Reveries of a solitary old man and his angels--Henry Miller's unknown book and his encounter with the magician, Joseph Delteil.
Henry Miller's engagement with the French language began early in his life. He first heard French spoken as a boy. Among his friends and acquaintances, there were those who knew the language well. He wrote of the refinement of his childhood encounter with Claude de Lorraine and, later, his admiration for Elie Faure, whose translator, Walter Pach, was a client at his father's tailor shop. Henry mentioned getting his first STD from a whore at a French brothel in Manhattan as a teen. Miller gave the impression that it was Emil Schnellock who whetted his appetite to see France. However, unpublished letters between Miller and his first wife Beatrice Wickens suggest that, five years earlier, in 1916, Bill Dewar regaled Henry with first-hand accounts of life among the Parisian literary and artistic community. Enthused by Dewar's stories, Miller rushed out to see the new silent movie, La Vie de Boheme, starring Alice Brady. The experience left him flooded with ideas and words to put down on paper. It provides the first recorded example of his possession by The Voice, about which he wrote so eloquently in Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch.
In late April 1928, filled with ideas of going to France and as the writing of This Gentile World (Moloch) drew to a close (temporarily), Henry and June took a vacation in Quebec, to experience a French-speaking world. They stayed at the Hotel Chateau Champlain, Quebec City, after quickly growing tired of Montreal. Despite the French spoken around them, the city had many Anglophone reminders. It was very different, June claimed, from France itself--it certainly lacked a European feel. They were bored. They took tourist rides in a horse drawn buggy, covered in furs to keep out the cold. They saw movies and vaudeville, played chess and went to mass. At this point, the Millers were planning to sail for Europe in the fall. Henry was reading Emil Ludwig's Napoleon. The vacation was not a great success. Back in Brooklyn, Henry tried to learn some French from a Berlitz guide his father had been given. He also spent time practicing French phrases with Heinrich.
Henry and June sailed for France in July 1928, with a lump sum in cash and traveler's checks. They left savings behind in New York. Earlier biographers believed they sailed in the spring, and Miller gave this impression in Nexus II. He changed the timing, and therefore the atmosphere, for symbolic reasons--spring as a time of new birth. They stayed in France only some three to four months, as opposed to the nine to twelve months Miller claimed in his writing. They sailed directly to Le Havre on the S.S. Isle de France--a luxurious ship of the French line. Their anticipation was fuelled by the praise heaped on France by their friendly purser. The Millers arrived the third week of July. For Henry, it was a dream come true. He was full of anticipation, yet exhausted, fragile and debilitated by the emotional toil of the previous year. He had seen his wife abandon him, then return with a rich lover in tow, and he had outlined a novel sequence about their life together, only to have June force him to write, instead, a book based on some of the unhappiest times of his life, the Western Union years of his marriage to Beatrice Wickens--all in under a year.
The couple arrived at Le Havre after seven days at sea. They had money in their pockets and even a famous local contact, Ossip Zadkine, whom June had befriended the previous year, to help them settle in. June sported, for Bohemian Paris, the artist's garb she wore around Greenwich Village--heavy make-up, barbaric jewelry and a huge black cape. Henry's first impression was one of disappointment--dockyards and rail tracks like any in America. The purser, disembarking in civilian clothes, suddenly looked very ordinary. Everything seemed a bit forlorn as their train sped on to Paris. Henry was disappointed by how nondescript the countryside seemed. Entering the city, they gazed up at Sacre Coeur, which Miller knew well from books on Utrillo and George Moore. Henry and June arrived in Paris as the evening "rush hour" was unfolding. The Millers traversed La Salle des pas perdus (echoes of Andre Breton) at Gate St. Lazare. They took a cab, through the place Vendome (where the Obelisk Jack Kahane named his press after still stands), to the Quartier Latin. Their hotel had faded decor. It felt battle-scarred. Soon church bells began to ring for evening service at St. Germain des Pres.
Henry and June sat at a small terrasse on the corner of rue Bonaparte, facing the Deux Magots. June began a rambling discourse explaining the neighborhood: where to buy things, where to see famous artists and what to order. Miller had his first Pernod. They took a walk along the rue de Seine and rue de Bucci. Henry was fascinated by the plethora of outdoor cafes, market stalls, art galleries and bookshops. June, whose language skills were better, had to order for them. Henry soon gave up on his basic French. They took a drink at the Flore, where she suggested sights to see, such as Sainte Chapelle and St. Sulpice, which Henry recalled from reading Huysmans. June explained people in France often met their friends at a cafe, rather than in their meager homes. Henry liked the idea, since they had barely ever known, during their marriage, any privacy at home.
Miller did not begin to learn French in earnest until he arrived in Paris alone, on March 4, 1930. His French greatly improved after his stay in Dijon, at the Lycee Carnot, in early 1932.
In 1975, Henry Miller decided to write a book in French, at the suggestion of his friend, Sylvie Crossman, who was writing a master's thesis on his work. A student of the Ecole Normale Superieur, she was a regular at 444 Ocampo Drive in Pacific Palisades during the last years of Henry's life. She lived in Los Angeles from 1974 to 1981, where she taught at UCLA. In 1978, she became California correspondent of Le Monde. Crossman later became Le Monde correspondent for Australia. She is now a respected writer in France, as well as a leading expert on aboriginal societies--a publisher and the author of nearly twenty books, including novels, biography, exhibition catalogues and literary essays. Crossman wrote of her first encounter with Miller:
I remember the old Henry Miller, 444 Ocampo Drive, Pacific Palisades, an air-conditioned suburb of Los Angeles, just before Malibu, and the sound of the nascent waves of the Pacific Ocean. I was 20, normalienne. I used the pretext of a master's thesis to meet the author of the Tropics.
He once wrote to me:
"The theme of 'civilization' (or rather annihilation) still fascinates me."
We used to arrange the hour and day of my visits by telephone. Invariably, I would find a square of white paper pinned to the door, with a message from Connie, his secretary. "Sylvie, come in. Henry's asleep, go wake him up!" It was always afternoon. I can still feel the pulse of that huge empty house and, in the obscurity, seeking me out, his muffled grunts, as he slept, from the shadow of his darkened bedroom. I went in. Wrapped in his bathrobe of blue flannel, Henry slept. Or was he just pretending? I still don't know. I always put off the moment when I would adjust his hearing aid--another intimacy we shared--to wake him, so he could begin his "dictee," as he liked to call it. He seemed to be at work even as he rested. Then, finally, I went ahead with the ritual. I put the earpiece in place. Suddenly, his eyes cracked open, the fleshy lips parted.
Stirring, he said:
"We're getting behind today, my muddled brain, blinkered imagination. In the midst of it all, there are the daily miracles we don't even notice. We ought to be obliterated ... allow ourselves to be dominated by an 'inferior' people, who we have, till now, treated as pariahs." (1)
The theme of civilization versus indigenous societies was one dear to Crossman. She had grown up among the Polynesian Islanders, at Raiatea, where her parents were teachers.
Je ne suis pas plus con qu'un autre (hereafter Je ne suis), arguably Henry Miller's least known book, was begun, at Crossman's suggestion, just hours after one of her visits. They agreed that he should write a book in French. He wanted to "leave in" all his faults of grammar, punctuation and style. Henry, by this time semi-infirm, blind in one eye and partially deaf, hoped that readers would expect nothing brilliant, especially in French. His only goal was "to make them smile from time to time." Miller asked that the text never be translated into English, which explains why almost none of his American readers have even heard of it. Why he did so is, at first, unclear, since there is nothing in the book that could justify the decision. The reason is probably that the base text is spontaneously written and hardly revised. It is conversational in style and poor in grammar. Henry was afraid of how any translation would be made. There were also ideas expressed (such as his comments on Knut Hamsun) that could have caused controversy in America, but were unlikely to have done so in France. It could have come across as inferior writing. This was the last thing Miller wanted in the years when he was canvassing for the Nobel Prize and fending off what he perceived as hostile biographers (Jay Martin and Brassai). In style, Je ne suis most closely resembles the posthumous volume Reflections, not the more literary essays of The Book of Friends. Unknown to Anglophone readers for thirty years, but a familiar text to French readers, this small book is most revealing of Miller's connections to French literature and eastern religion.
Miller often makes allusions in Je ne suis pas plus con qu'un autre that are familiar to French readers, but much less so to Americans. He begins by saying that even though he is not "played out" (in the text, he invokes the German term ausgespielt), he feels that he has reached a point in his life that resembles the characters in Flaubert's picaresque novel Bouvard et Pecuchet (1881). The two characters, after whom Flaubert's book is named, both copy-clerks, who might remind readers, at times, of Miller and Alfred Perles during their Tribune days, go through a series of adventures, intellectual and philosophical explorations--all of which come to grief. Local villagers think they are insane and they try to have them committed. The book deals with the dichotomy between intellectualism (and ideas) and real life. It highlights the dangers of living a life directed by the mind, book learning and ambition. Flaubert's description of this book, which he considered his major work, and which Ezra Pound saw as a precursor to Joyce's Ulysses, recalls Miller's opening pages of Tropic of Cancer.
Flaubert wrote, "I am planning a thing in which I give vent to my anger ... I shall vomit over my contemporaries the disgust they inspire in me ... It will be big and violent." (2)
Similar sentiments appeared from Miller, soon after Je ne suis, in his contribution to Four Visions of America (1977). Stanke issued a facsimile edition of the holograph manuscript of Je ne suis, in Canada in 1980.
Miller described Crossman as a great talker and a fine conversationalist. By the time she departed, her conversation left him in a state of emotional vertigo. He lamented he could not find American women with whom he could have such discussions. Miller found Americans afflicted by a form of mutisme, compared to the French. He recalled a 1930 influence, Marcel Proust's friend Paul Morand, as saying that one could always recognize an American by the way their conversation was dominated by the word "I." (3) The French are much more discrete, reserved and modest, Miller affirmed. Americans often claim that the French dominate conversation, but this is only because they are great thinkers and raconteurs. Miller said he would sooner listen to a great dialogue between two cultured French people than to a Mozart sonata.
