Thursday, September 29, 2005

Young Henry Miller at P.S. 85 in Brooklyn

Henry Miller attended Public School 85 (at Covert Street and Evergreen Ave) in Brooklyn from 1900/01 to 1905.

A 1906 photo of the school is at left (from the Brooklyn Public Library website). By searching "Public School 85" in the on-line historic newspaper Brooklyn Daily Eagle (from the same website), you can find stories about the opening of the school in 1893, as well as an incident in which the school ran out of coal in December 1900 and the kids (Henry as well?) were sent home.

It was early winter 1900, when Henry, age 9, moved with his family to Decatur Street in Bushwick. He was forced to fit into a new neighbourhood and this new school (just a couple of blocks away from home). He made life-long friends however, like Emil Schnellock and Jimmy Pasta.

Henry was impressed with Emil's chalkboard drawings at PS 85, and eventually befriended him. Schnellock wrote about first meeting Henry in Just A Brooklyn Boy (printed in The Happy Rock: A Book About Henry Miller.)

In a letter to Emil on October 25, 1934, Henry wrote: "Never forget my first impression of you. Don't seem to recall previous meetings--only that day shortly before Christmas when you stood up and quietly and efficiently proceeded to cover the blackboard with Christmas trees and Santa Clauses." (p. 156, Letters To Emil).

Henry wrote about Jimmy Pasta in a story called Jimmy Pasta, which was included in his Book Of Friends. In the PBA Galleries on-line archive, they refer to the original manuscript for this story, in which Henry had crossed out the last names of people from this time period, including those of "lusty female teachers at P.S. 85."

Miller writes about his disappointment with the uninspired, mechanical teaching methods at PS 85--in particular, his History teacher, Mr. Payne--in The Books Of My Life. (1950) Maybe the educational style enforced by the principal Arthur C Perry had something to do with it; keys to this dry method are probably found in Perry's 1908 book, The Management Of A City School.

In Robert Ferguson's biography, Henry Miller: A Life, he makes reference that Henry was briefly suspended from the school in October 1902 (p. 12; he doesn't mention why).

In the article Classmates At PS 85,Thomas Mann details the relationship between Henry and Emil. In this on-line article, this class photo (seen above) is included. The photo is not captioned, but my impression is that this is the Class Of 1905. Is that Henry, third from left, bottom row?

When Henry graduated from PS 85 in 1905, he parted ways with Schnellock and Pasta, but these two men would later re-enter his life, and offer him support and encouragement on his path to becoming a writer.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Miller in the Abraham Rattner Archives

The Smithsomian Archives Of American Art holds an archive called the Abraham Rattner And Esther Gentle Papers (Esther was Rattner's second wife; she was also an artist). In this collection are a number of items relating to Henry Miller.

Correspondence with Henry Miller, 1937-1979. (9 folders)
Box 4-Reel 5262-5263

Correspondence with Lepska Miller (Henry's third wife), 1946-47. Box 4 - Reel 5263

Extensive material relating to the American roadtrip that Miller and Rattner did in 1940-41, including:

- Rattner's own notebooks of the trip;
- Correspondence, panel scripts, and exhibition catalogue relating to the exhibit Our America (1975-78), which profiled the Air-Conditioned Nightmare adventure;
- "When We Were Together": Abe's account of the trip;
- Typescript of impressions by Miller for Nightmare, 1956
- Rattner's drawings from the trip;
All Box 5 - Reel 5264 (some drawings in Box 28 and 30 as well)

Six folders of Henry Miller media clippings, 1930s-80s.
Clippings of Henry Miller's writing, 1942, 1960s-70s.
Four folders of litrary annoucements and reviews of Miller, 1940's-60s.
All Box 24 - Reel 5275

Miscellaneous American pamphlets collected by Rattner during their excursion, 1940.
Box 24 - Reel 5276

Essays written by Miller on the subject of Rattner:

