Sunday, April 30, 2006

Henry Miller Discovered At Clignancourt

Thanks to Dov on Flickr, we have a new Miller photo to see. Dov was at a flea market at Clignancourt when he spotted a stash of pre-70s press photos of celebrities making use of Air France. Apparently, these were issued by the PR department of the French Ministry Of Tourism. Is that Henry's German girlfriend Renate Gerhardt in the picture?

Visit Dov's main posting for this press pack to see photos of other celebrities.

Incidentally, Miller himself had visited the Clignancourt flea market during his first two months living in Paris in 1930. In a letter to Emil Schnellock from April 1930, he asks his friend if he'd like him to pick up "those art objects" from Clignancourt ... "Do you want me to plunge? And for how much?--only on African and Oceanic things--fetiches, masks, statuettes, etc." (Letters To Emil, p.41)

And this (p. 48): "Flea market, Clignancourt - veritable objects of art for a song, including Oceanic, African, Melanesian, Siamese, etc!!"

Saturday, April 29, 2006

From The Library Of Jean Kronski

In Nexus, page 8, Henry Miller lists several books, against which the puppet Count Bruga rests. This long list is meant to detail the book collection of Jean Kronski, who had moved into his apartment on June's invitation. The titles reveal an interest in the intellectual and the subversive. Many of these works are now available for free on the internet.

The Imperial Orgy (1920) by Edgar Saltus.
Chronicles the cruel despots of Imperial Russia (some quotes).

The Vatican Swindle (Les Caves du Vatican 1914/ Eng 1925) by Andre Gide.
Mystery tale of corruption in the Vatican (text in French).

A Season In Hell (1873) by Rimbaud.
Early drug poetry (text in French).

Death In Venice (1912) by Thomas Mann.
Homoerotic obessesion, old age and lost youth (text in German).

Anathema (Russian 1909; Eng 1923 - play) by Leonid Andreyev.
Allegorical play about misery and the quest for reason.

A Hero For Our Time (1841) by Mikhail Lermontov.
Inside the complex mind of a 19th-century Russian adventurer (full text).

The Tragic Sense of Life (1921) by Miguel de Unamuno.
Philosophical essay exploring faith in god versus faith in self (full text).

The Devil’s Dictionary (1887) by Ambrose Bierce.
Clever, critical observations of everyday life in the form of a dictionary (full text).

November Boughs (1888) by Walt Whitman.
Collection of Whitman essays on his literary theories and other observations (full text).

Beyond The Pleasure Principle (1920) by Sigmund Freud.
Freud goes beyond his usual sexual motivations to explain the death instinct (excerpts).

Lysistrata (410 BC) by Aristophanes.
Ancient play explores the quest for peace in time of war (full text).

Marius the Epicurean (1885 ) by Walter Pater.
Manifesto of sorts for the aesthetic life and pursuit of beauty (full text).

The Golden Ass (c AD 100) by Apuleius.
Ancient tale of magic-obsessed young aristocrat who turns himself into an ass and, as such, becomes witness to the misery of the wretched of Rome (full text).

Jude The Obscure (1895) by Thomas Hardy.
Conflicts of class and desire topple a promising young man (full text).

The Mysterious Stranger (1916) by Mark Twain.
Satan comes to town (full text).

Peter Whiffle (1922) by Peter van Vechten.
Biography of a writer who never got around to writing a book.

The Little Flower - Not sure which exact book is being referred to here. St. Theresa is often known as "The Little Flower."

Virginibus Puerisque (1881) by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Essay on love and marriage (full text).

Queen Mab (1813) by Percy Bysshe Shelley.
Essay on revoltion and human virtue. In the form of a poem (full text).

The Great God Pan (1894) by Arthur Machen.
Supernatural fable of Pan's offspring luring men to suicide (full text).

The Travels of Marco Polo (13th c.) by Marco Polo.
Marco Polo's travel journal (Vol. 1 full text/ Vol. 2 full text).

Songs of Bilitis (1894) by Pierre Louÿs.
Erotic stories of lesbian love (full text).

The Unknown Life Of Jesus (1887/90) by Nikolia Notovich ???

Tristram Shandy (1759-67) by Laurence Sterne.
Satirical novel taking a knock at intellectuals (full text).

The Crock of Gold (1912) by James Stephens.

Irish folklore used as backdrop for philosophical novel (full text).

Black Bryony (1923) by T.F. Powys.

Collection of stories by John Cowper's brother.

The Root And the Flower ( ) by ???

Metaphysics of Sex (by Rosanov). I was not able to find this book on the internet. Jean did not own this title: Miller ends the list with this, noting it as the only "lacuna," or, the only thing missing from her collection; a commentary of some kind. Maybe mocking the titles that seem to be sexual edification under the guise of intellectual exercise.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Annotated Nexus - Page 8

As mentioned in my previous Nexus posting, I'll be following the actual printed page numbers after page one, as opposed to the total number of written pages. So, Miller's 2nd page is being referred to as Page 8.

On the previous page, Miller mentions a "happy time" ("how distant?") when he used to move wall to wall to greet his "old friends." Then follows a list of painters: "each one had something precious to impart." This follows his paragraph on Strindberg (1.10, 1.11), so I imagine that he's continuing the line of thought in which he gives evidence to the value of The Artist.

8.1 Leon Bakst
(1866-1924) Russian-Jewish painter and costume designer. Not sure why he's the first to come to Miller's mind.

8.2 Whistler
(1834-1903) James McNeill Whistler, prominent American painter and Impressionist. [see also pg 222]

8.3 Lovis Corinth
(1858-1925) German Impressionist-Expressionist painter.

8.4 Breughel The Elder
There were actually two "Elders," Pieter (c1525-1569) and Jan (1568-1625). Both were Flemish painters known for landscapes and still lifes.