Miller's train of thought switches to Wolfgang Amadeus. Henry, who once had written that people said (when listening to him play piano as a child) he could have been another Mozart, wrote that the composer pissed him off. He could not forgive Mozart's perfection. Henry was in love with imperfection. He denounced Mozart, Leonardo da Vinci, Flaubert, Voltaire, d'Alembert, Diderot and the great French thinkers of the eighteenth century. Henry loved "monsters of imperfection" and rebellion, including Rabelais, Rimbaud, and Cendrars. Hemingway meant nothing to him. (4) Even Bach could bore him. (5) Miller loved those writers and individuals who are slightly crazy--not imbeciles, but rather idiots (!)--in the sense of Dostoevsky's The Idiot. He would rather see "simple folk" in charge of government than the "rats" he saw there in his day. He imagines a government led by Louis Armstrong (see Colossus of Maroussi), Charlie Chaplin and Picasso (both of whom appear in Miller's Reflections, edited by Twinka Thebaud).
Miller says that the world of 1975 is not yet fucked--it is only almost fucked. He foresaw worse than Hitler and the current bugbear, Nixon, on the horizon. A time of monsters and megalomaniacs would soon be upon us. They are the inevitable result of our own behavior. They are our progeny. Henry identified a deterioration of the sense of cruelty in mankind. It had, however, not yet reached the level of Antonin Artaud's Theatre de la cruaute. (6)
Miller wrote that he had never had any truck with politics. He chose to ignore the implicitly political stance of his writings--his involvement with anarchism and socialism as a young man. He believed that it was impossible for a politician to not be corrupt. They were, and are, all cheats, liars and criminals. He placed religions squarely alongside them. To him, organized religion was mind-destroying. Buddha, Christ and Mohammed changed nothing in the heart of Man. Good and evil still coexist. This was a basic tenet of Zoroaster, (7) which our society can never accept.
Religion had become, by 1975, big business. He saw this in the churches of Billy Graham and Katherine Kuhlman. Miller saw these kinds of people everywhere in American society, like rats or maggots. He might have recalled his disgust at a visit to Lourdes, during his Paris years.
What are missing in the world, Miller wrote, are angels. There is no place for them on earth. Would we even recognize them if we saw them? Perhaps angels are all about us, without us realizing it, he wrote, echoing W. B. Yeats.
We can more easily recognize the devils in our midst. They are manifold. Sadly, they are often more interesting than the virtuous and the hypocrites. Henry clarified that he was speaking of ordinary "devils," not the horrific extremity of a Hitler or Gilles de Rais.
Recalling his arrival in France, in March 1930, Miller wrote that at the time he only knew three or four words of French. He never studied French at school. He elected to take four years of High School German instead. Henry, after 1930, learnt French quickly and of necessity, in the streets, bars and cafes and by watching French films. Everything was a new discovery. He recalled Parisian children mocking his mistakes when he tried to speak to them. He confused verbs such as "terminer" and "finir." He said "malade" instead of "souffrant."
In 1932, Anais Nin found Miller a French teacher (whom she paid), Monsieur Lanthelme--who could not speak a word of English. Henry had already begun to read in French. He often read with a dictionary at Cafe de la Liberte, near the Hotel Central, in Montparnasse. His first French book was Cendrars' Moravagine. He also read Celine's Voyage au bout de la nuit, in 1933. Throughout the 1930s, Miller read in French by preference and almost exclusively. Although it was more symbolic than factual, he once claimed he had read less than a dozen books in English between 1932 and 1939.
Monsieur Lanthelme admonished Henry for reading the newly discovered Louis-Ferdinand Celine before he had thoroughly read Voltaire or Balzac. Through these experiences of reading French with a dictionary, Miller learned that the essential was not to understand every word an author wrote, but rather to be able to capture the spirit of his writing. When Miller re-read Celine in English he was disappointed. Henry considered his books untranslatable. He tried to share his enthusiasm for Celine with his French teacher, to no avail. Tropic of Cancer existed only in draft at this point, or else Lanthelme would have seen a similarity between Celine and his, as yet unknown, pupil.
By 1975, Miller could no longer recall Monsieur Lanthelme's favorite authors. He guessed they included the established classics, such as Flaubert, Racine, Balzac and de Maupassant. They never discussed the Russian literature that Henry so admired--Andreyev, Dostoevsky, Gogol, Gorky and Tolstoy. Lanthelme's attitude was: why should he look abroad when his own country's literature was so rich? He would rather talk about the classics or Greek drama than the Russians.
The second book Miller read in French, also at Cafe de la Liberte, was much easier than reading Cendrars--Paul Morand's New York. Miller had already read Morand's translated books, in Brooklyn. He was a bestseller in both French and English, as well as an editor at The Dial, which Miller read avidly. Henry recalled (incorrectly) that he wrote to Morand, in a moment of desperation, asking for a job during his first year in Paris and never received a reply. Morand did reply to Miller. He was encouraging, even though he could not afford to hire him. Then, twenty-five or thirty years later, Morand invited Miller to dine with him close to the Pont du Gard, near Avignon (actually 1953). He told Miller how much he admired his books. Henry seemed (unreasonably) upset that Morand made no mention of his job request.
Monsieur Lanthelme was well informed about Latin and Greek literature. Henry recalled that he often spoke of Terence and Tertullian, about whom Henry knew little. Miller wrote that he detested the classical authors and heroes he was forced to study at school, such as Virgil, Cicero, and Caesar. The only thing he remembered of Virgil was "rari nantes in gurgite vasto" (a few swimming in the vast deep) and "timeo danaos et dona ferentes." (I fear the Greeks, even when they bear gifts)--he alluded to this in Black Spring and The Rosy Crucifixion.
Henry said that his instructor, Bulldog Holmes, was much more important in shaping his hostile view of classical learning than Latin itself. Miller claimed Holmes belonged in an asylum. He always dressed like an English gentleman--he wore a bowler hat and sported a monocle. Holmes, however, was frequently angry, and when he became enraged with his pupils, his lips trembled and the veins stood out on his temples. At such times, he seemed a monster. A moment later he could be smiling and kind. He would stand upright and bark out the Latin conjugations: hic, haec, hoc, huius, etc. He made his pupils recite them out loud.
Miller spoke of Jerry Brown, the recently elected Governor of California (succeeding Ronald Reagan) who, Henry claimed, carried a copy of Thomas a Kempis' Imitation of Christ with him every time he took a plane. Miller had never read the book. He doubted he ever would. Henry wondered why books like Imitation of Rimbaud, Imitation of Celine, Imitation of Apollinaire, Imitation of Gerard de Nerval, and Imitation of Jean Giono had never been written. This led him to think of Edouard Herriot, who had been a great connoisseur of music. (8) He claimed it was rare to find men of great culture among politicians. But, he then recalled, that the monster Adolf Hitler had been a fervent admirer of Richard Wagner.
Miller turned to the nineteenth century, and the "Zoroastrian" figure of William Blake, who sat smiling, happy even, on his deathbed. In the middle of the 19th century he imagined a small man, named Max Stirner, surrounded by copies of his work, The Ego and His Own. (9)
Henry wondered at the vast array of great creators in the 19th century, including over a hundred writers who are internationally known. He had begun to make a list of the major writers, composers and painters of the time, which he considered appending to his book. Miller had read many of the great writers of history. He asked himself if they had really enriched him. Perhaps he recalled June Mansfield's complaint that the only way he learnt anything was through books--and that he was incapable of learning from life. Miller concluded that his contact with these giants of literary and artistic life had "almost annihilated me before I could begin my writing career." He was speaking of those figures whose style and content seemed to express what he himself would have wished to write, if he had been able. They were those he would have loved to emulate--Dostoevsky, Proust, Joyce, Elie Faure, Spengler, Hamsun, etc. Miller wrote, "I could never find my own voice because of them."
In his mind, during the 1920s, Miller lived the life of characters from his favorite fictions--works by Knut Hamsun, Dostoevsky and Thomas Mann. From old age, Miller looked back on Dostoevsky as some kind of moon orbiting round the beneficent planet Jupiter. (10) Victor Hugo, another favorite, appeared more like a sun, a colossus. Arthur Rimbaud (with whom Miller clearly identified--see Time of the Assassins) was a supernova. Rimbaud invented a new language. He wrote a form of poetry unlike any that preceded it. It was impossible to avoid his influence, even for the man of the streets. Miller saw him as a demi-god placed on earth to instruct and enlighten us.
Henry wrote that the person who did not know the works of Friedrich Nietzsche has lived in vain. Nietzsche was a "sacred iconoclast," a "Christ in disguise" who, along with Dostoevsky, dominated the 19th century. It seemed impossible to Miller that the same century could have given us Nietzsche and Gurdjieff (11) ("the great enigma, both charlatan and saint").
Thinking about great writers, Miller wagered that lesser writers, like Jules Verne or Lewis Carroll, would be read long after the greats had faded in popularity: "We remember those writers who gave us joy long after we have forgotten those who made us think." For example, Alice through the Looking Glass would always touch the child in each of us. It is a "pure delight."
The 20th century made Henry Miller's mind reel:
Beauty, genius, wars, horror, massacres, pogroms, revolutions, poverty and wealth, natural disasters, Anti-Semitism, communism, socialism, anarchism, promises of peace in our time, ridiculous religions, etc.
Naturally, none of these were exclusive to the 20th century, but this century seemed to have, more than any other--with its atom bombs, regicides, gulags, genocides, and Holocaust, etc.--juxtaposed beauty and horror. It was filled with monsters and demi-gods.
Miller vaguely recalled a quote from Victor Hugo: "Dans le 20eme siecle il n'y aura plus de guerres, la pauvrete sera abolie, les maladies n'existeront plus et l'homme vivra en paix et harmonie!" (12)
There was one man Miller had not yet invoked--a writer whom he considered more important than all others in Europe or Asia--Walt Whitman. Miller wrote that Whitman was greater than Goethe, the greatest European. He was greater than all the saints and gurus of India. There is only one book for which he is universally known--Leaves of Grass. Whitman had enjoined us to write "new Bibles, our own Bibles." Henry had tried to do this in his work. Miller perceived Whitman as almost Hindu. He resembled Swami Vivekananda.