- A Bodhisattva Artist (1956)
- The Rattner Portfolio or For God So Loved the World (1957)
- A Word About Abraham Rattner (1965)
- Several undated essays titled Rattner, Abe Rattner and On Rattner
- A Painting If It Is Achieved At All, Is Done With The Help of God (undated)
All Box 26 - Reel 5276

Photographs of Henry circa 1940-43.
A photo from the 1941 trip, with Rattner, Miller and Weeks Hall.
Box 27 - Reel 5276

Artwork by Henry Miller.
Box 45 (ov) - Reel 5277

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Abe Rattner - An Introduction

"The principal thing is to see America."
-- Abraham Rattner, graciously, to Henry Miller, upon learning that the publishers of The Air-Conditioned Nightmare had rejected the idea of including Rattner's artwork in the book (1940).

The Jewish-American artist Abraham Rattner accompanied Henry Miller on his auto-trek across America in 1940-41. Miller had met Abe in Paris, circa 1937 or 1938--the Villa Seurat days. I've never read about the exact cirsumstance of their original meeting.

In 1940, Miller and Rattner were both in New York. Henry often visited Abe's studio to practice his watercolor technique. When Miller received a $500 publisher's advance for his road trip in August 1940, Rattner asked to come along.

Although the Air-Conditioned excursion is Rattner's principal association with Henry Miller, the two men maintained a life-long relationship, and Rattner continued on with his own distinguised career as an artist.

I'll explore the life of Abe Rattner over the next week or two. For now, here are some primary resources for Rattner:

The Abraham Rattner And Esther Gentle Papers collection in the Smithsonian Arhcives of Amercian Art. This website contains extensive biographical information. It also details their collection, including many items relating to Henry Miller.

The Leepa-Rattner Museum Of Art at St. Petersburg College in Tarpon Springs, Florida. An art museum dedicated to the works of Rattner, his step-son Allen Leepa, and his contemporaries. The website contains a break-down of the Rattner permanent exhibit, which includes the un-published drawings he made of the Air-Conditioned Nightmare trip.

Abraham Rattner, Fete Bretonne, 1923, oil in canvas by Lennie Bennett. An in-depth, interactive analysis of a 1923 painting by Rattner, recently posted by the St. Petergburg Times. Conatins a brief Rattner bio.

Rattner's artwork critiqued from a Jewish perspective, from the Center For Advanced Holocaust Studies.

A Word About Abraham Rattner (1965) by Henry Miller.

A Bodhisattva Artist by Henry Miller, in Remember To Remember (1945).

HM And I See America by Abraham Rattner, from the collection The Happy Rock:A Book About Henry Miller (1945). This is only an excerpt from Rattner's When We Were Together (unpublished?), which is held in the Smithsonian's Rattner collection.

Jewish Artists In New York: The Holocaust Years (2002) by Matthew Baigell (with a chapter on Rattner).

The Spiritual Art Of Abraham Rattner (1998) by Robert Henkes.

An analysis of Rattner's stained glass work, posted by the Michigan State University.

The above photograph of Rattner can be found on the Leepa-Rattner Museum website.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Miller In The World Of Girlie Magazines (to 1970)

The sexual escapades and bohemian freedom enjoyed by Henry Miller set him up as a populist bachelor superhero at mid-century. When the "girlie" magazines hit the racks in the late 50's-early 60's, it was inevitable that Miller would be featured in the occassional 'men's magazine.'

I'd taken the time to compile this list (thanks in great part to the website California when, wouldn't you know it, I discovered that someone has already done this. Henry Miller And The Nudies: A Bibliography For Readers And Collectors, by Roger Jackson (103 pps, 1996) appears to have the complete index (and maybe articles?). I don't have this book, and, probably, neither do you. So here's my own (likely incomplete) index to 1970.

1957 - July Playboy. Henry has a short 'letter to the editor.' I don't know what it's about.

1959 - Month? Venus. Henry Miller: Pornographer (no other details) .

