Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Booster Editorial Staff: Patrick Evans

Patrick Evans: Turf Editor. A 'Turf Editor' is a real position in Journalism, but I haven't been able to find out what. [*UPDATE SEPT 19/05 - David Marc Fischer has kindly informed me that a Turf Editor covers horseracing]. In any case, Evans made a scant contribution to The Booster; a poem, I think. I don't even think he was located in Paris at the time, in 1937.

Pat Evans was included in this motley staff due to his associations with Lawrence Durrell. Not only was Durrell's friend, but the English tutor of Larry's younger brother as well. This brother, Gerald Durrell, was only 11 or 12 at the time, and living in Greece with the family. Gerald would grow up to be a famous author in his own right.

In his autobiography, Gerald describes his first impression of Evans: "a tall, handsome young man, fresh from Oxford." (ref. Gerald Durrell: The Authorized Biography, by Douglas Botting).

Evans seemed to be introduced to the Booster circle by Lawrence via letter. Anais Nin writes about an exchange of letters between them, when he wrote to tell her his impressions of her Winter Of Artifice. (ref. The Diary Of Anais Nin, Volume 2 [1934-1939])

Although Evans worked on a book or two, his output seems nearly imposible to find. In 1938, he was included in a prose-poem anthology called Proems, along with Lawrence Durrell. In the 1950's and 60's, a 'Patrick Evans' appears to have done a lot of French to English translations of books; not sure if this is the same man.

(for further detail about Patrick Evans and his relationship to Lawrence Durrell, see Lawrence Durrell: A Biography, by Ian MacNiven)

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Booster Editorial Staff: David Edgar

Names like Hans Reichel, Walter Lowenfels, and Michael Fraenkel feature more prominently in Miller's life, so I'll offer something more extensive on each of them in the future. For now, I'll look at a lesser member of the staff: David Edgar: Publicity.

Edgar appears to have been a flatmate of both Hans Reichel and Alfred Perles, on the Impasse du Rouet, not far from 18 Villa Seurat. He was a young American who was in Paris on inherited money, trying his best to be an artiste, but too neurtoic to produce much painting or writing.

Edgar is often cited as being partly responsible for re-kindling Miller's interest in spiritual matters (Conrad Moricand also gets credit). Edgar often spoke to Henry about Zen Buddhism, Rudolf Steiner, mysticism and the occult, stimulating his mind to subject matter Henry had shown interest in as a youth.

Edgar was apparently a humourless man, "secretive and anxious-looking" (ref. Lawrence Durrell: A Biography by Ian MacNiven; p. 184]

"The finest thing I can say about Edgar, "said Perles in a letter to Miller, "is that he is not a trickster like everybody else, including you and me." (ref. Henry Miller: A Life byRobert Ferguson: p. 323).

The shy and timid Edgar was at the recieving end of some creative advice from Miller, according to this archived letter from PBA Galleries. Dated 'March 13, 1937,' Henry encourages David to loosen his style: "The irony, it seemed to me last night after leaving you, is that in trying to simplify and clarify by putting it down on paper - It, the process - you open up an infinite area of confusion. The process - that is, the finding out, is nothing but wheels. You are inside the clock, and the more you find out about wheels the less you know about the clock..."

The meeting Miller refers to here is written about in Lawrence Durrell, Henry Miller: A Private Correspondence by George Wickes.

Edgar's job as "Publicity" for The Booster was likely just a means to include him in the group project. For someone so shy and humourless, the role of Publicist seems like an ironic joke. Maybe he just helped sell subscriptions, as they all had done.

In 1938, Edgar left Paris for London, as had Perles.

(Some bio info on Edgar drawn from Passionate Lives by John Tytell.)

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Booster Editorial Staff: Hilaire Hiler

The best on-line resource for knowing the contents of the next issue of The Booster is the transcription of the Table Of Contents on Jim Haynes’ website.

Reviewing the Editorial Staff, I come across some unfamiliar names. There is Charles Norden, who is in fact Lawrence Durrell. Amongst a few other obscure (to me) names I'll explore, is Hilaire Hiler: Travel Editor.

