Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Michael Fraenkel - A Biographical Timeline

"A writer's first duty is to himself--to liberate himself, to come clean of his past, of his death, to come alive. A personal record. No time for anything else. Anything else is literature--with a bad smell!"
----Michael Fraenkel, The Genesis of Tropic Of Cancer, p. 45.

"Fraenkel! If he were here I would put my arms around him and hug him! Where is that little man with the bright glancing eye, the flame in his guts, the fire in his brain, the fierce, inquiring mind, the shameless arrogance and humility that makes one weep, so deep is it and so genuine. Fraenkel? Why little Fraenkel, so despised, so misunderstood, so tortured and bound up with his inner conflicts--Fraenkel is a man very much alive, a man with the Holy Ghost in his bowels, where it belongs, and if he is the philosopher of death he breathes more life than all that crew combined."
----Henry Miller, in a letter to Emil Schnellock, May 20, 1933

Michael Frankel. The Weather Prophet. "Boris" in Tropic Of Cancer. Henry Miller's landlord, early supporter, muse for all Death-related themes, Hamlet correspondent, much abused friend, blunt critic, publisher, and intellectual.

I can't cover Fraenkel in a single post, so I'm going to break them up into blog pieces over the next week or so. For today, I've strung together a biographical timeline drawn from various books about Miller, plus a few web sources.

If I were fortunate enough, I would have a copy of Walter Lowenfels and Howard McCord's The Life Of Fraenkel's Death: A Biographical Inquest (1970), which I assume contains more detailed information than I'm able to provide here.

[**UPDATE March 2007: Since this biography was first posted, a few errors have been pointed out to me. I mostly used the three most accesible Miller biographies when compiling this timeline, but more recent Fraenkel research by Karl Orend shows that I'm wrong on several points. These changes have been added in red; unfortunately, I don't have primary source references to back-up this updated information; but it comes from Orend's work, which I consider highly credible.]


1896 Fraenkel is born to Lithuanian-Jewish parents (in New York?) [born in Lithuania, came to NYC circa 1902]

1906 (circa) Young Michael must work as a child, selling candy to factory workers. Sells papers.

1916-1926? Sells encyclopedias, plus used, outdated, and remaindered books, off of which he makes a fortune. Compounded with his Stock Market investment returns, he's worth $100,000. [ths was his own business

1926 Moves to Paris to write.

1927? A couple of poems are published in [Eugene Tolas'] transition magazine.

1928 - Living in Vezelay, France, in a schoolhouse called Maison de Carrefour, where his wife Blanche teaches; they have two children (ref. Karl Orend, Nexus journal 3, p. 72)

1929 Begins work on his Weather Paper. [this is the year he really began developing his theories about Death]

1929 Fraenkel's self-made fortune, dwindled after three years in Paris, is hit even harder by the Stock Market Crash.

1930 Fraenkel and fellow expat American Walter Lowenfels create the self-financed Carrefour Press. Their first publication is a pamphlet manifesto called Anonymous: The Need For Anonymity, in which they make a case for writers to hide behind their words. This is followed immediately by Fraenkel's own Werther's Younger Brother ... published anonymously, of course.

1931 Lowenfels introduces Fraenkel to Henry Miller (in the 1981 preface to Hamlet, Miller says that Bertha Schrank introduced them [neither is true -- seems that Miller met Fraenkel through J. Millard Osman] Miller stays at his house at 18 Villa Seurat for a few weeks. Miller is impressed with Werther's and much engaged by Fraenkel's Death talk. Michael tells Henry to destroy [re-write] Crazy Cock. In July, Frankel is forced to sublet the Villa Seurat house [not quite]. He returns to New York [in 1932]. [Fraenkel's divorce from his wife is also underway this year.]

1932 Fraenkel's finances are now exhausted, forcing him to get back into the bookselling business. Anais Nin offers to finance the publication of Tropic Of Cancer on Fraenkel's Carrefour Press, but Michael is not very impressed with the much-reduced latest draft, which no longer contains the Death themes he'd inspired Henry to write. [not true - the book was revised later]. In July, Fraenkel tells Henry he'll have it published in Belgium, but then he and Lowenfels have a falling out and the idea is forgotten. Henry keeps in touch with Michael in New York via his N.Y. friend Emil Schnellock.

[the opening paragraph of Cancer will eventually contain words directly inspired by Fraenkel: "We are all alone here and we are dead."]

1933 Fraenkel goes back and forth between Paris and the States. [Fraenkel was often in China and the Phillipines around this time].

1934 Has made $50,000 from his bookselling business, in which he distributes American overstock to places like China and the Philippines, and sells outdated dictionaries and the like to nuns in Puerto Rico. [this last part apparently untrue].

