Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch

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Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch
Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch 1957.jpg
First US edition, 1957
Author Henry Miller
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Genre Memoir, nonfiction
Publisher New Directions
Publication date
1957
Media typePrint
Pages404
Preceded by Quiet Days in Clichy  
Followed by Nexus  

Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch is a memoir written by Henry Miller, first published in 1957, about his life in Big Sur, California, where he resided for 18 years.

Contents

History

Background

In 1939, Miller left France for Greece, where he remained until 1940, leaving because of World War II. He returned to New York and made a year-long trip around the US, which resulted in his book The Air-Conditioned Nightmare . He moved to California in June 1942, living in Beverly Glen for over a year. In 1944, he moved to Big Sur, a section of the California coast, living in Partington Ridge from May 1944 until January 1946. He then married Janina Martha Lepska, his third wife, and they moved to Anderson Creek. In February 1947 they returned to Partington Ridge, where he remained until 1962. [1] [2] He and Lepska separated in 1951 and divorced the following year. She moved to Long Beach, and their children, Tony and Val, stayed with Miller in the summers and at Christmas time. [3] Miller married his fourth wife, Eve McClure, on December 29, 1953. [4] They divorced in 1960. [5] He moved to Pacific Palisades in 1963, where he would live for the rest of his life. [1]

Publication

At the time of the book's publication, numerous Miller books were still banned in the US: Tropic of Cancer , Aller Retour New York , Black Spring , Tropic of Capricorn , The World of Sex, Quiet Days in Clichy , Sexus and Plexus . Miller was working on Nexus at the time of Big Sur's publication. [6] After the publication of the book, which presents Big Sur as paradise on earth, many fans began to arrive in Big Sur to explore the area and seek out Miller. [6] [7]

Summary

The title of the book is taken from 15th-century Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch's triptych "The Garden of earthly delights", where oranges and other fruits symbolize the delights of paradise. [6] The book is dedicated to Miller's friend Emil White, who established the Henry Miller Memorial Library in his old cabin in Big Sur. [8] [9]

The first two main parts of the book are portraits of Big Sur, with descriptions of its inhabitants, including writers, mystics, and two of Miller's children, Tony and Val. There are also reflections on the benefits of solitude, and on events from Miller's past. [10]

The third part tells the story of when Miller was visited by an old friend from Paris, the French astrologer Conrad Moricand, in 1947. Moricand had written Miller that he was penniless. Miller invited Moricand to live with him in Big Sur for the rest of his life. Moricand arrived at the end of the year. The arrangement quickly turned into a disaster. Although Miller had told Moricand about the isolated and rugged life of Big Sur, Moricand was unprepared and complained often about the weather, food, and his own poor health, among other things. Miller put Moricand in a hotel in Monterey, and arranged for him to return to France. Moricand did not immediately return to Europe, however, instead writing Miller angry letters about his perceived mistreatment. [11] Miller wrote about this episode, which would be published in 1956 as A Devil in Paradise, and a year later as the third part of Big Sur, called "Paradise Lost." [6]

The lengthy epilogue details the many letters he has received from readers, and concludes by asking the readers not to write to him anymore. [6] It was originally written in Anderson Creek in 1946, and revised for the book's publication. [12]

Related Research Articles

Hieronymus Bosch Dutch painter (c. 1450 – 1516)

Hieronymus Bosch was a Dutch/Netherlandish painter from Brabant. He is one of the most notable representatives of the Early Netherlandish painting school. His work, generally oil on oak wood, mainly contains fantastic illustrations of religious concepts and narratives. Within his lifetime his work was collected in the Netherlands, Austria, and Spain, and widely copied, especially his macabre and nightmarish depictions of hell.

Henry Miller American novelist (1891–1980)

Henry Valentine Miller was an American novelist. He broke with existing literary forms and developed a new type of semi-autobiographical novel that blended character study, social criticism, philosophical reflection, stream of consciousness, explicit language, sex, surrealist free association, and mysticism. His most characteristic works of this kind are Tropic of Cancer, Black Spring, Tropic of Capricorn, and the trilogy The Rosy Crucifixion, which are based on his experiences in New York and Paris. He also wrote travel memoirs and literary criticism, and painted watercolors.

<i>Tropic of Cancer</i> (novel) 1934 novel by Henry Miller

Tropic of Cancer is a novel by Henry Miller that has been described as "notorious for its candid sexuality" and as responsible for the "free speech that we now take for granted in literature." It was first published in 1934 by the Obelisk Press in Paris, France, but this edition was banned in the United States. Its publication in 1961 in the U.S. by Grove Press led to obscenity trials that tested American laws on pornography in the early 1960s. In 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the book non-obscene. It is regarded as an important work of 20th-century literature.

<i>Tropic of Capricorn</i> (novel) 1939 novel by Henry Miller

Tropic of Capricorn is a semi-autobiographical novel by Henry Miller, first published by Obelisk Press in Paris in 1939. A prequel of sorts to Miller's first published novel, 1934's Tropic of Cancer, it was banned in the United States until a 1961 Justice Department ruling declared that its contents were not obscene.

