamber, there is Rango who loved her with passionate intensity. I’m not sure why it is named four-chambered heart. Maybe four chambers stand for the heart itself which is made of four-chamber.


The ending is nebulous for me…I don’t understand who died and why and how.

Zora attacked and tried to kill Djuna. She was severely wounded.

She returned to the bed on the floor and lay beside Rango, to wait patiently for death.”

So I take that I’m losing Djuna. But at the end, the fishermen show something to Djuan,

“One of them had caught something unusual and was holding it out for Djuna to see, and laughing.
It was a doll.
It was a doll who had committed suicide during the night.
The water had washed off its features. Her hair aureoled her face with the crystalline glow.”

So it was Zora.

Alvina’s Verdict:

The amorous adventure of Rango and Djuna, and their search for finding the abode of blissful passionate love heightens the novel’s tension that explores a different depression. With a perfect sheen, Anais Nin draws her characters on a canvas…tragically beautiful. They are helpless, they are in love, and they are attributed to every human follies and foible.

“Love never dies of natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source, it dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illnesses and wounds, it dies of weariness, witherings, or tarnishings, but never of natural death. Every lover could be brought to trial as the murderer of his own love. When something hurts you, saddens you, I rush to avoid it, to alter it, to feel as you do, but you turn away with a gesture of impatience and say: ‘I don’t understand.”
The most poignant and emphatic line I ever read. It wins my heart…It explains the demise of a relationship…love. I read the lines thousand times and I feel it seeping through me….it is exposing my heart…I am Djuan. Rango never understands me. Wow.


Hi, I'm Munmun here and welcome to my book blog. I'm an English Teacher. But more than that I love to read books and write down my thoughts. I feel we can change the world by circulating the introspections of great columnists throughout the world. You are free to contact me at

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