The Happiest Man Alive: A Biography of Henry Miller

Mary V. Dearborn, Author Simon & Schuster $24.45 (0p) ISBN 978-0-671-67704-6
Lover, luster, painter, domineering husband, encyclopedia salesman, voyeur, massive egotist, self-proclaimed holy man, autocrat, iconoclast--Henry Miller's disparate selves are not readily reconciled. In this revelatory, incisive biography, his real life turns out to be even more fascinating than the fictionalized autobiographies he wove about himself. With a mixture of critical detachment and sympathy, Dearborn ( Love in the Promised Land ) explores a man of contradictions. A romantic Don Juan, Miller (1891-1980) was also a misogynist who married five times. A pacifist anarchist, he advocated violence and espoused a Nietzschean apocalyptic politics in the 1930s. Until World War II he harbored a strong anti-Semitic streak, although the great obsessional love of his life, second wife June Manfield (nee Juliet Edith Smerth) was Jewish. In Paris, penniless but rejuvenated at age 39, Miller learned how to write by making his own suffering and rebirth the subject of his art. The theme of his best books is not sex, Dearborn suggestively argues, but personal and artistic survival. Photos. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/29/1991
Release date: 05/01/1991
Paperback - 978-0-671-77982-5
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