1959 - July. Rogue. "Article on Henry Miller." Also features the short story "The Hangman" by Harlan Ellison, who was also the magazine editor at the time. (cover at right)

1961 - Oct. Rogue. Big Sur: The Tropic Of Henry Miller. This article is significant in that it was the first published piece for Hunter S. Thompson. Here's a little article about it from Gadfly Online.

1961 - Dec. Scene. "Article on Henry Miller." (cover at left)

1962 - Mar. Bachelor. Henry Miller's Tropic Of Cancer. (cover at the top of page)

1963 - Mar. Sir!. A full-page headshot of Miller for an article about pornography. [poor Henry becomes a posterboy]. Also features Kerouac's The Dharma Bums and a 4-page spread on decorating your bachelor pad.

1964 - Sept. Playboy. A full Playboy interview with Miller, by Bernard Wolfe. I thought I could find this transcribed on-line somewhere, but no luck.

1965 - Mar?. Barred. Profile of Miller and a review of The Rosy Crucifixion trilogy. Also several reviews of "nudie flicks" like The Defilers and Take Off Your Clothes & Live!.

1965 - Apr. Sir!. Interview with Maurice Girodias, founder of Olympia Press, who talks about "discovering" Henry Miller. Actually, his father, Jack Kahane (Obelisk Press) may be in a better position to make such claims.

1965 - May. Hi-Life. "Article on Henry Miller." Also articles by Jayne Mansfield and Sophia Loren, as well as a Tenneessee Willimas interview.

1965 - Dec. Playboy. The Old Neighbourhood by Henry Miller. Henry writes about Brooklyn.

1966 - June. Bachelor. The Sex World Of Henry Miller by Catherine Fox.

1966 - Oct. Broadside. Glittering Pie by Henry Miller (originally from Max And The White Phagocytes)

1970 - June. Playboy. Tropic Of Cancer Revisited. A photo essay of the filming of the film adaptation of Tropic Of Cancer (with Rip Torn as Henry). Henry wrote the accompanying text about the filming and about his stay in Paris during the shoot. According to the PBA Gallery listing of the original document, he wrote it on October 3, 1969.

Incidentally, the PBA Gallery also has a description of the Playboy-Miller correspondance collection (which it sold off a few years ago).

If you're interested in old magazine cover design and art, check out, where I managed to find the Bachelor cover on this posting (there are more issues on the site).

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

"My whole life changed on Kosciuszko Street"

Above: Kosciuszko Street Station (street at left), Henry Miller (centre) and Malvin Wald.

I've recently discovered a great little anecdote involving Henry Miller. It's a short piece called Living History:Life on Kosciuszko Street, written by Malvin Wald, a TV and film writer (he wrote The Naked City in 1948.) The story is made available on-line by Creative Screenwriting magazine.

In it, Wald tells of being at a party in L.A. during the 1970's, at which Henry Miller was to attend. Miller showed up, but was grumpy and uninterested in dishing out advice to the young writers who approached him (his only advice: "Live!"). Wald desribes Miller as "seated in an easy chair, grim-faced, his bald head giving him the appearance of a stone Buddha."

Finally, Wald decided to break the ice with Miller. He used a common link: they both grew up in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. ""Mr. Miller," began Wald, "how long since you've been on Kosciuszko Street?" Miller perked up: the very origin of his love of literature had been touched upon.

"Y'know," he said reflectively, "as a matter of fact, my whole life changed on Kosciuszko Street. Must have been sixty years ago when I was just a dumb kid. I used to read those crime paperbacks. I think they were called 'penny dreadfuls.' They were cops-and-robbers stories like the comic books the kids read today." He rubbed his chin and was thoughtful for a moment. We all waited respectfully for him to finish.

"Well, I was walking along Kosciuszko Street, when I met this guy who was holding a book and he asked me if I would like to read a story called 'Crime and Punishment' by a guy named Dostoevsky. I figured it was one of those cheap thrillers. So I took the book home."

