Sunday, November 20, 2005

Miller's Apartments in New York, 1935

"I want to go [to New York] terribly; I feel it would do me good. Especially the Tropic Of Capricorn! It would renew all those old nerve centers which are withering slowly. Just a peek at Wilson's joint, at the Palace, at the Roseland, at Minsky's."
---- Henry Miller, writing from Paris, in a letter to Emil Schnellock, Oct. 25, 1934.

Henry Miller returned to New York from Paris in 1935, after a five year absense. Not only did he want to refresh his New York memories for Capricorn, but he also wanted to see Anais Nin who had transplanted herself to his home-city of New York in November 1934.

It was during this voyage to New York that Miller wrote Aller Retour New York. He arrived at NYC in January 1935. I don't know where he stayed during his first few days there. Anais Nin was living with her husband Hugh Guiler at the Barbizon Plaza Hotel [in old postcard, left, and today, right]. When Guiler went out of town on a three-week business trip, Miller stayed with Anais in the hotel at 101 East 58th Street.

The Barbizon Hotel was opened in 1930. In the 30's, it's unique rooftop emited a moonglow light beam. It contained an art gallery and a ballroom, and overlooked Central Park. Frida Kahlo stayed here in 1931 and felt the staff treated her poorly due to her class staus. Lucky Luciano also took up residence at the Barbizon [ref.]. The building still exists, but is now a condo complex renamed Trump Parc. [a history of the building is here.]

Once Nin's husband returned in March 1935, Miller found residence at the Roger Williams Hotel Apartments [seen in undated postcard at left] at 28 East 31st Street. New York seems to have disappointed and depressed Miller during this 1935 visit. "In New York I fear to be swallowed back into drabness, limited surroundings, slavery," said Henry to Anais, as reported in her diary.

While staying the the Roger Williams apartment, Miller did the last of his revisions and additions to Black Spring. In her March 1935 diary entry, Nin recorded that Henry "wrote the marvellous 'City Man' section, and the pages on burlesque." In April, she noted that he finished Black Spring.

In May, Anais returned to France. Henry stayed on in New York and at the Roger Williams until September 1935, when he went back to Paris. The Roger Williams Hotel is now a chic "boutique" hotel. If I were to check into its cheapest room today, it would cost me $270 U.S.

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