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200 × 130 × 14 mm
224 pages
27 illustrations
01 Jul 2014
Critical Lives
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Henry Miller David Stephen Calonne

This new critical biography takes an innovative look at the life and work of the notorious American author (1891–1980). It examines Miller’s intense immersion in esoteric and theosophical interests, charting the cultivation of these ideas from his boyhood and adolescence to late in his career and evaluating the way in which his writings and lifestyle were influenced by his spiritual quests.

From astrology and Gnosticism to Nostradamus and the great thinkers of the East, Miller remained deeply engaged with a variety of distinct philosophies throughout his career. David Stephen Calonne explores the effects this had on the author’s work in addition to Miller’s own complex and volatile life, from his marriages and love affairs with Beatrice Wickens, June Mansfield and Anaïs Nin to his years in Paris, the journey to Greece which resulted in what Miller himself considered his greatest book – the travelogue The Colossus of Maroussi – and his subsequent residence in Big Sur and Pacific Palisades, California.

Calonne discusses Miller’s involvement in the arts, his love of painting and music, and his friendships with a number of classical musicians. Miller is revealed as a quirky, charismatic man of genius who continues to influence popular culture today, as, for example, in the work of award-winning graphic novelist Alison Bechdel. Highlighting many areas of Miller’s life that have hitherto been neglected, Calonne’s book takes a fascinating revisionary approach to the life and work of one of America’s most controversial and iconic writers.

‘David Stephen Calonnes new biography is quite unique in that it approaches Millers life from the perspective of Millers spirituality, examining Millers life in relation to his growing interest in and adherence to the principles of Eastern philosophy . . . It is refreshing to finally have a biography of Miller that does not perceive him as some kind of sexual deviant and thus emphasises his sexual escapades, as if this somehow gives the reader a deeper understanding of his work. Calonne does not fail to separate Miller the character from Miller the man. He shows a subtle understanding of Millers complete oeuvre and highlights the literary experimentation implicit in Millers work that is so easily overlooked . . . This is a well-researched, accessible biography that offers a fresh perspective on both Millers life and how we frame and engage with his work.’ — Cercles

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David Stephen Calonne has taught and lectured at numerous universities, including Harvard and Oxford, and is the author and editor of numerous books, including William Saroyan: My Real Work is Being , Bebop Buddhist Ecstasy: Saroyans Influence on Kerouac and the Beats with an introduction by Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Charles Bukowski (Reaktion, 2012). He has edited several collections of Bukowski’s writings, including Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook (2008), Absence of the Hero (2010) and More Notes of A Dirty Old Man (2011).

1. Paradiise in the 14th Ward, 1891-1908
2. Go West, Young Man, 1909-19
3. Cosmodemonia, Mona, the Daimon of Writing, 1920-29
4. Finding his Genius: Paris, 1930-39
5. The Exile Returns: Air-Conditioned Nightmare and Big Sur Dream, 1940-51
6. Magus on the Mountain, Tropics Triumphant, 1952-62
7. Fame and Insomnia in Pacific Palisades, 1963-71
8. On the Way to Devachan, 1972-80

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