By the 1970s, young Americans had become familiar with all kinds of Indian gurus. They often traveled to India or Tibet, Nepal and Burma. They were usually seeking one of two things--a guru or drugs. They traveled with little money. Miller saw them as desperate. They were Rimbauds without genius.
Miller believed that when the condition of the world worsened, times were more favorable for the creation of great art. It was not always so, but under the guise of modern democracy things had gone astray. There was no longer any place for the truly great, noble or spiritual. He contrasted the apparent grandeur of skyscrapers or the Tour Eiffel with that of the Sphinx or the Great Pyramids. Miller was reminded of the film The Seven Samurai. At the end, the leader of the samurai says, pointing in the direction of the peasants: "Look. It is they, the peasants, who always emerge victorious."
Miller interpreted this as meaning that it was the cowards who always survive. The heroes become the fallen. Miller claimed he identified with the great cowards: "I am one myself." The heroes of ancient Greece seemed mad to him. They were not supermen, but rather unhinged, completely insane.
In the midst of his intellectual wanderings, Miller was suddenly reminded of Francis Carco and La Nostalgie de Paris. He spoke of Dickens, an author he could not admire. When he was young, someone had made him a gift of Dickens' complete works, in a finely bound edition. In 1975, thinking of those books sent a shiver down Miller's spine. He did not know why, but reading Dickens left him feeling depressed and morbid. It was largely because of Dickens that Miller came to detest English literature. He made an exception for Lewis Carroll--both a bizarre individual and unique writer. Usually people did not understand when Miller said that reading French literature in the original had left him both wiser and spoiled.
Miller listed a series of French words and expressions that had always fascinated him. They ranged, in meaning, from bulimia, pimp, and slut, to son of a bitch, illiterate, and modest. There were also places in Paris that still captured his imagination. They included: passage Jouffroy, rue du Depart, Gare D'Austerlitz, place des Voges, place Furstemberg, place de l'Estrapade, place Violet, rue de la Tombe Issoire, impasse de Rouet, rue du Commerce, and place d'Alesia. (13)
Miller loved walking the streets. He always noticed the unusual names of hotels. The first French hotel he stayed in (1928) was Grand Hotel de France, on the rue Bonaparte. He still remembered one day, in broken French, asking the owner if he could lend her money, rather than borrow some money, as he intended. It was a pity, Henry said, that Adrienne's Le Gimmick did not exist back in the 1930s. (14) Nothing was more pathetic than to see an educated man making basic errors in a foreign language. Struggling in vain to express himself, the cultivated man could appear more ridiculous than someone with no education at all.
Miller invoked his favorite buildings and neighborhoods in Paris, notably the 13th Arondissement. Nothing was really beautiful there, but everything was interesting. He had always felt the desire to lose himself in the crowd and the life of the streets.
Henry recalled the pleasure it had given him to stop and have a drink at a cafe or brasserie. Often, when crossing the city by bus, he would get off at an unknown place, anxious to get to know a new corner of Paris. His "thirst" for the city was such that, at times, he wandered the streets "drunk" on life. Everything seemed to add to his enthusiasm and appetite for experience.
Miller regretted not reading certain French authors, such as Corneille. He regretted not trying harder to eradicate his American accent when he spoke French--and skipping over certain words he read, rather than looking them up in the dictionary. He also wished he had read Flaubert's Bouvard et Pecuchet and Baudelaire's Spleen de Paris. Looking back, Henry saw much he would have done differently.
Thinking back to his childhood, Miller remembered that he had always loved humorous books. His first favorite was Peck's Bad Boy, (15) which he thought of as a book for dunces. He only had to begin reading it to start laughing out loud. Miller claimed that in comparison Mark Twain seemed dry. Otto Rank, in Paris, had told Miller that he loved Twain, whom he considered a major author. Miller told Rank that he preferred Gogol. (16)
Miller wondered if there was an affinity between Twain and Courteline (17) or between Dickens' Pickwick Papers and Bouvard et Pecuchet. This reminded him of a story from his days working in his father's tailor shop. One day, Heinrich Miller, already slightly drunk, met a young man at the bar of the Wolcott Hotel, across the street. He persuaded him to buy a waistcoat with pearl buttons--a choice Henry found pretty unusual. Two years later, still not having received payment for the waistcoat, Heinrich asked that his client pay him something on account, no matter how small. One day, while his father was out, Henry was surprised to see the man arrive with a book under his arm. It was Flaubert's Bouvard et Pecuchet. He offered the volume, which was a rare edition, to Henry, as part payment. Henry never showed the book to his father, who never read books anyway, only newspapers. Miller intended to read Flaubert's book, but never got round to it. Now, in his old age, he thought it would be good idea to make a film of the tale starring Alec Guinness as Bouvard and Peter Falk as Pecuchet. Miller wanted to strongly recommend Flaubert, by Maurice Nadeau, to all his readers. (18)
At the end of The Brothers Karamazov Dostoevsky wrote, "Hurrah for the Karamazovs." Miller echoed the sentiment.
Henry thought of Knut Hamsun, who, he had been told, was a Nazi collaborator. Henry did not believe the allegation. He thought rather that Hamsun was simply showing his disgust with his fellow Norwegians. Henry felt revolted by many of his fellow Americans. He regretted trying to emulate Dostoevsky during the 1920s. No one could possibly copy his style. If Hamsun was a master stylist, then Dostoevsky was a magician. It was the same order of difference as between Ambrose Bierce and Voltaire.
Miller wrote that Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart bored him. Goethe he thought of as an old fool. He found Socrates lacking in intelligence and intuition. Henry had no time for martyrs, which is why he valued St. Francis of Assisi more than Christ.
It was in a book by his old friend Joseph Delteil that Henry discovered a quotation from Francis of Assisi: "Don't try to change the world--change worlds!"
Miller wanted to add a quote attributed to the Buddha, in English, for fear of ruining it by his poor translation into French: "I obtained not the least thing from complete, unexcelled awakening."
Henry had been deeply touched to see, in one of Gauguin's Polynesian paintings, a triptych, words which he thought he had first used himself: "Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?" These were questions to which there was no response.
Henry's mind shifted to Monsieur Teste by Paul Valery. (19) Miller liked the text a great deal, but found it hard to associate himself too closely with Valery, whom he did not like personally. He referred to Valery's poem La Cimetiere Marin ("The Graveyard by the Sea," 1920) and remarked how much had been written about it. One day, Miller visited the cemetery that was the inspiration behind the poem, with his German publisher, Ledig Rowohlt. They had hardly entered the gates, when a large dog approached Miller. It closely resembled his own dog, which he had left behind in Big Sur. The dog followed them everywhere, even as far as the grave of Paul Valery, where they sat for a while to talk about death and reincarnation. What disturbed Miller was that when he returned to Big Sur, some months later, his own dog refused to recognize him. Miller wondered if it was because he had been absent for so long or because he had not acknowledged his own dog at the Cimetiere Marin. After that, relations between Henry and his dog never recovered. Miller blamed his loss on Paul Valery!
Sometime later, Miller passed through Sete again--this time in search of a home for himself and Renate Gerhardt, whom he intended to marry. All Henry needed was a place suitable for his children, Tony and Val, and Renate's two boys. He criss-crossed Europe in an old Fiat, with Vincent Birge. Henry was offered many good homes--even a castle at a ridiculously cheap price. He had enough money to buy anything he wanted, thanks to the success of recent editions of Tropic of Cancer. Yet, nothing seemed to suit him. Finally, one day in Portugal, he realized that his journey was futile. When he returned to Germany, Renate was angry with him and broke off their relationship. Henry imagined she was more furious about his yearlong trip to find a home than anything else. During his travels Henry had been particularly taken with Locarno, in Italy. On the shores of Lake Maggiore he felt like he had found paradise on earth. It was so perfect that after a while he fled, because, as he often said, he was unable to bear perfection. Switzerland left him cold. There was nothing wrong with Big Sur, except that he and his wife (Eve) had separated. He had cared for Renate deeply. Much later she confessed to Henry that she had left him on the advice of an astrologer Henry knew personally.
Thinking about his travels in Europe, Henry could not miss the opportunity to write about Verona. He was enchanted by the city from the moment he entered its walls. He visited the tomb of Romeo and Juliet, which he found pretty odd for someone who didn't even like Shakespeare. The only play by Shakespeare that Miller had ever liked was The Tempest. He admired it for the same reason he loved Balzac's Seraphita and Louis Lambert--because of the sense of the magical and mysterious, the supernatural and spiritual.
This reminded Henry of Frank Harris, who had been crazy about Shakespeare, as well as Oscar Wilde and Jesus. In Henry's father's tailor shop, Harris had rhapsodized about these men at length. The Jewish tailors, who barely understood the allusions he was making, were transported. When Harris left, they asked Henry who the man was. "A genius," he replied. In 1975, Henry still believed Harris to be a genius. It was he who had revealed to the world the talent of George Bernard Shaw, G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc, to name just a few. Henry was certain Harris was exceptional as a writer and man--but to Heinrich Miller, Henry believed that he had been nothing more than an eccentric, a bit gaga, someone who belonged, like a freak, in the circus.
When Henry Miller moved to Paris, in March 1930, Frank Harris was living on the Mediterranean coast, at Nice. Henry wrote to him. To his surprise, Harris invited Henry to come and stay as long as he liked. Miller thought Harris was the only author capable of making such a gesture. He was struck by the fact that Harris had seen in him something no one else, not even his family and friends, had perceived--that he was destined to be a famous writer.
At this point, when Miller had published no books, but had tried to complete four, it was desperately important for him to be recognized by an established writer and editor. He had not forgotten his years of rejection, refusal, hunger and humiliation. Above all, he remembered the physical hunger he had suffered. It eventually became a sickness--phagomania or "bulemie" (bulimia) in French. This sense of failure is why Henry became overgenerous to the poor and unfortunate, and somewhat cold towards his equals. He knew what it meant to be nobody. Even in his old age, it was hard for Miller to accept that he was universally known, even if for the wrong reasons.
