Saturday, January 28, 2006

Miller in Neagoe's 'Americans Abroad'

In 1932, Peter Neagoe published a biographical anthology--a Who's Who--of American expatriots, called Americans Abroad. The University of South Carolina has scanned the page on which Henry Miller appears [the photograph from the listings is at left]. Henry wrote the description himself:

" BIOGRAPHY - Born in N. Y. City, 1891. No schooling. Was tailor, personnel director in large corporation, ranch-man in California, newspaperman, hobo and wanderer. Was a 6-day bike racer, a concert pianist, and in my spare time I practice saint-hood. Came to Paris to study vice.

"BIBLIOGRAPHY - Written three books, none of which accepted thus far. Also about a hundred short stories, some of which appeared in various American magazines. Last book, a novel, will be published anonymously."
In Henry Miller: A Life [p. 189], Robert Ferguson is critical of Miller's exaggerations, i.e. the idea that he had no schooling and was a concert pianist (though he played piano, his description is greatly exaggertaed). I love that, for even a short piece such as this, Miller can't resist making a comment like "came to Paris to study vice" ("about the only true statemen[t]," says Ferguson).

Peter Neagoe was born in Romania in 1881. Later, as a writer in Paris, he fell in with the dadaists and surrealists. In 1931, Neagoe was an assistant editor on The New Review. Neagoe offered to publish Perles and Miller's The New Instinctivism in the summer 1931 issue of that magazine, but when head editor Samuel Putnam returned from being away, he rejected the idea.

At the time of publication of American Abroad in 1932, Neagoe's book Storm was banned in the U.S. In A Literate Passion, references are made to Naegoe. Miller had sent him a critique of Storm, and sent a copy of this letter to Anais Nin. Nin replied: "Your letter to Neagoe is not due to any tumulte, but to your everlasting mania for hanging yourself. It was a useless letter. Criticism is good when you apply it to someone who carries a seed of talent. Applied to Neagoe it only means the loss of a man who wished you good. When you say you believe in his next book you know you don't mean it. Storm cannot lead to anything else that you would prize reading." OUCH.

Neagoe appears to have maintained friendships with the people he included in Americans Abroad. In 1934, before Miller was notified about a vacant apartment at 18 Villa Seurat, he had plans to move into Neagoe's studio on rue Douanier.

Neagoe seems to have used his Roumanian heritage as subject matter on numerous occasions. See for yourself on this Neagoe page at Abe Books. The Smithsonian keeps a collection of papers relating to Anna Neagoe, his wife (a painter) and Peter Neagoe, including a copy of his diary.

Naegoe died in New York on October 26, 1960.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Henry Miller On NBC

On November 29, 1977, Miller signed this contract [below] to appear on NBC's The Tomorrow Show.

I found the document here. Viewed at a larger size on the original website, you can clearly see Henry's signature, phone number on Ocampo Drive, and even his social insurance number. The TV piece took place at NBC Burbank. Henry was paid $338.

A visit to the NBC News Archive website [free registration] reveals that the episode involved an interview with Tom Snyder [seen in above banner art]. The copy in NBC's possession is numbered M771129 and is a dub of the repeat broadcast from January 3, 1980 (by which time some editing had been done to the original film).


TODAY SHOW - DEC 7, 1976. Synopsis: Interview with authors Norman Mailer & Henry Miller. Discussion includes Mailer's new book on Henry Miller called Genius & Lust. Miller is interviewed at his home at Pacific Pallisades.



Early in 1956, Henry went back to Brooklyn to see his dying mother. While there, he met Ben Grauer [left] of NBC fame, who produced the record album Henry Miller Recalls And Reflects in April 1956. The Columbia University archive has a Ben Grauer Papers collection, which contains 43 letters from Henry Miller.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Gerald Robitaille - The Indiscrete Secretary

"You, you'll never be satisfied until you've destroyed Henry Miller, you'll never rest until you've ridiculed him in some way or another. I know all you young folks, you're all the same".
--- Anne Bartlett (wife of Alfred Perles) to Gerald Robitaille [from Le Pere Miller.]