8.5 Bosch
(c1450-1516) The Dutch Hieronymus Bosch would of course receive a more prominent reference by Miller in his book Big Sur And The Oranges Of Hieronymus Bosch. In Nexus, Bosch receives further mention on pages 20 and 264, the latter of which is a reference to the fact that Miller has a Bosch print that he looks at for inspiration while writing.

8.6 Giotto [left]
(1267-1337) Italian painter and architect at the forefront of the Italian Renaissance. Miller raises the stature of Giotto in Nexus by favourable mentioning him again on pages 192, 222 and 263.

8.7 Cimabue
(c1240-c1303) Florentinian who discovered Giotto and, with him, helped make art more naturalistic. [see also pg. 99]

8.8 Piero della Francesca
(c1420-c1492) Italian, Early Renaissance; historically noted for use of perspective. [see also 192, 263]

8.9 Grunewald
(c1475-1528) Matthias Grunewald, German Renaissance painter.

8.10 Holbein
(14th-15th century) German Renaissance painters. Could be Hans the Younger or Elder. [see also pg 222]

8.11 Lucas Cranach
(14th-15th c.) Again, German painters not distinhuished as Younger or Elder.

8.12 Van Gogh
Am being presumptuous in thinking that we already know all about Vincent? [see also pg 94, 101]

8.13 Utrillo
(1883-1955) French painter Maurice Utrillo was born in Montmartre and made it his subject. [right]

8.14 Gauguin
(1848-1903) Another famous painter, mentioned again on pages 100 and 101.

8.15 Piranesi
(1720-1778) Italian artist known for his etchings of Rome.

8.16 Utamaro 8.17 Hokusai 8.18 Hiroshige
Three important and influential Japanese print-makers and painters. Utamaro is repeated on pg 239; Hokusai more significantly on pages 217, 260 and 264. Hiroshige is referenced again on pages 222 and 229.

8.17 -- and the Wailing Wall.
Miller ends his list with this seeming non sequitur. Maybe there's a famous engraving of this Jewish holy site? I'm not quite sure what the meaning of its inclusion is nor the significance of it as a reference to Judaism.

8.18 Goya too
(1746-1828) Spanish painter [left]. Not sure why he isn't simply part of the main list. Miller has stated that he often barrels along with his writing without stopping, so this is probably just an afterthought.

8.19 Turner
(1775-1851) British Romantic landscape artist, JMW Turner. As with Goya, his name is added after the fact. Adding them this way gives the impression that the list could go on and on.

8.20 But particularly Tilla Durieux
See 1.4. Miller either means the literal actress, whom he may have had a crush on and considered a natural work of beauty (like the paintings), or else, as with 1.4, Durieux is mentioned in reference to Mona (June). Was Mona the most inspiring of all? But now it's all gone .....

8.21 Balzac’s “imaginary paintings”
This is what Miller says he's left with, along with the bare walls and darkness. I can't be certain of the reference, but Balzac had a story called The Imaginary Masterpiece, in which a great, aging painter's secret masterpiece turns out to be nothing but the scribblings and visual mess of a madman. One can see the parallels to Miller's concern about himself.

8.22 Issac Dust, born of dust and returning to dust.
Introduced in 1.6, this metaphorical pseudonym returns to the idea that Miller is an insignificant Nobody.

8.23 Add a codicil for old times' sake.
A document that amends a legal will. Is this addressed to Mona, meaning, 'I'm dying anyway, go ahead and alter my will as you please?'

8.24 Anastasia
Fictional name for Jean Kronski (itself a fictional name, but more on that later: biography to come soon). Significant person in Nexus; Mona's young artist lesbian lover, an unwelcome third wheel to the Miller home.

8.25 Hegoroboru ... Bertha Filigree of Lake Tahoe-Titicaca ... of the Imperial Court of the Czars
All of these titles are attributed to Stasia by Miller, all meant to mock her importance and exotic nature. The first name, Hegoroburu, is a misspelling. In Letters To Emil (p.43 - a letter dated April 1930), Henry lists a few thoughts passing through his head, one of which is "Who is Loulou Hegoburu?" This spelling refers to a French stage actress and operatta singer who starred in No, No Nannette and on Broadway, in A Night In Paris (1926) [the question Henry poses is never answered]. Not sure why this would be the first description to come to mind about Jean; perhaps she looked like her? With that possibility in mind, I've included an image of Loulou at left.

The second title contains real words and place names (filigree is a jewel with threads of gold or silver) and seems to be jumbled together with nonsensical mockery in mind; and the third alludes to the young Russian Grand Duchess with whom she shares a name, Anastasia. The "Bertha" title is repeated in 10.5 (page 10).

8.26 in the Observation Ward
The biting irony of the preceeding high titles is that the magnificent Stasia is actually in a mental hospital. Not sure which New York hospital this might be [I make a few guesses at 10.1 (page 10)].

8.27 Saul barks in his delirium, believing he is Isaac Dust.
This is Miller's lead-in to his decsription of his immediate time and place inside the apartment they share. Besides use of the Jewish name "Saul" (meant to be Miller; again the Jewish identification), it combines points from the previous page: barks (1.1), delirium (1.8) and Issac Dust (1.6).

8.28 Count Bruga
Stasia'a puppet creation. See this posting about Count Bruga.

8.29 Javanese and Tibetan idols
Belonging to Stasia, to further the idea that she is drawn to the exotic.

8.30 miniature hat a la Boheme
Count Bruga's hat, in the "bohemian" style, similar to those worn by characters in Pucini's opera, La Boheme, set in Paris in the 1830's.

8.31 imported from la Galerie Dufayel
Meaning that even the bohemians are false (i.e. Stasia), in that the modest hat comes from an upscale shopping gallery.

