Henry Miller Online
by Dr. Hugo Heyrman

a tribute to his work and life, books, art, loves & friends,
with an excellent collection of hard-to-find-Miller items


Henry Miller 'Tropic of Cancer'
1934, September 1, 'Tropic of Cancer' is published in Paris by Obelisk Press. 'Tropic of Cancer' is Miller's most famous and acclaimed work. It is a lyrical, profane, and surreal portrait of the author's experiences in the bohemian underworld of 1930s Paris. The novel was a personal and artistic breakthrough for Miller.

Blaise Cendrars, the Parisian avant-garde poet-writer and adventured, wrote the first glowing review on Miller's 'Tropic of Cancer' to appear in the magazine 'Orbes' titled: "Un Ecrivain Américan Nous Est Né" (An American Writer Is Born to Us).

"I have no money, no resources, no hopes. I am the happiest man alive."
—Henry Miller (Tropic of Cancer)

"I believe that today more than ever a book should be sought after even if it has only one great page in it: we must search for fragments, splinters, toenails, anything that has ore in it, anything that is capable of resuscitating the body and soul. It may be that we are doomed, that there is no hope for us, any of us, but if that is so then let us set up a last agonizing, bloodcurdling howl, a screech of defiance, a war whoop! Away with lamentation! Away with elegies and dirges! Away with biographies and histories, and libraries and museums! Let the dead eat the dead. Let us living ones dance about the rim of the crater, a last expiring dance. But a dance!"

—Henry Miller (Tropic of Cancer)
The crab, (‘cancer’ in astrology) is, some feel, representative of Miller’s unrepressed writing style, being the only creature which moves sideways and backwards, as well as forwards. But the book’s title has a more prophetic import as well:  
“Do you know why I called my first book Tropic of Cancer?” he wrote to his friend, the photographer Brassaï, “it was because to me cancer symbolises the disease of civilisation, the endpoint of the wrong path, the necessity to change course radically, to start completely over from scratch.”
Henry Miller with Manuscript
  "At the extreme limits of his spiritual being man finds himself again naked as a savage. When he finds God, as it were, he has been picked clean: he is a skeleton. One must burrow into life again in order to put on flesh. The word must become flesh; the soul thirsts. . . The world which I have departed is a menagerie. The dawn is breaking on a new world, a jungle world in which the lean spirits roam with sharp claws. If I am a hyena I am a lean and hungry one: I go forth to fatten myself."
—Henry Miller (Tropic of Cancer)

"Here is an artist who re-establishes the potency of illusion by gaping at the open wounds, by courting the stern psychological reality which man seeks to avoid through recourse to the oblique symbolism of art. Here, the symbols are laid bare, presented almost as naively and unblushingly by this over —civilized individual as by the well —rooted savage. It is no false primitivism which gives rise to this savage lyricism. It is not a retrogressive tendency, but a swing forward into unbeaten areas."

–Anaïs Nin's, preface to the first edition of 'Tropic of Cancer'
Miller uses the term 'tropic' in a sense that comes from the Greek root: to turn back. The tropics are the imaginary lines where the sun "turns back" or doesn't move any farther south or north. A turning back of cancer is a healing process.

In using the term 'cancer' for his book, Miller was referring to the "sick reality that characterizes a society of one dimensional people whose lives are monotones and who live in a dead world beneath the Earth's surface."
—Lawrence J. Shifreen in 'Studies in Short Fiction'

The 'Tropic of Cancer' was first published in Paris in 1934.
It was then banned in every English speaking country in the world for a number of years. In 1961 'Tropic of Cancer' was published for the first time in the United States, and censorship battles began. It wasn't until 1964 that the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the book was not pornographic.
"Everybody says sex is obscene. The only true obscenity is war." —Henry Miller (Tropic of Cancer)
The 'Tropic of Cancer', published when Miller was forty-three is considered his most important book.
  The 1964 Supreme Court landmark decision, guaranteed a new freedom of expression to all American writers.
    Henry Miller 'Black Spring'
"To be born in the street means to wander all your life, to be free. It means accident and incident, drama, movement. It means above all dream. A harmony of irrelevant facts which gives to your wandering a metaphysical certitude. . .

What is not in the open street is false, derived, that is to say, literature."
—Henry Miller (Black Spring

"The tragedy of it is that nobody sees the look of desperation on my face. Thousands and thousands of us, and we're passing one another without a look of recognition."
—Henry Miller (Black Spring)

Continuing the subversive self-revelation begun in 'Tropic of Cancer' and 'Tropic of Capricorn', Henry Miller takes readers along a mad, free-associating journey from the damp grime of his Brooklyn youth to the sun-splashed cafes and squalid flats of Paris. With incomparable glee, Miller shifts effortlessly from Virgil to venereal disease, from Rabelais to Roquefort. In this seductive technicolor swirl of Paris and New York, he captures like no one else the blending of people and the cities they inhabit.

