A Kick in the Pants: Reintroducing Henry Miller

22 09 2007
henry miller 1940

Jim Knipfel in Context

“For a hundred years or more the world, our world, has been dying, and not one man, in these last hundred years or so, has been crazy enough to put a bomb up the asshole of creation and set it off.”

In 1930, one crazy man wrote those words, and some thirty-five years later, he detonated that bomb—at least in literary terms.

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. On the downside, those five books (Quiet Days in Clichy, The World of Sex, and the three volumes of The Rosy Crucifixion)— even more than Tropic of Cancer, whose 1961 publication led to the Supreme Court case—solidified the then-73 year-old Miller’s reputation as The King of Smut. It was a grossly undeserved reputation. In fact, in one of the many ironies of Miller’s career, a number of his books had long been available in the U.S., but those travelogues, essay collections, and character sketches had generated almost no interest among American readers. No, it was his notoriety as a pornographer that would stick with him long after his death in 1980.

More here.

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