"I couldn't believe what I had read. This was real writing. This was literature. I started to read seriously, for the first time in my life, and that led to my going to Paris to become a professional writer. So in a way, you can say my life as a writer started on Kosciuszko Street."

I apologize to Malvin Wald for quoting so liberally from his story; but I hope this draws attention to the full anecdote, which I hope you'll read.

The above photo of Kosciuszko Street was taken by Jeremiah Cox, from the website
The Miller photo excerpt is from a Michael Brennan photograph (from The Paris Review, I think).
The Wald photo excerpt is uncredited on the Creative Screenwriting website.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Miller Banned In Norway, 1957

UTUKTIG (Norwegian) = Lewd
On May 10, 1957, Henry Miller's Sexus was confiscated by Norwegian authorities as being lewd and obscene. It was the first time in 70 years that a ban of this kind has been enforced in Norway. A Danish edition of Sexus had been published in the Autumn on 1956, without incident, but in May 1957, two Norwegian booksellers were charged with its distribution under these resurrected obscenity laws.
Sexus was published in Denmark in 1956 by Hans Reitzel (not to be confused with Henry's artist friend, Hans Reichel). Reitzel had opened his publishing house, Hans Reitzels Forlag, in 1949. In 1955, he began to publish Miller's works in Denmark, including the two Tropics (according to this list). Sexus was translated to Danish by Joergen Rothenborg and released as two parts.
(Miller maintained a relationship with Reitzel; he visited and stayed with him in Denmark in 1959 and 1961. Reitzel continued to publish Miller's work at least until 1964.)
The Danish Sexus was imported into Norway by nine booksellers. On May 10, 1957, all copies of the book were confiscated in Norway and two booksellers singled out for legal action. The courts ruled against both booksellers for having "offered for sale, exhibited, or in other ways endeavored to disseminate obscene writing." The case moved on the the Supreme Court.
Hans Reitzel Forlag issued a defense of Miller that summer, in the form of an 8-page booklet called Henry Miller: Pornograf eller Profet?, written by Peter Rhode. A translation of the document was mailed to Miller, along with a letter by Danish defence lawyer, Trygve Hirsch.
The two booksellers were represented by Trygve Hirsch (from what I can make from the Norwegian biographies on the web, he once wrote novels under the pseudonym Stein Ståle during the 1940's. But what do I know about Danish: maybe this is someone else). In 1957, Hirsch wrote a letter to Henry, asking him to provide his "point of view" as author of Sexus, which Hirsch planned to read in court.
This letter was written on September 14, 1957. Miller's first reponse to Hirsch (replied to immediately) is re-printed in Henry Miller: Between Heaven And Hell (1961 - essays on Miller and censorhip). I can't be certain whether this letter was read in court or not. In February 1959, Miller wrote a second letter, in which he refers to the first ruling:
"I am reminded of certain passages in the Court's decision which reflect on my sincerity as well as on my ability to think straight. These passages contain the implication that I am often deliberately obscure as well as pretentious in my "metaphysical and surrealistic" flights. I am only too well aware of the diversity of opinion which these 'excursi' elicit in the minds of my readers. But how am I to answer such accusations, touching as they do the very marrow of my literary being?"
This second letter, in which Miller pleads the case for honest freedom of speech, would later be widely printed as Defence of the Freedom to Read (first as a pamphlet in Oslo, then in a 1959 copy of the Evergreen Review, and then in The Henry Miller Reader [1959]). This essay was later adopted by Grove Publishing when Miller later took heat for Tropic Of Cancer in the U.S.
The two booksellers were cleared of all charges, yet the copies of Sexus remained confiscated.
Sexus was finally published in Norway in 1995, by Den norske Bokklubben.
This entry was inspired by an article on the Italian website Edizioni di Passione. A copy of Hirsch's letter can be found there as well. If you're like me and can't read Italian, try stumbling your way through this awkward Google English translation of the same page.
A history of censorship in Norway can be found at Take a look at the history of Miller works banned across the globe by searching Henry's name on this site.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Booster - Dec 1937/Jan 1938

Every internet reference I've found suggests that this issue of The Booster (No. 10-11) combines the months of December and January 1937/38. Perhaps, with the funding considerably thinner, Miller and company decided to go bi-monthly?

