Browsing All Posts published on »December, 2007«

Whitman among the corpses

December 29, 2007


In the common consciousness, Tropic of Cancer is known for it’s suppression (due to its graphic sexual content) and, many years later, the court case that would not only free it for publication but would act as a fission moment in the Sexual Revolution of the Sixties. The book thus suffered the curse of becoming a touchstone of sexual politics, an icon more cited than read. I doubt Miller intended it to represent or achieve anything in a libertarian sense. The book was simply a sincere depiction of life and as such ran up against the regulated deceit that is censorship, that denial of life as it is in favour of some dictated way life should be. Miller simply wrote about his life without lying. Darran Anderson revisits Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer.

The lucid rebel

December 28, 2007


Miller is often bracketed along with D.H. Lawrence for the simple reasons that they both challenged the sexual mores of the time and that their obscenity trials occurred virtually in parallel in the early Sixties, Lawrence’s in the UK and Miller’s in the States. Although they have much in common – another thing is their insistence that sex and philosophy be treated on an equal level – and belong somewhat to their age, in many other ways they are very different writers. What Miller did, which Lawrence couldn’t quite manage, is to liberate literature from the plot. He made himself the subject of his work – not just his real life, but an imagined life which makes the real life so much more bearable. Paralleling developments in modern art, such as the dadaism and surrealism which he so loved, he made himself the work of art. David Thorpe on Henry Miller.

Henry Miller & the hungry word

December 27, 2007


Clichy undoubtedly stands out among Miller’s works but Jens Thorsen’s treatment and the Country Joe soundtrack adds depth that even Miller could never contemplate in the singular literary form. Inevitably, it fell foul of the post-war censorship regimes on both sides of the English Channel, from both the Gaullists who subjected the Olympia Press to no end of bureaucratic and legal hassle and the characteristically stiff British authorities (who’d moved on from vetting Donald McGill postcards but weren’t quite ready for penetration and licencious depravity without a bouncy wah-wah soundtrack). Though the liberal GLC in London deemed it just fine. Andrew Stevens on the film adaptation of Henry Miller's Quiet Days in Clichy.

Between the glittering mirage & the dust of reality

December 19, 2007


In the opening scene an exquisite female corpse, naked or almost, floats by the barge on which Joe works as a deckhand. In the process of retrieving the body and notifying the police, our narrator gives no hint that he has an earlier connection with the woman. But the presence of the sultry cadaver inspires Joe to pursue his lust for Ella, the wife of his employer. The police remove the body and life in the claustrophobic confines of the barge unfolds, from bickering over a fried egg to loading a shipment of coal, from peeling potatoes for the next meal to Joe’s sinister stalking of Ella. In short order Joe moves from gazing carnally at Ella’s legs and ass to secretly groping her under the dinner table while her husband smokes a cigarette and sips his tea. Jonathan Woods on Alexander Trocchi's Young Adam.