Monday, September 06, 2010

Tropic Of Capricorn: The War Years

Henry Miller's Tropic Of Capricorn was published in France just as World War II began. The war--and the social mores at the time--made it a battle to distribute the book in the U.S. during the years 1939-1945.

CAPRICORN BORN

Henry Miller was reading the proofs to his forthcoming novel, Tropic Of Capricorn, as Hitler plotted his invasion of Europe. It was January 1939 [1]. Miller was still in Paris, [2] where he had begun writing the novel nearly seven years earlier. [3]

Miller had completed the writing of Capricorn the previous September, 1938 [4]. Throughout that month, the world had listened tensely as Adolf Hitler demanded annexation of the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia. Earlier in the year, France had already committed itself to the aid of the Czechs, should the Nazis invade [5]. During the third week of September, Miller took a vacation in southern France [6], but not before leaving the original Tropic Of Capricorn manuscript with his publisher, Jack Kahane of Obelisk Press. As instructed, Kahane kept the document in a personal vault at his bank [7]. Miller wanted it in safe keeping, just in case “Paris is bombed & Obelisk wiped out” by the threatening German war machine. [7]

The Obelisk Press in Paris had already published Miller’s Tropic Of Cancer (1934), Aller Retour New York (1935), Black Spring (1936), Scenario (1937), and was in the process of releasing Max And The White Phagocytes (1938) when Henry completed Tropic Of Capricorn [8]. Jack Kahane set a publication date of February 1939 for Miller’s latest book. [9]

PRINTING DELAYS

In February 1939, the language of war was becoming stronger--the British made a public declaration to stand alongside France should the provocative Germans attempt an invasion. Meanwhile, in northern France, near the Belgian border, the Imprimerie Georges Frère, in the town of Tourcoing, printed off 1,000 copies of Tropic Of Capricorn [10]. The problem, however, was that Henry Miller, who was solely responsible for proofreading and correcting proofs, had not yet given his approval to start the presses [11]. This error would delay distribution of the book for several weeks, as they had to create a yellow “Errata” sheet that listed the typographical errors [12] and then bind the sheet on the page before the title page, on all 1,000 copies [10].

Above: The yellow "Errata" sheet that had to be added to the first edition of Tropic Of Capricorn because the printers had not waited for Henry Miller to give them his proof-read corrections (1939).

The looming war was stirring a hostile environment for the release of Capricorn, which was even more sexually explicit than Tropic Of Cancer. Capricorn may cause trouble for us all here,” wrote Miller in April 1939, when the novel was still sitting in boxes, “because of the Puritanical wave coming in with the war fever” [13] … “There is a danger now that the French may suppress it. They are going crazy with new laws.” [14]

During this delay period, Obelisk received at least 800 pre-orders for Capricorn, gobbling up most of the original 1,000 [15]. Another batch of 3,000 was printed [16], with adjustments made to the price on the flaps [10]. Finally, all variants of this first edition were officially released on May 10, 1939 [10].

BLACKMARKET CAPRICORN IN AMERICA

Miller’s Tropic Of Cancer was banned in America in 1939, but Capricorn had not yet been added to the blacklist [17]. But it was an inevitability. If readers in the USA were to get their hands on Capricorn, it would have to be a secret endeavour, by word of mouth, hidden behind counters and mailed in sealed envelopes.

Frances Steloff of the Gotham Book Mart was an instrumental player in this underground network. An American merchant marine had smuggled hundreds of copies of the first edition into New York [18], from where Steloff would clandestinely distribute copies from her West 47th shop [19] at $10 a copy [18]. By arrangement with Steloff, Miller attempted to mail some copies directly to an American buyer, but these were seized by Customs [20].

Thinking ahead to publication in the U.S., Miller’s American publisher James Laughlin arranged to have three chapters of Capricorn published in his annual New Directions in Prose & Poetry, in order to get a hold of the U.S. copyright on the novel. These excerpts were eventually published at the end of 1939 [21].

Also by the end of 1939, a pirated edition of Tropic Of Capricorn made its way to America. The bootleg copies of the Obelisk original had been photographed and printed in Shanghai [22].

Having fled Paris for safety, Miller was visiting with Lawrence Durrell and his wife in Corfu in August 1939, three months after the release of Capricorn. He had not heard from Jack Kahane in a while. “I don’t write him either,” wrote Miller on August 6th. “Know nothing about the fate of Capricorn, and care nothing” [23]. Miller could not know the fate of Kahane, who was to die of heart failure four weeks later on September 3, 1939: the day that the U.K. and France declared war on Germany [24].