This issue of The Booster is usually refered to as the "Air Conditioned Womb" issue. As with all previous issues, I need to state that I've never actually seen a copy of this, except for the cover [see below] which credits the contents to "The Womb Sextette." The following info has been gleaned from internet and published biographical sources (and is therefore incomplete).

Page 3 - The Paper Womb by Anais Nin. This prose poem was later re-named The Labyrinth, which was re-printed in the Nin anthology Under A Glass Bell (1944). "I was eleven years old when I walked into the labyrinth of my diary..." (read a tiny bit about it in the introduction to Anais Nin, Fictionality And Femininity at Amazon). Incidentally, Nin disliked The Booster project.

Page 14 - Down The Styx in an Air Conditioned Canoe by Lawrence Durrell. This 3-page story was later incarnated as Down The Styx (published first in French in 1964, then in English in 1971). Jeffrey Thomas Books describes the story as "a luscious prose poem in which a respectable old lady is advised on what to expect during her journey to oblivion and rebirth." The original written document apparently lies in Box #6 (item 13) of the Lawrence Durrell Papers collection at Southern Illinois University.

Page 20 - The Enormous Womb by Henry Miller.

"We think of the child unborn as living in a state of bliss; we think of death as an escape from life's ills ... there are people alive and moving about who live in what is called a state of bliss ... Wherein are their lives different then from that of the ordinary run of mankind? To my way of thinking the difference lies in their attitude towards the world, lies in the supreme fact that they have accepted the world as a womb, not a tomb."

The Enormous Womb is Henry Miller's wake-up call to humanity to enjoy the here-and-now existence of life. "Whoever does not realize what a wonderful world it is, tant pis for him." This piece was re-printed in The Wisdom Of The Heart (1941).

Page ?? - The Time Before by William Saroyan. Another Saroyan contribution. I've found nothing about this story. Perhaps a weak piece of his that found no posterity. I only know it was in this issue because of this reference.

Page 25 - Henry Miller Comments On 'Le Quatour en Remajeur'. From what I can tell, this was a single promotional page for Alfred Perles' French novel. Some of he text can be found in the brief Perles bio Renegade And Writer by Douglas Stone:

"... It [Le Quatour en Remajeur] is the essence of the senses, but so subtly alchemized as to produce the illusion of atomic indestructibility. At the core of the book is an electric effluvia which revivifies the detrius of living experience."

Quite a thick layering by Miller for his good friend (and notice he maintains the 'womb' theme even in this review, by use of the imagery of "effluvium"!).

This was to be the final issue of The Booster per se (at least, a complete severence from any association with the American Golf And Counrty Club). It would continue under a new name, Delta, in April 1938.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Case Against Sexus

"[T]here are plenty of writers who endeavor to cater to the public's taste and who, in doing so, have an eye on the market. These men I do not regard as writers. A serious dedicated writer is, in my opinion, a man who stands behind every word he puts down and who does not impose restrictions on himself for fear of incurring public disfavor. He writes because he has the urge, because he can do no other."
-- Henry Miller, 1963
in defense of Sexus (and all his works, really)

Miller completed Sexus--the first part of his Rosy Crucifixion--in 1945. It was published alone in 1949, and in the U.S. as part of the trilogy (along with Plexus and Nexus) in 1965.

Having already experienced state bans of his work, Miller became a poster boy for literary censorship. In 1953, he had to stand in a Parisian court to defend Sexus and freedom of expression.

