the short story project

The Mouse

Yael Dean Ben Ivri On:

The Mouse by Anais Nin

The Mouse was published in “Under a Glass Bell”, a collection of short stories by Anais Nin, in 1944. Nin, who is known for her erotic texts and considered a groundbreaking writer, presents here the absolute opposite of erotica and the erotic woman. The Mouse is a fearful maid who lives with her mistress in a houseboat on the Sein. The nickname Mouse is given to her by her mistress for the endless fears that govern her and characterize her behavior – fear of being sacked, fear of the terms of her employment worsening, fear of the men roaming the river banks. But it is her fear that leads her, like an animal, to erotica, which she defines as “anything extraordinary”, and eventually also to her own demise. As a lower class unmarried female, erotica is a dangerous thing – if it’s not handled with caution it’s very difficult to cope with its outcomes. The mistress is the only person willing to listen to the Mouse and hear about the conundrum she has found herself in. She is the one willing to tell her story and lead a gallant rescue attempt. But in a masculine world, which vigorously refuses to let the hero survive, it seems that even the “rescuing” woman will not succeed in ridding the Mouse of her nickname and status; she will not mention her name even once, thereby denying her the figure of a living person truly worthy of saving.