As he wrote in the early pages of 'Tropic of Cancer': “There is only one thing that interests me vitally now, and that is the recording of all that which is omitted in books.”
“I see America spreading disaster. I see America as a black curse upon the world. I see a long night settling in and that mushroom which has poisoned the world withering at the roots.”
—Henry Miller (Black Spring)
  'Black Spring' was first published in 1936, by the Obelisk Press in Paris. Black Spring was Miller's second published autobiographical novel, it is divided in ten almost independent sections. Dedication: “To Anais Nin”.
Henry Miller 'Tropic of Capricorn'  



"What I had begun, in brief, was a book of the hours, of the tedium and monotony of my life in the midst of a ferocious activity. Not for years had I thought of this book which I used to write every day on my way from Delancey Street to Murray Hill. But going over the bridge, the sun setting, the skyscrapers gleaming like phosphorescent cadavers, the remembrance of the past set in. . .

Maybe, being up high between the two shores, suspended above the traffic, above life and death, on each side the high tombs, tombs blazing with the dying sunlight, the river flowing heedlessly, flowing on like time itself, maybe each time I passed up there, something was tugging away at me, urging me to take it in, to announce myself; anyway each time I passed on high I was truly alone and whenever that happened the book commenced to write itself, screaming the things which I never breathed, the thoughts I never uttered, the conversations I never held, the hopes, the dreams, the delusions I never admitted."
—Henry Miller (Tropic of Capricorn)

Tropic of Capricorn, 1st edition of 1939, the Obelisk press, Paris
    Henry Miller 'The Rosy Crucifixion' Trilogy
Henry Miller's 'Rosy Crucifixion', his second major trilogy, took more than 10 years for the author to complete. Beginning in 1949 with Sexus, following in 1952 with Plexus, and finally concluding with 1959's Nexus.

The three works are a dazzling array of scenes, sexual encounters and ideas, covering Miller's final days in New York, his relationship with June Miller and her lover, his take on the arts, his favorite writers, his thoughts, his insights, his days and his nights. He gave writers and readers alike a new understanding of 'freedom', not only in what he wrote, but in how he lived.

Portrait of Henry Miller (Photo by Hulton, 01 Jan 1950. /Getty Images)
'Sexus' (Book One of The Rosy Crucifixion)
  "If it (Sexus) was no good, it was true; if it was not artistic, it was sincere; if it was in bad taste, it was on the side of life." —Henry Miller

"If you stop still and look at things. . . I say look, not think, not criticize. . . the world looks absolutely crazy to you. And it is crazy, by God! It’s just as crazy when things are normal and peaceful as in times of war or revolution. The evils are insane evils. The pancreases are insane pancreases. Because we are all driven like dogs. We’re running away. From what?"
—Henry Miller (Sexus)

"The world will only begin to get something of value from me the moment I stopped being a serious member of society and became—myself."
—Henry Miller (Sexus)

"I feel sometimes as though I am going to burst. I really don’t give a damn about the misery of the world. I take it for granted. What I want is to open up. I want to know what’s inside of me. I want to open everybody up. I’m like an imbecile with a can opener in his hand, wondering where to begin —to open up the earth."
—Henry Miller (Sexus)
Cover: Henry Miller, 'Sexus' Obelisk Press, Paris, 1949
    'Plexus' (Book Two of The Rosy Crucifixion)
"Don't look for miracles. YOU are the miracle." —Henry Miller

"Voyages are accomplished inwardly." —Henry Miller

"I feel I have simply restored sex to its rightful place in literature, rescued the basic life factor from literary oblivion, as it were. Obscenity, like sex, has its natural, rightful place in literature as it does in life, and it will never be obliterated, no matter what laws are passed to smother it."
—Henry Miller

