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

4.3 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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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: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,478,788 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Henry Miller has been misunderstood for too long! Erica Jong's brilliant writing sets the record straight on the relevance to humanity Miller's body of work is. Erica too is in this line of those who bring incalculable gifts to the world.
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