The Devil at Large
Erica Jong on Henry Miller
Baker & Taylor
The author chronicles the life of Henry Miller, drawing on her own six-year friendship with him, as well as his works and correspondence, to discuss Miller's life and writing
Blackwell North Amer
The book begins with a question: Why Henry Miller?
"Miller remains among the most misunderstood of writers - seen either as a pornographer or a guru, a sexual enslaver or a sexual liberator, a prophet or a pervert. All the questions his life and oeuvre raise about the role of the writer in society, the impact of books on sexual politics, the impact of sexual politics on books, the threat of censorship to free speech and written expression are, unfortunately, as fresh today as they ever were."
Part biography, part memoir, part critical study, part exploration of sexual politics in our time, The Devil at Large is an event: a book that promises to rescue Miller from the facile charges of misogyny, anti-Semitism, and titillation that have been lobbed at him over the years, and brilliantly captures the exuberance, audacity, and energy that defined his life and art. More than that, it is a reunion between a young writer and her mentor.
In 1974, while Fear of Flying was still a relatively obscure first novel, Erica Jong received an enthusiastic fan letter from Henry Miller, then an old man of eighty-three. Miller credited himself with "discovering" Jong, and his faithful correspondence guided her through a year of enormous change. The two writers - chastised and celebrated for their lusty prose, accused of conflating autobiography with fiction in their respective generations - found they were kindred spirits, and began a friendship that would last until Miller's death in 1980.
"Make it all up!" was Miller's appeal to Jong to become his biographer. But in reexamining Miller, Jong has not had to fictionalize. She has imparted a deeper understanding of a life whose dramatic particulars have long since been mythologized, dramatized, and cannibalized by those in search of a lusty life story. Jong puts the works, the letters, the loves through a prism that clarifies the creative impulse, making this slim book a quintessential chronicle of a writer's life and a mirror of our own times.
"Always the flesh and the vision together," Anais Nin said of Miller. The Devil at Large asks its readers to look anew at these elements and come to a new appreciation of a twentieth-century visionary and prophet.
The author of Fear of Flying chronicles the life of Henry Miller, drawing on her own six-year friendship with him, as well as his works and correspondence, to discuss Miller's life and writing. 40,000 first printing. $50,000 ad/promo. Tour.
New York : Random House, 1993.
Branch Call Number:
818.52 MILLER, H.
337 p. ; 25 cm.