Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Daphne Fraenkel - The Hamlet Heiress

When Michael Fraenkel died in 1957, he left a wife named Daphne. She would probably have been a minor footnote in the Miller life story--known simply as Michael Fraenkel's wife--but she made herself more pronounced later on, when her inherited rights to the Miller-Fraenkel correspondence Hamlet would cause Henry much frustration.

Daphne Moschos Gillam: she married a few times. I haven't read the rare Fraenkel biographical sketches, so my information on Daphne is limited. My sources are Michael Hargraves' introduction to the 1988 Fraenkel-less Capra edition of Hamlet, Henry Miller's preface to the same book, and the website t-bag.org (of unknown identity and uncertain credibility). The website includes a travel diary through Europe from 1975, during which the author stayed in Daphne's apartment for a night.

According to this website, in an entry dated August 1-8 [1975], Daphne lived at 27 Letterstone Road London SW6 Fulham:

"Daphne was born in Paris on April 8th 1900. Had flaming red hair and always wore purple. She had been married a couple of times. Taught school in Indiana. Witnessed World War I up close and personal, and said it was much worse than the second one [...] Daphne published and printed books for poets and playwrights. Carrefour Publications was what is called a vanity press [...] She typeset the books on a special typewriter. Then printed each sheet on a small printing press [...] Books were stacked in every square foot of her small apartment. Somehow I found room under the printing press for my sleeping bag."

When Michael Fraenkel died in 1957, Daphne inherited his work as well as Carrefour Press. Fraenkel had owned the rights to the Hamlet letters, so they passed to her as well. Miller held a grudge over not having rights to the project for many years. In 1962, Daphne used Carrefour to publish a fairly complete edition of Hamlet in tribute to Michael.

Miller declared: "I never received a copy of the book nor a penny in royalties." Daphne would eventually hand the rights over to Michael Hargraves for an American edition. When Hargraves presented Henry Miller with a copy of the book he never received, Henry signed it "To Michael Hargraves--the proud possessor of an unauthorized edition by me."

Hargraves was informed by Daphne that she disliked Henry. Henry harbored bad feelings about her as well. Hargraves: "In one letter to me he wrote, 'My feeling about Daphne hasn't changed over the years. I always regarded her as a rather astute horse's ass.' While in another letter he wrote: 'She cheated me out of royalties on that handsome British [1962] edition. More, she treated me in her blurbs [from the back of the book, taken from 1940s reviews] as if I were the fifth wheel on a wagon." Hargraves also notes that attempts had previsouly been made to publish an American edition, but Daphne thwarted them all.

Finally, A Short History Of Carrefour Press And Archives (1994) contains a letter from Henry to Daphne, dated June 16, 1957, in which he offers her condolances for Michael's death. (ref. only)

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Henry Miller in Durrell Teleplay On PBS

On April 9, 2006, be prepared to see Henry Miller portrayed in the television adaptation of My Family And Other Animals, which dramatizes the early years of Gerald Durrell and his family.

The teleplay was adapted from the Gerald Durrell autobiography of the same name, which focuses on his childhood in Corfu and the development of his interest in animal life. The book doesn't mention Henry Miller at all, but this adaptation--by Men Behaving Badly writer Simon Nye--includes biographical elements not included in the original source material. This includes a visit to Corfu by Henry Miller, during his Greece excursion in 1939.

The person playing Henry Miller is a little-known Canadian actor named Mark Caven [at left]. Not having seen this production yet, I can't comment on his abilities to play Henry, but the look isn't half bad (see my old posting on casting Henry Miller). I imagine his screen time is pretty short. It will portray Henry and other writer friends as eccentric bohemians causing "mayhem" at the Durrell's Corfu villa; this includes a scene in which Henry is shown typing in the nude (according to a review on catholic.org).

Gerald Durrell's connection to Henry comes, of course, through his old brother Lawrence. A poem of Gerald's was printed in The Booster in 1937 when he was just 11 years old.

My Family And Other Animals was turned into a TV series in 1987, but doesn't appear to have featured Henry Miller. This new BBC version aired on the Beeb on December 27th last year. But, North American audiences may watch it on April 9, 2006, as a Masterpiece Theatre presentation on PBS. Check your local listings.