"To write, I meditated, must be an act devoid of will. The word, like the deep ocean current, has to float to the surface of its own impulse. A child has no need to write, he is innocent. A man writes to throw off the poison which has accumulated because of his false way of life. He is trying to recapture his innocence, yet all he succeeds in doing (by writing) is to inoculate the world with a virus of his disillusionment. No man would set a word down on paper if he had the courage to live out what he believed in. His inspiration is deflected at the source. If it is a world of truth, beauty and magic that he desires to create, why does he put millions of words between himself and the reality of that world?"
—Henry Miller (Plexus)
Henry Miller, 'Plexus' Obelisk Press, Paris, 1953
  Cover: Henry Miller, 'Plexus', May Yayinlari, Istanbul, 1971
Henry Miller 'Sexus - Plexus - Nexus' Trilogy
  In 'The Rosy Crucifixion' Miller is aiming to illustrate the transforming nature of love. When love is released people are released —or redeemed, as it were. Without love, art and life are meaningless; there is no evolution, no growth.
Where love is, there is transformation, from moment to moment. 'The Rosy Crucifixion', is widely considered to be one of the landmarks of American fiction. In it, Miller vividly recalls his many years as a down-and-out writer in New York City, his friends, mistresses, and the unusual circumstances of his eventful life. 'The Rosy Crucifixion', consisting of Sexus, Plexus, and Nexus, documents the period of Henry Miller's life from his first divorce (1924) to his departure for France (1930).
Cover: painting by Tamara De Lempicka, 'Adam and Eva', 1932
  Henry Miller, 'Nexus', Volume I: The Olympia Press, Paris, 1959
    Henry Miller 'The Cosmological Eye'

"A book is a part of life, a manifestation of life, just as much as a tree or a horse or a star. It obeys its own rhythms, its own laws, whether it be a novel, a play, or a dairy. The deep, hidden rhythm of life is always there that of the pulse, the heart beat. . ."
Un Etre Etoilique
—Henry Miller (The Cosmological Eye)

'The Cosmological Eye'
, written at about the same time as 'Tropic of Capricorn' —the period of Miller's and Durrell's life in the famous Villa Seurat in Paris.

    'The Cosmological Eye' first published New York: New Directions, 1939.
The Paris Review, Interview
Didn't you say somewhere, "I am for obscenity and against pornography"?

"Well, it's very simple. The obscene would be the forthright, and pornography would be the roundabout. I believe in saying the truth, coming out with it cold, shocking if necessary, not disguising it. In other words, obscenity is a cleansing process, whereas pornography only adds to the murk."
—Interviewed by George Wickes,
The Art of Fiction No. 28,
Issue 28, Summer-Fall 1962
“We clutter the earth with our inventions, never dreaming that possibly they are unnecessary — or disadvantageous. We devise astounding means of communication, but do we communicate with one another? We move our bodies to and fro and incredible speeds, but do we really leave the spot we started from? Mentally, morally, spiritually, we are fettered. What have we achieved in mowing down mountain ranges, harnessing the energy of mighty rivers, or moving whole populations about like chess pieces, if we ourselves remain the same restless, miserable, frustrated creatures we were before? To call such activity progress is utter delusion. We may succeed in altering the face of the earth until it is unrecognizable even to the Creator, but if we are unaffected wherein lies the meaning?”
—Henry Miller, 'The World of Sex' (1940)
  Henry Miller, editing a preface for 'The World of Sex', (The original version of this book was privately published.) Chicago: Ben Abramson, Argus Book Shop, 1940.

In this book 'The World of Sex', Miller seeks to set the record straight and argues that there is no contradiction between his salacious novels and his philosophy. Throughout his pamphlet, Miller makes liberal use of raw language to narrate his own experiences as a young man and formulate his philosophical conclusions. Motivated both by a mischievous desire to shock and by a candid endeavour to to achieve a crude and precise language, Miller triumphs thanks to his entertaining and seductive enthusiasm.
    Quote from 'The World of Sex'
"My books are not about sex, the are about self-liberation."
—Henry Miller

The one thing we can never get enough of is love. And the one thing we never give enough of is love."
—Henry Miller

"The bulk of my readers, I have often observed, fall into two distinct groups: in the one group those who claim to be repelled or disgusted by the liberal dosage of sex, and in the other those who are delighted to find that this element form such a large ingredient."
Henry Miller (The World of Sex)
Henry Miller in Hydra, 1939
When he was not tackling sex and philosophy, Henry Miller traveled. His tour of Greece in 1941 (at the beginning of World War II) 46-year-old Henry Miller left Paris, knowing that a cycle of his life had come to an end.

Miller's friend, Lawrence Durrell, who lived in Corfu, invited Miller out to Greece, a visit which Miller describes vividly in 'The Colossus of Maroussi'. With 'The Colossus of Maroussi' Miller wrote a book where he, an '
American Savage', entered the world of peace, beauty, and most of all, simplicity he was longing for while living in America. Nothing could prepare him for what he encountered in Greece, not the streets of New York, nor the streets of Paris. Miller describes the marvelous feeling of peace and wonder over a sunset by a shore, and the same life altering experience by resting at ancient ruins. It is a book of love about Greece, friendlines and hospitality, the legendery 'philoxenia', of Greeks.

