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About Henry Miller
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Now hailed as an American classic, Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller’s masterpiece, was banned as obscene in this country for twenty-seven years after its first publication in Paris in 1934. Only a historic court ruling that changed American censorship standards, ushering in a new era of freedom and frankness in modern literature, permitted the publication of this first volume of Miller’s famed mixture of memoir and fiction, which chronicles with unapologetic gusto the bawdy adventures of a young expatriate writer, his friends, and the characters they meet in Paris in the 1930s. Tropic of Cancer is now considered, as Norman Mailer said, “one of the ten or twenty great novels of our century.”
In his great triptych "The Millennium," Bosch used oranges and other fruits to symbolize the delights of Paradise.
In his great triptych “The Millennium,” Bosch used oranges and other fruits to symbolize the delights of Paradise. Whence Henry Miller’s title for this, one of his most appealing books; first published in 1957, it tells the story of Miller’s life on the Big Sur, a section of the California coast where he lived for fifteen years. Big Sur is the portrait of a place—one of the most colorful in the United States—and of the extraordinary people Miller knew there: writers (and writers who did not write), mystics seeking truth in meditation (and the not-so-saintly looking for sex-cults or celebrity), sophisticated children and adult innocents; geniuses, cranks and the unclassifiable, like Conrad Moricand, the “Devil in Paradise” who is one of Miller’s greatest character studies. Henry Miller writes with a buoyancy and brimming energy that are infectious. He has a fine touch for comedy. But this is also a serious book—the testament of a free spirit who has broken through the restraints and clichés of modern life to find within himself his own kind of paradise.
Henry Miller’s landmark travel book, now reissued in a new edition, is ready to be stuffed into any vagabond’s backpack.
Like the ancient colossus that stood over the harbor of Rhodes, Henry Miller’s The Colossus of Maroussi stands as a seminal classic in travel literature. It has preceded the footsteps of prominent travel writers such as Pico Iyer and Rolf Potts. The book Miller would later cite as his favorite began with a young woman’s seductive description of Greece. Miller headed out with his friend Lawrence Durrell to explore the Grecian countryside: a flock of sheep nearly tramples the two as they lie naked on a beach; the Greek poet Katsmbalis, the “colossus” of Miller’s book, stirs every rooster within earshot of the Acropolis with his own loud crowing; cold hard-boiled eggs are warmed in a village’s single stove, and they stay in hotels that “have seen better days, but which have an aroma of the past.”
“A brilliant selection . . . it is in short a voyage of discovery, an adventure and this the log of that voyage in the life of a probing and powerful writer.” —Robert R. Kirsch, Los Angeles Times
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.
His stories and essays celebrate those rare individuals (famous and obscure) whose creative resilience and mere existence oppose the mechanization of minds and souls.
In 1939, after ten years as an expatriate, Henry Miller returned to the United States with a keen desire to see what his native land was really like—to get to the roots of the American nature and experience. He set out on a journey that was to last three years, visiting many sections of the country and making friends of all descriptions. The Air-Conditioned Nightmare is the result of that odyssey.
“Plexus is the core volume in The Rosy Crucifixion: the volume which has the most complete description of Henry Miller’s basic values, beliefs, opinions, judgments, both at the time of his ‘Crucifixion’ and at the later time when the trilogy was written. Plexus is simply the most marvelous volume of emotion and ideas and visions and nightmares about man and society in the twentieth century—with art as the link perhaps, or as the soul’s refuge—that I have read in many a long year. There is absolutely no subject in the world that Henry Miller does not seem to know about, want to talk about, and to evaluate with the deep authority of wisdom. He is probably the most learned of all our American writers, the most open to ideas and feelings, and yes, the most worshipful of all the aspects of life, as well as the most critical literary spokesman of our time.” —Maxwell Geismar
A collection of works spanning the entire career of great 20th-century American writer Henry Miller, edited and introduced by Lawrence Durrell.
In 1958, when Henry Miller was elected to membership in the American Institute of Arts and Letters, the citation described him as: "The veteran author of many books whose originality and richness of technique are matched by the variety and daring of his subject matter. His boldness of approach and intense curiosity concerning man and nature are unequalled in the prose literature of our times." It is most fitting that this anthology of "the best" of Henry Miller should have been assembled by one of the first among Miller’s contemporaries to recognize his genius, the eminent British writer Lawrence Durrell. Drawing material from a dozen different books Durrell has traced the main line and principal themes of the "single, endless autobiography" which is Henry Miller’s life work. "I suspect," writes Durrell in his Introduction, "that Miller’s final place will be among those towering anomalies of authorship like Whitman or Blake who have left us, not simply works of art, but a corpus of ideas which motivate and influence a whole cultural pattern." Earlier, H. L. Mencken had said, "his is one of the most beautiful prose styles today," and the late Sir Herbert Read had written that "what makes Miller distinctive among modern writers is his ability to combine, without confusion, the aesthetic and prophetic functions." Included are stories, "portraits" of persons and places, philosophical essays, and aphorisms. For each selection Miller himself prepared a brief commentary which fits the piece into its place in his life story. This framework is supplemented by a chronology from Miller’s birth in 1891 up to the spring of 1959, a bibliography, and, as an appendix, an open letter to the Supreme Court of Norway written in protest of the ban on Sexus, a part of which appears in this volume.
Miller's genius for comedy is at its best in "Money and How It Gets That Way"—a tongue-in-cheek parody of "economics" provoked by a postcard from Ezra Pound which asked if he "ever thought about money." His deep concern for the role of the artist in society appears in "An Open Letter to All and Sundry," and in "The Angel is My Watermark" he writes of his own passionate love affair with painting. "The Immorality of Morality" is an eloquent discussion of censorship. Some of the stories, such as "First Love," are autobiographical, and there are portraits of friends, such as "Patchen: Man of Anger and Light," and essays on other writers such as Walt Whitman, Thoreau, Sherwood Anderson and Ionesco.
Taken together, these highly readable pieces reflect the incredible vitality and variety of interests of the writer who extended the frontiers of modern literature with Tropic of Cancer and other great books.