Miller said he never had the romantic courage of the Parisian clochards. He had become a worm, an insect, in pursuit of his dream. If he had become a worm, an insect, an asshole, a traitor and a failure, how had he managed to survive? He had two answers. One was astrological. In his chart, Jupiter was well placed. The other reason was that he believed that he had a guardian angel that protected him. Who was his guardian angel? Henry believed the opinion of a medium he had met in London, during a visit with Alfred Perles (20), that he had had a stillborn brother, who, among all those on high, worked hardest to protect him. Henry had never heard mention of this brother from his parents. He would not have expected to. Whether it was true or not did not matter, because the very notion of his existence had protected him on numerous occasions. Each time, he let Henry almost fail completely, before intervening to save him. Perhaps his brother knew that this experience was good for Miller's character, that it made a man of him. Among his friends, Henry recalled that it was said that one wasn't a man until one had caught the first dose of clap (he caught it three or four times).
Henry well remembered his meeting with the medium, who had told him about his unknown brother. Perles had taken Henry to a part of London he had never seen before. He led him to a beautiful house, where he was introduced to the medium (who knew nothing about Henry) as a birthday gift. They had hardly sat down, when the medium told Henry: "You have written books which have caused real suffering to people. You should have probably been imprisoned for some of the things you have done, but you have a protector in heaven." He looked at the ceiling as he pronounced these words.
He then told Henry about his dead brother. Miller listened to the whole story without saying a word. When they left, Alf asked Henry his opinion of the medium. Miller replied that he was a fuckwit, an asshole. They laughed. Henry asked how Fred had met the medium, which was an incredible story in itself.
"Do you have faith in him?" Henry asked.
"Yes, he never steered me wrong." Fred replied.
Henry pushed further. He wanted to know what sort of questions Fred asked--if he tried to see whether he would be rich some day or what success his books would have. Fred replied that they never talked about personal or banal things, but rather about the likes of Socrates, Plotinus, and Jesus Christ. Henry thought Fred must have primed the medium, forewarned him, but Fred swore he had not. Henry wondered if the medium knew the date of his own death, as Swedenborg had. Fred was certain he did.
Miller wrote that Fred loved these kinds of adventures. He accused Henry of being a "mystagogue". Henry thought it was Fred who was, if not a mystagogue, a mystificateur (hoaxer). For example, he spoke often of Madame Blavatsky, but Henry doubted Fred had ever read her books. He claimed to have discovered a medium called Mabel, to whom he attributed all sorts of powers. Henry never knew if she really existed.
Henry could never forget that the medium had asked him, abruptly, "What have you done with your soul?"
When he was eighteen, Henry and his friends had talked at length about the soul. What surprised him, from the vantage point of the mid-1970s, was that it was in New York, not California, that they had had these kinds of discussions. Even in New York, around the year 1900, the soul occupied an important place in social consciousness. There may have been no mahatmas or gurus to turn to, but there were Theosophists (like Bob Challacomb) and the Baha'i movement. Henry had explored every aspect of religion and the spiritual. He felt sure that he was an "old soul." He would have gladly spent his last few pennies on a consultation with a medium or phrenologist. He felt that he was a failure, a good for nothing. He did not believe that being a writer was enough to make a "somebody" out of a "nobody."
Even at a young age, Miller had the presentiment that the cultural route was hollow, false. The advent of World War One confirmed his suspicions. It was the so-called civilized countries that organized the war, not tile poor or underdeveloped nations. It was ironic that the soldiers carried into battle specially produced military editions of great books of European literature. What Henry could never forget was that among the millions of civilized men, only three or four leading cultural figures refused to support the massacre. Henry believed that even in the 1970s the French had not forgiven Nobel Laureate Romain Rolland for having been "above the fight." Henry could only recall, among major writers, Rolland, Henri Barbusse, and Hermann Hesse rejecting war. During World War Two, Miller's friend Jean Giono had published his anti-war book, Refus d'obeissance. For all the good it had done, he might as well have written another Madame Butterfly. Books seemed to count for almost nothing in such times. What we needed were men of action. That is why Miller had such great admiration for Alexander the Great. He would advance into countries not even knowing where he was headed. Yet, he never lost confidence in himself. There were no maps. His men grumbled and threatened rebellion. Miller could not forget a speech Alexander had made to his men. He said: "When we left Macedonia I promised to lead you to the ends of the earth."
What modern day leader could speak thus? None! Alexander was a young man at the time. Miller saw him as a kind of "military Rimbaud." He was admirable as a general, but more so as a man. It was true he had caused the deaths of millions and left hundreds of cities in ruins, but was it worse than the medieval Christian crusades? Richard the Lion Heart was made into a hero, but Henry preferred his adversary Saladin. It was said that after a victory Saladin always offered alms to the defeated soldiers. Henry likened this to St. Francis creating an order for atheists or composing a poem, as he lay dying, to "brother Death."
Francois Villon and Rabelais had risked their lives. Goethe had not. It was said of Alexander the Great that Aristotle was his master. Miller found this hard to believe, since he saw no link between them. It was like saying that Diderot was the inspiration behind Rimbaud. But then, who would have believed that Chaim Soutine's (Miller's neighbor at 18 Villa Seurat) favorite painter was Rembrandt? Rembrandt was almost a god to Soutine.
It was difficult for people to believe that Miller's master (in the sense of the sublime) was Sri Ramakrishna. When Henry spoke to people who knew him primarily as the author of Tropic of Cancer about spiritual and religious figures, they often looked at him openmouthed in disbelief. Henry said to himself "keep your mouth shut, don't breathe a word." He would pretend to be ashamed to associate with spiritual men. He had made the acquaintance of three or four swamis. All had accepted Henry unreservedly. Once, he had visited a Catholic school for girls in Hollywood. The nuns instructed him in the art of silk-screen. He had been both surprised and deeply moved by their kindness. He asked them if they were aware who he was. "Of course," they had replied, "Henry Miller, the author of the Tropics!" They began to laugh. Some of the young nuns admitted to having read his books.
One sound that always sent shivers down Henry's spine was that of sobbing, heard in the silence of the night. It happened several times in Paris, but never in New York or Los Angeles, that he had heard sobbing as he passed a partly opened window after dark. At the age of eighty-two, Henry sobbed at the end of the Fellini film Nights of Cabiria. He wept for twenty minutes. It had done him good. He wished he could see a film that made him weep every day.
To hear sobbing in the dark of night was different. It was terrifying. One always heard it in the poorer neighborhoods. It was a sound to inspire poets and writers, perhaps musicians.
When Henry was sixteen, he had met an actress, twice his age, with whom he had secretly fallen in love--during a family vacation. One day he asked her to laugh. She did so with ease. "Now cry," he said. She could cry at will. When asked which was easier, she surprised him by replying, "to cry." Henry was so impressed that he tried to train himself to cry at will. It was not at all easy, but when he finally managed it he felt happy. Henry imagined that it was perhaps because of these sessions that he had become a crybaby or pleurnicheur, as Fred Perles often called him. It was always easy for Henry to laugh. He felt he had been born laughing. He even laughed, he claimed, at funerals.
When Henry visited burlesque theaters, like Minsky's, his favorite part of the show was the comedians. They had a style that derived from comedia del arte. What pleased him most was the blend of obscenity and humor. The two seemed inseparable.
A clown was something different. No matter how funny his antics, the clown always left Henry feeling sad at the end. (21) Burlesque comedians gave one a sense of freedom. They gave Henry courage--the courage to say or do anything he pleased.
This contrasted with the books of one of his favorite authors, Kawabata. He thought of House of the Sleeping Beauties, in which the visitors to the house (old men and perverts) had the right to sleep alongside beautiful women, touch them all over, but not to make love to them. This took away all sense of freedom. It reeked of a form of oriental cruelty. For example, when a man is almost ready to make love to one of the women, he discovers she is dead. "Don't worry about it," the Madame tells him, "we'll have a replacement for you in a moment. Just hang on a bit." Henry thought the role could have been played well by Michel Simon. (22) The Madame could have come from any of the whorehouses in the area of St. Denis or the rue Sebastopol.
Henry saw oriental writers as using cruelty as a kind of spice. He could imagine why, at the height of refinement, the Chinese discovered torture, all kinds of torture. Frank Harris wrote a tale entitled "A Chinese Story," (23) which was filled with an almost unimaginable mix of horror and beauty. It reminded Miller of St. Sulpice church, in Paris, which he considered the most unpleasant church in the city. It was facing this church, in a small cafe, that he often used to meet his friends, including Man Ray and Brassai. One could say that the sight of this church had inspired them, in a certain sense.
Thinking of Parisian cathedrals, he recalled one where there was a statue of Joan of Arc at the foot of its steps. This was the statue he liked the best, just as in California he liked the statue of St. Francis on horseback, by his friend Benjamin Bufano. In front of this Parisian church, Miller had once met a painter, whose name he could not recall. Because of their conversation he had taken a taxi home and painted a watercolor of the cathedral. He found it difficult to even draw someone on horseback. He felt that the spirit of Hokusai had taken possession of him and he had succeeded. However, he could no longer recall the name of the church.
Henry thought again of sobs. It seemed that it was in the 17th arondissement that he had heard them most. This arondissement was a sort of bourgeois horror in the middle of Paris. But, it was also here that he had discovered his beloved ping-pong halls.
In The Books in My Life, Henry had spoken of Marie Corelli. Even if she had always been considered only a middlebrow writer, her admirers had included William Gladstone and Oscar Wilde. Miller recalled that Corelli gave piano recitals. She did not play the works of famous composers, but rather her own improvisations. Henry did not know of any other virtuoso who did this, not even Paganini or Liszt. (24) He wanted to recommend her book The Sorrows of Satan to his readers. (25) He thought that with the advent of modern feminism she would have been revived, but instead no one seemed to speak of her any more. Henry considered her to be the greatest author on the subject of love. By this he meant pure love, the love of angels or seraphim.