PUBLICATION ATTEMPTS

Although Obelisk Press would continue on under the control of Kahane’s son, Maurice Girodias, and would publish several more editions of Capricorn into the early 1960s, the war years would not produce any more editions of the novel [25]. However, there were attempts.

A friend in the States told Henry of plans to establish a press in Mexico, on which he would publish both Tropics [26]. It apparently didn’t happen. In 1943, bookseller Ben Abramson told Miller his intention to have Capricorn published in the United States. By March 1944, only 60 pages had been typeset—it would be a long process [10]. Later that year, during a stay with Caresse Crosby near Washington, D.C., Miller was asked to read from Tropic Of Capricorn for the Library Of Congress’s Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature [27]. The four LPs were cut in the Recording Laboratory of the Library on December 11, 1944.

“Now soon the Capricorn comes out, privately printed…,” wrote an expectant Miller to Lawrence Durrell in February 1945 [28]. But, as the war entered its final stages in August 1945, and with two-thirds of the book already typeset, Ben Abramson’s project came to an abrupt end when the nervous printer began destroying the type by melting it—he had become afraid of legal prosecution for his role in publishing the controversial novel [10].

SECOND EDITION – WAR IS OVER

The Germans had surrendered to the Allies in May 1945. The war was winding down.

While Abramson’s project perished in flames in August 1945, Tropic Of Capricorn gained new life in France. Obelisk Press issued a second edition in a batch of 10,000 (although on cheaper paper) [29].

With the official surrender of Japan on September 2, 1945, World War II was over. The U.S. war against Henry Miller, however, would continue.

The Nazis entered Paris on June 14, 1940. Henry Miller had taken a train out of Paris a year earlier, on May 30, 1939.

REFERENCES

[1] The Durrell-Miller Letters, 1935-80. Edited by Ian. S. MacNiven: letter from Miller, January 1939, p.112; [2] According to the return addresses in Miller’s letters to Durrell, he was back in Paris from his southern France trek by at least by November 5, consistently through to January 1939 and beyond; [3] Letters To Emil. Edited by George Wickes. In letter dated October 5, 1932, Miller writes that he had just completed the first 60 pages of Capricorn; [4] The Durrell-Miller Letters, 1935-80. In a letter dated Sept. 25/38, Miller mentions that he finished Capricorn a “few days ago.” Also, in the actual novel, he signs off with the date “September 1938”; [5] For my WWII history throughout this article, I didn’t go much further than Wikipedia, with their summaries of the year 1938 and 1939, and their WWII timeline; [6] See Note 4 plus Mary Dearborn’s Happiest Man Alive, p.197; [7] The Durrell-Miller Letters, 1935-80, p.101 (Miller, Sept. 25/38); [8] Shifreen & Jackson’s Bibliography of Primary Sources, Vol. 1—which is organized chronologically—lists these titles with these dates; [9] Henry Miller and James Laughlin: Selected Letters. Edited by George Wickes. In a letter by Miller dated Oct. 19/38, p.14; [10] Details listed under item A21, in Shifreen & Jackson’s Bibliography of Primary Sources, Vol. 1; [11] The Durrell-Miller Letters, 1935-80: letter from Miller, dated March 1939, p.123; [12] ibid, but the details about the Errata sheet come from Bibliography of Primary Sources, Vol. 1, A21; [13] Henry Miller and James Laughlin: Selected Letters, p.20: Miller letter dated Apr. 23/29; [14] ‘Four Previously Unpublished Letters From Henry Miller to Gershon Legman’. From Nexus: The International Henry Miller Journal, No. 1, Vol. 1, p.10: Letter from Miller, May 13/39; [15] The Durrell-Miller Letters, 1935-80, p.129: Miller letter from May 1939; [16] This comes from Miller: see Note 14. Important details about the first edition are clarified in item A21a of Jackson & Ashley’s Bibliography of Primary Sources, Volume 2, which corrects the A21 listing from volume one. Essentially, it is clarified that, what had been identified as a variant first edition in Volume 1 is in fact all first edition. Miller’s letter to Gershon seems to clearly identify that there was an initial batch of 1,000, followed by another batch of 3,000, all of them released simultaneously. A21a also details some printing corrections made on the cover price listings—I am guessing this happened during the 3,000 batch; [17] ‘Four Previously Unpublished Letters From Henry Miller to Gershon Legman’. From Nexus: The International Henry Miller Journal, No. 1, Vol. 1, p.7: Letter from Miller, March 1939; [18] Happiest Man Alive, p.201; [19] See my posting on Steloff and her book store; [20] Happiest Man Alive, p.201-202; [21] Henry Miller and James Laughlin: Selected Letters, p.23: Laughlin letter June 1939. This item is listed as B7 in Shifreen & Jackson, Vol. 1 (“Three chapters from Tropic of Capricorn”); [22] Bibliography of Primary Sources, Vol. 1: A21c; [23] A Literate Passion: Letters of Henry Miller and Anais Nin. Edited by Gunther Stuhlmann: p.322. Miller letter, Aug 6/29; [24] Pearson, Neil. Obelisk: A History of Jack Kahane and the Obelisk Press, p.72; [25] As is evident by reading the chronological listings in Bibliography of Primary Sources, Vol. 1; [26] Happiest Man Alive, p.216: the unnamed friend had plans to print both Tropics; [27] Martin, Jay. Always Merry and Bright: the Life of Henry Miller, p.414. Also so recording date details in the Library of Congress link provided within the text; [28] The Durrell-Miller Letters, 1935-80, p.178: Miller letter, Feb 18/45; [29] Bibliography of Primary Sources, Vol. 1 : A21d.

