Monday, March 05, 2007

Henry Miller in 'The Nation'

The Nation magazine has been active since 1865 (here's some history) as "America's oldest and most widely read weekly journal of progressive political and cultural news, opinion and analysis." All 142 years' worth of The Nation is available on-line through their digital archive. This is a paid service, but the database is still searchable for free. Though not as generous as their Time Magazine counterparts in providing free content on the web (see Miller articles in Time: 1, 2, 3), the search hits contain abstracts of the articles in question.

The following is a collection of links to abstracts in The Nation archive for--you guessed it--Henry Miller:

NOV 4, 1939. “The Traditions and Henry Miller” (by Paul Rosenfeld)
Analysis/review of Tropic Of Capricorn.
Abstract excerpt: “Its verbal pattern is a contrast between two selves and existence presented as autobiography. If possible, even more shockingly than in Tropic of Cancer, a load of partially inevitable, mainly superfluous obscenity befouls many pages. The spirit of the excessive, orgiastic and eruptive troublingly suffuses even the cleaner one.”

SEP 7, 1940. “Hamlet Is Not Enough” (by Paul Rosenfeld)
Combined review of Michael Fraenkel’s Death Is Not Enough, Miller’s The Cosmological Eye, and the Miller-Fraenkel collaboration, Hamlet.
Abstract excerpt: “Fraenkel is an original American member of the late Parisian group. With an aristocratic mentality, a vein of poetry, irony, erudition, and the faculty of analysis, he possesses a number of fresh ideas about life and art.”

AUG 16, 1941. “We Want Fortinbras” (by Paul Rosenfeld)
A brief review of Miller-Fraenkel’s Hamlet II.
Abstract excerpt: “The first quartet of the chunky white volume is relatively slack-and without his punch and fire Miller is hardly himself.”

NOV 4, 1944. “Notes By The Way” (by Margaret Marshall)
A general critique of Miller’s works, prompted by the release of Sunday After The War.
Abstract excerpt: Tropic of Cancer was published in Paris, France and found its [way] to the U.S. some years ago. It had terrific vitality and was very funny. It could not be published in the U.S. and probably never can be because it is what is known as ‘pornographic’ literature. When Miller goes ‘straight’ and serious, he gets prosaic and wordy.”

NOV 5, 1955. “The Neglected Henry Miller” (by Kenneth Rexroth)
A boosting profile of Miller.
Abstract excerpt: “The people Henry Miller writes about, read him. They read him because he gives them something they cannot find elsewhere in print. It may not he precisely the real world, but it is nearer to it than most other writing, and it is certainly nearer than most so-called realistic writing.”

MAY 26, 1956. “A Kind Of Genius” (by William Bittner)
A general profile of Miller, with focus on My Friend Henry Miller and The Time of the Assassins.

JUN 8, 1957. “The Millennium Of Henry Miller” (by M.L. Rosenthal)
Critique on Miller, with focus on his guru status in Big Sur.
Abstract excerpt: “Miller's claims as a spiritual influence remain open to hilarious question. His qualifications for sainthood are his genuine intimacy with despair, his infinite candor and unconcern for appearances, and his conception of property as the subject matter of the science of panhandling.”

JUL 1, 1961. “The Empty Zone” (by Kenneth Rexroth [photo below])
Review of Tropic Of Cancer.
From another website about 20th Centruy American Bestsellers, I found this lengthy quote from Rexroth's review: "This review is a bit late because I have been collecting clips of the response ny newspaper book reviewers aroung the country. It has not been good. Few have minded the bad words, some have even reviewed the book without mentioning their existence. Most of them have had deeper moral reservations. They object to Miller's windy generalizations and empty profundities. A couple quote Nelson Algren's remark that the big trouble with Miller is that he thinks he thinks. Several point out that the sexual encounters bear unmistakenable signs of fantasy rather than empirical knowledge. The most fundamental objection occurs again and again - there are no people in the book. It is written without sympathy or insight. Miller doesn't like people, in fact he doesn't know that they are out there. He is antt-human and anti-humane. What it all adds up to is the judgement that Miller is a barbarian within the gates, an uncultured and unculturable man, one of Toynbee's Internal Proletariat."

NOV 18, 1961. “Miller: Only The Beginning” (by Terry Southern)
Abstract excerpt: “Miller's work is in the tradition of romantic agony. Romantic agony, in the classic Baudelairean form from which it derives, may be likened to the manic-depressive syndrome in psychology; it is characterized, in its effect, by spontaneity and it contains both the lustiest affirmation of life and the most severe denial of it.”

SEP 15, 1962. “Absolutely Crazy And Chaotic” (by Warrington Winters)
Review of Tropic Of Capricorn.

OCT 20, 1962. “Mr. What’s-His-Name” (by R.A. O’Brien)
Review of Stand Still Like The Hummingbird.

APR 20, 1963. “Pain Of Brooklyn” (by Warrington Winters)
Review of Black Spring.


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