Miller starts the book by describing how he first wanted to go to Greece after conversations with a girl in Paris about her travels there. In the first few pages he travels to Marseille and takes a boat to Piraeus, where his friend Lawrence Durrell will meet him and take him to his home on Corfu. On board that ferry from Marseille Miller meets a Greek medical student, then a French archaeologist, and their conversations lure Miller – and the reader – into the vibrant and colorful world that is Greece.
"I never knew that the earth contains so much,’ Miller writes, having soaked up his lessons. ‘I had walked blindfolded, with faltering, hesitant steps; I was proud and arrogant, content to live the false, restricted life of the city man. The light of Greece opened my eyes, penetrated my pores, expanded my whole being. I came home to the world. . ."
  'The Colossus of Maroussi' was first published in 1942 and recounts Miller's travels in Greece, 1939-40. (Photo: George Seferis)
'The Colossus of Maroussi'
  In Greece, Henry Miller felt he had found the kind of life for which he was looking. "That voyage. . . was the apex of my happiness, my joy, a very great eye-opener. . . What one admires there is a poor people who are happy, compared to us who are miserable with our riches."

"To keep the mind empty is a feat, a very healthful feat too. To be silent the whole day long, see no newspaper, hear no radio, listen to no gossip, be thoroughly and completely lazy, thoroughly and completely indifferent to the fate of the world is the finest medicine a man can give himself. The book-learning gradually dribbles away; problems melt and dissolve; ties are gently severed; thinking, when you deign to indulge in it, becomes very primitive; the body becomes a new and wonderful instrument; you look at plants or stones or fish with different eyes; you wonder what people are struggling to accomplish by their frenzied activities; you know there is a war on but you haven’t the faintest idea what it’s about or why people should enjoy killing one another."
—Henry Miller (The Colossus of Maroussi)
Cover: 'The Colossus of Maroussi'
'The Air-Conditioned Nightmare'

Nonfiction account of Henry Miller's travels through the United States. Miller undertook these travels in 1940 and 1941 after returning from a lengthy stay in Europe. Miller comments, a critical view on America's physical landscape as well as on the mood and spirit of the American people. Among other things, he contrasts the ideals of the original founders with contemporary Americans' love of making money.
Cover: The Air-Conditioned Nightmare, 1945, New Directions
(Dedicated to Margaret and Gilbert Neiman)
    Henry Miller 'The Books in my Life'
“There is nothing like Henry Miller when he gets rolling. One has to take the English language back to Marlow or Shakespeare before encountering a wealth of imagery equal in intensity.” —Norman Mailer (Genius and Lust)

"I like Henry Miller. I think he's the greatest American writer."
—Bob Dylan

"To have undertaken the thankless task of listing all the books I can recall ever reading gives me extreme pleasure and satisfaction. I know of no other author who has been mad enough to attempt this."
—Henry Miller (The Books in my Life)

"A writer needs very little to stimulate him. The fact of being a writer means that more than other men he is given to cultivating the imagination. Life itself provides abundant material. Superabundant material. The more one writes the less books stimulate. One reads to corroborate, that is, to enjoy one's own thoughts expressed in the multifarious ways of others."
—Henry Miller (The Books in my Life)

“The most difficult thing in life is to learn to do what is strictly advantageous to one’s welfare, strictly vital.”
—Henry Miller (The Books in my Life)

“What makes a book live? The answer, in my opinion, is simple. A book lives through the passionate recommendation of one reader to another.”

—Henry Miller, (The Books in My Life)

Henry Miller, 'The Books in My Life', New Direction (1952)
Cover design: by Gertrude Huston
Appendix I: The 100 Books That Influenced Me Most

Henry Miller, a study of Arthur Rimbaud

"In Rimbaud, I see myself as in a mirror." so writes Henry Miller in his study of French symbolist poet Arthur Rimbaud.

"It was in 1927, in the sunken basement of a dingy house in Brooklyn that I first heard Rimbaud's name mentioned. I was then 36 years old and in the depths of my own protracted Season in Hell. An absorbing book about Rimbaud was lying about the house but I never glanced at it. The reason was that I loathed the woman who owned it and who was then living with us. In looks, temperament and behavior she was, as I later discovered, as near to resembling Rimbaud as it is possible to imagine."

Henry Miller, 'The Time of the Assassins: A Study of Rimbaud'
New York: New Directions, 1956.
  "If that period in Brooklyn represented my 'Season in Hell', then the Paris period, especially from 1932 to 1934, was the period of my 'Illuminations'." The social function of the creative personality is a recurrent theme with Henry Miller, and this book is perhaps his most poignant and concentrated analysis of the artist's dilemma.
    'Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch'


Henry Miller lived in Big Sur from 1944 to 1962.
His 1957 novel 'Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch' described the joys and hardships that came from escaping the 'air conditioned nightmare' of modern life.

