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Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch Paperback – January 17, 1957

4.4 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Henry Miller (1891―1980) was one of the most controversial American novelists during his lifetime. His book, The Tropic of Cancer, was banned in the some U.S. states before being overruled by the Supreme Court. New Directions publishes several of his books.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 404 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions; 2nd edition (January 17, 1957)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811201074
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811201070
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

HENRY MILLER (1891-1980) was an American writer and painter infamous for breaking with existing literary forms and developing a new sort of "novel" that is a mixture of novel, autobiography, social criticism, philosophical reflection, surrealist free association, and mysticism, one that is distinctly always about and expressive of the real-life Henry Miller and yet is also fictional. His most characteristic works of this kind are "Tropic of Cancer," "Tropic of Capricorn," and "Black Spring." His books were banned in the United States for their lewd content until 1964 when a court ruling overturned this order, acknowledging Miller's work as literature in what became one of the most celebrated victories of the sexual revolution.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on November 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
I first read this book exactly ten years ago when I was struggling through a profound period of depression. I don't want to say that the book cured me, because that would be too facile and too drastic a declaration, but I will say that Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch was the first real beacon, the first glimmer of light to lead me out of a suffocating psychological cave. I don't know why, exactly, but when I began reading the book, a deep sense of peace came over me for the first time in several months. The book seemed to open up my eyes and my ears and my throat and even my lungs; I found myself sucking in big sweet gulps of air, and I started to detect a freedom and a limitlessness in the world that I had previously failed to recognize. Of course, there is no way that I can promise that you will have the same reaction. Over the years I have passed the book along to various friends: Some of them have fallen in love with it and some of them have been utterly bored. That is understandable. The book has no plot; in fact, it doesn't really pretend to have any forward momentum. The narrative just floats. As other reviewers have noted (both enthusiastically and bitterly), Henry Miller delivers in this book a seemingly random swirl of philosophy, wit, character studies, soaring observations of topography and weather, literary and arty musings, puzzles, koans, epigrams, aphorisms, scripture, historical trivia, astrological forecasts, and jokes. It does not, upon first glance, have any point whatsoever. But that, friend, is the point.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
This book, and a couple of others by Miller and L. Durrell, was responsible for my husband and me quitting our jobs in LA and going to Greece for a year. And several times in the past decades, I've made pilgrimages to Partington Ridge/cove/trail/creek down the coast of Big Sur to revisit the place Miller lived and to pay homage to a great writer, a great spirit, and a great human being. Each time I stop and look up the trail toward the ridge, I swear I can see stringy, rangy Miller, sweating as he pulls a goat-cart laden with mail and groceries from the drop-off spot by the highway back up to his convict shack near the top.
The book has no real plot; it?s just a rambling and random collection of philosophy, character studies, literary/artistic commentary, and journaling - all delivered with Miller's completely unique and quirky mind. I don't believe a more open-minded, curious, brilliant writer has ever lived, and for me, this is his best book, written perhaps during some of his best and most peaceful years of his long and joyful life. At its core, it's a recipe for Life.
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Format: Paperback
In the 1940's and '50's, long before the New Age gurus and their guides to better living, author Henry Miller was letting his soul run free and writing about it high above the Pacific Ocean in remote Big Sur, California. This book is his account of that experience after his return from Europe and subsequent car tour of America. It is a refreshing, joyous, insightful, touching, humorous and often profound book that challenges our acceptance of today's hectic world while also being essential reading for those who have read the two Tropics and would like a better understanding of the man behind these books, two of the greatest and most controversial of all time.
"This is my answer!" states Miller in the book's opening pages, and in this regard Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch is his Walden. Because it was here, in the far West, far removed from hs native New York, that Miller found the only home he could abide by in America, a place where he fe! lt he could live peaceably as a creative artist apart from a way of life he saw as thin and meaningless and which he had long since turned his back on.
It was not easy living. The convict shack where Miller initially stayed, a thousand feet above the crashing waves, had neither electricity nor plumbing. There was also the intense isolation. At that time, Big Sur was strictly for the adventurous, a small colony of artists and individuals seeking to live and raise families freely, simply, and close to nature. Highway One had yet to bring the tourists.
But despite these difficulties, and probably because of them, Miller came to see Big Sur as the first real home he had ever known.
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Format: Paperback
My first glimpse into the world of Henry Miller has brought me a new highly admired author to read. Though 'Big Sur' is reputed to be one of his more 'tame works'...Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn having been banned works for years due to their highly sexual content, the mind of Miller is indeed a wonderous place to explore.

I came across this title while searching online for info about Kerouac's novel 'Big Sur', and decided to indulge in this one as well. And a happy treat awaited me.

Having only recent begun to enjoy 'biography as fiction' works, it takes a rare author to put one at peace with their words, when they are simply a recounting of thier own life and adventures. Miller wrote 'Big Sur' not so much as a 'novel', since there is not a conventional thread to follow, other than the location and himself as protagonist, but more as a memoir of the 15 years spent in this California 'paradise' of artists, bohemians, and eclectic characters. Through describing his tranquil, ambling days spent walking back and forth with supplies from town, meeting the thrice-per-week mail delivery, or simply writing, the reader gets to experience the serenity that Miller enjoyed throughout most of his time there. Being a Virgo I look for structure, order, sense, etc., in most things, especially literature. Little of that is to be found here, really, but Miller's style is so captivating that you can't help but read on. His serenity at Big Sur easily becomes your own.

But be warned, that serenity is interrupted by the arrival of an oversees acquaintance, Conrad Moricand, who turns Miller's idyllic home upside down during his stay there.
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