8.32 The Imperial Orgy, etc ..
Miller procedes to list every single one of Anastasia's (Jean's) books in the apartment. Henry must have been in a pedantic mood when he uncovered these notes from 1927 as he was writing Nexus. However, the list does tell us something about Jean Kronski, which I explore in "From The Library Of Jean Kronski."

Miller transcribes a quote he finds of Stasia's, written on butcher's paper. It begins on page 8 but will be covered on Page 9.

<--- Previous page 7 Next page 9 ------>

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Miller At Eastern District High School

I don't have time to elaborate on this subject at the moment, but I wanted to present you all with this photo of Miller's 1909 class at Eastern District High School in Brooklyn [seen on a smaller scale above]. It's original source is the Brooklyn Daily Eagle for June 25, 1909.

None of the male students [isolated above] looks very much like Miller. There are twice as many names of graduates listed (including "Henry V Miller") than there are students, so maybe Miller just wasn't present. However, it's possible that one of the faces we see in there is that of his early love-interest, Cora Seward.

Classmates Of Henry Miller

Throughout his writings, Henry Miller has dropped names of his former classmates in the New York school system. Some are merely ghost names from his memory, without much significance. Others, like Emil Schnellock and Tony Marella, were to become important figures in his adult life. I haven't drafted a definitive list of these names yet, but have created this post as a permanent place in which to add them as I uncover and re-discover them.

Henry Miller attended the following New York City schools: Presbyterian Sunday School (Williamsburg? 1896? - ?), kindergarten at Fillmore Place (1986?-?), Public School [P.S.] 85 (1900-1905), Eastern District High School (1905-1909), City College (1909).

Some of the names noted by Miller are found on this list of 1909 graduates from Eastern District. See a photo of Miller and his class of 1905 at PS 85 here, or Miller and his graduating class in 1909 at Eastern District here.

For references to "Nexus, pg. 7," see this posting.

Convissar, Arthur (Henry A.) - Eastern District – ref. in Nexus p.7.
Dewar, William - Eastern District - Member of Xerxes Society with Miller.
Donohue, Clarence - Eastern District? – ref. in Nexus p.7.
Faber, Lester - P.S. 85 – Ref. in My Life And Times.
Glanty, Frances - Eastern District – ref. in Nexus p.7.
Korb, William - Eastern District? – ref. in Nexus p.7.
Kurtz (Kurz?), John - Eastern District – ref. in Nexus p.7.
Lawton, Jack - P.S. 85 – Ref. in My Life And Times.
Leibowitz, Sally (Molly S.) - Eastern District – ref. in Nexus p.7.
Marella, Tony - P.S. 85 - "Jimmy Pasta"; supported HM early in writing career.
Maurer, Joe - P.S. 85 – Ref. in My Life And Times.
McCaffrey, Pat (Michael?) - Eastern District? – ref. in Nexus p.7.
Marvin, William - Eastern District? – ref. in Nexus p.7.
Overend, William - Eastern District – ref. in Nexus p.7.
Pistner, Bernard - Eastern District – ref. in Nexus p.7.
Prink, Lester - P.S. 85 – Ref. in My Life And Times.
Schnadig, Morton - Eastern District? - ref in Nexus p.7.
Schneider, Louis - Eastern District? – ref. in Nexus p.7.
Schnellock, Emil - P.S. 85 - Lifelong friend; see Letters To Emil.
Seward, Cora - Eastern District - HM's first and lifelong crush; "Una Gifford" in his books.
Siegel, Israel - Eastern District? – ref. in Nexus p.7.
Wright, George - Eastern District - Member of Xerxes Society with Miller.
Contributions to this post are welcome.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Annotated Nexus - Page 1

My reference copy of Nexus is the 1997 Grove Edition. I am not transcribing the entire text here. I will only reference words, quotes, names and subjects of note, sometimes providing full sentences where they serve to clarify context. Otherwise, you'll need to look these up in your own copy of Nexus.
The first page actually begins on page 7. After this post, I will refer to the actual pages; the next will be page 8. This project will be on-going, but will be broken up with other postings to keep things interesting.

One last thing: I've never attempted literary criticism, so don't expect authority in my editorial comments and interpretations. Your opinions and insight are crucial. Feel free to correct me!


1.1 Woof! Woof woof! Woof! Woof!
Miller's barking--which opens Nexus--is a continuation of the barking at the very end of Sexus (p.505, 506) in which Miller portrays himself as a dog--June's "pet"--as a means to illustrate the humiliation he feels at her hands. In Sexus, his barking elicits a treat from her. In Nexus, this barking is unanswered: his cries for attention are unheard.

1.2 “Which do you want—the East of Xerxes or the East of Christ”?
This quote is supposedly presented to June. It's taken from Russian poet and philosopher Vladimir Soloviev, from an 1890 poem called Ex Oriente Lux.

O Rus'! In lofty premonition
You ponder a proud idea;
Which East do you want to be:
The East of Xerxes or of Christ?

George C Marshall interprets the meaning of this line [PDF] from the original poem: "[Soloviev] asked this of Russia, during its quest for the east: between Asian despotism represented by Xerxes or Oriental spirituality symbolized by Christ." In relation to June, Miller uses the question to wonder whether he is to suffer further humiliation in the relationship or whether the two of them will achieve a deeper bond.

1.3 Alone--with eczema of the brain.
Miller is left alone with a brain that is itching with thoughts and ideas. He follows this up by defining the situation as "marvelous," wishing he were "alone with God." By this, I think he's saying, 'June inspires my thoughts and words, but imagine if God were my muse instead! (in June's absense).' Not so much religious reverence as it is a desire to be as the gods.

