Henry Miller: A Life

Robert Ferguson, Author W. W. Norton & Company $24.95 (397p) ISBN 978-0-393-02978-9
In this engrossing biography Ferguson measures the cheerful amoralist of Tropic of Cancer and The Rosy Crucifixion against the guilt-ridden, insecure male in revolt against his bourgeois Brooklyn family. As a struggling writer Henry Miller worked as a Western Union manager, then ran a speakeasy in Greenwich Village. In Paris he discovered psychoanalysis and Anais Nin, his muse, patron, astrological counselor and adulterous lover, ``shadow wife and shadow mother''; he hoped in vain she would divorce her husband. Rebelling against the materialism of the American way of life, the writer pursued ``a religion of instinct, subjectivity and willed simplicity,'' observes Ferguson, biographer of Knut Hamsun. The Miller in these pages is neither the macho bully portrayed by feminists nor the adolescent sexual philosopher dismissed by the academic establishment, but a ``unique . . . and necessary literary figure,'' a popular American sage. More ploddingly workmanlike and more admiring than Mary Dearborn's ``The Happiest Man Alive'' (reviewed above), this portrait is nevertheless richly rewarding. Photos. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/29/1991
Release date: 05/01/1991
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-0-393-31019-1
Hardcover - 397 pages - 978-0-09-174780-0
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