24 Comments:

Anonymous Mykola ( Mick) Dementiuk said...

Henry Miller may have had it bad back then, much as I have it in trying to get my novel noticed by anyone, even though it's been published. It's a hopeless battle. The times should be better, I think...Ha, fat chance!

http://www.amazon.com/Vienna-Dolorosa-Mykola-Dementiuk/dp/0975858157/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1283891048&sr=8-2

4:28 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post, I was always interested in Miller's life during the war.

You described the war parallel to Miller's life, yet I'd also would love to know about his opinions and thoughts regarding the war itself.

Thanks for an wonderful blog, it makes me feel like I'm keeping in some sort of touch with Miller even though i don't have the time to read him these days.

9:30 am  
Anonymous Sally Miller said...

I was hopelessly in love with Henry Miller in the early 1960s when I read many of his books during my twenties (Grove Press?).I came back to his kind of writing, brutally honest, raw, in your face, with sexual components not usually found in mainstream books, when I read Vienna Dolorosa by Mykola Dementiuk.I like it so much I decided to edit and publish it. Would you like a review copy?

www.SynergyBookService.com

Sally Miller
Synergy Book Service
POB 8
Flemington NJ 08822
908.782.7101 to order

1:41 pm  
Blogger danyulengelke said...

Great post. Always wondered what Henry was up to during the War years.

Currently traversing through Durrell's Alexandria Quartet. What an amazing writer.

Also,

Definitely going to check out Vienna Dolorosa now!

8:07 pm  
Blogger xumeiqing said...

151118meiqing
uggs for sale
coach outlet store online
ugg boots
gucci outlet
coach outlet
michael kors outlet
louis vuitton outlet
replica watches
ugg boots
cheap oakley sunglasses
abercrombie & fitch
gucci shoes
celine
louis vuitton purses
retro jordans
michael kors outlet
fitflops sale clearance
coach factory outlet
abercrombie
tods shoes
chanel bags
canada goose
michael kors outlet
louis vuitton outlet
ugg outlet
cheap soccer shoes
p90x workouts
oakley sunglasses
louis vuitton outlet
louis vuitton handbags
abercrombie and fitch
michael kors outlet online
celine
coach outlet
jordans for sale
ugg boots on sale
ralph lauren sale
kobe bryant shoes
air max 90
burberry outlet

1:35 am  
Blogger chenlina said...

chenlina20151119
louboutin pas cher
gucci shoes
michael kors outlet clearance
louis vuitton handbags
ugg boots
abercrombie
ray ban sunglasses outlet
ugg boots
air max uk
the north face outlet
beats by dre
polo ralph lauren
oakley sunglasses
michael kors outlet
christian louboutin shoes
oakley sunglasses
louis vuitton handbags
air max 95
ralph lauren outlet
hollister co,hollister jeans,hollister.com,hollister ca
cheap jordans
uggs on sale
timberland outlet
ugg clearance
coach outlet store online
coach factory outlet
ray ban sunglasses
ralph lauren uk
canada goose outlet
coach factory outlet
swarovski outlet
louis vuitton outlet online
canada goose
cheap jordans
abercrombie fitch
ray ban outlet
ed hardy clothing
p90x
nike huarache shoes
ugg boots for men

7:47 pm  
Blogger حسام داود said...

companies in Riyadh cleaning workers technical coach at the highest levelشركة تسليك مجارى بالرياض
شركة تنظيف بالرياض
شركة تنظيف شقق بالرياض
شركة تنظيف منازل بالرياض
شركة تنظيف خزنات بالرياض
شركة مكافحة حشرات بالرياض
شركة رش مبيدات بالرياض
شركة تخزين اثاث بالرياض
شركة تنظيف مجالس بالرياض
شركة تنظيف فلل بالرياض