Born in St. Paul, Minnesota as Hiler Harzberg in 1898, Hilaire Hiler studied Art in the States before arriving in Paris in 1919. In 1923, he co-opened a jazz cabaret on rue Campagne Premiere called The Jockey Club (named for his business partner, a jockey). The club became a bohemian hang-out (see the drawing of the club he made, below right) at which Hiler played jazz piano.

The Jockey Club was the first after-hours club to open in Monparnasse. I assume Miller had been there.

(See a fair-sized colour image of a painting of The Jockey's exterior, made in 1929 by Archibald Motley).

In 1933, Anais Nin introduced Henry Miller to Hiler. Hiler became Henry's watercolour teacher and, for many years, his friend (letters written by Henry to Hiler still exist). In 1948, Hiler published Why Abstract?, for which Henry contributed a piece.

In 1936, Hiler moved to San Francisco to work on a mural at the Aquatic Park. So, in 1937, he wasn't around to actually be a Booster editor. He also doesn't appear to have contributed anything travel-related to the October 1937 issue. The title, then, seems to be honorary, referencing the wide travel he'd undertaken in his life.
Miller wrote an essay on Hiler called Hiler And His Murals, which appears on p. 278 of The Air-Conditioned Nightmare (1945).
Years later, Hiler wrote a memoir of Miller called What I Remember Of Henry Miller, published in the International Henry Miller Letter from August 1963.

On-line Biographical references: 1) Hilaire Hiler Papers (Online Archive of New Mexico); 2) Edan Hughes ; 3) Collection of Alan Clodd [see item 60].

Artwork references: [top left] Bronson Gold by Hilaire Hiler (1931) from Wright Auction.
[middle right] The Jockey Club by Hilaire Hiler (1929) from Treadway Gallery.

Friday, August 26, 2005

The Booster - September 1937

Artwork by (left to right) Reichel, Brassai, Benno

Alfred Perles, Henry Miller, and Lawrence Durrell put together a collection of written pieces--old and new--and released their first issue (actually The Booster, volume 2, issue 7) in September 1937. [Here is a picture of the cover].

(I don't have a copy of this myself, so I must rely on internet sources and published Miller biographies to piece this issue together.)

Page 5 - Editorial by Miller, Durrell, and Nin. Lifetime subscriptions are solicited for 500 francs each. They declare their intention to "boost, baste and lambaste when and wherever possible. Mostly we shall boost."

Page 6 - "Sportlight" by Charles Norden (a pseudonym for Durrell). This appears to be a regular feature, because something called "Sportlight" also appears in the next issue. [to p. 11]

Page 12 - "A Boost For Hans Reichel" by Henry Miller. This may or may not be identical to an essay Miller wote on Reichel in 1936, called The Cosmological Eye (which is available in re-print in the book of the same name). Reichel was a painter acquaintance of Henry's, who lived around the way from 18 Villa Seurat. [to p. 13].

Page 17 - "Je suis le plus malade des surrealistes" by Le Merle Blanc ("The White Blackbird," an alias for Anais Nin), which was apparently inspired by Antonin Artaud. This was re-printed in Under A Glass Bell (1944). Selected quotes from this piece can be found here. [to p. 18]

Page 21 - "L'Oeil de Paris" (Eye Of Paris) by Valentin Nieting (pseudonym for Miller - actually his maternal grandfather's name. He'd used it before, as far back as 1924). This is a profile of photographer Brassai, with whom Miller was close. He'd actually written this essay in 1934 (creating the Eye Of Paris tag that would stay with Brassai into posterity). This essay was later reprinted in Miller's Wisdom Of The Heart. [to p. 25]

Page 26 - "Benno, The Wild Man From Borneo" by Henry Miller. Miller's profile of artist Benjamin Benno, whom Henry appears to have known personally. Benno did in fact live in Paris from 1926-1939. This portrait was re-printed in Wisdom Of The Heart, as well as in Benjamin Benno: A Retrospective Exhibit (Donna Gustafson, 1988). [to p. 29]

Page 37 - "A Lyric For Nikh" by Lawrence Durrell. A poem, I think.