<i>The Garden of Earthly Delights</i> Medieval triptych painting by Hieronymus Bosch

The Garden of Earthly Delights is the modern title given to a triptych oil painting on oak panel painted by the Early Netherlandish master Hieronymus Bosch, between 1490 and 1510, when Bosch was between 40 and 60 years old. It has been housed in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain since 1939.

<i>The Haywain Triptych</i>

The Haywain Triptych is a panel painting by Hieronymus Bosch, now in the Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain. A date of around 1516 has been established by means of dendrochronological research. The central panel, signed "Jheronimus Bosch", measures 135 cm × 200 cm and the wings measure 147 cm × 66 cm. The outside shutters feature a version of Bosch's The Wayfarer.

Alfred Perlès (1897–1990) was an Austrian writer, who was most famous for his associations with Henry Miller, Lawrence Durrell, and Anaïs Nin.

June Miller

June Miller was the second wife of writer Henry Miller. He wrote prolifically about her and their relationship in his books, usually using the pseudonyms Mona or Mara interchangeably. She also appears prominently in the early diaries of Anaïs Nin.

<i>The Rosy Crucifixion</i>

The Rosy Crucifixion, a trilogy consisting of Sexus, Plexus, and Nexus, is a fictionalized account documenting the six-year period of Henry Miller's life in Brooklyn as he falls for his second wife June and struggles to become a writer, leading up to his initial departure for Paris in 1928. The title comes from a sentence near the end of Miller's Tropic of Capricorn: "All my Calvaries were rosy crucifixions, pseudo-tragedies to keep the fires of hell burning brightly for the real sinners who are in danger of being forgotten."

<i>Black Spring</i> (short story collection)

Black Spring is a book of ten short stories by the American writer Henry Miller, published in 1936 by the Obelisk Press in Paris, France. Black Spring was Miller's second published book, following Tropic of Cancer and preceding Tropic of Capricorn. The book was written in 1932-33 while Miller was living in Clichy, a northwestern suburb of Paris. Like Tropic of Cancer, the book is dedicated to Anaïs Nin.

<i>Ascent of the Blessed</i>

Ascent of the Blessed is a Hieronymus Bosch painting made between 1505 and 1515.

Mary Dearborn is an American biographer and author. Dearborn has published biographies of Norman Mailer, Henry Miller, Peggy Guggenheim and others.

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Charles Haldeman was an American novelist.

Anderson Canyon

Anderson Canyon in the Big Sur region of California was named after pioneering homesteaders James and Peter Andersen who were the first European settlers of the area. The canyon, Anderson Creek, and Anderson Peak are south of McWay Falls and within the boundaries of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.

<i>Quiet Days in Clichy</i> (novel)

Quiet Days in Clichy is a novella written by Henry Miller. It is based on his experience as a Parisian expatriate in the early 1930s, when he and Alfred Perlès shared a small apartment in suburban Clichy as struggling writers. It takes place around the time Miller was writing Black Spring. According to his photographer friend George Brassaï, Miller admitted the title is “completely misleading.”

<i>Moloch: or, This Gentile World</i>

Moloch: or, This Gentile World is a semi-autobiographical novel written by Henry Miller in 1927-28, initially under the guise of a novel written by his wife, June. The book went unpublished until 1992, 65 years after it was written and 12 years after Miller's death. It is widely considered to be of interest more as a study of Miller's artistic growth than as a worthy piece of fiction.

The following is a bibliography of Henry Miller by category.

Henry Miller Memorial Library

The Henry Miller Memorial Library is a nonprofit arts center, bookstore, and performance venue in Big Sur, California, documenting the life of the late writer, artist, and Henry Miller. Emil White built the house for Miller in the mid-1960s. After Miller died in 1980, White dedicated the property as a memorial to Miller and as a gallery where local artists could show their work. In 1981, with the help of the Big Sur Land Trust, White formally organized "The Henry Miller Memorial Library". White was director of the institution until he died in 1989. The Big Sur Land Trust managed the library until October 1998, when the non-profit The Henry Miller Memorial Library Inc. was created to sustain the library.

<i>The Air-Conditioned Nightmare</i>

The Air-Conditioned Nightmare is a memoir written by Henry Miller, first published in 1945, about his year-long road trip across the United States in 1939, following his return from nearly a decade living in Paris.

References

  1. 1 2 Robert Ferguson, Henry Miller: A Life, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1991, p. 351.
  2. Henry Miller, “Chronological,” Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch, New York: New Directions, 1957, pp. 1-2.
  3. Arthur Hoyle, The Unknown Henry Miller: A Seeker in Big Sur, New York: Arcade Publishing, 2014, p. 178.
  4. The Unknown Henry Miller, p. 193.
  5. The Unknown Henry Miller, p. 256-57.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 Mary V. Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive: A Biography of Henry Miller, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991, pp. 263-64.
  7. Henry Miller: A Life, p. 329.
  8. The Happiest Man Alive, p. 309.
  9. The Unknown Henry Miller, p. 81.
  10. “Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch,” City Lights. Accessed September 13, 2014.
  11. The Happiest Man Alive, pp. 245-46.
  12. Henry Miller, “Preface,” Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch, New York: New Directions, 1957, pp. ix-x.