1934 Henry Miller moves back into 18 Villa Seurat. He and Alfred Perles treat Fraenkel poorly, stealing from his pockets, tormenting him, and, in Perles' case, fooling around with his girlfriend behind his back [this apparently not true]. Tropic Of Cancer is published: Miller sends the first copy to Fraenkel.

1935 In June, Anais is disgusted with Fraenkel's ego and his claims to have been indirectly responsible for Miller's Black Spring. Nin buys a press in which to publish her own work, but Miller and Fraenkel use it for their own purposes [not true?], despite having named it Siana Press (Anais spelled backwards). In September, he, Miller and Perles conceive the thousand page Hamlet book, while having drinks at Cafe Zeyer. The correspondence begins in November.

1936 A collection of his poems from 1927-1930 is published as Death In A Room. Also, his Bastard Death: Autobiography of an Idea is published, and is reviewed by George Orwell in the New English Weekly.

1938 In October, the Hamlet correspondence ends, leaving a rift between Fraenkel and Miller. [this entire conflict is described in detail in the book Henry Millers' Red Phoenix.]

1938 Leaves Paris for Puerto Rico, effectively ending his association with the Villa Seurat group.

1939 An abridged version of the Hamlet letters is published by Carrefour Press while Fraenkel is still in Puerto Rico. Fraenkel's Death Is Not Enough: Essays In Active Negation is published.

1940 Fraenkel goes to Mexico in a quest to get Bastard Death printed there. He stays there for four years.

1941 Volume II of Hamlet is published by Carrefour.

1943 A complete edition of Hamlet is published by Carrefour.

1945 Michael contributes The Genesis Of Tropic Of Cancer to The Happy Rock Miller tribute.

1946 Fraenkel and Robert Duncan put out Death: A Literary Quarterly, which includes a letter from Henry Miller. [Note: Sam Bluefarb has stated (personal email, OCT 2008) that it was not Duncan, but Harry Herschkowitz with whom Fraenkel collaborated on this publication].

1947 Irving Stettner prints Fraenkel's The Day Face And The Night Face.

1957 Michael Fraenkel dies in May (the New York Times obituary defines him as "poet and critic"). His widow, Daphne, inherits Carrefour Press and Fraenkel's work, including the Hamlet letters.


Blogger finefettle said...

Bravo! I just bought the original printing of bastard death at the HM library in Big Sur a few months ago. I can see his influence. Thank you for your blog. I read it all the time.

6:46 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harry Herschkowitz is the editor and publisher of DEATH, A Literary Quarterly. This No. 1 and only issue is devoted totally to writer Michael Fraenkel's ideas and contains a selection of his texts (Henry Miller introduced Herschkowitz to Fraenkel). Beauford Delaney, a friend of Miller and Herschkowitz, has drawn a portrait of Michael Fraenkel that serves as a frontispiece on page 2. Henry Miller's contribution, placed on the back of the magazine, is a reprint of a letter of May 10, 1945, expressing his thoughts about the end of the war, he has sent Stefan Schimanski, a friend in London editor of Transformation.

5:33 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

Excuse my late arrival. What Sylvain says is largely true but the "totally" of the dedication might be slightly misinterpreted. The number has a dedication page and the issue is dedicated to Frankel and his "Death Theme" but there are nine poems included in Death only one of which (by Scott Greer) is personally dedicated to Frankel. Robert Duncan has a poem entitled, "Witnesses". There is an abstract for a novel by Robert Flottemesch entitled, "Two Techniques" and a short story called "Neon Tube Valley" by Lion Judah Konigsberg. Now, I have no idea if these last two names are nom de plumes but on the surface they appear as separate entities apart from the reviews of Frankel's books and essays by or about Frankel. The eight other poems also appear to stand apart from the concentration on Frankel.

I thank Sylvain for the information and perhaps we need to know whether or not these names are of the pen but I tend to doubt that.

I am not surprised that this was the only issue. Without any knowledge of the fact I somehow sensed it. Bought my copy for $5.00 with a note written in pencil on the dedication page, "Letter from H. Miller, page 57".

12:24 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Me again, sorry for the misspelling of Fraenkel's name. What a knucklehead I am!

12:28 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just re the entry 1927

Eugene Jolas not Tolas, surely. Another francophone US expat.

