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The Devil at Large: Erica Jong on Henry Miller Paperback – January, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Jong's biographical tribute to Henry Miller provides an occasion for her wider reflections on sex and literature.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

Henry Miller was an enthusiastic fan of Fear of Flying ( LJ 10/1/73) and subsequently befriended its young author, who repays the favor in this lively study--one of the best yet written about Miller. Jong probes the author's love/hate relationship with his mother and his tumultuous marriage to the enigmatic June Mansfield. She offers insightful comments on Tropic of Cancer , "a book blocked off to readers by its incendiary reputation," and praises The Colossus of Maroussi (1941) as Miller's "central work." Perhaps most important, Jong parries the attacks leveled on her friend by feminist critics. If you must limit yourself to one book on Miller, this is the one to have.
- Grove Koger, Boise P.L., Id.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage UK (January 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099449218
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099449218
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,983,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

(Bio used
Erica Jong--novelist, poet, and essayist--has consistently used her craft to help provide women with a powerful and rational voice in forging a feminist consciousness. She has published 23 books, including nine novels, seven volumes of poetry, six books of non-fiction and numerous articles in magazines and newspapers such as The New York Times, The Sunday Times of London, Elle, Vogue, The New York Times Book Review and The Wall Street Journal.

In her groundbreaking first novel, Fear of Flying (20 million in print around the world in more than forty languages), she introduced Isadora Wing, who also plays a central part in three subsequent novels--How to Save Your Own Life, Parachutes and Kisses, and Any Woman's Blues. In her three historical novels--Fanny, Shylock's Daughter, and Sappho's Leap--she demonstrates her mastery of eighteenth-century British literature, the verses of Shakespeare, and ancient Greek lyric, respectively. Erica's memoir of her life as a writer, Seducing the Demon: Writing for My Life, came out in March 2006. It was a national bestseller in the US and many other countries. Erica's much anticipated novel, Fear of Dying, is due for publication by St. Martin's Press in September 2015.

A graduate of Barnard College and Columbia University's Graduate Faculties where she received her M.A. in 18th Century English Literature, Erica Jong also attended Columbia's graduate writing program where she studied poetry with Stanley Kunitz and Mark Strand. In 2008, continuing her long-standing relationship with the university, a large collection of Erica's archival material was acquired by Columbia University's Rare Book & Manuscript Library, where it will be available to graduate and undergraduate students. Ms. Jong plans to teach master classes at Columbia and also advise the Rare Book Library on the acquisition of other women writers' archives.

Calling herself "a defrocked academic," Ms. Jong has partly returned to her roots as a scholar. She has taught at Ben Gurion University in Israel, Bennington College in the U.S., Breadloaf Writers' Conference in Vermont and many other distinguished writing programs and universities. She loves to teach and lecture, though her skill in these areas has sometimes crowded her writing projects. "As long as I am communicating the gift of literature, I'm happy," Jong says. A poet at heart, Ms. Jong believes that words can save the world.

Known for her commitment to women's rights, authors' rights and free expression, Ms. Jong is a frequent lecturer in the U.S. and abroad. She served as president of The Authors' Guild from 1991 to 1993 and still serves on the Board. She established a program for young writers at her alma mater, Barnard College. The Erica Mann Jong Writing Center at Barnard teaches students the art of peer tutoring and editing.
Erica Jong was honored with the United Nations Award for Excellence in Literature. She has also received Poetry magazine's Bess Hokin Prize, also won by W.S. Merwin and Sylvia Plath. In France, she received the Deauville Award for Literary Excellence and in Italy, she received the Sigmund Freud Award for Literature. The City University of New York awarded Ms. Jong an honorary PhD at the College of Staten Island. In June 2009, Erica won the first Fernanda Pivano Prize for Literature in Italy.

