Collages published in 1964 by Swallow Press was the next to the last successful experiment Anais Nin would accomplish before her final work of magic was released to the public in 1966: her diary transformed to read as a continuous novel (semi-autobiographical) and even longer than Cities of the Interior.
In Novel of the Future (Macmillan1968), Anais explains how she felt the short pieces in Collages could not be developed at length. I would lose the collage spirit of many small pieces assembled to form an impression…Thus, sometimes briefness, a semi-abstraction can express mobility, a lyrical levitation which a full development might weigh down, even destroy…I was attracted to the charm of short tales which would sparkle and be more like a collage or a mobile than a full solid novel. (p.92) Oliver Evans called Collages “a collection of short stories with the single common character,” a woman painter (based on the real life of Renate Druks—see Diary 5 about Renate (Anais Nin p.178) Bettina Knapp referred to it as a collection of portraits, short stories, novellas while Nancy Scholar labeled Collages “character sketches with no new themes introduced and no structural organization.” (her Anais Nin p.127).
Sharon Spencer provides the best interpretation of Collages as “a concept which underlies Anais Nin’s sense of art, both in theory and as process,” what the surrealist painter Max Ernst labeled as “visual alchemy.” (Collage of Dreams, p.4) Dedicated to R.P. (Rupert Pole, Trustee of the Anais Nin Estate and her common-law West Coast husband for a score of years until her death) this “real gardener…created a world in which a humorous book could bloom.” Collages bears a painting of the same title on the front cover done by the author’s friend Jean Varda, one of the novella’s characters (also identified as Varda); he’s a collage artist who lives on a Sausalito houseboat. Many of the counterpart real-life portraits of these fictional characters can be found in Diaries 5 and 6.