- Paperback: 243 pages
- Publisher: Grove Press; Reissue edition (February 11, 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0802131824
- ISBN-13: 978-0802131829
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 29 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #140,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Black Spring Paperback – February 11, 1994
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This book did not "blow me away" and I won't read it again any time soon, but I have great respect for Miller and his contribution to literature.
Did you know that Orwell was a prolific book reviewer? Book reviews staved off starvation during the Depression for the struggling Orwell. Did you know that Orwell and Miller were friends? Maybe the apolitical Miller's friendship was a respite for the war weary Orwell after his near death experience in revolutionary Spain.
Orwell, always the pragmatist, questioned the "mickey mouse universe" found in the pages of Black Spring but admired the genius of Miller. Orwell,in his essay Benefit of Clergy, said the same of Dali's surrealism. Technically good but weird. Orwell oddly concluded that Dali was demented and Miller was a genius. Was Orwell biased towards writing over painting? Was Orwell biased against Dali's fascism?
Is Black Spring a written attempt to create a surrealist painting when surrealism was in vogue? A mickey mouse universe indeed yet one beautifully wrought. The images in this book are compelling...
I could see the decks being scrubbed down and the guns polished and the weight of those big sea monsters resting on the dirty glass lake of the basin was a luxurious weight on me. p7
Can't you feel the weight of the water and the ships? The racism in this book is rife..the n word, Asians described as having "glass craniums" and even a lurid description of a lynching in the mind of the detached narrator. Is it any wonder that the government tried to ban Miller's books under the Comstock Act?
Two strange BLACK SPRING references seem to be prophetic: one describing annihilation like a "sputtering roman candle" a large blast between New York and Nagasaki (written in the thirties) while the other refers to a large statue in the desert with breast and buttocks pointed in opposite directions. Looking at past celebrations of the BURNING MAN spectacle in the Nevada desert I saw such a statue exactly as described in BLACK SPRING...of course, the person who conceived the sculpture could have read Black Spring, but the destruction of Nagasaki is weird.
In any case, time marched on after Black Spring and the turmoil of the Depression became the counterculture of the sixties. The sound of Kerouac's typewriter echoes throughout this book. When I read Miller I can not help but see the counterculture writing that floated in the wake of Black Spring's voyage. Miller was the staccato force behind Kerouac's typewriter and Vonnegut's grim image of burnt Dresden in Slaughterhouse 5.
Be warned though, Miller's mickey mouse universe is ultimately finite and self indulgent- a post christian Mobius Strip turning on itself endlessly... demanding attention to its own beautiful vanity. Miller is modernity for good and bad.
Was Orwell right about Miller? Strange reason for writing a review but that is what I did.An Age Like This, 1920-1940 (Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters, Vol. 1)