Gerald Durrell and actor Eugene Simon.

Lawrence Durrell and actor Matthew Goode.

Miller-less video clips of My Family may be viewed on the PBS website and on the BBC website .

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Gupte - The Hindu Saint

Who was Gupte?

Here’s a pretty minor piece of Henry Miller trivia, yet related to my posting about Muzumdar. In Tropic Of Cancer, Henry writes about two Hindus, whom he’d considered “saints.” This is what is says on page 78 (Grove Weidenfeld edition):

“In America I had a number of Hindu friends, some good, some bad, some indifferent. Circumstances had placed me in a position where fortunately I could be of aid to them; I secured jobs for them, I harbored them, and I fed them when necessary. They were very grateful, I must say; so much so, in fact that they made my life miserable with their attentions. Two of them were saints, if I know what a saint is; particularly Gupte who was found one morning with his throat cut from ear to ear. In a little boarding house in Greenwich Village he was found one morning stretched out stark naked on the bed, his flute beside him, and his throat gashed, as I say from ear to ear. It was never discovered whether he had been murdered or whether he had committed suicide. But that’s neither here nor there ….”
Here's what I think I've uncovered about Gupte. A news story from the New York Times for July 31, 1922 (at which time Henry was at Western Union) headlined:

HINDU SOUL STUDENT A SUICIDE IN VILLAGE; Scion of Distinguished Family in India Found Dead of Gas in Furnished Room. RECENTLY AT A UNIVERSITY Came Here From Illinois Institution --Paintings of Merit Found in His Effects
His name was Salatil S. Gupge (close to "Gupte"). The opening text reads:
"Salatil S. Gupge, a Hindu student at the University of Illinois, and described as a scion of a distinguished family of India, was found asphyxiated yesterday morning in a furnished room at 15 Commerce Street, Greenwich Village."
Gupte/Gupye. Student (meaning he could have worked at Western Union). Suicide. Greenwich Village. 1922. No mention of a slit throat, but Miller could easily have fudged the facts (not like he hadn't done that before) or, because the passage from Cancer states that "it has never been discovered," this could just be gossip he'd heard, which had been corrupted through the grapevine.
Here's more evidence: The New York City Death Index has a record for this death.
Gupte, Shartam S - (age) 29 y - (date of death) Jul 30 1922 - (certificate number) 20208 - (county) Manhattan - (Soundex) G130.
The spelling is correct here: Gupte. Not important in terms of Henry Miller's biography, but a detail none the less.
(** I had previously titled this "Gupte-The Messenger Saint" (that's why there's a telegram in the banner art) but I realized I'd made an assumption that he was a messenger; but I don't actually know that, although Miller says he "secured jobs for them," which probably means at Western Union ... but I don't know if Gupte's job was as messenger.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Haridas Muzumdar - Miller's Hindu Connection

The subject of Haridas Muzumdar was brought up to me by Kreg at Millerwalks.com. I immediately found myself pre-occupied with investingating the relationship between Henry Miller and Muzumdar, a man who went from being Miller's Western Union assistant to being Mahatma Gandhi's spokesman in America.

Besides being an esteemed individual in his efforts to support Gandhi and India's independence movement, as well as the American Civil Rights Movement, Muzumdar also has the misfortune of generally being acknowledged as the unidentified man who mistakingly shits in a bidet in a Paris brothel, as portrayed in Tropic Of Cancer. I'll try to back this conclusion up.


Born in India, Muzumdar came to the U.S. in 1920 "to study" [New York Times, Feb. 26, 1956, p.26 (1)]. 1920 was also the year Henry joined Western Union and quickly became an Employment Manager. According to Ferguson's Henry Miller: A Life, Miller employed Muzumdar and liked him enough to make him his assistant.

Haridas Muzumdar makes a pretty obvious appearance in Miller's Moloch, under the name "Hari Das." As if to confirm the identity, Miller writes about an incident in which Hari is harrassed by street urchins on his second day at Western Union, at which point he pulls out a copy of An Open Letter To Lloyd George--an essay he actually wrote--and starts reciting it [Muzumdar's Gandhi Versus The Empire (1932) lists Open Letter as the first piece written "by the same author.")

