Breaking down with Henri Miller - Focillon Breaking down with Henri Millerย  | Focillon Humane ClubMade in Humane Club

Breaking down with Henri Millerย 

Published May 20, 2022
Updated Oct 26, 2022

📍 🇫🇷 Breaking down in Dijon

It's hard to decipher what American writer Henry Miller (1891-1980) really thought of Dijon.

Was it really the hell of fog and decrepit ducal glories that is depicted in his famous novel "Tropic of Cancer"? Was it the decade itself (1930s..), the march towards the Second World War? His letters to lover Anais Nin display, above all, an unknown 41-year-old artist at the end of his tether, forced to accept a job as an English tutor in February 1932 in order to survive. Three weeks without a typewriter gradually drove him mad, and gave him the concept for the already mentioned book that sold millions ("Tropic"). Namely the auto-fiction of a desperate man on the way to his vocation as a writer.

“It is not only winter here but death, misery, especially fog”, he confides to Nin, refining his upcoming style along the way... “merely an alley of dead bones, twisted and crawling figures buried in shrouds; effigies or fat little monsters at the front of St Michael's Church. In every crevice of the old gnarled brow, the hollow song of the night wind, and on the lacy rubble of cold & stiff garments, a cloudy slime of absinthe-like fog and frost."

Not very encouraging. But therein lay the inspiration he sought.

____ Sources ____

>> Henry Miller, "Tropic of Cancer", 1934
>> Miller & Nin, “Letters of Anaïs Nin & Henry Miller, 1932-1953”, 1989

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