During the late 1960's, Quebec native Gerald Robitaille acted as Henry Miller's live-in secretary. It's hard to find flattering information about him. He began his relationship with Miller by writing fan letters, assisted Miller in France, devoted himself to Miller in California, then published an "indiscreet" book about Miller, which effectively ended their relationship.

75% of the information I present here, I draw from Huub Koch's translation of Henk van Gelre's profile of Gerald Robitaille (the flow of English is a little bumpy, but it's a very engaging little drama and character portrait). In it, van Gelre summarizes Robitaille like this: "Was Robitaille a friend? I do not believe he had one true friend in his lifetime. Therefore he was keeping himself too much at a distance, was being too arrogant, unable to give himself, being too much the profiteer. All qualities that do not make somebody beloved. But one can't choose for the person one is. In essence he was a lone wolfe. "

Some of his biographical info can be found at the National Library of Quebec.

His timeline goes somthing like this:

1923 (May 27) - Robitaille is born in Outrement, Quebec;

1941 - Gerald drops out of school after the death of his father, and works for the federal government. He lives in Montreal and New York;

1951 - 28-year old Robitaille begins a correspondence with Miller, receiving one response for every ten letters he sends him;

1953 - Inspired by Miller's work, by this time Robitaille has relocated himself to Paris. He lives meagerly with his wife, sometimes on the good graces of Miller's Paris friends;

1953 - Robitaille reads in the papers that Miller is in Paris. He proceeds to send his wife out on a guilt-trip mission to make sure Henry visits him, even hitting Miller up for cash;

1959 - Miller returns to Paris. During this stay, he visits Denmark and has Robitaille act as his "governess" (quoting Miller, including his quotation marks), looking after Henry's kids;

1962 - Robitaille's Cher Maitre appears in the November issue of the International Henry Miller Letter; it's a chapter from a book called The Story Of Myself: A Book About A Book (Tropic Of Cancer) [which will remain unpublished];

1964 - In November, Robitaille's Book Of Knowledge (Le Livre de la Connaisance) is published;

1966 - Robitaille becomes Miller's live-in secretary in California, along with his wife Diane (though she'd left him about a year before). Gerald's existance completely revolves around Miller, acting as his office worker, driver, nurse, and, in his translated words: "a relentless Cerberus (bouncer), who will drive away all those who importune him with a kick in the ass". This last role bothered Lawrence Durrel in particular. In Le Pere Miller, Robitaille will also mention that the job involved humiliations like clipping Henry's toe-nails.

1969 - Gerald has had enough with living Henry's California lifestyle: "I'd rather perish covered with lice in Paris then living with starletts, misei, hippies, pingpong and Hollywood swimming-pools". Miller supports his return to Paris, and even offers to advance him the $10,000 from his will, which he'd intended to pass on to him after his death. [Dearborn's Happiest Man Alive claims that Robitaille never received this money].

1971 - Le Pere Miller is published, sub-titled "an indiscrete essay on Henry Miller." Miller is offended: "Malicious, yes even hateful, don't you think? Full of lies. And this man I'd given my friendship and trust... The friend became an enemy. With my money he wrote this malicious book about me... Ha, ha, ha, Henry Miller who invests in Papa Miller! What a fool am I!" (conversation with Brassai, 1973; see Van Gelre's piece for ref). He writes Robitaille a final letter, announcing the end of their friendship.

1972 - Robitialle becomes an English professor for France's Atomic Energy Commission in Saclay. By 1980, he is living in Orsay;

1992 - Robitialle dies.

In the Anais Nin Diaries 1966-1974, she makes a couple of statements about Robitaille:

* "Gerald Robitaille betrays all of us and writes a cruel book about Henry." (p.149)

* "Gerald Robitaille writes a vicious book about Henry. Why did Henry trust him for four years? As a parting gift he gave Gerald $5,000 so he could get started in France." (p. 190)

The National Library of Quebec also contains this bibliography of Robitaille's works, as well as a description of the Gerald Robitialle Fonds. This collection covers 1943-1984 and contains his books, essays and memoirs, as well as his correspondences with Henry Miller.