1.4 the Tilla Durieux bouche
As Miller summons the image of June to his mind, he describes her face and hair. Here [left] are a couple of images of German actress Tilla Durieux (1880-1971), whose mouth ("bouche") Miller compares to June's and describes as "a bow."

1.5 the actress from the Carpathians
A reference to June (who was also an actress) and her family's homeland of origin: the Carpathian mountain chain covers parts of Roumania and that general East European/Russian region.

1.6 My name is Isaac Dust.
I couldn't find any significant reference to this name on the internet. I guess it's a made-up name: "Isaac" is a Jewish name; June is Jewish, and, throughout Nexus, Miller identifies with Jews and Jewish culture.

"Dust" is probably just an analogy; something insignificant, floating, unstable, the powdery ash of an obliterated entity. In Dante's Divine Comedy (see 1.7), there are these quotes:
a) "still may our earthly fame move you to tell who and what you are, who so securely set your live feet to the dead dusts of Hell."
b) "I saw a weeping people everywhere lying outstretched and face-down on the ground. 'My soul cleaves to the dust,' I heard them cry over and over as we stood among them; and every word was swallowed by a sigh."

1.7 I am in Dante's Fifth Heaven.
Identified in Dante's Paradiso (Canto XIV), which is part of The Divine Comedy trilogy (which includes Inferno). [see 1.6] According to this summary of Canto XIV, the Fifth Heaven is Mars. By entering its sphere, one's spirit emits a blinding radiance equivalent to one's inner joy. This sentiment is similar to that in the opening of Tropic Of Cancer: in having nothing, he is the happiest man alive.

1.8 Like Strindberg in his delirium
This posting at gives a good description of Strindberg's delirium and Miller's identification with it. Miller gives dialogue to Strindberg, wondering what it matters if "one is the only one, or whether one has a rival." Strindberg seems to have been bothered that Ibsen was a constant rival to his genius. Miller could consider Jean Kronski (Anastasia) his rival in Nexus, but I think here he simply means, Can I be happy as a solitary creator or must I be dependent on the approval of others?

1.9 Morton Schnadig, etc....
Suddenly Miller recalls a long list of names of "classmates from dear old Alma Mater." I guess this would be his high school, Eastern District. I actually bothered to search some of these names, but, without more information to identify them, the task is futile. Miller paints these individuals as never having raised their heads, "stricken from the ledger," and remaining silent when called upon. This comparison seems to diminish his "rivals" and sets his role as soliatary creator on a higher level. See this post for all listed classmates.

1.10 Yes, it is Strindberg.
Though the former classmates are silent, August Strindberg the artist is heard by Miller, even though August's in a "gloom" with "two horns protruding from his forehead"; Miller's soul brother -- a man possessed by it or not.

1.11 Le cocu magnifique.
The Maginificent Cuckold - Strindberg had been married several times, each ending in bitter divorce. This parallels Miller's marital strife with June as Nexus opens. Strindberg had problems, yes ... Henry understands, empathizes and--magnifique--admires him. He identifies with the lonely burden of the truth-seeking artist.

Nexus - The Rosy Crucifixion (Book 3)

"The hardest part is coming--Nexus--where I must reveal myself for what I was--something less than zero, something worse than the lowest knave."
[Henry Miller to Lawrence Durrell; from correspondance in Art And Outrage; quoted from Henry Miller On Writing (ed. Thomas H Moore), p. 139]

Since starting this blog, I've liked the idea of selecting a work of Miller's and annotating it. I just happen to be re-reading Nexus at the moment and have rather arbitrarily decided to use this as my maiden annotation project. Here is an Index to this annotation project.

First, a brief history of Nexus.


Nexus was conceived back in 1927, along with the other two books from The Rosy Crucifixion series. The multi-volume work (which ended up officially being a trilogy, though Miller wrote but never completed work on Nexus II) contains--in order--Sexus, Plexus, then Nexus.

Though pseudonyms are used (with the exception of Henry Miller's first-person protagonist, himself) the trilogy is thoroughly autobiographical, as with most other books by Miller. Central to The Rosy Crucifixion is his relationship with June Mansfield, which is the thread that weaves through all other events in his life. The books cover the period from 1923 to 1928, starting with Miller's first meeting with June and the subsequent failure of his marriage to his first wife, followed by his marriage to June, his departure from his day job at Western Union to write full-time, their struggles to make a living in New York during this early writing period, the intrusion of June's female lover Jean Kronski into their lives, and the prelude to his new life in Paris.


Nexus begins with conflicts between Henry, June and Jean, covers his abandonment in New York while the two women run off to Europe, then details June's return and, finally, the departure of Henry and June for Paris in 1928. In between, there is a job digging graves, Tony Marella ak.a. Jimmy Pasta, many pages devoted to Jean Kronski (Anastasia), Jewish themes and characters, thoughts on the writing process, and several interesting tidbits regarding the origin of some of his ideas and projects.


1945 - Henry writes out some early notes on the structure of Nexus, while fleshing out the complete Rosy Crucifixion trilogy.

1949 - Sexus and Plexus are both complete.

1951/2 - Miller, living at Big Sur, separates from his wife Janina Lepska. In November, Eve McClure sends him a fan letter. The following April, she comes to live with Miller at Big Sur. Four months later:

"Things are quite different for me here [at Big Sur] now. Schatz's sister-in-law [Eve] has come to live with me, the children are back (I hope for good) [after staying with their mother in L.A.] and we have a real, full, happy life & only after 16 months of no work I've just begun to write again--Nexus."
---- Henry Miller, in a letter to Anais Nin, August 2, 1952

1953 - Miller's relationship with Eve (and subsequent marriage), plus travel through Europe, interupts his work on Nexus. It sits on the back-burner.