Alluding to the Flemish painter's depiction of fruit as symbolic of a garden of earthly delights, Miller finds reasons to enjoy life and the beauty surrounding him; even in the face of continuous change, and the movement of the slow hand of time. Big Sur becomes almost a proclamation for the joy of living, while at the same time, describing a way of life and culture that is slowly disappearing from the American landscape.

Henry Miller 'Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch',
New Directions, New York 1957.
  Cover: Painting by Hieronymus Bosch 'The Fountain of Life' from the left panel of the original painting at Prado Museum, Madrid.
A Collection of Henry Miller Books    
Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, The Air-Conditioned Nightmare, Henry Miller - Lawrence Durell - Alfred Perles -
A Correspondence, Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, Black Spring, The World of Sex, Sexus, Plexus, Nexus, Quiet Days in Clichy,
A Devil in Paradise, Nights of Love and Laughter, Tropic of Capricorn, The Colossos of Maroussi.
  In June of 1965, Henry Miller was the author of the top five bestselling books in America. There was a reason for it, of course. A tidal wave of publicity accompanied the 1963 Supreme Court decision lifting the decades-old ban on Miller's more controversial works, and now they were available (legally) for the first time.
Books by Henry Miller: a bibliography
    Henry Miller on New York
“Today, I think it’s the ugliest, filthiest, shittiest city in the world. When I was a kid, there was hardly anything that we have today —no telephones, no automobiles. . . no nothing, really. It was rather quaint. There was color even, in the buildings. But as time went on, why, it got more horrible to me. When I think of the Brooklyn bridge, which was the only bridge then in existence. . . how many times I walked over that bridge on an empty stomach, back and forth, looking for a handout, never getting anything. . . selling newspapers at Times Square, begging on Broadway, coming home with a dime maybe. It’s no wonder that I had these goddamned recurring nightmares all my life. I don’t know how I ever survived, or why I’m still sane.” —Henry Miller
    Henry Miller appears to be walking through a movie/TV set version of New York rather than along a real city street. Note that, despite some background and overhead noises, the 'street' is deserted, and, nowithstanding what look to be fading ads on the side of a building, every place on camera appears unnamed and unoccupied —perhaps to emphasize Miller's surreal comments.
Henry Miller / Passages
. . . float to the surface of its own impulse. A child has no need to write, he is innocent. A man writes to throw off the poison which he has accumulated because of his false way of life. He is trying to recapture his innocence, yet all he succeeds in doing (by writing) is to inoculate the world with the virus of his disillusionment. No man would set a word down on paper if he had the courage to live out what he believed in. His inspiration is deflected at the source. If it is a world of truth, beauty. . .

Small souls perhaps, burning like tapers, but burning steadily— and capable of throwing portentous shadows on the walls which hem them in. Walk down any street in the soft violet light. Make the mind blank. A thousand sensations assault you at once from every direction. Here man is still furred and feathered; here cyst and quartz still speak. There are audible, voluble buildings with. . .

The State, the nation, the united nations of the world, were nothing but one great aggregation of individuals who repeated the mistakes of their forefathers. They were caught in the wheel from birth and they kept at it till death —and this treadmill they tried to dignify by calling it "life". . .The world is not to be put in order: the world is order incarnate. It is for us to put ourselves in unison with this order. . .

. . . we seek to impose on one another. The power which we long to possess in order to establish the good, the true and the beautiful would prove to be, if we could have it, but the means of destroying one another. It is fortunate that we are powerless. We have first to acquire vision. . .
John Lennon 'On Censorship and Henry Miller'    
The people that banned words
in books didn’t stop people
from buying those books.

If you couldn’t buy Henry Miller
in the early sixties,
you could go to Paris or England.

We used to go to Paris,
and everybody would buy Henry Miller books
because they were banned,

and everybody saw them,
all the students had them.

I don’t believe words can harm you.
—John Lennon (On censorship and Henry Miller)

“In the end I think of music as the saving grace for all humanity. As the universal language it transcends the boundaries of nationality, social strata, and political ideology. Whether we are educated or uneducated, rich or poor, whether we speak the same tongue or not, we still possess the ability to communicate our feelings to one another through music. The world would be a terrible place without it, a miserable place.” —Henry Miller (Reflections)
John Lennon, checking the condition of the world.


  ( ( ( motions of the mind ( ( (  

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