3:26 pm  
Blogger John said...

mont blanc pens
louis vuitton outlet
longchamp outlet
michael kors handbags
hollister uk
ugg australia
chanel bags
coach factory outlet
adidas originals
toms outlet
kobe bryant shoes
nike roshe run
louis vuitton bags
ugg boots
retro jordans
michael kors outlet online
cheap oakley sunglasses
coach factory outlet
ugg outlet
michael kors outlet clearance
coach outlet
tods outlet
ugg boots
coach outlet store online
ugg boots
louis vuitton handbags
north face jacket
concords 11
canada goose outlet
canada goose jackets
pandora jewelry
20151228yuanyuan

2:47 am  
Blogger Minko Chen said...

polo shirts
hermes birkin bag
cheap ugg boots
mbt shoes outlet
timberland shoes
michael kors canada
michael kors outlet online
tiffany jewelry
ugg outlet online
mlb jerseys
ferragamo outlet
michael kors factory store
oakley canada
ugg outlet
ray ban sunglasses
ralph lauren outlet
kobe bryants shoes
soccer jerseys wholesale
christian louboutin shoes

9:40 pm  
Blogger jualobatkuatcialisasli45. said...

Vimax Izon Asli
Jual Vimax Asli
Vimax Original Canada
Pembesar Penis
Harga Vimax Asli
Ciri ciri Vimax Izon Asli
Khasiat Vimax
vimax
Vimax Izon Canada
Vimax Kapsul
Vimax Pills Asli

2:40 pm  
Blogger oakleyses said...

ugg outlet, longchamp outlet, tiffany and co, ray ban sunglasses, prada outlet, air max, louis vuitton outlet stores, louis vuitton outlet, uggs outlet, louis vuitton outlet, michael kors outlet, longchamp handbags, ray ban sunglasses, nike shoes, air max, longchamp handbags, rolex watches, kate spade outlet, oakley sunglasses, prada handbags, replica watches, michael kors outlet online sale, oakley sunglasses cheap, louboutin outlet, louis vuitton handbags, gucci outlet, cheap oakley sunglasses, louboutin, oakley sunglasses, louboutin shoes, michael kors outlet, cheap uggs, polo ralph lauren outlet, tory burch outlet, uggs, oakley sunglasses, polo ralph lauren, michael kors outlet, jordan shoes, ugg boots clearance, ray ban sunglasses, burberry outlet, burberry outlet, louis vuitton, christian louboutin, michael kors outlet

9:17 pm  
Blogger oakleyses said...

coach outlet store online, michael kors uk, new balance pas cher, michael kors outlet, north face, abercrombie and fitch, ralph lauren, nike air force, vanessa bruno, kate spade handbags, nike roshe run pas cher, air jordan, true religion jeans, louboutin, vans pas cher, sac guess, air max, hollister, sac burberry, michael kors, north face, nike free, ray ban sunglasses, air max, timberland, longchamp, nike air max, nike tn, converse pas cher, polo lacoste, coach outlet, true religion outlet, hogan outlet, sac longchamp pas cher, michael kors pas cher, replica handbags, ray ban pas cher, nike free pas cher, coach purses, hollister, oakley pas cher, polo ralph lauren, nike blazer, true religion outlet, lululemon outlet online, true religion jeans, air max pas cher, nike roshe, mulberry, sac hermes

9:19 pm  
Blogger oakleyses said...

celine handbags, abercrombie and fitch, valentino shoes, babyliss pro, iphone 6 cases, mont blanc, s6 case, louboutin, north face outlet, herve leger, chi flat iron, iphone 6s plus cases, iphone 6s cases, insanity workout, hollister clothing store, new balance shoes, birkin bag, instyler, ralph lauren, north face jackets, longchamp, baseball bats, vans shoes, timberland boots, nike roshe run, iphone 5s cases, mcm handbags, asics running shoes, soccer shoes, reebok outlet, wedding dresses, mac cosmetics, nike huaraches, bottega veneta, p90x, lululemon outlet, air max, nfl jerseys, beats by dre, iphone cases, hollister, jimmy choo outlet, nike trainers, ipad cases, soccer jerseys, ferragamo shoes, iphone 6 plus cases, oakley, giuseppe zanotti, ghd

9:21 pm  
Blogger oakleyses said...

wedding dresses, abercrombie, louis vuitton, juicy couture, ugg pas cher, barbour, supra shoes, canada goose outlet, moncler, swarovski, canada goose uk, coach outlet store online, hollister, air max, moncler, canada goose jackets, converse shoes, canada goose, moncler, pandora jewelry, pandora charms, rolex watches, marc jacobs, toms shoes, pandora jewelry, ugg, moncler outlet, barbour, ugg, moncler, montre homme, gucci, swarovski crystal, canada goose, vans, sac lancel, thomas sabo, moncler, karen millen, moncler, ray ban, canada goose, pandora charms, sac louis vuitton, links of london, canada goose, ugg boots, louis vuitton uk, juicy couture outlet, canada goose, louis vuitton, converse, ugg

9:23 pm  
Blogger jawad zaib said...