When Miller visited Switzerland, he had been the guest of Georges Simenon. Simenon was living in a small chateau, in which he had a room dedicated solely to writing. Each morning they talked in his workroom. The first thing Simenon drew Miller's attention to was a vase filled with pencils and crayons. He claimed he didn't know how to type. The first thing he did every morning was to sharpen his pencils. His wife was an expert typist and helped him enormously with his work. One day, he took Miller to a favorite tree, against which he pissed every morning. Henry wondered, why this tree and not another? It was more than a habit, Simenon explained, it was an obsession.
Miller wrote that he had always liked Simenon's books. Andre Gide had called him "the Boccaccio or the Balzac of our time" and Henry thought he deserved the compliment. He seemed to have a profound knowledge of all kinds of things. He always seemed at ease. He wrote effortlessly and produced a book in record time. Cendrars could also write rapidly. Even with only one arm, Cendrars had achieved things an ordinary writer could never have dreamed of.
Henry was suddenly reminded of John Ruskin. He had always detested Ruskin. Henry's father, who did not usually read books, had read Ruskin's The Stones of Venice. Henry had no idea why. It was Ruskin, Miller recalled, who had destroyed so many canvasses by Turner because he deemed them pornographic. (26) It was also Ruskin who had fought with Whistler because he did not consider the canvas The Baltersea Bridge to be art. Whistler fought back and ridiculed him.
Ruskin reminded Henry of another "pain in the ass," Dr. Johnson. At high school, Henry had an English teacher whom he found conceited--yet, he had always esteemed Henry. One day, he instructed his pupils to write an essay using the style of Dr. Johnson. Instead of doing this, Henry stole a passage directly from Johnson's conversations with Boswell. The next day the teacher told Henry to read his essay aloud to the class. Henry did so, even though he was trembling because he thought the teacher had recognized the plagiarism. Instead, when Henry finished the teacher applauded and shouted "Bravo!" Miller concluded that he had not ever read Johnson's work. This inspired Henry, when in Paris in the 1930s, to include plagiarisms from James Joyce and other writers in his books, as a surrealist joke, aimed at his critics.
Following this episode, Henry became the teacher's favorite. One day he approached Henry to become editor of the school magazine. Miller replied that he had no talent for writing and he suggested a friend named Finkelstein instead. The teacher got angry and insisted. Henry believed he refused because Finkelstein was Jewish and the teacher was an Anti-Semite. Eventually, the job went to an Irish girl.
Miller asked why he even bothered to mention such trivia when there was a living writer whom he considered the master of French prose--Joseph Delteil. A few days earlier, he had received a handwritten letter from his friend, which expounded for pages on the joys of writing in a foreign language. His comments suggested to Miller that he had discovered and new language or "langage" where there was no fixed grammar, orthography, no correct usage, but rather complete freedom of expression. This had a liberating effect on Henry, who claimed he struggled to express even the simplest ideas in French. It was not necessary, said Miller, that his texts be intelligible, as long as they were readable. Not everyone could understand the texts of authors such as Rimbaud, Rabelais, Cendrars and Celine. He also thought of Lewis Carroll. In contrast, he considered Delteil the master of the French language. Henry thought that Parisians and northern French people would probably not agree. Delteil's spirit was in direct contrast to theirs. He did not search for perfect phrases--instead, he danced, sang, joked, insulted and took every kind of liberty with the language, except sacrilege. Miller saw Delteil as a true believer, at home with God and the angels. Miller believed in miracles and he considered Delteil a miracle. Henry claimed that the majority of Delteil's readers refused to see the obvious. They saw him as a kind of acrobat, exhibitionist or deep-sea diver. To Henry, Delteil was the personification of beauty, tenderness, compassion and understanding. He was a hidden gem in the heart of modern literature. He was a virtuoso, who could be called "a darling of the Gods." Henry believed that Delteil was virtually unknown in English because there were no translators able to capture the essence of his prose. Miller claimed this was often the case for the truly great and original. He believed there had been no fine translations of Pushkin, Pindar, Holderlin and many other great writers. Miller finished his French book by suggesting that Americans seemed simply content with vin ordinaire, instead of great vintages!
The date at which Henry Miller first discovered Joseph Delteil is unknown. It may have been through his friend Samuel Putnam, who translated his work in 1932; from Putnam's book on Rabelais, from the connection between Delteil and Surrealism; or from the 1928 film The Passion of Joan of Arc, which was a collaboration between Delteil, Antonin Artaud, and Carl Theodor Dreyer. Miller and Delteil corresponded, with lapses, from 1935 to 1978. Their surviving letters were published in French, by Pierre Belfond (Henry Miller-Joseph Delteil: Correspondance Privee) in the year of Miller's death, 1980, edited by their mutual friend Frederic-Jacques Temple.
Miller wrote his first surviving letter to Delteil, during his visit to New York City, on May 16, 1935. Henry had earlier sent a copy of Tropic of Cancer, attempting to solicit support of his recently published book (Miller sent Cancer to several leading French writers, ranging from Celine and Cendrars to Paul Valery, Andre Breton, and Tristan Tzara). Delteil was born on April 20, 1894. Slightly younger than Miller, he was already an established literary figure. He was the son of a paysan from Languedoc. Having excelled in school, and after serving in the military in World War One, he joined the Surrealist movement. His first novel, Sur le Fleuve Amour, appeared in 1923. Delteil was close to several leading literary figures, including Breton, Soupault, and Aragon--but was expelled from the group in 1925, when he published Jeanne d'Arc, which won the Prix Femina. This formed the basis of the 1928 film, which he co-wrote with director Carl Theodor Dreyer, co-starring Antonin Artaud. Delteil, unable to stand the world of publishing (and the literary crowd associated with it) and recovering from pleurisy, abandoned literature in 1931, following the appearance of several bestsellers. Later, he became a friend of Louis-Ferdinand Celine. He did resume publishing, but not until after World War Two.
In 1930, Delteil met an American, Caroline Dudley, who was known in Paris for establishing the Revue Negre, starring Josephine Baker. The couple soon retired to the outskirts of Montpellier, where Delteil continued to write and lived the life of a local farmer.
When Henry Miller wrote from New York on May 16, 1935, he sent along his essay "Glittering Pie," which had recently been published in a dance program for a benefit for impoverished artists in Westchester! It also appeared in The Harvard Advocate (September 1935) and was promptly banned. Henry told Delteil that he had often wanted to write a long letter to him but had never had the courage or pretext. Upon his return to Paris, Miller wrote again on July 3, telling Delteil that he had recently spent an evening talking about his work with the Harvey family. Dorothy Dudley Harvey, wife of Henry Blodgett Harvey, was a writer and the sister of Caroline Dudley. Henry had met Dorothy after reading her 1932 book on Theodore Dreiser, Forgotten Frontiers (Dreiser had been the influence behind Henry's lost book, Twelve Messengers (27)). Madame Harvey had several connections to major literary figures Miller admired, including Sherwood Anderson, Harriett Munroe, Edgar Less Masters, and Carl Sandburg. Miller intended to read Sur le Fleuve Amour, which he had been waiting to read for three years, after discussions with Samuel Putnam and reading about it in Putnam's study of Rabelais. Miller sent Delteil a copy of a manuscript, which eventually became Aller Retour New York. The text was written in three parts, in different locations--New York City, on a Dutch ocean liner, and back in Paris. "Each time I open the pages of one of your books, I expect a miracle," Miller wrote. "You seem to have kept alive the sense of the miraculous."
Before leaving America, Miller had met editor Julian Leigh, whom he had tried to interest in publishing Delteil's books in English. Henry planned to take a trip to the south with Fred Perles in September, during which they would visit him. The journey never took place. Miller's subsequent letters are missing. The known correspondence resumes on August 3, 1937, when Miller wrote to ask Delteil to contribute to The Booster. For unknown reasons, he failed to do so.
On December 15, 1937, Delteil married Caroline Dudley, after several years of living together.
The other letters between Miller and Delteil from the 1930s are missing. Their surviving correspondence only resumes in 1951-by which time Miller was a famous writer in France, thanks to the cas Miller. Delteil resumed publishing, with Jesus II, in 1947, and found a way to contact Miller, to renew their friendship (Miller and Delteil had spent one evening together, back in France, many years before). Miller read Jesus II and loved it. He had also written to Maurice Girodias to ask that the publisher send Delteil and his wife copies of the Tropics. Henry also sent Delteil a copy of Colossus of Maroussi. Miller had finished writing the first volume of The Books in my Life. He signaled his intention to write about Delteil in the planned sequel, which never appeared.
Joseph Delteil read the Tropics for the first time in 1951. He greatly admired them. It was, however, when combining these with Colossus that Delteil believed one discovered the real Henry Miller. He saw Miller as a kind of saint--his literary quest as the restoration of the divine element within man.
On April 28, 1951, Miller wrote to Delteil and explained that at the end of Samuel Putnam's book on Rabelais, which he read in 1932, he had noted the phrase, "The three great prose writers in the French language are Flaubert, Stendhal, and Delteil." This had stayed with him all these years, as had the only evening they had ever spent together, in Paris. Delteil sent Miller a photo of himself, taken at the Calage Abbey. He resembled Miller's childhood friend Stanley Borowski. They had a mutual fascination with Zen and Rabelais. (28) Miller's friend Wallace Fowlie had also met Delteil, in Languedoc, in 1950. (29) Madame Delteil came to a lecture by Fowlie at the University of Montpellier and invited him to lunch the next day. Delteil made Fowlie a gift of several of his books--but Fowlie did not like Delteil much as a person. Miller mentioned to Delteil that the Ministry of the Interior had banned Sexus in France, in both French and English editions.
Miller and Delteil continued to exchange books and recommendations for books to read. Miller suggested he read Arthur Machen, who had been an influence on Crazy Cock and Haniel Long's The Power within Us (for which Henry wrote a preface). He also sent along Charles de Fontbrune's study of Nostradamus.
On May 9, 1951, Miller told Delteil that the only book of his he possessed was Jesus II. He asked for others, and recommended Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha, which had been an important influence on The Smile at the Foot of the Ladder. Miller told Delteil that he saw in him a Chinese spirit, rather like Henry imagined himself to be. Miller claimed he found all he needed in Zen--but especially in laughter.