Thanks again to Pierre from Montreal for some of the graphics.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Henry Rollins On Henry Miller

"I read Henry Miller and I never wanted to sleep again."
---- Henry Rollins

In 1998, punk-rocker/writer/actor/spoken word performer Henry Rollins published an anthology called The Best of 2.13.61, in which appears excerpts of letters from Henry Miller to Brenda Venus.

Rollins began his life in the spotlight as a member of the California punk band Black Flag. During this period, he began his own small press, 2.13.61 Publications, as a means to distribute his own writings. Around this same time, fellow musician Lydia Lunch made a reading suggestion to Rollins:

ROLLINS: "[Lydia said] 'I think you’ll like this guy,' and I’d heard of Henry Miller, but I never had read him. And she gave me Black Spring, which I devoured and that book was hugely influential to me. And like I said before, I had never read anything that brave, and his bravery and his lust for life that comes through in the writing was just so strengthening to me. It just, I don’t know, really gave me a big shot in the arm.
(in an interview on

In Rollins' 1994 memoir, Get In The Van: On The Road With Black Flag, a published diary excerpt from 1984 makes reference to this experience: "I read Black Spring by Henry Miller for a few hours today. This is the coolest book I have ever read." As the book progresses, we see Rollins grow into a big Miller fan, collecting his books from various cities while on tour.

In Black Coffee Blues, (1997) Rollins described Miller's place in his daily life during these years: "I rarely went on the road without one of Miller's books in my backpack. A man I never met kept me company and became my traveling companion and friend."

Years later, he was visiting his mother's house and "I pulled off The Smile at the Foot of the Ladder by Henry Miller from her shelf. I was a big Henry Miller fan, but never had seen this edition. She said, 'I bought this from him at an art opening.' I said, 'Mom, you met Henry Miller?' She said, 'Yeah, and he hit me up for money.' " (Cincinnati CityBeat - Jan 19, 2005.)

While putting together a collection of writings for Best of 2.13.61, Rollins was made aware that the publishing rights to Dear, Dear Brenda--the collection of Miller letters to his young girlfriend, Brenda Venus--were coming up for option (the son of the original publisher was also a friend of Rollins). Here's how Rollins tells it in his Modern Word interview:

"[My friend] says, 'Well, you’re going to have to talk to Brenda.' I said, 'Okay,' and I had a meeting with Brenda, and she was incredibly cool – we’re still friends. I said, 'Let’s do this. But let’s make it unique. Let’s do something different with the book, let’s go through some of Miller’s letters and let’s see if we can add something to the book to make it different than the previous version.'

"So I went to her house one day, and had this amazing afternoon of going through six-inch thick file boxes of letters, written in like a flair pen on a legal pad. It was incredible. In one of them – she was an aspiring actress – she said, “I’m trying to get you a meeting with Coppola, but he’s in the jungle shooting some movie with Marlon Brando.” Like, oh my God! And that letter went in the book."

This interview was conducted in November 2005. But this story of easy acquision sounds quite different from the press conference Rollins gave in Toronto in 1996, two years before he re-printed the Venus letters.

"All of a sudden Brenda Venus called up and went "You don't own the rights to that book. I own the rights to that book." So Josh [Sindell] called me up and said "Ummm... I don't own those rights anymore. I just out. I got a very angry call from Brenda. Ummm... Here's Brenda's number if you want to talk to her." I called up Brenda. Went and had lunch with her. Brought her to my house. Showed her my Henry Miller collection. She said "My, you really like Henry don't you?" I went "Yeah man, he's the man." "Well you love Henry Miller so much, and you're an exceptional young man. I think it'd be wonderful to have Henry's book come out on your label."

