Sunday, November 30, 2008

Miller in Yale's Beinecke Library

The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library was opened at Yale University in 1963. The Beinecke Library "contains the principal rare books and literary manuscripts of Yale University and serves as a center for research by students, faculty, and other scholars, whether affiliated with Yale or not." (source:Beinecke Library-About the Building). In it, a few Miller items can be found.
1. Tropic of Cancer, original corrected typescript title page and first page.
From the Frederick R. Koch Collection: the original title page of Tropic of Cancer, on which Miller has scracthed out the title "Capricorn" for "Cancer." Signed "Anonymous," Miller includes his handwritten address in Clichy (circa 1932). The original first page of Tropic Of Cancer contains Miller's hand-made corrections on the typewritten page. The text includes direct references to Michael Fraenkel, later to be veiled under the psuedonym "Boris."

2. Henry Miller with friends at Sommiers, July 24, 1959.
A photograph of Miller with freinds, taken by Hilda Doolittle at Sommiers on July 24, 1959. A cropped version of this photo is below. From left to right: Richard Aldington, Lawrence Durrell, Henry Miller, F.J. Temple. Miller had just finsihed Nexus three months earlier, and left for an extended stay in Europe immediately afterwards. He would return to his home in Big Sur about three weeks after the picture was taken.

3. Henry Miller at his desk at Big Sur, March 18, 1945.
The photograph of Miller at Big Sur in 1945 contains its own description, handwritten on the back by Miller: "This is a poor snapshot of your humble Zen disciple at work in his Sanctum at Big Sur. Looks like a classroom, no? Henry Miller 3/18/45." This photo was donated to Yale in 1951 from "Henry (sic) Peyre." Henri Peyre is referenced by Miller in his Books in My Life, p.19: he was a professor of the French Department at Yale. He was an acquaintance of Wallace Fowlie, who'd written to Miller on December 28, 1943 to mention that Peyre was an "excellent critic" who "thinks highly of your books ... He may write to you." [1] A friendship was to later follow; Peyre proved to be someone with whom Miller could share his new enthusiasm for Rimbaud.

Miller had moved to Big Sur in 1944. He may have been working on Sexus in this photo (which he'd complete later this year) or perhaps he was hammering out a (later aborted) translation of Rimbaud's Season in Hell. His daughter Valentine had been conceived about a month before this photo. [2]

The above photo has been cropped from the original, which may be viewed in full and at a large scale so that you can admire Henry's 1940s California decor. Love those curtains, Henry.

REFERENCES

__________________________________________________

[1] Letters of Henry Miller and Wallace Fowlie, 1943-1972; p.27. [2] See Miller's own biographical timeline posted at the Big Sur Memorial Library website.

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