My purpose with this post is not to write a 1000-word essay about Sexus and censorship. I just want to draw attention to an Italian website, Editizione di Passione, which has a feature on Miller's troubles with Sexus. The site is in Italian, but has some great scans of newspaper articles and correspondance regarding his battle against censorship (including his essays on freedom of speech).

I'll create posts for each available document over the next month. For now, you'll have to browse yourself. Also, Sexus is searchable by text on the Amazon site.

The graphic above, taken from the Italian site, is from a scan of the Miami Herald on March 3, 1961.

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Booster - November 1937

The third issue to be published under the watch of Miller-Perles-Durrell was The Booster 3.9, released in November 1937.

Having offended the conservative readership with their suggestive tale from Greenland in the October issue, Golf Club president Elmer Prather asked that they print a disclaimer in the November issue, pronouncing the Club's "disassociation with the journal." Ian MacGiven, in Lawrence Durrell: A Biography, quotes a letter that Miller wrote to Durrell, responding to the Club's severence: "Congratulations! We are free men!" (p. 180)

Inside front cover - Another promotion for Anais Nin's Diaries, as with last issue, except this one has the header "Henry Miller has the honor .." (from William Ashley's bibliography).

Page 11 - Death by Gerald Durrell. Another poem, written by Lawrence's 11 or 12 year old brother. This one was apparently so good that Lawrence accused Patrick Evans--his friend and his brother's tutor--of writing it and submitting it under Gerald's name (LD: A Bio - Ian MacNiven, p. 177).

Page 28 - Epilogue to Black Spring by Henry Miller. I've been unable to find out exactly what this epilogue is all about. Black Spring had been completed for a couple of years by this point. This epilogue was re-published in Henry Miller Miscellanea in 1945.

Page 39 - How to Lead the Podiatric Life by Henry Miller. Just about all of the original advertizers had abandoned the magazine by this point. The only advertizer they were able to solicit and maintain (according to Mary Dearborn's The Happiest Man Alive, p.195) was a black, female podiatrist from Chicago, named Baratta Alexander. Ms. Anderson took care of feet in Paris at the time. Miller wrote this two-page "comic" essay in her honour.

The Diary Of Anais Nin Vol. II 1934-1939 makes a brief reference to the podiatrist: "The evening was devoted to the story of the visit Henry paid to a chiropodist where he had gone to get an advertisement for The Booster. Henry was delighting in the humor about corns, dirty feet, etc. Both he and Fred had been there and had their feet done. Henry was hysterial with amusement." (Oct. 1937, p.261-262)

There has been little else I've been able to find on the internet or elsewhere regarding this particular issue. If you know more, let me know.

Monday, September 05, 2005

The Phony Writer: Henry Miller's FBI File, 1945

During the week of November 12, 1945, Henry Miller made a speech at Dartmouth College. A few months later, an FBI file on Henry Miller was opened, on suspicion of Sedition.

Henry had been invited by Prof. Herbert West of Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH), to speak to a group of students about Literature. He had two 50-minute sessions, which included question-and-answer periods. Many of the students asked him about his source material and other writing-related questions.

During one of these sessions, Miller was harrassed and heckled by a non-student named Albert Khan. Khan, it turns out, was a writer and editor of pro-Russian New Currents: A Jewish Monthly. The magazine was begun in March 1943, by the American Committee of Jewish Writers, Artists and Scientists (who would, a year later, publish an expose of Nazi atrocity during the war, called The Black Book: The Nazi Crime Against The Jewish People.")

A few weeks after the Dartmouth speech, Khan published an article in New Currents called "Odyssey Of A Stool Pigeon." In it, he insinuated that Miller had collaborated with Fascists in Paris, that he had worked as a "labor spy" (while at Western Union), and that he was anti-Semitic.

Khan wrote a letter to journalist and broadcaster Walter Winchell, well-known for controversy and gossip. In the letter, Khan suggests that Winchell write about Miller's speech. He claimed that Miller "thinks that the Nazis are very decent folk, hates the Jews and likes collaborationists." Khan refers to Miller as a "phony writer" who has "quite a following of pseudo-intellectuals in this country" ... "(on the personal side -- he boasts that his first wife supported him as a prostitute.) In short, he's a beaut."