And so we did it. And I went through the letters with her. There's 1400 letters of histhat she has. And she threw about five inches of them in my lap one day at her apartment.. Ijust went through these letters. And we found another twenty, thirty pages of stuff to put at theend of the book. So there's unreleased Miller stuff in this new edition. So that was lucky."

Still a happy ending, but probably much more accurate.

The photograph of Rollins with the microphone was taken by Steven Sandick. I found no credits for the other photos. The Rollins Toronto press conference was originally transcribed by Steve Wicary.

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Mezzotints (In A Nutshell)

"To make a Mezzotint of an afternoon like that was like working a jigsaw puzzle. It would take me days to whittle my prose poem down to the required length. Two hundred and fifty words was the maximum that could be printed. I used to write two or three thousand, then reach for the axe."
---- Henry Miller, Plexus (p.99)

I couldn't possibly profile the entire collection of Henry Miller's mezzotints in a single blog post, so count this as an overview.

Late in 1924, while Henry struggled with his newly-ventured Writer's Life--complete with the predictable lack of money--he tried his hand at self-publishing. The original idea, apparently, came from Henry's good friend Joe O'Reagan. Miller would write new material, but also draw upon his own stash of old letters and unpublished prose pieces, just as long as he printed one 250-word document a week. Each piece would be printed on coloured card stock, in quantities of 100 or more.

In Plexus, pages 97-100, Miller writes about the creation of the project and the efforts of Joe, Henry and June [who lived together during this period at 91 Remsen Street, pictured above left] to sell copies to friends and strangers in Greenwich Village and elsewhere in New York City. It was a tough sell; even friends "weren't very enthusiastic [... they] were dubious that I could keep it up for a year. They knew me well." June soon convinced Henry to allow her to put her name on the pieces and to sell them as her own. With her feminine charms, June was able to unload armfuls of the mezzotints, usually for all the wrong reasons.
In the Spring of 1935, Miller reported to Emil Schnellock that he'd created 35 mezzotint titles to date. Although one of these, A Bowery Phoenix would be published in Pearson's Monthly Review in February 1925, Miller's plan to sell subscriptions to the series was a failure. To make sure that his work was being read, Miller even resorted to sending copies to random people in the telephone book. Later in 1925, opening a speakeasy with June became a more reliable option for making ends meet, so the mezzotint project came to an end.

In 1927, an artist friend of Henry's named Hans Stengel thought he could illustrate the collection of mezzotints and get it published by Knopf or Liveright. Stengel's suicide shortly afterward put an end to that.

What exactly is a mezzotint? If you're that interested, take a look at this explanation, or this, or this. The finished look of a mezzotint is impressionistic in a way, very pixilated and grainy. Miller credits Whistler as the influence, though I don't know why, except maybe as an allusion to his impressionistic style. The metaphor being, I guess, that Miller is writing his own "impressions."

Roger Jackson has published, in a limited edition, reproduction of the mezzotints along with a history, in 1993's The Mezzotints. Antiqbook has a picture of this collection (which I've borrowed from for my posting). If you want to track one of these down for your own collection, keep the edition in mind, as some only contain eight reproductions, while others contain photocopies of every piece.

In the next week or so, I'll post a run-down of the individual mezzotint titles, and various anecdotes connected with some of them.

The picture of the mouth on the banner art is a cropped section of a mezzotint print done by artits Chuck Close. I chose it because it's a mezzotint and has a slight resemblance to the mouth of Henry Miller.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

De Maigret's Photographs Of Henry Miller

The November 1972 issue of Magazine Litteraire (#70, published in Paris) was dedicated to the subject of Henry Miller. Amongst the tributes was a rare personal recollection of Miller by his Villa Seurat housemate, Arnaud de Maigret [the cover art--at left--was done by Raymond Moretti].

I've had a hard time trying to find biographical information about de Maigret. He was a photographer, is all I really know. Not even his article "Henry Miller et la Villa Seurat" contains much in the way of autobiography. Instead, it is a portrait of the Villa Seurat street and its residents, mostly Miller. In the piece, de Maigret states that he came to the street "around 1935." In 1939, he moved down a few houses to become a tenant in the home of artist Chana Orloff.

