Thursday, December 21, 2006

Literature As A Dead Duck

Thank you, Tony From London, for your comment on the previous post regarding Miller material available on the internet. I've been so busy lately that I wondered if I'd have time to post something new before Xmas. You've made the task possible, in the limited time I have, by shining a light on Miller's 1955 essay Literature as a Dead Duck.

So grab some rum and nog and read it here [PDF]. If this file doesn't work for you, try this other transcription from the website, Henry Miller: American Author. (and here in Russian).

This critique of modern American literature (especially when compared to European lit) was published in the Fall 1955 issue of the Chicago Review. This magazine's webiste has recently posted loads of material from its archival issues, going back to 1946 (in celebration of its 60th year). Dead Duck was also reprinted in the Chicago Review Anthology 1959 [ref. Item B105]. Opening lines below:

On the Chicago Review webiste, this backstory is given about the article:
David Ray was editor at that time and one of the contributors was Henry Miller. I asked Ray how he was able to get the eccentric author to write for the Chicago Review. He chuckled and told me that most editors sent a long letter to Miller and got nothing. He just sent a letter that said “Dear Henry: We haven’t gotten a manuscript from you in a while. Please send one. (signed) David Ray.”

(the duck graphic above is from the original Chicago Review article. The dead duck in the banner art is made of rubber and available for sale from a variety of on-line stores)

Thanks to all of the regular readers and posters on this Miller blog, and best wishes to you all this holiday season.

Also, thanks to Karl, for his role as this year's Saint Nick.

Finally, don't forget to randomly open a Miller book on December 26th and find a passage to read aloud in honour of Henry's birthday.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Birthday Mission Accomplished!

2:53 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, well thank you I am happy to give something back, usually spend my lunchbreaks in my office at my own little cosmodemonic company reading your blog so...

Well, I also want to add this quote from said article which I find absolutely fantastic (and thinking of using as epitaph for my own little book I am writing):

"He wanders as a sleepwlaker, knowing nothing of urge, volition, or choice. He has abandoned all discrimination. Become absolutely passive, he is ready and willing to accept any condition of life that may be imposed upon him. His only free field of operation is the world of crime, where delusion makes its last stand." (pp.81, 2nd para)

Happy New Years and please do keep up with the blog!

Tony, London, UK

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