Monday, April 17, 2006

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 - THE ORIGINAL IDEA

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 - SYNOPSIS

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.

THE WRITING OF NEXUS

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).