I took French immersion throughout high school (a pretty normal situation in Canada) but have had few opportunities to exercise my French muscles since then. That hasn't stopped me from attempting to translate parts of this article. Overall, I think I did a decent job, but I don't recommend that you quote me on anything.

“When I arrived at 18 Villa Seurat around 1935, my top-floor neighbour was a still unknown, greying 40-something named Henry Miller. In his glass-roofed studio, next to mine, he wrote. In order not to be interrupted, instead of locking his door, he put up an English sign with an obscene phrase, telling those who came to shatter his train of thought to go to hell. Perched on the summit of a high stool, his machine laying on a cabinet, he tapped-away from above for the entire day. He always wore a cap: “so that my ideas don’t fly away.” ............

"In the winter, our house was a glacier, the landlord as stingy with his money as he was with his coal. One night while Miller was out, I found, written by Mategot in chalk on the door of the cellar: “I’m frozen. Give us heat, or tomorrow I’ll paint this in oils and, if necessary, burn the words into the door.” If Mategot was cold at ground level, can you imagine how cold the top floor studios were? Using charcoal, I added my complaint next to the other, and, for extra measure, added: “I have icy stalactites on my roubignolles (testicles). Signed, Henry Miller.”

Miller was usually moving about like a cyclone, rushing down the stairs with the speed of light. Later that day, I heard him come home, slam the door, then stop dead in front of the inscription. He chuckled quietly. Then he rushed up the stairs, came back down like the wind, then before he could forget the word, went back up, but couldn’t find it in the dictionary.
The next day, he said:-- Tell me, Maillegrett, what’s a roubignolle?"

These are just two anecdotes about Miller. There are one or two more, including one in which they discuss the politics of the time (late 30's). I'll post those some other time.

I always picture the Miller of this era with one of those Stetson-type hats; until I read this and saw the photographs above and below, I never realized that he often wore a cap. Here's another de Maigret photo, of Miller warming his frozen roubignolles by the fire at Villa Seurat:

According the this reference in the University Of Victoria Miller collection, this photo was taken in 1935 or 36.

The rest of the Miller content in this issue of Magazine Litteraire includes: 1) a feature on the Dutch film version of Quiey Days In Clichy; 2) Le Zarathoustra de Brooklyn by Anne-Marie Bidaud; 3) Miller ou l'Ecriture du Desir by Robert Louit; 4) Henry Miller: 'L'obsenite dans la litterature au meme titre que dans la vie'; 5) Le Roc Heureux by Lawrence Durrell; 6) Un Ecrivain Americain Nous Est Ne by Blaise Cendrars; 7) Les Eaux Remiroitees (The Waters Reglitterized) by Henry Miller; 8) Faites L'Amour Pas Le Carnage (Make Love Not War) by Henry Miller.

Follow this link to see an on-line index of Henry Miller reviews and articles printed in Magazine Litteraire since 1986.

De Maigret appears to have contributed to a book on Parisien trains called Almanach du Cheminot (1958), but, otherwise, his internet presence is almost nil.

In the spirit of 'fair use,' I should mention that this de Maigret article ends with a copyright notice by Agence Maurice Renaut, but Mr. R appears to be inactive.

A thousand Thank Yous to Pierre from Montreal for access to this material.

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Henry Miller Writing Commandments

"After all, most writing is done away from the typewriter, away from the desk. I'd say it occurs in the quiet, silent moments, while you're walking or shaving or playing a game, or whatever, or even talking to someone you're not vitally interested in."
---- Henry Miller

In Henry Miller Miscellanea (and re-printed in Henry Miller On Writing), there exists a Top 11 list of "commandments" which Henry jotted down for himself, as inspiration for his writing work schedule in 1932/33. Not only do the listed items present a fantastic insight into Miller's self-reflective thoughts, but they reveal a man countering his own anxious writer demons. Every confident exclamated proclamation counters a weakness that nearly every single writer can identify with.