According to Miller in Moloch, Muzumdar had taken the Western Union job two months after his arrival in America: "He thought of his intended studies at Columbia. They seemed far away, and about as useful as a totem pole. [...] What could he do, in America, with a degree of 'Doctor of Philosophy '?" (p. 11) Muzumdar became a friend of Henry's; he visited his home for dinner and discussions. The "Hari Das" of Moloch will be featured in some other posting one day.

Muzumdar began to make a name for himself in 1923, a year before Miller left Western Union. Gandhi The Apostle (Chicago: Universal, 1923) was, according to Muzumdar, "the first full-length portrait of the Mahatma to appear in any language of the world" (ref.) [excerpts from a 1923 review in The Nation]. Miller makes reference to Muzumdar in a letter to Emil Schnellock dated November 5, 1923: "Write Haridas Thakorrial Muzumdar and request a copy of the New York Call."

Photo above: Muzumdar (in middle) laying garlands on the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia on January 26, 1931, to mark the first anniversary of India's Declaration of Independence [pic from Gandhi Versus The Empire].

Muzumdar continued to write from the U.S. about India's "non-violent revolution" throughout the 20's, but finally joined Gandhi in India in 1929. Muzumdar was part of Gandhi's famous Salt March in March-April 1930. During the march, Muzumdar upset Gandhi by eating ice cream when nobody else could. As one would hope, Gandhi didn't hold a grudge, and Muzumdar continued to be his champion in the U.S., writing Gandhi Versus The Empire (1932), Gandhi Triumphant! (1939), and more.


In Tropic Of Cancer, Miller tells of his brief and miserable stay with another Hindu from Western Union, N.P. Nanavati, a pearl merchant (called Nanantatee in the novel). Dearborn's Happiest Man Alive incorrectly identifies Nanavanti as Muzumdar (which she also spells incorrectly, an error Ferguson also makes). Anyway, through him, Miller is introduced to an unnamed Indian man described as a "young man" (to Miller's 40-year old self, anyway), to whom he is assigned the task of taking to a brothel. Long story short, as I'm sure you all know, this man shits in the bidet instead of just peeing in it, which is all one should do. A big stink is made, so to speak, and the dignified, refined Indian man is embarrased.

Is this Muzumdar? As narrator, Miller never insinuates that he's met him before. In fact, I'm not even saying that Miller did anything more than base a character on Muzumdar. However, this "young man" is "decked out in a corduroy suit, a beret, a cane, a Windsor tie" and other wise very refined, as is his educated speech. This is comparable to the Hari Das of Moloch and the reality of Muzumdar's education. He's also described as being "one of Gandhi's men, one of that little band who made the historic march to the sea during the salt trouble."

After they leave the brothel, further evidence is provided as Miller describes: "He talks about the eight vows that he took, the control of the palate, etc. On the march to Dandi even a plate of ice cream it was forbidden to take." Yes, even the ice cream is mentioned. He goes on to tell how the Young Man has newspaper men to see and lectures to give, as was Muzumdar's role. Also: "He has been to America." Finally, on page 94, Miller calls the Young Man a "saint:" at the start of the chapter, he references two Hindu "saints" he knew at Western Union, but only names one (Gupte). I think Muzumdar is the other.

Okay, one more: this bidet thing happened around August 1930, during the couple of weeks he was staying with Nanavati. On p. 90 of Cancer, Miller begins his introduction of the Young Man by saying "The young man had just come from India [...] The money he was spending was a gift from the merchants of Bombay; they were sending him to England to spread the gospel of Gandhi." In 1952, Muzumdar's preface to Mahatma Gandhi: Peaceful Revolutionary states "When all is said and done, my greatest debt is to the Saint of Sabarmati, my association with whom at the Satyagraha Ashram, on the Dandi March, and in London, I count among the greatest privileges in life" (thus placing him in England at that time). And in an article in the New York Times, dated August 29, 1930, Muzumdar is said to have "left India on July 11" (and was in New York by Aug. 29). These facts establish the possibility that Haridas was in Paris in late-July/early August 1930, the period in which Henry was with Nanavati.