1956 - Plans to pick up on Nexus again, but concentrates first on completion of Big Sur And The Oranges Of Hieronymous Bosch.

1957 - Begins writing Lime Twigs And Treachery but abandons it to continue Nexus.

1958 - According to Jay Martin in Always Merry And Bright, Henry was unnerved by the consecutive deaths of Hans Reichel, Emil Schnellock and Michael Fraenkel:

"Immediately, he went through the files and papers accumulated in his studio, threw away everything inessential and put the rest in order. He turned his entire correspondence over to Eve. He retired by 9 p.m. and arose at 5 a.m. This, he felt, was his last push, his last chance to finish his life story." (Merry, p. 447) In Miller's own words, he summarized the entire year 1958 like this: "Continued work on Nexus."

1959 - Martin states that Miller was "working for a few months at a pitch that was near madness, [finishing] Nexus by the end of January 1959" (Merry, p.447). In April, Henry revised the manuscript, thus completing Nexus.

October 1959 - Hans Reitzel Edition (1st) ... 1960 - Correa Edition (1st) ... 1960 - Obelisk Press Edition (1st) ... 1960 - Obelisk Edition (variant, privately re-bound) ... 1960 - Keimeisha Edition (1st) ... 1961 - Obelisk Edition (2nd) ... 1962 - Keimeisha Edition (2nd) ... 1964 - Weidenfeld & Nicolson Edition (1st) ... 1965 - Greenleaf Edition (1st, books 1 & 2 of two-volume set; "was an unauthorized edition, issued over of Miller's protest") ... 1965 - Black Cat Edition (1st) ... 1965 - Grove Clothbound Edition (1st) ... 1966 - Panther Paperback Edition (1st) ... 1967 - Nekusas Collected Works Series, Vol. 5/ First Shincho-Sha ... 1968 - Black Cat Edition (2nd) ... 1969 - Castle Books Edition (1st) ... 1971 - Panther Paperback Edition (2nd) ... 1972 - Black Cat Edition (3rd) ... 1978 - Black Cat Edition (4th) ... 1987 - Evergreen Edition (1st) ... 1991 - Grove Weidenfeld Edition (1st) ... 1993 - Flamingo Paperback Edition (1st) ... 1997 - Grove Paperback Edition (7th).

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Miller Memorabilia On-Line Auction

A significant collection of Henry Miller's artwork and personal memorabilia will be auctioned both on-line during a live internet webcast and during a Direct TV broadcast on April 22, 2006 at 8 PM EST.

The event is being coordinated by Barry Chappell's Fine Art Showcase. The Celebrity Shopping Network (through which this sale is being publicized) claims it took them three years to "close" the deal and secure the rights to sell this "Henry Miller Centennial Collection." According to the official press release:

"A rare opportunity to buy artist/writer Henry Miller's personal memorabilia, books, paintings, lithographs and serigraphs during a LIVE AUCTION on Barry Chappell's Fine Art Showcase. Henry Miller’s works will be available on this rare simultaneous broad/webcast on Saturday, April 22nd, 2006 at 9:00 pm EST/6:00 pm PST on: Direct TV Channel 239, DISH Channel 225, and on streaming video on the FINE ART SHOWCASE website. The legacy of Miller,the archetypical sexualist whose notorious Tropic of Cancer and subsequent books ultimately changed the boundaries of literature will be evident to all who participate in this exciting auction. Barry Chappell will celebrate the ebullience, the contradictions, the humor and above all the freedom that defined Henry Miller's life and art."

The webite for this sale can be found here. If you click on this page, you'll get a 5-minute audio sales pitch.

According to the wesbite and press release, the following items are up for grabs:

1) Miller's travel trunk [left], "The same trunk he used on his visits to Paris when writing Tropic of Cancer";

2) Miller's shaving kit and cologne;

3) Miller's paints, brushes, boxes of pastels, ink wells, colour charts and cleaning rags;

4) Miller's "good luck" hand puppet;

5) Miller's red vest that he wore "for deacdes";

6) "a collection of signed and unsigned books from his library";

7) Miller's eyeglasses [left];

8) The original of Miller's Henry In A Red Vest [1, below] watercolour, "painted two days before Henry died";

9) The original of Miller's Four Figures [2] painting from 1925, "one of the earliest known Henry Miller watercolors";

10) Five other Miller original paintings: Paris (1940) [3], Antoine the Clown (1940) [4], A Vous Cher Ami (1962) [5], Chicago (1962) [6], and Marseilles (1963) [7].

Also listed is the so-called "Lost Collection." According to the website: "Each piece offered in the Henry Miller gallery is an estate authorized, posthumous print representing the last artworks to be published bearing the original signature of Henry Miller."

I do not in any way endorse these items or vouch for the credibility of the Barry Chappell or the Celebrity Shopping Network. Do your own reserach before committing your own cash to any of these items.

The webstream/broadcast will occur on Saturday, April 22, 2006, on Direct TV Channel 239, Echo Star Channel 225 and on streaming video on FAS’s site at 9:00 pm EST/6:00 pm PST. The streaming video page is here and the schedule and showtime page is here.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Henry Miller In Popular Culture

A Pandora's Box has indeed opened, as James has noted in 'commentaries' on the Seinfeld posting: references to Henry Miller in TV, film, music, books and elsewhere in pop culture abound. Well, maybe not "abound," but they do exist in fragments throughout the years. For this reason I've created this post, which will exist as a permanent entity, updated as needed. Just add new info to "Comments" whenever a Miller references pops up, and I'll add it to the main body of the posting.