1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to Black Spring.
3. Don't be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
4. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
5. When you can't create you can work.
6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
8. Don't be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
9. Discard the Program when you feel like it--but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.


MORNINGS: If groggy, type notes and allocate, as stimulus. If in fine fettle, write.

AFTERNOONS: Work on section in hand, following plan of section scrupulously. No intrusions, no diversions. Write to finish one section at a time, for good and all.

EVENINGS: See friends. Read in cafes. Explore unfamiliar sections--on foot if wet, on bicycle, if dry. Write, if in mood, but only on Minor program. Paint if empty or tired. Make notes. Make charts, Plans. Make corrections of MS.

Note: Allow sufficient time during daylight to make an occasional visit to museums or an occassional sketch or an occasional bike ride. Sketch in cafes and trains and streets. Cut the movies! Library for reference once a week."

A couple of years later, Miller was installed at 18 Villa Seurat. His studio work space was photographed by his neighbour, Arnaud de Maigret, seen below:

From this picture, we can see a few things that made writing a bit easier for Henry Miller. Desk facing a window. Radio. Telephone within easy reach. Quotes on the wall (it's hard to make out, but there are words high on the wall). A mirror sits right next to him, for literal self-reflection.

"I have moved the typewriter into the next room where I can see myself in the mirror as I write." [Henry Miller from Tropic Of Cancer, p. 5]

Banner art: Miller writing - an image capture from The Henry Miller Odyssey; notes - Miller's own notes, from the same source. Miller at right - from the cover of Nexus II.

De Maigret photo of Miller's studio - from an article on de Maigret's impressions of Miller and Villa Seurat in Magazine Litteraire (Paris) November 1972 [thanks to Pierre]. This article will be presented as feature post very soon.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Henry Miller And Bob Dylan

PLAYBOY: Do you think you have a purpose and a mission?
BOB DYLAN: Henry Miller said it: The role of an artist is to inoculate the world with disillusionment.
------- Bob Dylan in a Playboy interview, March 1966
I like Bob Dylan well enough, but I wouldn't say I'm a fan. The cultural mania to revere his every word and act seems like a trumped-up fuss to me. I suppose I could be accused of doing the same for Henry Miller, and I guess they'd be right. To each his/her own idol. But there's no denying the influence Dylan has had on pop culture and his significant role as an icon.

It's no little wonder that the ego that is Dylan and the ego that is Miller did not click when the two men met in October 1963.

Bob Dylan discovered the writing of Henry Miller in his younger days. In the same Playboy interview quoted above, he states: "I like Henry Miller. I think he's the greatest American writer." This appreciation was likely the catalyst for his visit to Henry Miller's house on Ocampo Drive in the Pacific Palisades in October 1963.

