Friday, August 24, 2007

This Break Is Temporary

I have been very busy and sometimes out of town. Please give me another few days to get back to posting about Henry.


Monday, August 06, 2007

The Henry Miller Literary Society

From 1957 to 1964, Eddie Schwartz and Thomas H Moore published the Henry Miller Literary Society newsletter, to help solidify and promote the work of Henry Miller. This was especially important in the United States, where Miller was still widely banned. The Society disolved in 1967.
Much of the following information about Schwartz and the Society comes from Roger Jackson's Bibliography of Primary Sources, Volume II, which includes an interview with Schwartz, conducted by Philip Nurenburg in 1980. The correspondence between Miller and the Society (1955-1979) is now held in the University of Minnesota's Literary Manuscripts Collection.

1954 - Eddie Schwartz, a printer from Minneapolis, Minnesota, is re-introduced to Miller through friends at the Swedish Consulate, who have access to his banned works.

1955 - Schwartz writes a fan letter to Miller at Big Sur, sending him free stationary with Henry's name on it. He will continue to print Miller letterhead for years. 1957 - Schwartz and his friend Thomas Moore decide to create a "Henry Miller Society for the Advancement of Banned Literature," through which they would attempt to fight literary censorship, with Miller as their main cause.

1957 - Miller is asked for his approval. Miller: "Eddie, you're crazier than hell, but if you really want to do it, then go ahead."

1957 - August. The first issue of The Henry Miller Literary Society newsletter is mimeographed in black ink, shortly after the first organizational meeting of the Society. The second issue will not appear for two years.

1959 - Miller plugs the Society in his introduction to The Henry Miller Reader (1959), providing the names and addresses of Schwartz and Moore.

1959 - December. Membership is over 100.

1960 - November. The Society has a sudden boost of membership (around 300); the newsletter (at #5) is now printed on glossy paper.

1963 - Due to increasing membership to the Society, printing costs go into the thousands. Schwartz and Moore are forced to cut back from glossy printing, and make it semi-annual instead of quarterly. "Due to lack of funds (translation: no dough), we have dropped the current issue of the Newsletter until the Society is one firmer financial grounds," wrote Schwartz in a May 1963 memo.

1964 - Membership to the Society now stands at 700; about 200 are "hard-core, fanatical stalwarts."

1964 - October. The final issue (#13) of the newsletter is published. Schwartz says he used the opportuity of Miller's censorship case victory to end the newsletter on an upbeat note. Miller to Scwartz, upon hearing that the newsletter is ending: "Fine, I don't blame you. You did a fine job."

1967 - The Henry Miller Literary Society disbands.

Henry Miller socializes with the Henry Miller Literary Society.
Schwartz [photo in banner art at top] was born circa 1902. In the 1930s, he worked as a press agent for the Gayety Theatre Burlesque. His first exposure to Miller was from a banned copy smuggled in from France by a friend in the 1940s. Schwartz owned his own printing company, called Ad Art Advertising. Besides printing Miller's letterhead stationary and the Henry Miller Literary Society newsletter, Schwartz printed over a hundred pieces of ephemera relating to Miller (a couple listed here), from promotional flyers to postcards. Miller insisted that he pay a regular rate for printing services, although payment sometines came in the form of original paintings; but he always paid on time. Schwartz also worked as a writer for Minnesota Skyway News, for which he wrote reviews of books by Miller and Anais Nin.
I don't know much about Tom Moore [photo at left], but could probably piece him together if I was able to find the two-page How The Henry Miller Literary Society Started (1960; Shifreen & Jackson H34), or maybe "A Day in The Life of 'Author-Editor' Tom Moore," a Schwartz artcile from a November 1964 edition of the Honeywell News in Minneapolis. Under the editorial direction of Moore, the Literary Society published an early Bibliography of Henry Miller (1961). As well, Moore edited Henry Miller on Writing (1964) for New Directions. On the newsletters, Moore is credited as "Secretary."

Copies of the Henry Miller Literary Society newsletter (Source: Bibliography of Primary Sources, Vol. II, p.331. Roger Jackson & Lawrence Shifreen.


All issues contained Society news, and often included inserts and off-prints of magazine articles about Miller (not many of which I've listed).