1930s: Lectures in support of Marcus Garvey, at UNIA meetings;

1931: Prominent New York lecturer on the subject of Gandhi and India:

1947: Becomes a U.S. citizen;

Early 1950's: Professor of Sociology at Cornel College, Mt. Vernon, Iowa;

1956: Runs for US Congress as a Republican;

1982: Greatness of Gandhi: An American Estimate, edited by Muzumdar. After this, I lose track. I've located no obituary. Perhaps he's still alive?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Frances Steloff And The Gotham Book Mart

Frances Steloff and her Gotham Book Mart in New York City were essential instruments of exposure for Henry Miller in America. Not only did she carry copies of The Booster on her store racks, she also distributed copies of Tropic Of Cancer before it was legal to do so in the USA.

Henry Miller met Frances ("Fanny") Steloff during his visit to New York in 1935. Gotham Book Mart (at 51 West 47th Street) was a natural point of interest for Miller, having established itself as the foremost seller of avant-garde literature in New York. Since the store opened in 1920, Steloff and her husband (1923) Davis Moss were known to subvert literary censorship, by carrying banned works, such as DH Lawrence's Lady Chatterly's Lover in the late 1920's.

Upon Miller's return to Paris in 1936, he maintained contact with Steloff by mail. In 1937, she took an order of The Booster to sell in the shop. By 1939, they were writing to each other regularly (many of these letters can be found in the Miller collection at the NYPL). In February 1939, Henry jotted down a reminder in his Paris Notebook "Do water-colors for Gotham Book Mart!!" (Ref. Item 50)

From Dearborn's Happiest Man Alive: "'I have ceased warring against the world' [Miller] wrote Frances Steloff in 1939. He believed in a greater force than himself, he told her. He was, he said, certain that destiny held something better in store for him, that it was his fate to reap his just reward rather late in life. 'For the moment,' he wrote, 'I am posied, like a bird, not certain in which direction to take off.'"

The direction he soon choose was Greece, for which he needed cash. He sold 20 first editions of Tropic Of Cancer and fifteen Black Spring to Gotham Book Mart, but they were intercepted by U.S. Customs in June, by which time Henry had already spent the $200 sent to him by Steloff.

Copies of Tropic of Capricorn made it into the shop and sold for a hefty $10 each. Somtimes smuggled copies of Cancer made it through. In 1940, a thousand illicitly-printed copies of Tropic Of Cancer (the 'fake Mexican' "Medusa" versions) were partly funded by Steloff and distributed under-the-table through Gotham Book Mart.

Steloff's desk at Gotham was next to the shelves of Oriental mysticism and philosophy. These subjects interested her greatly and somtimes worked their way into dialogue with Henry. While Miller was in Greece, she sent him a copy of The Secret Doctrine by Madame Blavatsky.

Miller found himself back in New York in 1940. Steloff offered him much personal support: not only did she allow him to use Gotham Book Mart as his mailing address, she also sent books by his request to his long-unseen daughter Barbara; she also got him work by hooking him up with people who were offering a dollar a page for pornography (allowing him to make some easy cash and write the much-revised basis for Quiet Days In Clichy).

Steloff would continue to turn favours for Miller, Nin, and countless other writers in the years that followed (for example, in 1942, she gave Anais $100 to put toward a printing press.)

Those interested in Frances Steloff and the Gotham Book Mart would be wise to track down the following items, which I had no access to: Wise Men Fish Here: The Story of Frances Steloff and Gotham Book Mart (1965); We Moderns: Gotham Book Mart (1940); the documentary Memoirs Of A Bookseller (1987). In 1976, Miller and Nin wrote a tribute to her called The Ineffable Frances Steloff.

Steloff and Gotham documents exist in two collections: the New York Public Library (Steloff/ Gotham), and especially the Frances Steloff Papers at the Lucy Scribner Library at Skidmore College. A few on-line tributes offer only a few biographical details: joycesociety.org; anaisnin.com; adeleart.com. A list of books published by Gotham may be found at AbeBooks.

Steloff died at age 101 in 1989. Those wishing to visit the Gotham Book Mart should note that the current store has been at a new location (16 East 46th Street) since 2004 [story of its sale].

The photo of Steloff in the banner art is from the Bill Yoscary collection. The photo of Steloff with the cat is from the Adele Aldridge collection. The photo of the Gotham front window was taken by Elisa Breton (wife of Andre Breton) in the mid-1940s. [Thanks Pierre!].

