Henry Miller: Hungry, Homeless, Happy

“There’s only one historical figure I’ve ever come across who claimed he was hungry, homeless, and happy simultaneously. Given the brashness of his personality and his legacy, it is not surprising that it was Henry Miller who declared that these circumstances colored his existence during his pivotal Paris years. As he roamed the streets of the city, he seesawed between the three states of being and admits he experienced them concurrently more often than not. He was sleeping on sofas and hanging out at cafés hoping a familiar face would stop in to treat him to a croque-monsieur and a glass of wine. In spite of this vagabondage, he claims he was genuinely content because he was writing in a way that excited him for the first time in his life. He also maintained, at least early on, that he didn’t consider himself to be a writer. ‘I am but a man and I want to express myself completely and without constraints,’ he told Brassaï, one of his closest friends, during a tirade one night. ‘I do not believe I am a writer. Nor do I have any ambition to write well or to have a pretty style…All I know is that there is a force in me that must express itself. So I stammer, I grope, I look for any and all means possible and imaginable.’ His groping would turn the literary world on its ear after the publication of his first novel Tropic of Cancer, a book that was banned in America for nearly three decades after it was first published in Paris in 1934. Once Grove Atlantic released it in the U.S. in 1961, it sparked obscenity trials. When I learned that his Paris diaries reside at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale, I made it a point to reserve them so I could see his stammering firsthand. The notebooks are a revelation, as they serve as witnesses to his life in the city during the era when the Lost Generation and other struggling American writers flocked to Europe to live less expensively while having greater creative freedom. I became fascinated with the breadcrumbs Miller left me as I tracked him, moving between the beat-up notebooks he must have cherished and the novels he authored. As he developed the material, his fascination bounces from street names to editorial cartoons and from articles to typed excerpts from books. …”
Henry Miller the Paris Years
Google – Henry Miller: The Paris Years
The Henry Miller Library
Henry Miller – Tropic of Cancer, 1934, Chapter 7-12
amazon: Henry Miller: The Paris Years

A note to June, his wife, that Henry Miller annotated later.

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in Books and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Henry Miller: Hungry, Homeless, Happy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s