Page ?? - "Le Quatuor en Re-Majeur" (excerpt) by Alfred Perles (his 2nd novel).

Page ?? - An excerpt from Anais Nin's diaries.

Insert - "Letter To The Park Commissioner" by Phineas Flapdoodle (another Miller alias). This was seperately printed and included as a 4-page insert inside the magazine. According to Shifreen & Jackson A14a, the title page contains a line that reads: "Please read very extra careful!" As well, the title includes an asterix, which leads to a note: "This is an authentic letter which reached the office of the Park Commissioner New York, in 1925, and was rescued from the wastepaper basket by Henry Miller." Miller worked for the Queens Parks Commissoner in 1927 (not 1925, as his fictionalized letter suggests).
According to Dearborn's Happiest Man Alive, Henry saved this from his NYC Parks job in 1927. However, the Bibliography of Primary Sources states that this is fiction written by Miller. It was also apparently published on it's own in 1950, and re-printed along with other Booster material in 1968 [Shifreen & Jackson B190]. The "letter" is also referenced and quoted in Nexus, page 167.

Incidentally, 'Phineas' is an old biblical name meaning "oracle" or "serpent's mouth," and 'flapdoodle' means nonsense or foolish talk.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Booster Magazine - Part 1

"We like to boost, and of course to begin with we are going to boost ourselves."
-- Editoral of The Booster, Sept. 1937

Henry Miller, Alfred Perles and Lawrence Durrell became co-editors of a golfing magazine called The Booster, in 1937. They were given full creative freedom, as long as they devoted two pages of each issue to news relating to the American Golf And Country Club. They published their own work, plus that of Anais Nin and William Saroyan. By the third issue, nearly all of the original advertisers and subscribers had pulled out. After four issues, the magazine was renamed Delta (Durrell's suggestion); then, after three more issues, the publication met its demise.

(For a more complete story of The Booster, see--for example--Mary Dearborn's The Happiest Man Alive: A Biography Of Henry Miller, pp. 192-198. Also see Anais Nin's perspective.)

An original copy of the October 1937 issue (seen above) is currently available for $300 US from Powell's Books (from whom I borrowed the image). An original of the Dec. 1937/Jan. 1938 "Air Conditioned Womb" issue is also for sale for $248 US via AntiqBooks.

The entire series appears to have been re-printed in 1968 by the Johnson Reprint Corp (New York), though this seems equally difficult to track down. had this 8-volume set (signed by Miller, Durrell and Perles!) for sale. It sold for over $1200. I had to view a Google-cached version [from Feb. 2005] of their relevant web page to find these details:

"Original oatmeal cloth upper board titled in brown, spine brown and gilt....Not issued in dustjacket.; First Book Edition. 100 copies signed by Miller, Durrell, and Perles....Early issues retain many of the adverts for waterproof clothing etc."

Some related, curious ephemera:
1) A page of Miller personal stationary (unused) with the header: "The Booster, founded by the American Country Club of France" with Miller's address listed (18, Villa Seurat). [item #242 from PBA Galleries]
2) Another page of Booster stationary, this one written on by Miller (circa 1938/39). In this letter, he rejects a poetry submission by Derek Savage, telling him they're keeping poetry to a minimum. [found on a Google-cached PBA site].

P.S. The listing for the 2nd letter (above) mentions another letter for Mr. Savage. Henry writes to him this time as editor for Phoenix lit mag: ""I don't give a fuck what a man's opinions are if he writes well, writes creatively. As editor of the Villa Seurat Series I am on the look-out for new writers of value-- but where are they?...I hope to do something of Dylan Thomas' some time, and I would like to find more young writers like him. I am open to anything and everything, in any language, from any camp...."