SEINFELD (1991) - The Library police come after Jerry after 20 years, for not returning Tropic Of Cancer. (RC)

THE THORN BIRDS (1983) - "[A] disabled bookish woman helps her fight the depression by some unexpected feminist help towards self-liberation etc. This help, includes reading of course and the disable recommends Henry Miller. I think there's this scene where she says: "Oh dear you must read more. You must expand you mind. Learn to look out for your self. Here is some of my books that you must read." [not exact quote of course] Then she hands her lots of classic modern 20th C stuff and finally she says, to the effect of: "And you absolutly MUST read Henry Miller...he is very very ADVENTUROUS!!". Later on in the storyline, the servant-woman is dutily sitting outdoors by a table sipping (I guess) ice-tea and reading Tropic of Cancer (I think)...the implication is clearly that Henry Miller is "far out" "very dirty" etc." (Tony)

ANNE MUELLER: Oh, Meggie! You've the face of an angel and the body of a goddess, and what you mean is, you don't know how to make a man get you pregnant? What you need is a good education. Lady Chatterley's lover! And Henry Miller, definitely Henry Miller! [ref]

NORTHERN EXPOSURE - Episode? (James)

CYBILL - episode? (James)

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE - " involving a predatory 'Scout Master' who planned to read some HM to the boys." (James). Alec Baldwin played this character when Adam Sandler played Canteen Boy. This seems to have happened twice, but it doesn't appear to be the Feb.12, 1994 episode, so it must be the Dec.10, 1994 episode. (RC)

CAPE FEAR (1991) - "Robert De Niro uses Sexus to lure Juliette Lewis." (James) . I'll create a seperate post for this because the script dialogue is lengthy.

AFTER HOURS (1985) - "Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne) is reading Tropic of Cancer when he spots Marcy Franklin (Rosanna Arquette) and Marcy starts to quote Miller" (Pierre). Again, sepearte post with dialogue to come.

MY FAMILY AND OTHER ANIMALS (2005) - Miller portrayed briefly (writing in the nude) in this BBC story about the Durrell family. (RC)

FAHRENHEIT 451 (1966) - Amongst the piles of great works of literature set aflame by the conservative forces in the film, lies Miller's Plexus.

- Tell me,why do you burn books?

- What? Well, it's a job like any other. Good work with lots of variety. Monday, we burn Miller; Tuesday,Tolstoy; Wednesday, Walt Whitman; Friday, Faulkner; and Saturday and Sunday, Schopenhauer and Sartre. [ref]

BITTER MOON (1992) - Peter Coyote's character is said to aspire to being Henry Miller, but I can't locate the screenplay for this Polanski flop, so I can't tell is Miller is directly referenced or not.

THE REAL DIRT ON FARMER JOHN (2005, documentary) - Part of oddball farmer John Peterson's story involves his appreciation of Henry Miller, whose work inspires him to travel (to Mexico).

Monday, April 10, 2006

Seinfeld And The Overdue 'Tropic Of Cancer'

On October 16, 1991, an episode of Seinfeld aired that helped refresh the name 'Henry Miller' in the pop culture lexicon. That episode was called "The Library" and involved a long overdue copy of Miller's Tropic Of Cancer.

In this episode, the 42nd Street Branch Library charges Jerry with signing out Tropic Of Cancer in 1971 but never returning it.

JERRY: Yes I called before. I got this notice in the mail.

LIBRARIAN: Oh, Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller, Uh, this case has been turned over to our library investigation officer Mr. Bookman.

Intimidated by the overzealous Mr. Bookman [left], Jerry attempts to track down the book, starting with a reunion with Sherry, a girl he'd been seeing in high school.

JERRY: So Sherry, what do you remember about that day at the library?

SHERRY: I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a Friday afternoon. I wore a purple dress.

Purple? Ya' sure it wasn't orange?

SHERRY: Positive. And I was chewin' Dentyne. I always chewed dentyne. Remember Jerry? Dentyne?

JERRY: No Black Jack?

Licorice gum? Never! We were reading pasages to each other from that Henry Miller book.

Tropic of Cancer.

SHERRY: No, Tropic of Capricorn.

JERRY: Tropic of Capricorn?

Rememba? What holds the world togetha' ... "As I have learned from bitter experience
is sexual intercourse ."

JERRY: Wait a second. Wait a second. You're right. I had both of them. We read from Tropic Of Capricorn. I was all set to return Tropic Of Cancer. And then ...

The scene then flashes back to Jerry and George in high school [left]. Jerry entrusts the book to George.

JERRY: Here's the book. Don't let anybody see it. Don't let anything happen to it.

GEORGE: Jerry, it's me, George, don't worry, I'll return it.

Snapping out of the flashback, Jerry realizes that George is to blame.

JERRY: So Georgie Boy, guess what happened to Tropic Of Cancer.

GEORGE: How should I know?

JERRY: Because I gave it to you.


JERRY: Yeah, think. Don't you remember you kept begging me to see it then finally I agreed. You were supposed to return it. I met you in the gym locker room.

GEORGE: The locker room!

Turns out that George had been violated with a wedgie by the gym teacher, at which point he dropped the book and forgot about it. Left holding the bag, Jerry returns to the library and writes out a cheque for his 20-year overdue fine.

At the very end of the episode, we see the gym teacher--who had been fired over the incident--lying outdoors, a homeless man, with the copy of Tropic Of Cancer by his side.

Read the full script (by Larry Charles) at or

Incidentally, the line from Capricorn that is referenced in the script is bookended by two very non-Prime Time TV sentences (from p. 192):

"... What is unmentionable is pure fuck and pure cunt: it must be mentioned only in de luxe editions, otherwise the world will fall apart. What holds the world together, as I have learned from bitter experience, is sexual intercourse. But fuck, the real thing, cunt, the real thing, seems to contain some unidentified element which is far more dangerous than nitroglycerin..."