Your Site Is Very Good and The Post is Well On Topic, Thanks for Sharing it with us.

New Songs 2016
new whatsapp status 2016
apple iphone 7 colors
love shayari in hindi 2016
New Bollywood Songs 2016 Music Video Kareena Kapoor
Latest best android games 2016
http://www.newsongshd.com/

12:58 pm  
Blogger chenlina said...

chenlina20160420
coach outlet store online
louis vuitton handbags
celine outlet
mont blanc
hollister kids
kate spade handbags
louis vuitton outlet
michael kors outlet
nfl jerseys wholesale
longchamp outlet
nike uk
replica watches
coach factory outlet
oakley vault
coach outlet store online
air jordans
ray bans
hollister uk
coach factorty outlet
lebron james shoes 13
ray ban outlet
louis vuitton handbags
michael kors outlet
coach outlet online
kate spade outlet
gucci belts
polo ralph lauren
louis vuitton outlet
coach outlet clearance
coach factory outlet
coach outlet online
louis vuitton outlet
ray ban wayfarer
nike basketball shoes
gucci outlet
cheap nfl jerseys
toms wedges
nike outlet store
louis vuitton
kobe 11
as

9:46 pm  
Blogger dong dong23 said...

ray ban sunglasses
coach outlet online
ray ban sunglasses
nike nfl jerseys
kate spade
coach factory outlet
gucci outlet
jordan concords
oakley sunglasses
ray ban outlet
louis vuitton outlet
michael kors outlet online
louis vuitton outlet
coach outlet
ray-ban sunglasses
louis vuitton outlet
ray ban sunglasses outlet
cheap jordans
fitflops
kate spade
pandora jewelry
lebron james shoes 12
coach factory outlet
nike free run 2
louis vuitton outlet stores
nike air max
jordan retro
louboutin pas cher
coach factory outlet
jordan shoes
ray ban wayfarer
cheap jordan shoes
ray ban
christian louboutin outlet
hollister clothing
coach factory outlet
jordan shoes
ralph lauren outlet
caoch outlet
true religion jeans
20165.17wengdongdong

5:49 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

rolex watches
ray-ban sunglasses
air jordan 4
hermes belt
instyler ionic styler
tiffany jewelry
mulberry handbags
ugg outlet
ugg uk
louis vuitton
chanyuan11.19

7:53 am  
Blogger John said...

supra shoes
ugg outlet
coach outlet online
rolex replica watches
louis vuitton borse
north face outlet
true religion outlet store
polo ralph lauren outlet
red bottom shoes
cheap ray ban sunglasses
20161209yuanyuan

9:50 am  
Blogger dong dong23 said...

coach factory outlet
air jordan shoes
moncler
louis vuitton pas cher
fitflop shoes
chicago bulls jerseys
tory burch
coach outlet online
ray ban sunglasses
louis vuitton
20171.11wengdongdong

12:18 am  
Blogger raybanoutlet001 said...

chaussure louboutin
oakley sunglasses
texans jerseys
carolina panthers jersey
tennessee titans jersey
air max 90
ed hardy clothing
adidas nmd runner
miami heat
pittsburgh steelers jersey

8:17 pm  
Blogger Meiqing Xu said...

nike blazer low
pandora charms sale
coach factory outlet
jordan pas cher
tory burch outlet store
louboutin chaussures
fake rolex
gucci purses
ugg boots
true religion outlet
20170224caiyan

12:14 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

michael kors handbags sale
new york jets jerseys
ray ban sunglasses
ray ban sunglasses
hugo boss outlet
49ers jersey
cowboys jerseys
ed hardy uk
basketball shoes
michael kors handbags
20170322

10:20 pm  
Blogger happy 123 said...

longchamp
adidas nmd
yeezy boost 350
michael kors outlet
adidas nmd runner
michael kors outlet
air force 1
cheap basketball shoes
cheap jordans
adidas stan smith sneakers
20170607

1:06 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home