LAWRENCE DURRELL AND HENRY MILLER: A Private Correspondence by George- Ed. Wickes


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In 1935, the then unknown but verbally unbowed Lawrence Durrell wrote a fan letter to Henry Miller; he called of Cancer a great book built out of its ""own guts"": ""in the face of it"", gushed Durrell, ""eulogy becomes platitude"". Miller was 43, Durrell 23; their subsequent correspondence through the mid-thirties on into the late fifties is now here collected, the postmarks range from Corfu and Cyprus to New York and Paris; the subject matter covers surrealism and literary politics, pornography and space-time, censorship and unexpurgated editions; all pretty much shop talk and all pungent, provocative and, on occasion, preposterous. There's the usual mutual back slapping, paranoid philosophizing, cosmic bull-throwing and lyrical logomachy one would expect from two such gabby geniuses. Durrell, of course, takes the lead; speaking of his ""HERALDIC UNIVERSE"" he concludes: ""I AM SLOWLY BUT VERY CAREFULLY AND WITHOUT THOUGHT DESTROYING TIME."" Answers Miller: ""EVERYTHING MEANS SOMETHING."" Beyond that, the letters are a revelation of two different but generally interdependent egos and their common quarter-of-a-century pursuit of a sort of Olympian Id, via Miller the prophet, Miller the clown, Miller the down-and-outer in Hollywood (""A blackout... I must live like a bedbug for a while"") and then Miller amidst peace and papahood at Big Sur, or Durrell in Egypt prefiguring Justine, writing that when the Alexandrians make love it's ""like two people in a dark room slashing at each other with razors."" Thus for Durrell-Miller enthusiasts, i.e. all those interested in the future of English prose, the correspondence should be an eye-opening, sometimes eyebrow raising exploration into manifesto-high seas of sex-and-self consciousness.

Publisher: Dutton