Henry Miller Talks Writing and the Expat Life with Anaïs Nin, Lawrence Durrell, and Others (1969)

Brook­lynites, be apprised: Big Sur Brook­lyn Bridge, Williams­burg’s week-long cel­e­bra­tion of all things Hen­ry Miller, began yes­ter­day and will run until May 19th. If you can’t make it out there, I sug­gest you instead sit down to watch The World of Hen­ry Miller: Reflec­tions on Writ­ing (part two, part three, part four). Shot in the late six­ties by the doc­u­men­tar­i­an Robert Sny­der, oth­er­wise known for his award-win­ning films on Michelan­ge­lo and the world of insects, the film fol­lows Miller, enter­ing his final decade, as he retraces his steps through the lit­er­ary places he’s known, and has rem­i­nis­cence-inten­sive con­ver­sa­tions with the lit­er­ary peo­ple he’s known, reflect­ing all the while on how both shaped his writ­ing.

Alexan­der Nazaryan’s New York­er post, “Hen­ry Miller, Brook­lyn Hater,” writ­ten for the occa­sion of Big Sur Brook­lyn Bridge, goes into some detail about the Trop­ic of Can­cer author’s loathing for his birth­place. Though he would ulti­mate­ly find a kind of peace in Big Sur, only on the move in the thirties—especially as an expa­tri­ate in France, where he worked for the Chica­go Tri­bune’s Paris edi­tion, and Greece, where he stayed with British nov­el­ist Lawrence Durrell—did his writ­ing take its true shape. Miller him­self tells it that way in Reflec­tions on Writ­ing, to friends like Dur­rell, famed diarist Anaïs Nin, and Lawrence Clark Pow­ell, the UCLA librar­i­an Miller thought “rep­re­sen­ta­tive of all that is best in the Amer­i­can tra­di­tion.” Though Sny­der also includes footage of Miller read­ing his work aloud, you can see a bit more in the clip of a Black Spring read­ing just above, and hear half an hour more of the book here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Writ­ing Tips by Hen­ry Miller, Elmore Leonard, Mar­garet Atwood, Neil Gaiman & George Orwell

Tom Schiller’s 1975 Jour­ney Through Hen­ry Miller’s Bath­room (NSFW)

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on lit­er­a­ture, film, cities, Asia, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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