On November 17, 1951, Delteil wrote to Miller that Provence and Languedoc were infused with ancient mysteries and beliefs. He saw parallels with the Orient. Greater than the nations formed by politicians were "nations of the heart." On December 5, Miller replied, suggesting that Delteil try to get published by Correa, where his friend Maurice Nadeau was an editor. Nadeau had just agreed to issue French versions of The World of Sex and Plexus. Miller had planned to visit France, but had been delayed due to the breakdown of his marriage to Lepska.
Delteil wrote on May 29, 1952 that he had read The World of Sex and The Time of the Assassins, and that he was about to begin Plexus. Comparing Henry to a force of nature, he wrote that there was an unbreakable spirit in Miller's work, which could only be described as genius. The flow of Miller's prose resembled one of the great rivers of America, like the Mississippi. He had been especially moved by Time of the Assassins, in which so much of Henry was revealed. Delteil saw that Miller had captured the essence of Rimbaud in stating that he (like Miller himself) was not trying to found a new school of literature, but rather offer a new way of life.
Delteil wrote: "What enthuses me most about you is your future. There is a kind of prophet in you (more like Mohammed than Buddha) ... you are at the beginning of something extraordinary...."
In 1953, Miller decided to visit France with his new lover, Eve McClure. Delteil planned to be in Spain between May 15 and June 10, but welcomed a visit from Henry. Miller and Eve (whom he married in December 1953) set out for Paris in April. They visited Bruges and then decided, on May 2, that if there were room in the car, they would join Delteil and his wife on the drive down to Spain. Alfred Perles was also planning to meet Henry in Barcelona. (30) The trip is described in Miller's Reunion in Barcelona.
After their journey to Spain, Miller wrote to Delteil from Perigeux on July 11. He said that he had to return to Paris, in order to appear before an examining magistrate on July 23--to be interviewed about the banning of his books. Their return to America was scheduled for July 27. Miller had visited John Cowper Powys (31) in Wales and was now spending a couple of days with Nostradamus expert Charles de Fontbrune. (32) Miller continued to think of Delteil often during the remainder of his visit to France, and especially of an evening spent in their garden, when Miller had been moved to pray.
On July 24, 1953, Eve McClure wrote to the Delteils about the great sense of disorientation she and Henry felt at leaving France. They had spent four months together with Lillik (Bezalel) and Louise Schatz. For the last few days, Henry and Eve stayed with Georges Belmont (Pelorsen) at his apartment on the boulevard St. Michel, facing the Luxembourg Gardens. (33) Miller returned to Big Sur, from where he sent Delteil a piece of fossilized wood, a talisman from his "paradise." (34)
When Miller next wrote to Delteil, on September 17, he addressed him as "illustrious master, magician and archangel!" He had just re-read a book Delteil had given him in July, De Jean-Jacques Rousseau a Mistral (Editions de Capitole, Paris 1928). The chapter dealing with Frederic Mistral and Provence fascinated Henry. (35) Miller recalled how Samuel Putnam had, on more than one occasion, saluted Delteil as one of the greatest French prose stylists. Miller believed Delteil was much more than that--and that Delteil's refusal to publish had more important repercussions than the purely literary. Miller was awaiting Delteil's new book on St Francis, "like a convert waits for their daily Bible reading." Miller lamented that Delteil's work was little known in the USA--a place that Miller saw as feeling like "the end of the world." Americans, Henry saw as "ghosts ... ridiculous from every point of view."
Miller informed Delteil of his marriage to Eve McClure by letter, on February 4, 1954. Henry had written up an account of their trip to Spain, which was refused by Le Figaro. He hoped it might appear in Revue des Voyages. In the meantime, Delteil had written an article for Prospectus about Haniel Long's La Merveilleuse Aventure de Cabeza de Vaca, which had appeared with Miller's preface. Miller recommended Les Soucoupes Volantes ont atterri by Desmond Leslie and George Adamski. Henry was convinced that we would soon have contact with extraterrestrials!
On June 19, 1955, Miller wrote to Delteil to inform him that he would make an appearance in a new book underway--Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch. On November 14, 1955, Miller had Eve forward an excerpt, in part, he said, to be sure he had not made any errors in his citations from Delteil's Jesus II. Miller had written no major work for three years, but was now in full flow.
Eve wrote to Delteil:
This is the fruit of a long gestation period. He gets up at five every morning and goes to the typewriter long before I get out of bed, and works non-stop, at full speed, until late in the afternoon. Then we play a few games of ping-pong ... we have an aperitif with dinner and are in bed by nine.
Henry hoped to visit both Europe and Japan once his current book was finished. The Japanese had recently agreed to print most of his major works in both English and Japanese and to organize an exhibition of his watercolors.
Delteil wrote an appreciative letter concerning the extract from Big Sur (December 15, 1955). He had recently read a special number of Tour de Feu, devoted to Miller. (36) Henry and Eve did not visit France again until April 14, 1959. Correspondence from the intervening years is missing. (37) A glimpse of this visit is provided in Brassa'i's Henry Miller, Happy Rock. They returned to Big Sur in August. On October 21, 1959, Delteil mailed Miller some proofs of his forthcoming book on St. Francis, which Henry was anxious to read. In January 1960, Delteil sent Miller an account of his personality compiled by a young graphologist, who had examined his script.
She described Henry as:
Likeable. Lots of personality. Needs human contact but, at times, likes to withdraw. Loves to talk. Very sensitive and enthusiastic. Impulsive and reflective. Authoritarian. Very charming, but given to sudden abruptness, cruelty or harshness. Loves life. Uninhibited. Sensual. Passionate. Intellectually curious. Secretive. Very nervous. Tormented. Impulsive. Very active. Can't stay still. An aesthete. Mood swings. Strong sense of pride, which he seeks to hide.
Miller wrote a review of Delteil's Francois d'Assise (Flammarion 1960), which he forwarded on March 19. Henry was working at full speed. He had intended to go to Japan, but instead accepted an offer to be a member of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival, from May 3 to May 20. Henry left Big Sur on April 4 to accommodate a series of visits to other European countries. Henry had hesitations about publishing his review of Delteil's book in Jean Fanchette's Two Cities and asked him to correct any errors or misconceptions in the text. It appeared in May 1960. (38)
Miller tried to arrange a German publisher for some of Delteil's work, notably St. Francois, in the spring of 1961, when he was on his abortive trip to discover a home for his family and the next woman he intended to marry, Renate Gerhardt. Gerhardt is an unjustly glossed over name in accounts of the life of Henry Miller. In his edition of The Durrell-Miller Letters, Ian S. MacNiven describes Miller, traveling in Germany, in 1960. Here, he encountered Renate Gerhardt, "a beautiful widow and the English language editor with his German publisher, Rowohlt." "Soon," writes MacNiven, "they are talking about marriage and a European home for their respective children."
Frau Gerhardt worked on editing translations of English-language books, before eventually leaving Rowohlt to start her eponymous press, in 1962.
In a letter, to Lawrence Durrell (December 6, 1960), Miller wrote:
She's a great worker, Renate. Knows French and English quite well, has done lots of translations, knows many artists and writers I know--our paths have crossed in many curious ways over the last seven years. And most importantly, we get on famously on every level.
The extent of Miller's contact with Renate Gerhardt during those previous seven years is uncertain. It has been claimed, by Jay Martin, that her deceased husband "discovered" Miller for a German audience, when he published their joint translation of a chapter of Tropic of Cancer, in the journal Fragmenten. (39) Miller was enormously famous (and a best seller) in France, after 1945, due to the cas Miller. (40) Discovering Henry would not have been difficult. H. M. Leidig-Rowohlt, Miller's main German publisher for decades (and Renate's employer at the time they met), describes his first encounter with Miller's books as occurring in the winter of 1947. (41) He subsequently published translations of two texts by Miller in a magazine he edited, entitled Story: Erzahler des Auslandes, in the issues of December 1947 and March 1948. It is probable that Renate Gerhardt worked on editing translations of Miller's work into German, for Rowohlt, long before they met. Henry's comments imply a deeper connection than that, possibly though mutual friends--the exact nature of that link is something to be investigated by future scholars.
Existing biographies of Miller give brief accounts of the relationship with Renate Gerhardt. Jay Martin wrote an impressionistic portrait of Miller falling rapidly in love with this young woman (in her mid-30s), whose husband had been dead for seven years, following conversations about how badly Kurt Wagenseil had (allegedly) translated Tropic of Cancer. When Miller traveled to Europe, in 1960, to be a judge at the Cannes Film Festival, it was with his mistress, Caryl Hill, whom he had met while she was waitressing at Nepenthe--a favorite Big Sur restaurant-bar. Henry was still married to Eve, who remained in Big Sur. Relations between the two had been strained for years.
Eve and Henry Miller decided to divorce by May 1960. Martin implies that Henry's open infidelities and complete indifference to her as a person drove Eve deep into bottles of alcohol, from which she never emerged (she died, in August 1965, from the effects, it is claimed, of alcoholism and clinical depression). Hill soon faded from the picture (by mid-1960). Renate, for a time, became the object of Henry Miller's undivided attention. For over a year, Miller planned to marry Renate and settle in Europe, with their respective children. The plan never reached fruition. Despite this, they remained in touch for years. Their unpublished letters provide an insight into how Miller's mind worked in affairs of the heart. They illustrate his changing emotional state during the period when his books were being prosecuted en masse and, then later, when his reputation was finally established in The United States.
By 1960, Miller's major books had been banned for decades in America. Various attempts had been made to fight prosecution, without success. The only available editions of several titles continued to be the volumes issued, over the previous twenty-five years, first by Jack Kahane's Obelisk Press and, subsequently, by his son, Maurice Girodias' Olympia Press and various piracies. Published in Paris by Obelisk Press in September 1934, Tropic of Cancer was not issued for general American circulation until the Grove Press publication of June 24, 1961. Prior to this, there had been twenty-nine editions, either issued in Paris, with Miller's agreement, or as international piracies from as far away as Shanghai. Miller was even indicted (and convicted in absentia), in Kings County, Brooklyn, in 1961, following the publication of the Grove edition, for "conspiracy to produce an obscene book." One previous American version of Cancer had been published--the Medvsa edition of April 1940, which was issued underground, without Miller's direct involvement. (42) Miller did, however, have an enormous international reputation by 1960. He was considered a major author internationally--he was famous in France and a bestseller in various languages. Miller was widely read and influential, even in America, if only in privately circulated copies of his most important books.
