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Henry Miller (Henry Valentine Miller) Biography

(1891–1980), (Henry Valentine Miller), Tropic of Cancer, Black Spring, Tropic of Capricorn, Sexual Politics

American author, essayist, and painter, born in New York. At the age of 33 he went to Paris and began chronicling his own seedy life there while working as an editor for various periodicals. For their treatment of intense personal experiences and sexual relations, as a teenager in Brooklyn and as an expatriate in France, Tropic of Cancer (1934; USA 1961), Black Spring (1936; USA 1963), and Tropic of Capricorn (1939; USA 1962) were charged with being pornographic and were held up by the US censors upon their publication in Paris. Miller's basic notion that the sexual drive in man is a form of necessary self-expression has caused much debate; one of his most vehement critics is Kate Millett in Sexual Politics (1970). Other writings of this time were Aller Retour New York (1935), Max and the White Phagocytes (1938), essays and short stories in The Cosmological Eye (1939), and The Wisdom of the Heart (1941). In 1939, Miller's travels to Greece issued forth The Colossus of Maroussi (1941). With the beginning of the Second World War he returned to the USA and produced two other autobiographical works, The Air-Conditioned Nightmare (1945) and its sequel Remember to Remember (1947). Before the war ended he settled in Big Sur, California, which he later described in Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymous Bosch (1957). At this point he began expanding Tropic of Capricorn, which resulted in a trilogy entitled The Rosy Crucifixion, comprising Sexus (1949), Plexus (1953), and Nexus (1960). During the 1950s he largely turned away from the risqué style towards an increasingly straightforward non-fiction, of which The Time of the Assassins (1956), a lengthy essay on Rimbaud, is a notable example. Other publications of this time include The Angel Is My Watermark! (1944), Obscenity and the Law of Reflection (1945), Patchen: Man of Anger and Light (1946), and the short stories and narratives in Nights of Love and Laughter (1955) and Quiet Days in Clichy (1956). Miller began to concentrate on his watercolour painting, and published a variety of works on painting and a collection of his own watercolours in The Paintings of Henry Miller (1982). Other essays and narratives have appeared in Stand Still Like the Hummingbird (1962), whilst there have also been two volumes of Selected Prose (1965); an autobiography, My Life and Times (1971); and Sextet (1977), a collection of previous miscellaneous writings. Large collections of his correspondence with Lawrence Durrell, Anaïs Nin, and Michael Fraenkel have been published; later publications include Letters to Emil (1991), and the posthumous publications of a novel entitled Crazy Cock (1991), another autobiography Nothing but the Marvellous (1990), and a study of the socially marginalized in On the Fringe: The Dispossessed in America (1991).

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: McTeague to Nancy [Freeman] Mitford Biography