The Rosy Crucifixion

Last updated
The Rosy Crucifixion
Plexus, Henry Miller, Grove Press 1965.jpg
First American printing of Plexus, 1965
Author Henry Miller
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Genre Autobiographical novel
Publisher Obelisk Press
Grove Press
Publication date
Sexus - 1949
Plexus - 1953
Nexus - 1959
Pages1,462

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." [1]

Contents

Sexus

Sexus (1949), the first volume, describes the break-up of Miller's first marriage to Maude as he meets, falls in love with and marries his second wife, the captivating and mysterious dancer Mona (June). All the while, he feels guilty for leaving Maude, and becomes more attracted to her following their divorce. At the beginning of Sexus, Miller is 33 years old. June is at first called Mara, but at the beginning of chapter 8, and for the remainder of the trilogy, her name is changed to Mona. Miller states that this is under the influence of his friend Dr. Kronski, and that the name change accompanied "other, more significant changes." She is one who has changed many details of her life: "her name, her birthplace, her mother, her upbringing, her friends, her tastes, even her desires." [2]

The New York Times stated, "Miller uses licentious sex scenes to set the stage for his philosophical discussions of self, love, marriage and happiness." [3]

Miller said that, in a burst of inspiration one night in 1927, he stayed up all night plotting out Tropic of Capricorn (1939) and The Rosy Crucifixion in forty or fifty typewritten pages. [4] He began writing Sexus in New York in 1942, then set it aside until picking it back up in 1947 while living in Big Sur. [5] It was first put out in Paris as two volumes by Obelisk Press in 1949. [6] It created a big stir, and was banned the following year, with the publisher fined and given a prison sentence. [5]

Plexus

Plexus (1953), the second volume, continues with the story of Miller's marriage to Mona, and covers Miller's attempts to become a writer after leaving his job at the Cosmodemonic Telegraph Company. It was first published in English in 1953 by Olympia Press as a two-volume set. [7]

Nexus

In Nexus (1959), the final installment, Miller finds himself an outsider in his own marriage, as Mona's relationship with Anastasia (Jean Kronski) grows, with the pair finally abandoning Miller to travel to Paris. After Mona's return on her own, the trilogy ends with Miller and his wife departing for Paris.

Miller had in mind to write a second volume of Nexus, and made several attempts to complete it. It would have covered his time in France with Mona, their return to New York, and his return to Paris on his own, concluding with him writing the opening lines of Tropic of Cancer at 18 Villa Seurat. He made several attempts to write the book before ultimately abandoning the undertaking. [8] [9] A rough draft of the abandoned novel, Paris 1928 (Nexus II), an account of his 1928 trip to Paris with Mona, was first published in English in 2012. [10]

Publication

The three books in the trilogy were initially banned in the United States, published only in France and Japan. [5] [11] Their American publication followed the U.S. Supreme Court's 1964 decision that the also-banned Tropic of Cancer was a work of literature and therefore should not be banned. [12]

Miller was concerned about the publication of Sexus in the US. He felt that it was possible that his ex-wife Beatrice, the model for Maude, would bring a lawsuit for her portrayal in the novel. Despite Miller's reservations, all three volumes of The Rosy Crucifixion were published by Grove Press in the US in the summer of 1965. They soon were holding the top spots on the Publishers Weekly best-seller list along with two more of Miller's books, the recently unbanned The World of Sex and Quiet Days in Clichy . [13] [14]

Criticism

Miller's close friend, author Lawrence Durrell, was severely disappointed in Sexus. In a letter dated September 5, 1949, he wrote that Miller was lost "in this shower of lavatory filth which no longer seems tonic and bracing, but just excrementitious and sad." [15]

"I am trying to reproduce in words a block of my life which to me has the utmost significance – every bit of it," Miller responded. "Since 1927 I have carried inside me the material of this book. Do you suppose it's possible that I could have a miscarriage after such a period of gestation? ... But Larry, I can never go back on what I've written. If it was not good, it was true; if it was not artistic, it was sincere; if it was in bad taste, it was on the side of life." [15]

See also

Related Research Articles

Henry Miller American novelist

Henry Valentine Miller was an American writer and artist. He was known for breaking with existing literary forms and developing 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 Rosy Crucifixion trilogy, which are based on his experiences in New York and Paris. He also wrote travel memoirs and literary criticism, and painted watercolors.

