Work

Henry Miller published over 40 books and collections of letters, over a dozen pamphlets and smaller pieces, and a play.

You can check out his extensive bibliography here. In the meantime, we’ve tried to call attention to some of his more major work below.

cancer

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The most important novel of the 20th century. The subject of a Supreme Court obscenity trial. A book, first published in France in 1934, that wasn’t published in Miller’s own country until 1961.

No matter how you describe it, Tropic of Cancer is as powerful and vital as ever. The book describes Miller’s wild and heady times as an ex-pat writer in 1930s-France, and ingeniously blends confessional writing with fiction, metaphysical insights, and stream-of-consciousness expositions.

This is it, kids. The Big One. But don’t take our word for it. Samuel Beckett hailed it as “a momentous event in the history of modern writing.” No small feat!

capricorn

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The sequel to Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn is set in 1920s New York (prior to Miller’s stint in Paris), where the narrator ‘Henry V. Miller’ works in the personnel division of the ‘Cosmodemonic’ telegraph company.

Although the narrator’s experiences closely parallel Miller’s own time in New York working for the Western Union Telegraph Company, and he shares the author’s name, the novel is considered a work of fiction.

Miller’s protagonist confronts grinding poverty, suffering, and depravity, yet ultimately finds what can be considered a spiritual awakening (which also parallels his striking development as a writer.)

In essence, there is more to life than a meaningless desk job in New York City. With his fierce diatribes against consumerist society, faceless and sinister corporatism, and the inherent emptiness of conformist, nine-to-five existence, Miller’s untamed voice is both prescient and inspiring.

bs and oranges2

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Miller lived in Big Sur from 1944 to 1962 and Big Sur And The Oranges Of Hieronymus Bosch is his love letter to his adopted home.

In describing his real-life community, Miller not only introduced the reader to the physical beauty of the region surrounding Big Sur, while describing the variety of artists and unique personalities that used to inhabit the small secluded oceanic precipice, but also created a mythic America for the modern mind; a world of symbolance and order built on the foundations of the natural world.

With this book, Miller was able to show a land and a people living in a world on the outskirts of the mainstream, uninhibited by the conventionalism of society. A must-have for lovers of Big Sur, Henry Miller, or literature!

quiet

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This tender and nostalgic work dates from the same period as Tropic of Cancer (1934). It is a celebration of love, art, and the Bohemian life at a time when the world was simpler and slower, and Miller an obscure, penniless young writer in Paris.

Whether discussing the early days of his long friendship with Alfred Perles or his escapades at the Club Melody brothel, in Quiet Days in Clichy Miller describes a period that would shape his entire life and oeuvre.

bspring

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Continuing the subversive self-revelation begun in Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn, Henry Miller takes readers along a mad, free-associating journey from the damp grime of his Brooklyn youth to the sun-splashed cafes and squalid flats of Paris in Black Spring.

With incomparable glee, Miller shifts effortlessly from Virgil to venereal disease, from Rabelais to Roquefort. In this seductive technicolor swirl of Paris and New York, he captures like no one else the blending of people and the cities they inhabit.

nightmare

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One of the most popular Miller books, just due to the sheer awesomeness of it’s title. (Spoiler Alert) The Air-Conditioned Nightmare is pre-WWII America, and it wasn’t pretty.

After spending about a decade abroad, Miller returned to America – he’s from Brooklyn – with an urge to reconnect with nature and truly understand his homeland. He did not like what he saw. The United States was a sterile, hyper-commercial, increasingly-corporatized, and downright mean. (Sound familiar?)

Like some metaphysical journalist, Miller spent three years traveling the US, and this books, chock full of short stories, essays, and musings, is his report on the State of the (Dis)Union. Fortunately not all is lost: Miller falls for the many individuals along the way who stand firm against encroaching mindless consumption and uninspired aesthetics.

hummingbird

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Stand Still Like the Hummingbird is to Henry Miller what Poor Richard’s Almanack was to Ben Franklin: a handy, readable collection of philosophical musings, existential ruminations, and practical advice in a fallen world.

