BLACK SUN: The Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby by Geoffrey Wolff

BLACK SUN: The Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby

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Commentators have noted that when Icarus fell to earth, no one noticed; nor did anyone spend more than a few days of speculation on the murder-suicide, under a silk coverlet, of Harry Crosby, 31, and his latest love. In fact very few people will remember the name of this child of the Ritz in Boston and young man of Prunier's in Paris who devoted himself to prodigal frenesie--drinking and drugs and gambling and later obsessively writing second-rate poetry. It was published by his Black Sun Press in Paris which also gave the light of day to a number of expatriate writers; Crosby knew almost everyone on the literary scene over there in the Twenties. But it was during American Field Service duty in WW I that he first felt ""death's hand""; its initial summons became a permanent inscription. Later he went home to ""spit in Boston's eye"" by causing the divorce of Polly Peabody who became the wife he renamed Caresse and loved more than any of the others. In time he cultivated the sun not only as a metaphor of existence but as a mystical system; he also paid it literal obeisance--when everyone wore hats, he went bare-headed. Edith Wharton called him a ""half-crazy cad""; Hemingway spoke of his ""wonderful gift of carelessness""; Lawrence of the ""untamed chaos"" of his poetry although the words also applied to his short life; and Crosby said that he wanted to ""make the last thing perfect""--the last thing that was never in question. . . . Wolff has both interestingly and assiduously exhumed him but there are times when all that rarefied self-annihilation cannot rise above Crosby's de luxe triviality. Early on he had idolized Rimbaud and Baudelaire; he was a true fleur du real but he may be just the right bloom for this age with its taste for feckless dissipation, once removed.

Pub Date: Aug. 20th, 1976
ISBN: 1590170660
Publisher: Random House