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Walter Lowenfels - A Biography

"Over the push-bell it says: JABBERWHORL CRONSTADT, poet, musician, herbologist, weather man, linguist, oceanographer, old clothes, colloids."
--- Henry Miller on Lowenfels [Cronstadt], from Black Spring (1936)

Walter Lowenfels was a member of the American ex-pat writer community that became a support system for Henry Miller during his early years in Paris in the 1930s. He appears in Miller's Tropic Of Cancer as "Cronstadt" and is notably profiled in the essay Jabberwhorl Cronstadt from Black Spring.

Lowenfels' associations with Miller will be dealt with in later postings. For now, here's a general biography of his life.
BUTTER BOY 1897 - 1925

Born in New York City, May 10, 1897, to a father who would gain success in the New York butter industry (as far as I can tell, this company was the Hotel Bar Butter Co.). Goes to Prepatory School in New York, graduating at age 17 in 1914, at which point he is made to work for his father's butter business. After some brief military service during WWI in 1917, Walter begins writing poetry and, by 1919, has some of it published in local papers. In 1924, he meets Lillian Apotheker, with whom he becomes romantically involved. She puts up some money to have his first poetry collection, Episodes & Epistles, published by Thomas Seltzer in 1925.


In 1926, Walter finally escapes the butter business by running away to Paris with Lillian, whom he marries soon after their arrival. During this period of serious poetry writing, his work is published in This Quarter and transition. For a short time in 1929, he lives in Berlin with composer George Antheil [ref.]. In 1930, Walter meets Michael Fraenkel, with whom he shares ideas about 'death in life.' Together they create Carrefour Press in 1930 and launch a pamphlet called Anonymous: The Need for Anonymity (which explains their soon-to-fail theory that writers should publish anonymously). That same year, Nancy Cunard of Hours Press announces herself as a fan of his work, and publishes his Apollinaire: An Elegy [cover at left]. His accolades continue in 1931 when This Quarter awards him the Richard Aldington Poetry Prize (shared with ee cummings). 1931 also marks the year he publishes an anonymous play called USA With Music: An Operatic Tragedy.

In April 1931, Walter meets Henry Miller in Paris. [to be covered another time] At this time, Walter is working on Elegy for D.H. Lawrence, which would be published by Carrefour in 1932. Walter sues George Gershwin in 1932 for plagiarizing his USA With Music and turning it into Of Thee I Sing (which won Gershwin a Pulitzer Prize that year) [ref.]. Walter loses the case in December 1932 and is forced to pay court costs.

“The artist might be described as one who masters the technique of saying the obvious without being executed first.” --- Walter Lowenfels


After publishing The Suicide on Carrefour in 1934, Walter returns to America with his wife Lillian and a batch of France-born kids. Now 37, he resumes working for his father's New York butter business. His political activism increases in earnest, eventually drawing him to Philadelphia in 1938, where he becomes a reporter for the communist Daily Worker newspaper. During the next decade, his efforts are focussed on politics and not on poetry. In 1948, he co-writes a song with Lee Hays called Wasn't That A Time, which is recorded by Pete Seeger [he would later translate foreign poets for Seeger to use as lyrics, such as Business and Tomorrow's Children.] In 1951, Walter receives more national attention when Time magazine picks up on a piece he'd written about the price of meat for Daily Worker. He ceased working for that paper in 1953.

In 1953, Walter becomes the eldest member of the Philadelphia Nine: nine men charged [1, 2, 3] under the Smith Act with sedition and plotting to overthrow the US government. The case is overturned in August 1953. He is again arrested in 1954 [view his FBI files - 1, 2]. Walter had been recouping from a heart attack at a cottage in Pennsylvania. He'd sent out 156 pieces of mail which had insufficient postage and were being held in New Jersey. The postal officer decided this was "subversive" material, at which point the FBI became involved and arrested Walter at his cottage for being an "alleged Communist." Lowenfels is charged with treason and served short time for it. While in prison in 1954, Walter writes The Prisoner’s Poems for Amnesty, and a poem by Howard Fast called The Poet In Philadelphia is dedicated to him.

“When the tragedy of the world market no longer exists, unexpected gradations of being in love with being here will emerge.” --- Walter Lowenfels


By the late 1950's, Lowenfels gains a reputation as an anthologist, with collections such as American Voices (1959) and Song of peace, a translation based on poems of Eluard and others (1959). Besides Sonnets Of Love And Liberty (1955) and a few poems being published in The Nation in 1957-8, Walter also releases Walt Whitman's Civil War (1961) and the collection Some deaths: Selected poems, 1929-1962 (1962) . Walter is still under the eye of the FBI in 1964, as this transcription suggests. This document identifies Walter living at Weymouth Road in Mays Landing, New Jersey, and being a member of the Southwest club, 2nd Congressional District, Communist Party Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware. This year he releases To An Imaginary Daughter.

In 1967, Walter is active in protests against the Vietnam War and releases one of his most significant anthologies, Where is Vietnam? In 1967, he is also the associate editor of Dialog magazine and also releases We Are All Poets Really. An anthology and autobiography come out in 1968: The Portable Walter and My Many Lives: The Autobiography of Walter Lowenfels: The Poetry Of My Politics. In The Time of Revolution (anthology begun in 1963 as New Jazz Poets) is printed in 1969.

In 1970, Walter works with Howard McCord on a profile on his old friend Michael Fraenkel called The Life of Fraenkel’s Death: a Biographical Inquest. This is followed by From the Belly of the Shark (1973) and For Neruda, For Chile (1975). A resident of Peekskill, Walter Lowenfels dies of cancer at age 79 in Tarrytown, NY, on July 7, 1976.