<i>Cape Fear</i> (1991 film) 1991 psychological thriller film directed by Martin Scorsese

Cape Fear is a 1991 American psychological thriller film directed by Martin Scorsese as a remake of the 1962 film of the same name which was based on John D. MacDonald's 1957 novel, The Executioners. It stars Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange, Joe Don Baker, Juliette Lewis, Robert Mitchum, and Gregory Peck in his final theatrical film role. In addition to Mitchum and Peck, Martin Balsam cameos in the remake; all three starred in the original film.

<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)

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.

Olympia Press was a Paris-based publisher, launched in 1953 by Maurice Girodias as a rebranded version of the Obelisk Press he inherited from his father Jack Kahane. It published a mix of erotic fiction and avant-garde literary fiction, and is best known for the first print of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita.

Maurice Girodias French publisher

Maurice Girodias was a French publisher who was the founder of the Olympia Press. At one time he was the owner of his father's Obelisk Press. He spent most of his productive years in Paris.

Barney Rosset

Barnet Lee "Barney" Rosset, Jr. was the owner of the publishing house Grove Press, and publisher and editor-in-chief of the magazine Evergreen Review. He led a successful legal battle to publish the uncensored version of D. H. Lawrence's novel Lady Chatterley's Lover, and later was the American publisher of Henry Miller's controversial novel Tropic of Cancer. The right to publish and distribute Miller's novel in the United States was affirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1964, in a landmark ruling for free speech and the First Amendment.

June Miller

June Miller was the second wife of Henry Miller. The author wrote prolifically about her.

Élie Faure

Jacques Élie Faure was a French art historian and essayist.

<i>Black Spring</i> (short stories)

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.

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

<i>Aller Retour New York</i>

Aller Retour New York is a novel by American writer Henry Miller, published in 1935 by Obelisk Press in Paris, France.

<i>Dust Lane</i> 2010 studio album by Yann Tiersen

Dust Lane is the sixth studio album by Yann Tiersen. Tiersen himself describes the record as "not a sad thing, but a colourful thing - an experience sometimes painful, but also joyful."

<i>The Colossus of Maroussi</i>

The Colossus of Maroussi is an impressionist travelogue by American writer Henry Miller that was first published in 1941 by Colt Press of San Francisco. Set in pre-war Greece of 1939, it is ostensibly an exploration of the "Colossus" of the title, George Katsimbalis, a poet and raconteur. The work is frequently heralded as Miller's best.

<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.

<i>Tropic of Cancer</i> (film)

Tropic of Cancer is a 1970 American drama film directed by Joseph Strick and written by Betty Botley and Joseph Strick. It is based on Henry Miller's 1934 autobiographical novel Tropic of Cancer. The film stars Rip Torn, James T. Callahan, David Baur, Laurence Lignères, Phil Brown and Dominique Delpierre. The film was released on February 27, 1970, by Paramount Pictures.

<i>Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch</i> book by Henry Miller

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.

<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. New York: Grove Press, 1961, p. 325.
  2. Henry Miller, Sexus, New York: Grove Press, 1965, pp. 154, 16566.
  3. "France Lifts Its Long Ban On Henry Miller's 'Sexus,'" New York Times , November 20, 1968. By subscription only.
  4. George Wickes, "Interviews: Henry Miller, The Art of Fiction No. 28," The Paris Review , Summer-Fall 1962, No. 28.
  5. 1 2 3 Mary V. Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive: A Biography of Henry Miller, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991, p. 246.
  6. Robert Ferguson, Henry Miller: A Life, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1991, p. 306.
  7. Lawrence Shifreen and Roger Jackson, Henry Miller: A Bibliography of Primary Sources, Vol. 1, 1993, p. 254.
  8. Ferguson, Henry Miller: A Life, p. 330.
  9. Arthur Hoyle, The Unknown Henry Miller: A Seeker in Big Sur, New York: Arcade Publishing, 2014, pp. 246, 253.
  10. "Paris 1928," Indiana University Press, August 8, 2012.
  11. Frank Getlein, "Henry Miller's Crowded Simple Life," Milwaukee Journal , June 9, 1957.
  12. Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive: A Biography of Henry Miller, p. 285.
  13. Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive: A Biography of Henry Miller, p. 287-88.
  14. Henry Miller, Preface to Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch , New York: New Directions, 1957, p. ix.
  15. 1 2 George Brassaï, Henry Miller: The Paris Years, New York: Arcade Publishing, 1975 (translation copyright 1995), pp. 2034.