That's enough for now. More on The Booster later.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Henry Miller - In Russian

"My misfortune, metaphysically speaking, is that I was born neither in the time of Jesus nor in holy Russia of the nineteenth century." -- Henry Miller, Plexus (p.637)
By trawling the internet for Miller content, I came across a site devoted to Henry entirely in Russian: I don't speak Russian, but maybe some of you do. For the rest of us, all there is to see is a bibliography that contains small photos of book covers of Russian editions; plus, six pages of pictures of Henry.
For the book cover above (for a 1999 edition of Plexus), I copied the title from this Russian site, Googled it for Images, then found this one at this Russian bookseller site. I could only discipher the title of this book as Plexus after searching it by its ISBN number (ISBN 5-8370-0221-9).
Here's an on-line transcription of Tropic Of Cancer in Russian, embellished with sexually explicit drawings.
You know, I don't think I've ever found a French site devoted to Miller. I have no idea how he's regarded in France these days.
One last thing: Miller's major works are searchable by word, right on your computer. Maybe it's been like this all along--I had no idea--but, using for a search of, say, Tropic Of Cancer, one can scroll down to "Inside This Book" and type in a word or phrase. The resulting list will give you a page number and the sentence in which the word appears. You can sign up to view the entire passage, or just grab your own copy and look it up.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Bibliography Of Bibliographies

The first Henry Miller bibliography was printed by Bern Porter in 1945, called Henry Miller: A Chronology And Bibliography.

The next Henry Miller bibliographies seem to appear in 1961, with the limited publication of Henry Miller, an Informal Bibliography (ed. Esta Lou Riley at Fort Hays Kansas State College); and Bibliography Of Henry Miller (ed. Thomas Moore), published by the Henry Miller Literary Society. In 1962, Maxine Renkin published her own biblio.

In the late 70's, Lawrence Shifreen and Black Sparrow Press were compiling a Miller bibliography, for which Henry corresponded by letter (these letters auctioned by PBA Galleries). This was printed in 1979, as Henry Miller: A Bibliography Of Secondary Sources (supplemented in 1982 in an edition by Richard Centing).

Shifreen was contacted in 1990 by Roger Jackson, who was interested in building on Shifreen's collection. In 1993, Shifreen and Jackson published what is probably the bible of Miller bibliographies, Henry Miller: A Bibliography Of Primary Sources. This 1000 page document provides detailed information about Miller's writings and artwork, and includes a 100-plus glossy insert of photos, graphics, etc.

The next in the bloodline of Miller bibliographers is book and art collector William Ashley. Ashley merged his own huge collection of Miller-related items--and knowledge--with Jackson's and, together, they released an expanded and corrected edition of Primary Sources in 1994. The growing bibliography of this collection--which must be as complete as humanly possible by now--is available to view (in point form only) on-line.

Ashley's collection of Miller books, art, and ephemera, makes up part of the Henry Miller Memorial Library. More on that later.

A tidy one-page list of Miller's major works (by and about him) can be found here.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Notes From Beverly Glen

In 1943, Henry Miller first read about the life of Rimbaud. It was also the year he produced nearly 300 watercolours and exhibited them in Hollywood (this 1943 self-portrait--at left--was found at the Harry Ransom Center website). 1943 also marked the beginning of the Beverly Glen notebooks.

As far as I can tell, Beverly Glen is part of Bel Air area of Los Angeles. In June 1942, Miller (as he describes in Man Ray--Recollections) moved to Beverly Glen as a guest of writer Gilbert Neiman and his wife Margaret (he dedicated The Air-Conditioned Nightmare to them). The home is described as a "modest shack" which he'd dubbed 'The Green House': "I was just as poor then as I was when I arrived in Paris in 1930." At some point, he had a roomate: the painter John Dudley.

Many of his notes and sketches for this era (until 1946) are contained on the 26 page Beverly Glen Notebook, which appears to have been for sale via the PBA Galleries.

The site describes this document as being Miller's sketchbook, but also details many of the hand-written notes found within, including: Henry's "to do" lists (galleries and publishers to solicit, for example); self-advice ("Hour's walk before breakfast (no thinking!)...Drink fine wines every day! Type one hour per day - drudge work"); names of debts to pay off; ideas for titles of books and paintings, and more. A surprisingly (not?) frequent use of exclamation points are made by Henry!

