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Henry Miller on Writing (New Directions Paperbook) Paperback – January 17, 1964

4.6 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Some of the most rewarding pages in Henry Miller's books concern his self-education as a writer. He tells, as few great writers ever have, how he set his goals, how he discovered the excitement of using words, how the books he read influenced him, and how he learned to draw on his own experience.

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

  • Series: New Directions Paperbook (Book 151)
  • Paperback: 217 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions; 18TH edition (January 17, 1964)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811201120
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811201124
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #301,509 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jon Fobes on August 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
A wonderful book, not just for writers or literature lovers, but for anyone interested in thinking and living creatively. Packed with well-worded wisdom. My favorite passages have become guidelines for my life. Some examples:
It should be borne in mind, of course, that there is an inevitable discrepancy between the truth of the matter and what one thinks, even about himself. * Writing, like life itself, is a voyage of discovery. * I began in absolute chaos and darkness, in a bog or swamp of ideas and emotions and experiences. * Good and bad dropped out of my vocabulary. * I talk now about Reality, but I know there is no getting at it. * I eschew all clear cut interpretations: with increasing simplification the mystery heightens. * What I know tends to become more and more unstable. * I find there is plenty of room in the world for everybody. * One can only go forward by going backward and then sideways and then up and then down. * My charts and plans are the slenderest sort of guides. * Understanding is not a piercing of the mystery, but an acceptance of it, a living blissfully with it, in it, through it and by it. * Every line and word is vitally connected with my life, my life only, be it in the form of deed, event, fact, thought, emotion, desire, evasion, frustration, dream, revery, vagary, even the unfinished nothings which float listlessly in the brain like the snapped filaments of a spider's web. * I had to learn to think, feel and see in a totally new fashion, in an uneducated way, in my own way, which is the hardest thing in the world.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I absolutely love, love, love, love, love, love, love this book! I agree with the person who said you don't have to be a writer to enjoy this book. I am a writer still "finding myself" in mid-50s and this book is absolutely MAGICAL to me. In the most atheistic and blissful sense of the word. I first got a hardback (New Directons Paperbook) copy at the local library. Then I had to renew it. And now I have had to order a copy for myself because I want to LIVE with this book -- touch it, read it, hold it, carry it, cherish it. Is it that good? Yes, it is that good. It is so good as a matter of fact I just spent all of next week's grocery money to get a copy in hardback. I feel as if I just bought a Ming vase or a rare coin collection. I cannot explain. Here is one of many awesome quotes in the book:

"By being crazy is understood losing one's reason. Reason, but not the truth, for there are madmen who speak truths while others keep silent,"


"'Je ne parle pas logique', said Montherlant, 'je parle générosité', I don't think you heard it very well, since it was in French. I'll repeat it for you, in the Queen's own language: 'I'm not talking logic, I'm talking generosity'. That's bad English, as the Queen herself might speak it, but it's clear. Generosity -- do you hear? You never practice it, any of you, either in peace or in war. You don't know the meaning of the word. You think to supply guns and ammunition to the winning side is generosity; you think sending Red Cross nurses to the front, or the Salvation Army, is generosity. You think a bonus twenty years too late is generosity; you think a little pension and a wheel-chair is generosity; you think if you give a man his old job back it's generosity.
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Format: Paperback
If you read Henry Miller, you are well aware that his use of language is both poetic and direct. He does little apologizing, and this book follows that philosophy. The book is a gathering of previously and not previously published works concerning the art of writing. It is edited by Thomas H. Moore, who worked with Miller to complete it.

Throughout the pages we see Miller in familiar lighting as he stresses those things about his craft that are most important to him. We also read how Miller was sometimes so absorbed in his work that he couldn't get through a meal with scribbling out pages between bites. To that end, Miller gives his greatest lesson to would-be writers - Dedication and discipline are the pillars on which the writer lives. Without those, one merely writes. He even lists "Commandments" in part of the text, wherein he describes the requirements that he placed on himself. These include, basically, writing without bounds, living fully, and placing the art of writing above friends and hobbies. It is this reinforcement that shows how hard Miller struggled to maintain his place as a writer. He reminded himself to work on one piece at a time.

There is a section entitled "Obscenity and the Law of Reflection," and it defines Miller's view on what obscenity is why it cannot truly be debated or defined. All of this is treasured reading for the Miller fan. There are many fine chapters covering the various aspects of the life and the profession of Henry Miller. It is extremely well written and organized. If you enjoy Miller, this book will only enhance your opinions. If you do not care for his work, perhaps this book will explain why Miller chose to write what he had inside of him and how he shaped his style to fit his soul. Pick up a copy!
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