Sunday, February 01, 2009

Soliloquies Of Lust: Miller And Desire

A 1997 thesis paper called Soliloquies Of Lust: Henry Miller and the Transmutation of Desire, is available in full through the National Archive of Canada. The paper's author is Patrice Baillargeon, a graduate student from the University of Western Ontario, in London, Ontario. Baillargeon explores "the premises that have led to the emergence of his estranged sensualist's cynical voice" (iii). The critique notes that Miller's "compulsive longing for uniqueness often verges on discursive schizophrenia" (2): sexual and spiritual narratives co-exist and clash. "But this separation is perhaps a false one: although his exhuberant production is generally considered his most important, there is much that would suggest that Miller's entire literary output should be read a s single corpus" (4).

Beyond the introduction, the paper is broken down into three sections: "Men," "Heroes," and "Goddesses." With "Men," the author seeks to examine "a few of the cultural conditions behind Miller's devising of his self-seeking Men" (8); "By looking at, successively, some of Val's acknowledged models, ideological stances, and sociopathic associates, this chapter will search for the conditions of his self-professed lonliness" (9). This includes an exploration of his refusal to avoid emotional failure, and to find connnection with the failings of his contemporaries. The characters of Dr. Kronski and Van Norden receive particular analysis.

Next, an attempt is made to "challenge some of the socially disruptive views conveyed by the storyteller's first-person revelations," (8) "by interrogating the instances of narratolical transformation endured by his (often anti-) Heroes" (8). The chapter aims to "shed some light on the methods used by Miller in order to transpose his mutational envies in a dialogic key that can be called his own" (29). This includes an analysis of his use of sexual language and of nostalgia.

Finally, "Goddess" looks at the ways in which "Henry Miller's 'I narrator' idealizes Woman's Lust and turns the sexual interests of his lovers into mere reflections of his own phallic preccupations" (47). In doing so, Baillargeon hopes to "illustrate the extent of one man's dependence upon his female lovers' projections of the Self" (8). This, of course, includes a study of Miller's June/Mona/Mara character.

Scattered throughout the thesis are also references to Miller's "mask of indifference" (54) and "indiscriminate reliance on non-commital principals," (64) both personal and political.

Soliloquies of Lust also provides several paragraph-long quotes from various essays and academic papers about Miller. These include: Giles Mayne's Eroticism in Georges Bataille and Henry Miller, James Dale Brown's Henry Miller; Kingsley Widmer's "Twisting American Comedy: Henry Miller and Nathanial West, among Others"; Alan Trachtenberg's "'History on the Side': Henry Miller's American Dream"; William Gordon's Writer And Critic; Walker Winslow's "Henry Miller: Bigotry's Whipping Boy"; David Stephan Callone's "Euphoria in Paris: Henry Miller Meets D.H. Lawrence"; John Parkin's Henry Miller, The Modern Rabelais; Henry Lewis' Henry Miller: The Major Writings; William Gordon's The Mind And Art of Henry Miller; and, Alan Friedman's "The Pitching of Love's Mansion in the Tropics of Henry Miller."


Anonymous Eric said...

Thanks for the resource, RC.

Anything on "Moloch" I might be missing? :) I'm interested in doing a paper on that this year.

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