Erica Jong lives in New York City and Weston, CT with her husband, attorney Ken Burrows, and standard poodle, Belinda Barkowitz. Her daughter, Molly Jong-Fast, is also a writer.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By George Schaefer on March 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
Henry Miller has been one of my favorite writers for my entire adult life. I also am a fan of Erica Jong (who was onced facetiously tagged with the moniker of female Henry Miller) That made this book doubly alluring. I have always had to renconcile the raw bluntness of Miller with my own philosophical positions. A lot of Millers writing is extremely sexist on the surface and even on some deeper levels. I like the way Jong is able to point out how supportive Miller was of female writers like Marie Corelli and Emma Goldman and Helena Blavatsky. (all writers I read because of Miller) She also cites his support of her own career. Miller was a child of the Teddy Roosevelt era but he sought to overcome all these obstacles. Most of his writing was an attempt to transcend these weaknesses. Did Miller fear women as Jong suggests? She certainly presents a strong argument to that end. This is a touching elegy to a writer that influenced and aided Jong in her own literary ascension. As to the criticism that this book is really about Erica Jong, I would state that The Time of the Assassins is really about Henry Miller and Anais Nins book on D.H. Lawrence is largely about Anais Nin. These are artists writing about other writers and not critics presenting literary criticism. It should be read as a salute and not as objective analysis. And I state it does succeed quite well at that.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Eleanor E. Templeton on December 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
Jong tackles Miller's wide-ranging life from the perspectives of friend and fellow writer. She also takes the nearly unheard-of fresh angle of looking at Miller as a human being, warts and all. As linear biography, the book doesn't work; this is fortunate, as it is intended -- and works -- as a romp through someone's life.
In a fine mesh of poetry, prose, research, experience and playfulness, Erica Jong succeeds in giving one an idea of what Miller might have been like if one had met him. This is far more valuable than any diatribes or rants regarding the often alleged "obscenity" of Henry Miller's work. Readers also can find here a more concrete analysis of Miller's many facets: supporter of woman writers, conqueror of his own Oedipal complex, father, lover, dirty old man, intellectual, rover.
If you like Henry Miller, read it and learn more. If you hate Henry Miller, make an effort to understand him. You still might not like his writing, but you'll at least have one hype-free view of his work and life -- and Erica Jong's writing is as fresh and funny as ever.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 23, 1998
Format: Paperback
Erica Jong gives us some of the most personal and heartfelt analysis of Henry Miller. The two places where she fails is her Freudian psychoanalysis in portraying Henry as someone trying to kill his mother and in feminist waffling. When feminists argue with each other it seems that the rule is a mush-mouthed wimpy code word kind of argument for fear of betraying the "sisterhood" as if women can't argue without being victims of the PATRIARCHY. Jong engages in some of the worst handwringing for writing in praise of an author whose favorite word is c-nt.
For most of the book she takes turns writing about herself and trying to emulate Miller's prose. This would be unpardonable with another author, but Miller is known for writing one of the best books about Rimbaud ever by writing about Henry Miller, so Jong knows her subject.
The only other false note is the preaching to choir portions where she claims that no one reads Henry Miller these days. Of course, the only people who are going to read a book about Miller are people who already read Miller. Besides after Henry & June the movie, that is a dated statement.
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful By yygsgsdrassil on April 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
My take on this...
And so, it is.
Everyone has somehow come to the notion that their generation, their time is "the one" and that there is nothing new under the sun unless their generation creates it or is savvy enough about adapting it as their own. Also, something construed as 'challenging to' our accepted notions should be outright condemned. Case in point is when Jong published "Fear Of Flying" groups everywhere labelled as way too provocative. Jong's reply: "I had imagined that everyone knew Chaucer, Rabelais, Lawrence and Joyce were full of sex, so why all the fuss?"
"The Devil at Large" is about liberators, necromancers, artists and writers--about writers Jong and Miller, about how similar they were and how they came to be fast friends and about this blindsidedness of the public I spoke of above. It is for those of us searching for answers, it is about, to flip-flop paraphrase the great psychedelic bluesband Funkadelic, "freeing your a**, and your mind will follow". Who better than Isadora Wing herself should do a work on the Dirty Ol' Man of Letters? This is, my friends, a great book with great ideals.
And so, it is.
To many, Miller is a rabid misogynist who doesn't deserve a second glancing. His use of language is dense and unappealing and obscure and he goes deep, deep into what we cultured folks would call the section on French urinals vs. American urinals from the novel 'Black Spring'. But, see the facts that he's described the unmentionable, that he attempted to put words to an otherwise impossible to describe feeling, frees us all...
The universe is perceived by us all sensually. To be part of the universe is to be expressive sensually, according to Miller via Jong.
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