The book is a compilation of about two dozen vignettes in which Miller holds court on a host of topics ranging from Whitman and Thoreau to censorship, morality, love, and of course, money. These topics and the sentiments therein reflect Miller’s stunning diversity of thought and profound vitality in an age of sterility and commercialism.

Let this book be your North Star!

devil_in_paradise

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A slimmer, more narrative, and more digestible Miller. In this brief affair, A Devil in Paradise, Miller weaves a tale about a dinner party gone awry. What is to be done when your guests just won’t leave?

That’s a simple summary, and while true, a deeper exploration reveals a powerful meditation on egoism, the self, and morality. In Conrad Moriand, Miller has created one of his most complex and fascinating characters.

hm_writing

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Edited by Thomas Moore, Henry Miller on Writing compiles all of Henry Miller’s most provocative musings on the art of writing.

Moore pulls excerpts from all of Miller’s classics, from “Tropic of Cancer” and “Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch,” as well as lesser known gems such as “The Wisdom of the Heart” and “Art and Outrage.” Moore elegantly organizes the maestro’s expositions, placing them under topics as “The ‘Literary’ Writer,” “Finding Your Own Voice,” and “Writing and Obscenity.”

We say: scintillating reading for writers and non-writers alike!

cosmoeye

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Perhaps the greatest evidence we have of Miller’s staggering diversity and reach as a writer is The Cosmological Eye. These short prose writings, which poured forth during his time in Paris in the late 1930s, are impossible to pigeonhole, ranging from semi-autobiographical short stories to surrealistic musings and philosophical essays.

As in Tropic of Cancer, the Cosmological Eye shows Miller at the height of his powers, unencumbered by traditional forms and obliterating literary precedent. Ultimately the Cosmological Eye shows that at the end of the day, Miller is a story-teller; one bursting with vitality and expression.

hmreader

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Drawing material from a dozen different books, Lawrence Durrell’s The Henry Miller Reader has traced the main line and principal themes of the “single, endless autobiography” which is Henry Miller’s life work.

“I suspect,” writes Durrell in his Introduction, “that Miller’s final place will be among those towering anomalies of authorship like Whitman or Blake who have left us, not simply works of art, but a corpus of ideas which motivate and influence a whole cultural pattern.”

colossus

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Like the ancient colossus that stood over the harbor of Rhodes, The Colossus of Maroussi stands as a seminal classic in travel literature.

Miller’s own favorite among his books, it preceded such prominent travel novels as John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charleyand W.G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn. A young woman’s seductive description of Greece first spurs Miler to head out into the Grecian countryside with his friend Lawrence Durrell.

What follows is what is now considered one of the “five greatest travel books of all time” (according to Pico Iyer).

capBuy

In the last three years of his life (1978-1980), Miller generously contributed letters, drawings, and various prose pieces for Stroker magazine and its editor Irving Stettner.

Presented here are the best of these Miller pieces, entitled From Your Capricorn Friend, including letters he wrote to Stettner in which the author remarks an anything and everything: painting, Brooklyn, Isaac Bashevis Singer’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech, books, and more.

“Squeeze all the color out of the tubes,” Miller advises a young painter friend. As this collection indeed testifies, Henry did just that as the end of his life approached.


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Finally available via New Directions in November of 2016, Wisdom of the Heart, a selection of stories and essays, finds showing his command over a wide range of moods, styles, and subject matters.

Writing “from the heart,” always with a refreshing lack of reticence, Miller involves the reader directly in his thoughts and feelings.

“His real aim,” Karl Shapiro has written, “is to find the living core of our world whenever it survives and in whatever manifestation, in art, in literature, in human behavior itself. It is then that he sings, praises, and shouts at the top of his lungs with the uncontainable hilarity he is famous for.”