Saturday, September 9, 2017

Woozy Literary Memories: Miller And Orwell


Department Of Woozy Literary Recollections 

Just to say:

I read Orwell's Down And Out In Paris And London when I was in my early twenties back in the 1860s. 

I naturally don't recall it in detail but do have a pretty firm recollection of my overall sense of it: enjoying the recounting of the scuffling of his impoverished life in Paris, the crazy chaos of the hotels he worked in, the mad characters--I'm vaguely remembering some mad Russian who claimed he was an exiled nobleman--he met, and the tinge of bohemian romance to his life there; and then the unexpected sober shift to the abject misery of his tramping around England and his life in London,  all with men broken and immiserated by the cutting sharpness of their poverty, barely hanging on to life by their fingertips.

Why I mention this is that I've just begun for the first time reading Henry Miller's Tropic Of Capricorn and one thing it's done nothing so much as is to stir my long resting recollections of Orwell's memoir and more particularly his recounting of being down and out in Paris. 

And this then got me to thinking about Miller's Tropic Of Cancer, which I read as a middle teen, maybe 16, having heard of and, so, youthfully curious about and looking forward to its explicit sexuality. I only vaguely remember, again thinking about Orwell's memoir, how The Tropic Of Cancer is set in Paris, the explicitness of the sex and Miller's bohemian life there as a struggling young writer.  

I'll continue happily of course with Miller's book and I may be moved to reread after all these years Orwell's memoir and Miller's Tropic Of Cancer to enjoy them again and put them together better in my mind. 

By the way, I took a peek online and, not knowing of it, maybe I should have, quickly came across a fair amount on the connection between the two men, their meeting with each other on occasion, their notes to and on each other,  Orwell's reviewing Miller's Tropic Of Cancer in his, Orwell's, famous critical essay Inside The Whale and Miller's reaction to that essay.

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