It Is the Function of Art To Renew Our Perception. What We Are Familiar With We Cease To See

Anaïs Nin? Orville Clark? Barbara Rowes? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The prominent literary figure and acclaimed modern diarist Anaïs Nin stated something like the following: When we become familiar with people and scenes we cease to see them; therefore, the true artist must shake up the commonplace. The resultant novelty will enable a renewal of perception. Would you please help me to find the precise passage in which she stated this idea?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI appeared in Anaïs Nin’s 1968 volume of analysis and criticism titled “The Novel of the Future”. Below is an image from the book followed by the text of the quotation: 1

It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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Notes:

  1. 1968 Copyright (Third Printing 1976), The Novel of the Future by Anaïs Nin, Chapter 2: Abstraction, Quote Page 25, Collier Books: A Division of Macmillan Publishing Company, New York. (Verified with scans)