Italo Calvino had recently written, in his diary, that:
It was a completely different turn American literature had taken, and when, in 1959, I went to the United States for the first time as an adult, the mythical picture of the writers of the early post-war years, which was that of the Lost Generation, no longer held sway. This was a time when a figure like Henry Miller was much more important than Hemingway, whom nobody bothered about any more.
In 1957, Miller was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Karl Shapiro acclaimed him, as "the greatest living author" in 1959. (43) After over sixty court battles were fought, all across America, in the years 1961-1964, the Supreme Court decision to allow Cancer to circulate freely changed, forever, the course of publishing freedom of expression. The man Renate Gerhardt met, in 1960, was on the brink of being at the height of his fame and influence. Grove Press paid an advance of $50,000, in 1961, for the rights to Cancer. His books sold millions of copies over the next decade. Films were made of Tropic of Cancer and Quiet Days in Clichy in the early 1970s. Several studies of Miller's opus appeared during the 1960s and early-1970s, together with volumes of published correspondence between Miller and writer friends, such as Lawrence Durrell, Alfred Perles and Anais Nin, and critics such as Wallace Fowlie, William Gordon, and J. Rives Childes.
However, with the advent of the political power of feminism, from the early 1970s, Miller became increasingly a writer to be discarded or despised, despite the efforts of admirers such as Norman Mailer to defend him. (44) Simplistically, it is generally assumed that Miller's decline was attributable to the influence of Kate Millet, specifically her book Sexual Politics. In fact, although Millet attacked certain aspects of Miller's work, she also wrote of him as: "surely one of the major figures of American literature today" and as "likely to be one of the most important influences on contemporary writing." Millet also lamented the fact that academics and scholars did not study his work more extensively and conspired to dismiss him as "beneath scholarly attention." (45)
Miller, at the time he wooed Gerhardt, can be glimpsed in two published accounts. Vincent Birge, who was his secretary/chauffeur/interpreter during travels in Europe 1960-61, wrote of this period in "Travels with Henry: Searching for Shangri-La", published in C. P. Standish's Henry Miller: A Book of Tributes (Standishbooks 1994). Miller was 69 when he met Renate. According to Birge, Henry was already showing signs of declining health. He reports digestive upsets, fatigue, blurred vision, hip pains, and bouts of chronic depression. Sometimes, Miller would be so depressed he would take to bed for days or weeks at a time. The two men traveled across Europe, searching for a home for Henry and Renate for eight months. They covered some 20,000 kilometers, correcting proofs of the Grove Press edition of Cancer as they went. Henry even finalized his divorce from Eve, at The American Consulate, in Geneva, en route.
Brassai wrote about several of his meetings with Henry Miller in Henry Miller, Happy Rock. This book offers the best glimpse, so far published, of Miller, behind the scenes, at the time he was in love with Renate. The author even quotes short passages from letters Miller wrote him, about his blossoming love affair. Brassai (who likened Gerhardt to Joan of Arc, because of her spirit and bobbed hairstyle) mentions Miller's ever-changing moods. Henry finally sank, he claims, into "depression, discouragement, and incessant flight." He describes this period as "perhaps the most agitated time" in Henry Miller's long life. "All his letters," Brassai wrote, comparing Miller and Birge (on their travels to find a home for Renate) to Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, "revealed his distress." Brassai's wife, Gilberte, meantime, accused Miller of being "incapable of loving." This book would cost Brassai Miller's friendship, when published, in French, the mid-1970s. It was too revealing of the darker and unstable side of his personality and of the disregard he often had for women he had once claimed to love.
Brassai is certainly correct is his assumption that Renate's German nationality and Kultur played an important role in Miller's attraction. Henry spoke in German before he learned English. He was infused with German language and literature. He was, he believed himself, Germanic in many of his personality traits, such as his love of order and cleanliness. He constantly surrounded himself with German-speaking friends. (46) This identification caused immense self-loathing, because he also associated Germans with the Holocaust, stupidity, racism, bigotry, hatred, hypocrisy, and a series of indolent and arrogant characteristics, and with his parents, whom he always knew did not understand him, and whom he feared (wrongly) did not love him. His negative notion of Germans could be illustrated by viewing the caricatures of one of Miller's favorite writer-painters, George Grosz. (47)
On March 13, 1961, infatuated with Renate, Miller informed Joseph Delteil that he had written a play, Just Wild About Harry, which contained a great deal of music. (48) During these months, Delteil wrote to Henry, trying to lift his spirits. By August 1961, his French publisher was hoping Henry might write a short book on Delteil, in the style of Jean Giono's Pour Saluer Melville. That month Henry spent a week with the Italian sculptor Marino Marini, who sculpted Miller's head at the suggestion of German gallery owner Rudolf Springer. Henry had long-since promised Nexus II to his publishers, but was unable to advance the manuscript. (49) Suffering from writers' block, he was obliged to refuse to write on Delteil, (50) but informed him on August 21 that Marini's sculpture was ready, in plaster cast. (51)
Miller, back in Big Sur, was able to work on Nexus II during the winter of 1961-62. Delteil forwarded his Oeuvres completes (52) to Henry, which he found "magnificent." As of February 2, 1962, Miller informed him, there were 53 court cases in progress against Tropic of Cancer in the United States. Henry and Delteil both signed the colophon of a special issue of The Aylesford Review, but, after reading the issue, with tears in his eyes, Miller wrote to Delteil on November 29 that he had not done his friend justice. Henry told Delteil that he was already a saint--one of the immortals. Miller, feeling inadequate, saw Delteil as living in a state of beatitude--himself just the opposite: "Every day my life becomes more difficult, problems augment, demands of others exhaust me ... You chose the right path, while I wander from it. I am at the mercy of everybody."
Delteil reassured Miller by quoting some of Miller's comments, embedded in his tribute, which he felt had encapsulated his own spirit.
Henry Miller moved to 444 Ocampo Drive, Pacific Palisades, as of February 7, 1963. The correspondence between Miller and Delteil became sparser, slowing to a trickle. Their mutual friend Frederic-Jacques Temple kept Delteil apprised of Miller's life. Miller married Hoki Tokuda in September 1967. They came to Paris, for a watercolor exhibition and to film for The Henry Miller Odyssey with Robert Snyder, then spent time with Durrell and Delteil in the south of France.
In June 1969, Miller returned to reading Delteil and wrote him a letter of praise and appreciation. No further letters are known until April 29, 1973, when Miller wrote praising Delteil's work, Alphabet. In this text Henry saw Delteil's anarchist spirit shine through:
There are phrases and thoughts in your Alphabet that make me jealous. I am so very much in agreement with you, so often, but I lack your genius for expressing things in the exact words that are needed--invaluable, yet poisoned with love, wisdom and joy.
Henry's health was giving way, but he felt more filled with ideas for writing than ever.
On May 24, 1973, Miller wrote to Delteil that: "I am not a Christian, nor a pagan, nothing else besides, but, because of you, Francis of Assisi remains the greatest man of our civilization."
Henry spent a week of May 1974 entertaining a crew from France, led by Michele Arnaud, who was making a documentary about him for French TV.
On December 17, 1974, Miller wrote to the Delteils:
I am completely Gnostic, anarchist, all that is destructive, or simply against. I don't believe that the earth is some kind of cosmic error, but rather that we are all insane. Crazy in the worst sense. I am waiting for the end of the world--with joy. With age I become more of a rebel, or is it simply more revolted? I am not tormented, simply disgusted. I have no ideology, no hope, but ... a great deal of love. I like what St. Augustine said: 'Love God and do as you please ... Hurrah for the Karamazovs! (53)
On July 18, 1975 Miller wrote to Caroline Delteil to inform her that he was writing a short book in French--and to verify a quote from her husband that he wished to include in Je ne suis. Henry had given the manuscript to a French Canadian typist, who started to correct his grammatical errors and syntax. Delteil himself replied to Miller, on July 29. This text was used, in a modified form, as a preface to the published version of Je ne suis. (54) By the start of August, the manuscript was retyped as Miller had written it. Henry struggled a great deal to write in French. He was surprised to realize that German was easier for him.
On September 13, Miller asked Delteil's permission to send his earlier letter about writing in French to Claude Gallimard for inclusion as an appendix to Je ne suis. Delteil agreed. Miller made a few modifications to both Delteil's text and his own over the following weeks. Henry was anxious that Delteil not read Brassai's book Henry Miller: The Paris Years--even more so than the sequel, since he felt deeply embarrassed that Brassai had revealed so much of his writing technique and Miller's relationship with Eve, to whom both Delteil and his wife had been close.
On March 25, 1976, Delteil wrote a long, joyful letter in which he said, "One of the great blessings of my life, naturally, is to have known Henry Miller ... I cannot think of you without thinking of latent creations, of lost paradises." Feeling old age weighing upon him, death perhaps approaching them both, Delteil wanted to salute Miller and to express his sentiment that their coming together had religious origins--it was destiny.
Miller's health continued to decline. In late 1976, already blind in one eye, deaf in one ear and weak, he had a bad fall in his bathroom, from which he recovered slowly. He was unable to read the copy of Le Sacre Corps, which Delteil sent him.
On June 9, 1977, Henry wrote to Delteil: "Yes, we are united--God knows how or why. Your name is on my lips often, even if I don't pronounce it aloud."
Hearing of Delteil's failing health, Miller wrote to him on March 30, 1978:
You have given so much to the world. You are a sort of living miracle ... I would like to say how much you have touched my life, my thoughts, and my vision of man and of the world. But, words fail me ... I will venerate you and adore you always, in this world and the next.
Henry Miller learned of Joseph Delteil's death from an unidentified friend in Martinique (probably Jean Fanchette). He wrote to Caroline Delteil, on April 27, 1978:
Do not mourn Joseph's death. His spirit is alive within me and always will be. Many people will miss him ... He was a man of both the past and the future--like King Arthur ... Death is part of life. I don't count on remaining long in this world. I am not afraid to die.