In 1963, Joan Baez was riding a career high. Dylan had just released The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan and was skyrocketing in popularity. Baez and Dylan met that year and played several concerts together. How the visit with Miller came about, I can only guess that Miller was brought up in conversation and Baez, who grew up in California, mentioned she knew where to find him. [Baez and Dylan pictured above in Sept 1963].
After Dylan (then 23) played a show one day in October (after the Hollywood Bowl show on October 9th?), Joan Baez and her sister brought Bob to meet Henry Miller. In the 1966 Playboy interview, Dylan describes the meeting like this: "Yeah, I met him. Years ago. Played ping-pony [sic] with him." In the early 70's, Miller recounted the meeting in more detail:
"You know, Bob Dylan came to my house ten years ago. Joan Baez and her sister brought him and some friends to see me. But Dylan was snooty and arrogant. He was a kid then, of course. And he didn't like me. He thought I was talking down to him, which I wasn't. I was trying to be sociable. But we just couldn't get together. But I know that he is a character, probably a genius, and I really should listen to his work. I'm full of prejudices like everybody else. My kids love him and the Beatles and all the rest."
The following year, Dylan released the album Another Side Of Bob Dylan, the liner notes of which contained several Dylan poems. One of them makes reference to the Miller meeting:
henry miller stands on other sideof ping pong table an' keepstalkin' about me. "did you askthe poet fellow if he wantssomething t' drink" he says t'someone gettin' all the drinks.i drop my ping pong paddlean' look at the pool. my worstenemies don't even put me downin such a mysterious way.
In 1966, Dylan still had Miller on his mind when he wrote the prose poem Tarantula, in which he writes in a stream-of-consciousness manner of the Beats, or, going back further, Henry Miller. Briefly in Tarantula, a character is confused about who Henry Miller is, to which Dylan's narrator explains: "he's a cavedweller-he's an artist-he writes about God."
In an interview with NME in July 1981, Dylan was asked what he thought about his Miller quote in the Playboy interview: did he still agree with it?
"(Laughs) That's pretty good for Henry Miller... maybe that would be good for what he wanted to do. Maybe that's the purpose of his art [...] What I do is more of an immediate thing; to stand up on stage and sing - you get it back immediately."
Even in Bob Dylan's senior years, Henry Miller seems like a ghostly wire inside the language portion of his brain. Reviewing Dylan's recent autobiography Chronicles, Rolling Stone magazine compared it to "Henry Miller's best personal writings." Uh..... I don't think so. Hey, I'm full of prejudices like everybody else.
In the banner art: Miller photo credited to Whitnah (1961), Dylan photo to Eugene Smith (1965), psychadelic Dylan graphic to Martin Sharp, and the blue face was painted by Henry Miller ("Mon Ami").

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Dimanche Apres La Guerre (1955)

For Xmas, my brother kindly gave me a French first edition of Miller's Sunday After The War.

This edition is listed as A93 in Shifreen and Jackson's Henry Miller bibliography. It was published in Paris in 1955 by Éditions du Chêne, which is still in business. The publishing house was started in 1941 by 21-year old Maurice Girodias, son of Jack Kahane. In 1949, Maurice was in financial trouble and had no choice but to sell du Chene and his father's Obelisk Press, to France's dominant Hachette book company (Girodias later redeemed himself in 1953 by creating Olympia Press). A decade later, Grove Press would battle with Editions du Chene to get publishing rights to Miller's work, which they owned after the Girodias acquisitions.

The rights to Sunday After The War, however, appear to have originated with New Directions, which published the first English edition in 1944, and subsequent copies in 1945 and 1961 (source: William Ashley)

Inside the book, it advertizes a du Chene edition of Tropique Du Capricorne, as well as Obelisk English editions of Tropic Of Cancer, Tropic Of Canpricorn and Black Spring. Dimanche was printed in 1955 by 'Brodard et Taupin' then shipped to the offices of Editions du Chene at 4, rue de Galliera, Paris.

My search of the French shows only three editions in French: this 1955 version; a 1977 edition published by Stock as part of their Littérature Etrangère series; and a 1993 Stock reprint.

Miller's words were translated for this edition by Georges Belmont (a friend of his who would later interview him for Playboy).

Inside the back cover of the book is a full page biography of Henry up to 1955, which includes the photo of him [at left]. The final words of the bio are "Henry Miller vit aux Etats-Unis dans une petite ville de Californie."
La Sagesse Du Coeur
Reflexions Sur L'Art D'Ecrire
L'Art Et L'Avenir
Lettre Aux Surrealistes En Tous Lieux
Preface Originale A "Hollywood's Hallucination" (Original Preface To ..)
Un Etre Etoilique
L'Obscure Monomanie (Shadowy Monomania [D.H. Lawrence])
Puissance de la Mort
L'Univers de la Mort
Le Pont de Brooklyn

This collection really isn't true to the original English collection of works under this title. I know a bit of French, and am only realizing this out as I compose this blog entry. Not close at all, actually. Some of these are from Cosmological Eye, some later to be printed in Wisdom Of The Heart.

I hope to compare the French translation to Miller's English original, in order to better acquaint myself with the French language. Wish me luck.