You can view this entire FBI file and letter by Khan on the FBI website.

Winchell, who was a friend of FBI-head Herbert Hoover, passed the letter along to the Attorney General. (despite his willingness to help the FBI scope out "un-Americans," Winchell himself had quite an FBI file. See item 4d, dated March 25, 1943, where he rats on a bartender at his favourite club. The Amercian Committee Of Jewish Writers, etc also had an FBI file, due to its connections to Soviet Russia.)

The FBI investigated Miller for Sedition, but ultimately concluded that the alligations against him were fabrications, made by Khan, who had a grudge against him for what he deemed to be immoral and anti-Semitic elements in his books.

Besides the character defamation by Khan, which I've quoted above, the files also say the following about Miller:

"[M]any of the Subject's books were not permitted to be published in this country because of the fact that the writer seemed to have absolutely no morals governing the choice of the words that he used."

"... an ultra-modern type of writer... considered by many critics to be one of the foremost American writers at this time."

"... the Subject is strictly an artist type and could very easily be called "screwball" by people who didn't understand or appreciate his writing. The Subject apparently has no substantial source of income, his chief income being obtained from gifts from several of his followers who have considerable wealth. "

"..the Subject is considered somewhat of a pacifist as is the case with practically all of the true artists."

Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Booster - October 1937

The Booster 2.8 was published in October 1938. The magazine was available--amongst other places--at Sylvia Beach's Shakespeare & Co bookshop in Paris. The editing team had sold its own subscriptions after the release of the September issue; Lawrence Durrell had spread the word during a trip to England a few weeks after. This was a good thing, as some of the original advertisers were already backing away from the new literary format.

The Table Of Contents for the October issue is available on Jim Hayne's website [which is back online]. An image of the cover can be seen on my August 24th posting.

Page 1 - An announcement for the publication of Anais Nin's diaries. I don't think these diaries were actually printed until 1966. Maybe some Nin fans can correct me here.

Page 5 - Editorial. I don't have a copy of this magazine, and have been unable to find out the content of this particular editorial.

Page 7 - Nukarpiartekak (Greenland saga). This particular story got The Booster in hot water with their publishers, The American Golf And Country Club. It was originally a legend from Greenland, which had been brought to European attention by the Danish explorer Gustav Holm in 1884. According to Ian McNiven's Durrell biography, the English version of this story was found in a book of Greenland tales by Durrell; according to Mary Dearborn's Miller biography, the story had been lifted from another magazine.

Lawrence Durrell: A Biography (MacNiven) describes the tale like this: "an aged Eskimo disappears entirely into the vagina of a young woman. The only subsequent evidence of his existence is the small skeleton she passes into the snow next morning" (p. 180). Sensitivities were offended, a disclaimer was printed in the next issue, and advertisers jumped ship.

Page 8 - In The Theatre by Gerald Durrell. Lawrence's younger brother Gerald, age 11 (and living in Corfu with his parents) wrote this morbid poem about an operating theatre.

Page 9 - Sportlight by Charles Norden. Lawrence Durrell writing abour Sport under his alias.

Page 16 - Autour de la Missive a Betty by Alfred Perles. I can find nothing about this piece. I'm becoming fascinated by the overshadowed Perles. You can expect to see much about him in the next month.

Page 18 - A Boost For The Black Book by Henry Miller. Miller writes promotional material about Durrell's novel, which would be printed in Paris the following year.

Page 19 - The Black Book (Coda To Nancy) by Lawrence Durrell. An excerpt from the end of his book. Durrell had been inspired to write The Black Book after reading Miller's Tropic Of Cancer. He sent Henry a manuscript for it in March 1937; Henry was impressed. This mutual admiration led to Durrell's visit to Villa Seurat in August 1937, and the great friendship that followed. Nancy was Durrell's wife.