“Politics is just an essential base to the process of being alive, in poems or anywhere. No matter what a writer says or doesn’t say, he cannot help having political alignments.” --- Walter Lowenfels


Walter Lowenfels Papers in Washington University. / Lowenfels correspondence in the Howard McCord Papers, U Of Delaware. / Bibliography at Bibliopolis. / Bibliography at /

Monday, April 03, 2006

Count Bruga - The Puppet Nemesis

"I was amazed by [Henry's] page on June in Capricorn. No longer June and Henry but something born of Henry's imagination. Henry describes himself as a puppet sitting on June's knees. And while he writes of her power, at the same time he crucifies her."
---- Anais Nin, January 1939; from The Diary of Anais Nin 1934-39 (322)

"I learned what to do just as though I were part of her organism; I was better than a ventriloquist's dummy because I could act without being violently jerked by strings."
---- Henry Miller in Tropic Of Capricorn (235)

When June brought Jean Kronski home and turned Henry into a third wheel in his own Remsen Street apartment in 1926, Miller's sense of powerlessness became embodied in a puppet made by Jean. The grotesque puppet went by the name Count Bruga.


Jean Kronski's story will be covered in a post of its own one day. Suffice it to say that she was a Greenwich Village artist whom June declared a "genius" to a jealous Henry. Her creative endeavours included painting, sculpting, poetry writing, dancing and puppet making.

Henry and June were living in their Remsen Street basement apartment in 1926 when June brought home a puppet named Count Bruga, which Jean had created "to please" her (Nexus, p.118). After a period of carrying the marionette around with her everywhere, June eventually brought home the creator. The hive of tension that existed amongst this threesome is recounted in Crazy Cock, Plexus and Nexus. All the while, Count Bruga sat in a prominent position in the apartment, observing all with his creepy glare.

"[A]nd lying in a corner like an old mandolin was the Count and the Count had his ears cocked, straining to catch the gurgle of the drains, the fall of water falling, choked with ice and liquid fire and clots of blood and violets that muttered. " (Crazy Cock, p.200)

In Crazy Cock, Henry talks about the arrival of the puppet into his home, soon followed by a meeting with Jean Kronski ["Vanya"]:

"So this, he thought, is the Bruga woman, creator of that sunken-visaged, leering rake of a puppet which grinned at him night and day like a skulking lout." (p. 23)

Covering the same biographical material at the tail end of Plexus, Henry downplays Count Bruga, not even naming him. Puppets are presented as a crazy project the two women are engaged in; twice, Henry imagines the two of them running through the Village with "puppets in their arms."

Henry grew frustrated with all of the galavanting, and one evening, in an event not portrayed in Plexus, he scattered his and June's love letters throughout the apartment and set up Count Bruga on the bed with their marriage certficate tucked under the puppet's one arm and divorce papers nestled under the other.

In Nexus, Count Bruga returns by name. He is described early on as a permanent fixture of Henry's environment. One evening, as Henry and June are about to depart on a peace-minded date, Henry observes her getting ready and notices:

"... above all, the puppet, that leering, degenerate-looking Count Bruga, which she was hugging to her bosom and which she meant to take along. 'No,' I said, 'not that, by God!' 'Why?' "Because....Goddamn it, no!'" (63)

Later in the novel, in the early hours before an important Christmas dinner, June and Jean return from a night of drinking, for which they'd brought along Count Bruga, who returned looking as if he had "taken a beating." June and Jean eventually sneak off to Europe together, but only June returns. Jean effectively disappears from their lives, but later, in the letters of Anais Nin (1931-32), we see that June still carried Count Bruga around with her. Anais was quite amused by the marionette (see Henry and June: From "A Journal of Love" -The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin [1931-1932]).


"[June] brought out a marionette, Count Bruga, made by Jean. He had violet hair and violet eyelids, a prostitute's eyes, a Pulcinella nose, a loose, depraved mouth consumptive cheeks, a mean, aggressive chin, murderer's hands, wooden legs, a Spanish sombrero, a black velvet jacket." (Anais Nin - Henry & June, p. 29)

"Count Bruga, that darling of a puppet, reposes on the bureau surrounded by Javanese and Tibetan idols. He has the leer of a madman quaffing a bowl of sterno. His wig, made of purple strings, is surmounted by a miniature hat, a la Boheme, inported from la Galarie Dufayel." (Henry Miller-Nexus, p. 8)


On meeting Count Bruga for the first time in Crazy Cock, Henry [Tony] is chastized by June [Hildred] for not recognizing it as a caricature of Maxwell Bodenheim, the "King of Greenwich Village Bohemians," as then-recently parodied in Ben Hecht's novel Count Bruga (1926) [they'd shared a friendship but this turned it sour; Bodenheim returned the favour by parodying Hecht in Duke Herring. Bodenheim was murdered in 1954.]

The blurb on the 1929 edition of Count Bruga states:

"COUNT BRUGA as a novel is as insensitive as a hangman, as vain as a monkey and as absurd as Sinbad. It recites what is intended to be the unreal and ironical history of a preposterous creature called Count Hippolyt Bruga. You will find it full of murders, terse seductions, amiable magicians, poets, fair though somewhat idiotic Ladies and a Grand Passion; all of which have been introduced into the narrative with Ben Hecht's customary respect for the noble art of fiction."

In 1941, Henry and Anais discussed (via letter) the subject of Count Bruga.

ANAIS: (July 1941) "I am reading Count Bruga. I like it. It is imaginative and artificial."

HENRY: (July 1941) "Count Bruga! What a strange book for you to read. Jean Kronski used to rave about it. You remember the puppet June carried around? I don't remember a damned thing about the book any more-complete blank."


The pictures of the Count Bruga puppet on this post are taken from the film Henry & June (1990) [that is meant to be Jean Kronski in the top image]. You can read Count Bruga's lines from this film script here.