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Miller Watches "Justine" In Montreal, 1969

Lawrence Durrell's Justine was published in 1957, becoming the first of four books known collectively as The Alexandria Quartet (all of them being set in Alexandria, Egypt). In 1969, Justine was turned into a motion picture. Henry Miller saw it in a Montreal cinema at the end of summer in 1969.

Durrell's book had been optioned by Hollywood around 1960 and finally put into production in 1968-69. Joseph Strick had been chosen as director, likely based on his ability in 1967 to film an adaptation of Joyce's Ulysses. Filming began in Tunis, Tunisia, but complications arose and--depending on the source--Strick was either fired or walked off the set. Legendary director George Cukor, at age 69, was hired to replace him.

Justine was released in North America in August 1969. It so happened that Henry Miller was in Montreal at this time. A few weeks earlier, he had appeared in a French interview on the Montreal service of the CBC, for a program called Le Sel de la semaine (this one-hour interview is apparently still available for purchase from Radio-Canada [French CBC].)

This posting was inspired by an anecdote told to me by Cosmodemonic blog reader "Pierre from Montreal," who had the good fortune to have been in the same Montreal movie theatre as Henry for a screening of Justine. According to Pierre:

"It was [September 3], 1969; just by accident I went during a quiet but warm evening with my girl friend to see the film Justine, a very bad Hollywood adaptation of Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet. Miller was there with a cohort of V.I.P.s, including [Gerald] Robitaille (and Hoki Tokuda, the Japanese wife, if my memory is correct). It was pretty hard for me to talk to Henry (and what could I have said to him anyway except : "I’m a great fan!" and I couldn’t say what William S. Burroughs apparently said when he met Miller at the Edinburg Writer’s Conference in 1962 : "Long time admirer!", since I had discovered Miller only two years previously). Henry seemed to enjoy the film at the beginning, but he was quite silent toward the end."

While in Montreal, Henry stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on rue Sherbrooke [seen at left]. It was from his hotel room later that same evening that he wrote a letter to his great friend and Justine author Lawrence Durrell.

"Dear Larry -- I've just come from seeing Justine here in Montreal. Am somewhat bewildered, largely because I couldn't catch all the dialogue. Also because things seemed to have been juggled a bit. I must say I liked the scenes, brief though they were, of--where? Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia? Made me wish I had seen Alexandria and Cairo, the desert, the sea, the temples and mosques. Lots of color. Lots of drunken carnival scenes. Melissa seemed badly cast. Anouk Aimee rather good, I thought. But Pursewarden and Darley bothered me - the latter too young, too naif. (In a physical way, though, he reminded me of you at 22 or '3 or '4.) Was it Michael York? and what part did Dirk Bogarde play? I think the ones who came off best were the homos and transvestites! Hollywood had fun with them, I take it. That opening with the sailors giving the girl a dose of Spanish Fly seemed awful to me [......]

"I wonder if you have seen the film yourself yet? Naturally you'll squirm. It could hardly be otherwise. No film can live up to a good book. I remember recently walking out during intermission of War & Peace. Bored to death [......] Soon comes my turn--with Cancer and Quiet Days. Ouf!"

Interestingly, director Joseph Strick moved from getting canned from Justine to making Miller's Tropic Of Cancer film adaptation (released in 1970).

Read a review of Justine written by The New York Times.

Finally, Le sel de la semaine TV show interviewed Anais Nin ten months later, in 1970. You can view the full hour interview (in French) for free on your computer by visiting the Radio-Canada (CBC) Archives website.

The Miller letter was written on September 3, 1969, and is found in the Durrell-Miller Letters 1935-80, page 434-5. The picture of Durrell and Miller talking (in the banner art) is a screen capture image from Robert Snyder's Henry Miller Odyssesy.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Nexus - International Henry Miller Journal #3

Nexus: The International Henry Miller Journal has been published annually since 2004. Volume 3 was made available a short time ago. The Journal is an incredible resource and one which I've only recently acquired. At over 200 pages per issue, it's a substantial collection of well-written essays, research papers, personal recollections, homages, news and other Henry Miller-related pieces. Simply put, Henry Miller Lives Here. This is the definitive Henry Miller nexus point, where all of the academics, supporters, researches, friends and fans intersect. If you are interested enough in Miller to have found this blog, then you are missing out--as I was--if you haven't already treated yourself to Nexus.