Also, this 'To Do': "Get Leite to do only letters relating to `Tropic of Cancer,' dedicate to all the censors of this world and the next - including Soviet Russia & Young China.)."

This notebook continued until 1946. Miller moved to Big Sur in 1944 upon marrying Janina Lepska, and was writing Sexus during this 1944-46 period.

The Beverly Glen Notebook was never published. The original was sold at auction (the buyer, as always, a mystery) for somwhere between $2000-3000.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Nightmare Notebook

From the same series of 1939-1942 notebooks from which The Red Notebook was compiled, came a publication in 1975 called The Nightmare Notebook (New Directions Publ.). As with the former, this book was made up of actual facsimilies of the original Miller notebooks.

A few photo samples (like the one at left) can be found on this New Directions page. (along with a one-page sample of notes from a visit Henry made to a Hollywood astrologer). A few other photos (of a signed copy sold in auction in 1998) can be seen here.

The specific notebook chosen for publication is described on the introduction page to The Nightmare Notebook: " of these notebooks, in a bound printer's dummy of a Doubleday edition of Walt Whitman's 'Blades Of Grass,' is reproduced here in a facsimilie as close to the original as was feasible."

In the annotated Miller bibliography of The Devil At Large, by Erica Jong, she describes the book as having "fascinating descriptions of places, people, moods, as well as watercolours by Henry."

I quote all of these people because I've never seen the book myself.

I love this handwritten summation by Miller: "Notebook of American tour begun October 24, 1940 and ended in October 1941, from and to New York City with 1932 Buick. N.B. A year wasted!" (view it on the New Directions link above).

The Nightmare Notebook was reviewed in the New York Times on September 14, 1975. You can purchase a copy of the review here (or read the opening paragraph for free). I can look this up for free on microfilm at the library; I'll comment on it here when I get around to it.

New Directions Publishing appears to have several signed copies of the limited edition of 700, going for $150. Beyond that, this seems harder to track down than The Red Notebook.

I have one more Miller notebook to comment on in my next post. Then I'll move on to something else.

Monday, August 15, 2005

The Red Notebook

Miller's "Red Notebook" (1958) is an actual facsimilie of one of his journals he'd kept while driving around America for a few years in 1939. These notes eventually became "The Air-Conditioned Nightmare" and "Remember To Remember."

The limited-edition book was published by Jonathan Williams (referred to in my post, Aug. 13), a Princeton drop-out who'd taken bookmaking at the Chicago Institute of Design. He was printing challenging works on a small press called Jargon Books, out of Black Mountain.

Williams became intrigued about Miller in 1945, when Time Magazine tore Henry apart in a review for "Air-Conditioned Nightmare." In 1951, he paid Miller a visit (see link to anecdote on Aug 13 post). A relationship was made. In 1958, "The Red Notebook" was published by Williams as Jargon book #22.

I've never personally seen this book. Antiqbook describes it as a "facsimile reproduction of a notebook Miller filled with musings, observations, poems, drawings, and clippings while on his 'Air-conditioned tour 'across the nation in the forties." I've searched around the net: it certainly seems like a rare find, but seems to go for an average of $75 US.

Of course, you could go all out and cough up $750 for a very special copy: one signed by June Mansfield, from her personal collection (no inscription, just "June E. Miller. Dec. 27, 1964."). Powell's Books also has a copy signed by Miller, going for $206.

Another Miller book, "The Nightmare Notebook" (1975) is apparently another facsimilie of these same notebooks, yet I don't know if it's the exact same one, or selections from various notebooks. This gives me something to explore tomorrow.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Miller's Paris notebooks

When I first found this on the internet last year, I was excited by the very idea of it: Henry Miller's Paris Notebooks from 1932-1936! (complete with paintings like the one shown at left). This collection of words and thoughts by Miller was up for auction in 2002 (through Pacific Book Auctions). It sold for $103, 500.

Details: 3 volumes, comprising approx. 413 leaves, typed and holograph manuscript, each signed at the front ("Property of Henry V. Miller...") 9½x6¼, half morocco & marbled boards, spines lettered in gilt.