7:53 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sept. 27, 2013 Sydney Michael Fraenkel's ONLY
daughter, Marie Blanche Marguerite Dore ' Fraenkel
died on Sept. 5, 2013 on her 66th wedding anniversary
to Gene Myers from Idaho. Marguerite was 85 at
the time of her death. She lived a long, full life.
Traveled and lived around the world, particularly the
Middle and Far East with her husband, who was employed in the oil industry and her 3 children:
Madeleine Anne Sloan, Eugene Myers, jr. who decoded
the human genome at Celera and Lloyd John Myers.
madeleine sloan - companion of Hunter S Thompson, eternal friend of Val and Tony Miller

9:31 pm  
Blogger mmjiaxin said...

true religion jeans
adidas outlet
giuseppe zanotti outlet
wedding dresses uk
beats by dre
oakley sunglasses
tory burch sale
fred perry polo shirts
ugg boots uk
michael kors canada
barbour jackets
true religion jeans
ugg boots outlet,ugg outlet
louis vuitton handbags outlet
nike trainers
nike free uk
ray-ban sunglasses
canada goose outlet
vans shoes
true religion outlet uk

8:47 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

new york giants jerseys
nike mercurial
air jordan 4
redskins jerseys
los angeles clippers
air max 2014
bengals jersey
seahawks jersey
cardinals jersey
nike outlet store
miami dolphins jersey
indianapolis colts jersey
nike air max uk
los angeles lakers jersey
carolina jerseys
los angeles lakers jerseys
los angeles lakers
new york knicks jerseys
abercrombie outlet
packers jerseys
detroit lions jerseys
san antonio spurs jersey
cincinnati bengals jerseys
vans outlet
raiders jerseys
tommy hilfiger
jets jersey
chicago bulls
falcons jersey
arizona cardinals jerseys
chargers jerseys
nike trainers
buffalo bills jerseys
baltimore ravens jerseys
tommy hilfiger uk

5:57 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

adidas stan smith sneakers
nike mercurial
prada glasses
ferragamo belts
michael kors outlet online
kobe shoes
pandora jewelry
michael kors uk
yeezy shoes
kobe basketball shoes

1:10 am  
Blogger raybanoutlet001 said...

new york giants jerseys
hermes belts
packers jerseys
nba jerseys
fitflops shoes
hugo boss outlet
ray ban sunglasses outlet
chaussure louboutin
new york knicks jersey
oakland raiders jerseys

3:19 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

cheap jordans
yeezy shoes
chrome hearts
michael kors outlet store
air jordan shoes
kobe 9
curry 3 shoes
hogan outlet
adidas nmd

5:24 am  
Blogger raybanoutlet001 said...

mont blanc outlet
los angeles lakers jerseys
polo ralph lauren
ugg boots
nike tn
jordan shoes
michael kors bags
jordan 4
cheap basketball shoes
coach bags

9:47 pm  
Blogger jeje said...

yeezy boost 350 v2
pandora charms
lacoste polo
roshe shoes
yeezy boost
louboutin shoes uk
nike free
cheap jordans
air max 90
goyard bags

10:30 pm  
Blogger jeje said...

cheap nba jerseys
yeezy boost 350 v2
football pas cher
red bottoms
ugg boots clearance
christian louboutin sale
canada goose uk
new nike shoes
soccer shoes

9:35 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...


golden goose sneakers
off white clothing brand
ugg boots
ralph lauren uk
coach outlet online
ugg boots
polo ralph lauren
coach outlet
ray ban sunglasses
pandora jewelry

10:35 pm  
Blogger 时间 said...

0810jeje3 flammes vous nike air jordan xxxi mettront en marche sans que vos pensées ne soient mises en asics running homme pas cher doute. Il est effectivement pensé que tous les nike air flight huarache détaillants de chaussures de sport dans le monde entier Asics Gel Lyte 3 Femme Noir ont réduit Nike Chaussures. Donc, lorsque nous communiquons basket enfant nike air max sur la valeur de la créativité, ce air jordan femme rose et noir que nous indiquons, c'est qu'il est utile ou crucial asics chaussure course pied d'être en mesure d'examiner et de livrer avec originalité et expressivité. air nike presto

9:13 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...


hugo boss
nike huarache
fitflops clearance
christian louboutin shoes
coach outlet
coach outlet factory
moncler jackets
ralph lauren polo
nike shoes

10:26 pm  
Blogger 5689 said...

coach outlet online
coach outlet
mlb jerseys
ugg outlet clearance
canada goose outlet
ray ban sunglasses
nike shoes outlet
coach outlet factory
red bottom shoes

10:09 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

rolex replica
red bottom shoes
nike air huarache
yeezy boost 350 v2
lebron james shoes
balenciaga sneakers
lebron 16
fila shoes
kyrie irving shoes
golden goose

3:38 am  
Blogger Pengobatan Tradisional said...

Perusahaan seo handal Indonesia | Layanan jasa SEO web. | pemesanan jasa seo.

9:44 am  
Blogger yanmaneee said...

air force 1
air max 2018
timberland outlet
curry 6 shoes
nike huarache
coach outlet online
baseball jerseys
off white clothing
russell westbrook shoes
kd shoes

11:00 pm  
Blogger yanmaneee said...

golden goose
air jordan
supreme clothing
stone island
kobe basketball shoes
yeezy 350
longchamp outlet
off white jordan 1

10:09 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home