Although the Nexus website [linked above] has all of the basic information you need, it hasn't been updated since the first issue, so the details of the most current issue aren't available to peruse. For this reason, I've provided the following run-down of Nexus - IHMJ, volume 3:

Paris Revisited (Henry Miller) - Miller essay, written late in his life ("my legs are no longer strong enough to carry me there") in which he recounts his days in Paris and analyzes the difference between his Paris and the Paris of others.

The Miller Affair (Maximilien Vox) /
Maximilien Vox and the Miller Affair (Karl Orend) -
In-depth look at the politics of the French publishing world before and after WWII, putting the "Miller Affair" (French censorship battle over Miller's work) into context.

Nobuyoshi Araki, The Crazy Henry Miller (Katrin Burtschell) - The Japanese photographer Araki ("the Japanese Henry Miller) is compared to Miller on points of style and an appreciation for Japan.

The Artisans of a Legend (Beatrice Commenge) - Miller and Lawrence Durrell's relationship is explored in this recollection by their French biographer, Commenge.

Alfred Perles and June Mansfield - Some Unforgiving Encounters in the Shadow of Henry Miller (Karl Orend) - In-depth essay on the relational dynamics of Perles, Mansfield and Miller, with much biographical detail about the subjects, plus Jean Kronski.

June Miller: Remnants of a Life (James M Decker) - Exploration of the documentation of June's life, including updated research regarding her immigration to America, the life of second husband Stratford Corbett and details about her final days.

Henry Steps Out (Harry Kiakis) - Previously unpublished journal excerpts by Miller friend Kiakis, detailing a day of hanging out with Henry in October 1969, capturing many insightful comments by Miller. This exciting new source of Miller material is to be an on-going series.

Dear Henry (Normajean MacLeod) - Effective poem written as a letter from Durrell to Miller from beyond the grave, contemplating the sum of their careers.

Henry Miller and Anais Nin - Artistes de la vie (Jacques Lallie) - The production of a French play about Miller and Anais Nin and the dramatic threads found within their love affair is described by its writer/performer Lallie.

Henry and Me (Susan Kidder Herr) - Herr, a fan who became a friend of Henry's, deconstructs Miller and lovingly recollects her every moment with him.

Anais Nin in the Light of Her Father's Love (Karl Orend) - Thorough, extensively-footnoted essay about Anais Nin and her relationship with her father.

1917 Draft Registration Form - Copy only (not very legible).

Miller Notes - Several pages of listings of "current scholarship on Miller, as well as significant popular references to Miller or his work." Includes updates of newly-found material not found in Roger Jackson's Miller bibliographies.

Here's a summary for Volume Two of this journal.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

New Website Follows Henry Through Paris

"This is a guided walking tour, with sketches and asides and whatever else I come up with, following the steps of Henry Miller through Paris in the 1930’s."
---- intoduction page at millerwalks.com

A fantastic new Henry Miller website has just entered cyberspace: Walking Paris With Henry Miller. This new site will eventually become the ultimate resource for anyone planning on visiting Henry Miller's Paris and making a pilgrimage of the various hotels, cafes and other haunts he once frequented. It appears to be taking the blog approach to building the content of the site by gradually making daily postings of a particular route. Eventually it will exist as a permanently archived walking tour resource. At the momemt, Miller's Montparnasse is being mapped.

The layout is crisp and solid, and present-day photographs of places like Hotel Central, Le Select, La Rotonde, etc are featured with each post. Being Paris--which apprecaites its history--it's comforting to see that most of these places have been preserved.

Beyond the functional use of a website like this, I really am impressed with the writing. It's vivid and comprehensive, with lots of relevent quotes from even the more obscure Miller works, relating directly to the places being featured. Miller just seems to come to life. I wish this exisited when I did my Parisien Miller quest two years ago!!

Anyway, highly recommended and a welcome member to the Cyber Seurat Circle taking shape on the internet.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Blogging To Resume Shortly

I do freelance writing on the side, and lately have been caught up with a paying gig that has been occupying my time. Regular Henry Miller posting will start up again later this week. Thanks for checking in.