Henry Miller died at his home, on June 7, 1980. His ashes were scattered off the coast at Big Sur.
Les Aventures du recit chez Joseph Delteil. Dir. Robert Briatte). Montpellier, Ed. de la jonque/Presses du Languedoc, 1995.
Brassai. Henry Miller, Happy Rock Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2002.
Briatte, Robert. Joseph Delteil: Qui etes-vous?. Lyon: La Manufacture, 1988.
Choisy, Maryse. Delteil tout nu. Paris: Montaigne, 1930.
Darol, Guy. Joseph Delteil brille pour tout le monde. Paris: Samuel Tastet, 2006.
Joseph Delteil. Dir. Denitza Bantcheva. L'Age d'homme, "Les Dossiers H," 1998.
Lemonnier-Delpy, Marie-Francoise. Joseph Delteil, Une oeuvre epique aux xxe siecle, destinies du heros et revolution du recit. Paris: Editions IDECO, 2006.
Malves, Jean-Louis. Delteil en habit de lumiere, Editions Loubatieres, 1992.
Miller, Henry. Je ne suis pas plus con qu'un autre. Paris: Gallimard, 1976.
--. Je ne suis pas plus con qu'un autre. Quebec: Stanke, 1980.
--, and Joseph Delteil. Correspondance Privee. Paris: Belfond, 1980.
Richaud, Andre de. Vie de saint Delteil. Paris: La Nouvelle Societe d'Edition, 1928.
Wetterwald, Denis. Joseph Delteil, Les escales d'un marin etrusque. Paris: Christian Pirot, 1999.
(1) Sylvie Crossman Apprendre a colorer nos imaginations in Le Monde des livres 31 January 2008. For another account of Miller's last years see 444 Ocampo Drive by Pascal Vrebos, edited with essays and notes by Karl Orend (Ann Arbor: Roger Jackson, 2003).
(2) The best modern version is the translation by Mark Polizzotti, published by Dalkey Archive.
(3) In 1930 Miller decided to write a book on Paris, in imitation of Morand's New York. This led to several essays and, indirectly, to Tropic of Cancer. Miller applied, unsuccessfully, for a job as Morand's secretary in 1931. Morand later became a great admirer of Miller's books.
(4) Hemingway actually played a large part in Miller's desire to first relocate to Paris.
(5) Michael Fraenkel's favorite composer.
(6) An important influence on Miller in 1933, Artaud, briefly close to Anais Nin, occupied Miller's studio at the villa Seurat before he moved in.
(7) An interest of Miller, ever since he read Nietzsche's Also sprach Zarathustra.
(8) Herriot 1872-1957 French President du Conseil (on three occasions). See: Leon Trotsky, "Edouard Herriot Politician of the Golden Mean." (Fourth International, December 1941: 301-306).
(9) For the importance of this work to Miller see Karl Orend The Brotherhood of Fools & Simpletons: Gods and Devils in Henry Miller's Utopia (Paris: Alyscamps Press, 2005).
(10) See Karl Orend, Henry Miller's Red Phoenix (Paris: Alyscamps Press, 2006) and Maria Bloshteyn, The Making of a Counter-Culture Icon: Henry Miller's Dostoevsky (Toronto: Toronto UP, 2007).
(11) A friend of Walter Lowenfels.
(12) "In the 20th century there will be no more wars, poverty will be abolished, sickness will no longer exist and mankind will live in peace and harmony."
(13) Passage Jouffroy, rue du Depart, Gare D'Austerlitz (Tropic of Cancer), place des Voges (Bertha Schrank), place Furstemberg (June/ Tropic of Cancer), place de l'Estrapade, place Violet, rue de la Tombe Issoire (adjacent to villa Seurat), impasse de Rouet (home of Hans Reichel & Perles), rue du Commerce and place d'Alesia (cafe Zeyer/Hamlet Correspondence/meetings with Durrell).
(14) The Le Gimmick series of books, the first of which was published by Flammarion, in 1971, sought to teach foreigners colloquial spoken French as heard in the streets. Le Gimmick: Francais parle by Adrienne, reviewed by Anthony S. Caprio, The Modern Language Journal 62.3 (1978).
(15) Peck created this character in a series of books and newspaper articles. The "hero," called Henry, was a huge favorite of Miller's generation. The popular appeal led to both stage adaptations and a film, in 1921. Project Gutenberg provides free downloads of three titles in the series.
(16) Major influence on Moloch and The Rosy Crucifixion.
(17) Georges Courteline (1858-1928), Legion d'honneur/ Academie Goncourt, was a satirical novelist and playwright.
(18) In English: Maurice Nadeau The Greatness of Flaubert Alcove Press, London 1972. Nadeau was an old friend and publisher of Miller, who defended him during Le cas Miller.
(19) Paul Valery 1871-1945, famous French writer and poet. Miller sent him a copy of Tropic of Cancer in 1935.
(20) Date unknown. The two men visited London together at the end of 1938, and again in the 1950s.
(21) See Karl Orend, Henry Miller's Angelic Clown (Paris: Alyscamps Press 2007).
(22) Francois Michel Simon (1875-1975): Swiss actor famous for his work with Jean Renoir.
(23) In The Short Stories of Frank Harris edited by Elmer Gertz (Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1975).
(24) Keith Jarrett is an example.
(25) Marie Corelli, The Sorrows of Satan (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1998).
(26) At the time of Miller's recollection, this was generally believed to be true, but it was later proved to be false.
(27) This was the original title for the book Miller later referred to as Clipped Wings. The name directly echoes Dreiser's Twelve Men.
(28) For Miller and Rabelais, see Karl Orend's essay in Henry Miller's Letter from Dijon (Ann Arbor: Roger Jackson, 2005) and John Parkin's Henry Miller: The Modern Rabelais (Lewiston: Edward Mellen, 1990).
(29) For Miller and Fowlie, see Karl Orend, Henry Miller's Angelic Clown: Reflections on The Smile at the Foot of the Ladder and Letters of Henry Miller and Wallace Fowlie (New York: Grove, 1975).
(30) See Henry Miller Reunion in Barcelona and Alfred Perles Reunion in Big Sur, (London: Scorpion, 1959). Fred arrived in Barcelona on May 8. Miller had not seen him for 14 years and so wanted to be sure to get a few days together. Henry and Eve planned to arrive at Delteil's home on May 12, after spending one night in Avignon. They then set out for Barcelona.
(31) See Henry Miller-John Cowper Powys: Correspondance Privee edited by Nordine Haddad Editions Criterion 1994.
(32) For an account of this visit see Charles de Fontbrune Henry Miller & Nostradamus Editions du Rocher 1994 and Brassai Henry Miller Happy Rock, (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2002).
(33) Pelorsen-Belmont carried out one of the most important interviews with Miller--Les Entretiens de Paris (Paris: Archives Sonores, 1998). See also "Transition to Vichy: The Case of Georges Pelorsen" by Vincent Giroud (Modernism/Modernity 7.2  221-48).
(34) For Miller's Big Sur years see Karl Orend The Brotherhood of Fools & Simpletons: Gods & Devils in Henry Miller's Utopia (Paris: Alyscamps Press, 2005) and Elayne Waering Fitzpatrick Doing it With the Cosmos, (Bloomington, IN: XLibris, 2001).
(35) Mistral won the Nobel Prize for Literature. See The Memoirs of Frederic Mistral (Paris: Alyscamps Press, 1994) and Mistral by Rob Lyle (Paris: Alyscamps Press, 1994).
(36) Tour de Feu 47 (1955).
(37) The gaps in the Miller-Delteil correspondence, published in French, may also suggest that Miller destroyed or withheld letters he did not want made public. This was something he did regularly.
(38) Miller rewrote the text three times, but still felt insecure about the result.
(39) Rowohlt Verlag published the complete text in 1953 as Wenderkreis des Krebses, translated by Kurt Wagenseil (Shifreen & Jackson D203).
(40) See the article by Karl Orend, on this topic, in Nexus: The International Henry Miller Journal (3 : 25-40).
(41) See H. M. Leidig-Rowohlt Vorwort, published in C. P. Standish Henry Miller: A Book of Tributes (Orlando: Standishbooks, 1995).
(42) Miller initially supported the idea of this edition, but then withdrew. It proceeded without him. See the letters written by Miller to Gershon Legman in Nexus: The International Henry Miller Journal (1 : 1-22).
(43) In an essay that was partly printed in the Grove Press edition of Tropic of Cancer. It was fully reproduced in C. P. Standish Henry Miller: A Book of Tributes.
(44) Mailer issued various essays on Miller, listed in Shifreen. He also edited an annotated anthology of Miller's work, entitled Genius and Lust (New York: Grove, 1976).
(45) See Miller's letter to Millet, reprinted in Nexus: The International Henry Miller Journal (4 : 157-58).
(46) Many of his friends were otherwise Jewish German speakers, which he clearly distinguished from German Christians.
(47) See Henry Miller Man in the Zoo: George Grosz' Ecce Homo (Shifreen & Jackson A179).
(48) See Karl Orend Orchestrating Reality: Notes of Musical Form in the Writings of Henry Miller & Anais Nin (Paris: Alyscamps Press, 2007).
(49) Henry Miller Nexus 2 (Paris: Editions Autrement Litteratures, 2004).
(50) Miller did contribute to The Aylesford Review on Delteil. Shifreen & Jackson Henry Miller: A Bibliography of Primary Sources Alyscamps Press 1993. C 416, C 417.
(51) It appears on the cover of Henry Miller on Writing, edited by Thomas H. Moore (New York: New Directions, 1964).
(52) It was Delteil's sense of humor that his complete works contained only 6 books out of the nearly forty he wrote.
(53) Miller reuses phrases and ideas from his letter to Delteil and the Arnaud film in Je ne suis pas plus con qu'un autre.
(54) Miller's reference to Peter Falk in the book was inspired by a friend of his who worked for the actor.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Publication:||Nexus: The International Henry Miller Journal|
|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2010|
|Previous Article:||Four letters from Henry Miller to George Orwell.|
|Next Article:||Henry Miller and the celebration of loss.|