#1 - AUG 1957.
#2 - NOV 1959.
Incl. a facsimilie of a letter written by Miller to Schwartz in OCT '59, in which he discusses his trip to Europe which began in April 1959.
#3 - APR 1960.
Incl. Miller's "Notes From Big Sur,""Just a Note about Roland Bartell," "Flash Memo from Henry Miller" (re: his acceptance of the invitation to be on the Cannes jury), "Europe Revisited: Special Letter to the Henry Miller Literary Society" and "Special Notice To Visitors!," which is a ntoice Miller apparently posted on his front door in Big Sur to ward off fans.
#4 - AUG 1960.
Incl. Miller's "Europe Revisited (Part 1)" and "Recommended Book Stores as Listed by Henry Miller and the Henry Miller Literary Society."
#5 - NOV 1960. First issue with glossy paper.
Incl. Miller's "Europe Revisited (Part 2)." Also: three photos of Henry (two by Wynn Bullock; one of Miller with Alfred Perles), plus that picture of the kid with a cigarette reading Sexus, credited to Florian Steiner.
#6 - APR 1961.
Incl. Miller's "Europe Revisited (Part 3)," and "Postcard from Henry Miller."
#7 - AUG 1961.
Incl. Miller's "Europe Revisited (Part 4) ." Plus a photo of Miller with Renate Gerhardt (his German girlfriend).
#8 - DEC 1961.
Incl. Miller's "California Revisited," and "I Defy You: A Stinging Challenge to the Censors By the Author of Tropic Of Cancer." Plus, photos of Miller with Marino Marini (who'd scultpted a bust of him in bronze) and his Danish translator Mogen Boisen.
#9 - MAY 1962.
Incl. a photo of Henry by Robert Fink. Plus, a few Miller cartoons from American papers, and a re-print of an Alfred Perles article from the Yorkshire Post (Jan 12, 1962) called "Henry Miller's Banned Books."
#10 - SEP 1962.
Incl. Miller's "Miller on the Move! (Part 1)." Also, photos of Miller with Schwartz and Moore, plus Elmer Gertz and lit critic John K Sherman. A re-print from a Schwartz article in the Rocky Mountain Herald describes Miller's recent visit to Minneapolis.
#11 - DEC 1962.
Incl. Miller's "Miller on the Move! (Part 2)."
#12 - OCT 1963.
This issue is heavy with news about the on-going censorship case.
#13 - NOV 1964.
Final issue. Includes extra bibliographic info not found in Moore's published Bibliography.

Please note that I have not personally seen any of these issues, and draw on issue details exclusively from the Bibliography of Primary Sources, Vol II.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Visions From Madame Blavatsky

According to a blog called Blog-Sothoth, there is a Carl Jung documentary DVD out there in which the Extras section features a bit about Maud Oakes. Oakes was one of the many artist neighbours of Henry Miller while he lived in Big Sur. In her New York Times obituary in 1990, Oakes was described as an "ethnologist and writer," with a special interest in Guatemalan Indian tribes. I could not find any Miller references to her, not even in Big Sur And the Oranges of Hieronymous Bosch, but this Bob Nash wesbite seems to verify that Ms. Oakes lived on Partington Ridge with the lot of them.

Anyway, here's the anecdote, as apparently told on this Jung DVD (as quoted from the Blog-Sothoth wesbite):

"[Oakes] was nearly killed in an automobile accident in the mountains of Peru, and underwent a long convalescence. Her nextdoor neighbor and good friend was Henry Miller, who told her before the voyage that she should stay home. He'd had a premonition that she would undergo a catastrophic event if she went to Peru--he said Madame Blavatsky came to him in a dream and warned him. Oakes found out the hard way that Miller was indeed prescient."

Madame Blavatsky will surely get her own posting one of these days, because she became somewhat of a fixation for Henry when he was a young man. I thought he was over her by this point in his life, but, with the nighttime visitations and all, I guess not. Blavatsky was the founder of the Theosophical Society, whose spiritual interests set the stage for the New Age movement in later decades.
The photo of Miller in the banner art was taken by Johan Hagermeyer (OAC Collection).

Chicago Tribune & Hôtel Cronstadt

After a lengthy absence, it appears that the excellent Miller Walks website has returned. There are two news posts this week. First, there is a posting about the Chicago Tribune in Paris, for whom Miller was employed in the unlikely role as a stock market stat proofreader in August 1931.
"Miller’s ironic position as a proofreader of stock market quotations during the midst of The Great Depression afforded him a unique perspective. From his perch at the proofreaders desk he surveyed the collapsing world economy with the sense of detached amusement that permeates Tropic of Cancer."

Second, there is a post about the Hotel Cronstadt, in which Henry and Alfred Perles stayed for a couple of weeks while their new apartment in Clichy was fumigated and repaired in March 1932.
"The Cronstadt had two points of recommendation for Miller. First, it was convenient, located directly across the narrow rue Lamartine from his office at The Chicago Tribune. And second, the look of the place had a certain charm for Miller, as he told Anaïs Nin, 'The Cronstadt looks like what a French hotel should look like.'"

Great posts, with pictures. Take a look.