I wish I knew whose hands it ended up in, because I'd love to pop in on him or her to read this document from front to back, examining each letter, crossed-out phrase, and book louse found withinin its covers.

Follow the top link in this posting to read the details of the notebooks' contents. Included are notes of scenes and events in Paris; lists of debts owed; letters from Anais Nin and Alfred Perles; photos of his father and Nin; a list of his 23 residences in Paris from 1930-32 (the website quotes Miller: "which doesn't take account of the places where I've `flopped' for a night"); transcriptions of notes Nin made on Tropic Of Cancer, and much more. I could not think of any original Miller document that could be of more interest to Miller enthusiasts than this. Sadly, there appears to be no access for any one of us.

The notebooks were consigned to PBA by Miller's son, Tony. I hope that the notebooks are currently in good hands, and being considered for publciation. If publication of Kurt Cobain's journals are justifiable, then surely Miller is more deserving of this treatment.

I've certainly not read everything on Miller; I'm not sure any of this material has appeared in any other works or biographies of his. The only books that appear to transcribe or re-print directly from the Paris notebooks are "Notes on 'Aaron's Rod' and Other Notes on Lawrence from the Paris Notebooks" by Seamus Cooney; and, "Anais Nin Observed" (1976), which apparently includes a letter from Nin as found in one of the notebooks.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Henry Miller Award

Nerve, which describes itself as "a smart, honest magazine on sex, with cliché-shattering prose and fiction as well as striking photographs of naked people that capture more than their flesh," has been issuing a monthly Henry Miller Award since March 2005. The award is given for the "best literary sex scene in the English language" which helps in (to use the Miller quote Nerve provides) "resuscitating the body and soul." At year end, the monthly winners will be reduced to a single victor for 2005.

I don't know if this competition is altogether successful. Without the context of the full story, the excerpted scenes seem to be cutting in straight for the money shot at the same time they strive to impress with literary style. Sex is funny in a way, so, any isolated scene extracted from a serious work comes off as cheesy.

It's good to see Miller's name continue to maintain exposure like this; yet, I've always seen so much more in Miller than just the sex stuff (significant though it is in much of his work), and worry a bit about this contributing to a narrow Miller pigeon-hole. However, better that it's Nerve awarding "literary" sex scenes, then, say, Penthouse Letters dishing out HM Awards for most hardcore jerk-off story.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Fragments from Big Sur

Henry Miller. If you found your way here, you already know enough about the man to justify my exclusion of a formal biography. My purpose with this blog is to collect information about Miller from the Internet and other sources, and to offer--at least weekly--a regular place for Miller enthusiasts worldwide to visit.

The first hit one gets upon entering the name "Henry Miller" into Google is the Henry Miller Memorial Library in Big Sur, California. Miller never actually lived in this building (though he lived in Big Sur). It had been the home of his friend, Emil White, who later turned it into the current Miller shrine. According to this, Miller lived at Anderson Canyon then, later, "high above the fog line in Partington Ridge." He'd taken the latter house from Jean Wharton in February 1947.

The man who took this photo (left) of Miller in 1961, Jonathan Williams, describes a visit to Miller at Partingtom Ridge in 1951.

Not long ago, I searched Miller on ebay, and came across copies of a sign he had apparently written to hang out his door, to disuade the pilgrimaging faithful from bothering him. Wish I'd saved the photo and text for this blog. (**update Aug 19: a digital photo of this sign [taken at the H M Memorial Library] can be found here).

The increasingly popular Wikipedia, the public encyclopedia that "anyone can edit," has a pretty disappointingly meagre entry for Henry Miller. The author(s) seems to reduce Miller to his famous obscenity trial, and offers little more. Someday I hope to give him a more proper treatment (like this). Interestingly, someone claiming to be Miller's son, Tony, sent a furious email to Wikipedia about this entry, or at least an even worse previous entry.

A more loving and satisfied posting about Miller can be found in this fairly new website, created by another Miller offspring, Valentine Miller. (nice little site) Look up her biography and see a pic of her as a little girl "at Big Sur," presumably with the Miller house way in the background.

All for now.