Page 24 - The Man with the Heart in the Highlands by William Saroyan. Durrell had solicited this from Saroyan, who was not otherwise involved with The Booster (even though he's listed as Literary Editor). This story, about an old man who plays a trumpet for food, appeared in a collection of stories called Inhale And Exhale in 1936. It was later re-worked as a play called My Heart's In The Highlands in 1939; Saroyan won a Pulitzer Prize that same year.

Page 31 - American Golf And Country Club News

Page 37 - Prose poem by Anonyme. No idea.

Page 38 - I Am A Wild Park by Henry Miller. Henry writes about his youth. Much of this was incorporated into Tropic Of Capricorn, which he was working on at the time:
"Even if I must become a wild and natural park inhabited only by idle
dreamers I must not stop to rest here in the ordered fatuity of responsible, adult life." (Tropic Of Capricorn, p. 145)

Page 42 - Lettre Poetique by Le Huitain. No idea. "Huitain" means octet. Maybe eight of them worked on this together.

Page 43 - Fall And Winter Fashions by Henry Miller, 'Earl Of Salvage.' Having been a tailor, Miller knew a thing or two about men's clothes. This piece was apparently re-printed in Henry Miller Miscellanea (edited by Bern Porter in 1945). Henry may have added the 'Earl' joke-title in reference to Durrell's friend, Count Geoffrey Potocki de Montalk. Henry had offended the Count's royal pretensions in a letter, causing Count Geoffrey to retract a piece he'd submitted for this issue. (Lawrence Durrell: A Biography by Ian MacNiven, p.171).

Page 48 - Subscription blank (1 year in France: 50 fr. 1 year anywhere else: 75 fr.)

Page 49 - Notes on new contributors.

Page 50 - Nightmare by Mulk Raj Anand. Durrell had known Anand since his years in London. During his recent trip to the U.K., he'd solicited this poem from Anand, an Indian writer. Incidentally, Anand died one year ago this month.

Insert - Letter From Egypt via Washington D.C. by Mohamed Ali Sarwat. Miller writes under this pseudonym. This 4-page, unbound leaflet is available for sale for $300 from Goldwasser Books. I couldn't find any other information regarding the content.

Finally, there's an ad in here for several books to be released as 'Booster Broadsides'. The Booster Broadsides will be looked at some other time.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Tropic Of New Orleans

"[New Orleans] is the most congenial city in America that I know of, and it is due in large part, I believe, to the fact that here at last on this bleak continent the sensual pleasures assume the importance which they deserve."
-- Henry Miller, The Air-Conditioned Nightmare

I didn't think to connect Miller and New Orleans until I tried to access the website for Jim Haynes. Jim's "Homage To Henry" contains a wealth of transcribed documents relating to Henry Miller. Today, the site is down, with this message from his internet service provider:

"DirectNIC's free hosting services are temporarily down. Our servers are located in downtown New Orleans, which was recently devastated by hurricane Katrina."

I don't know Jim, but I wish him and all of the storm victims well. [*UPDATE Sept 19/05 - So, apparently Jim lives in Paris. But I guess his server is in New Orleans. Still, all the best to webhosts and servers alike].

Henry Miller travelled through New Orleans during his cross-country American trek in 1940/41, which he wrote about briefly in Air-Conditioned Nightmare. There's also apparently an out-of-print book out there called Our America: Abraham Rattner, Henry Miller from New York City to New Orleans by 1932 Buick October 1940 to January 1941 : a Sunderland Arts Centre exhibition (from a exhibit held in 1976; published by Ceolfrith Press).

In 2003, New Orleans had a ban on selling books on the street, which turned into a big issue when two street booksellers were charged; Wexler vs City Of New Orleans ensued. The courts eventually overturned the book ban. According to this list, Miller's books were amongst the heady wares.

Finally, Louisiana has it's own famous Henry Miller: Henry Miller Shreve.