Sunday, November 19, 2006

Henry Miller - George Orwell Timeline

The following points contain references to letters being written, but unfortunately I have no access to the content of the majority of these letters. Regardless, I think the flow of minor events illustrates the relationship between the two men. See below for citations.

1934
September 1 - Tropic Of Cancer is published in Paris by Obelisk Press.

1935
August - George Orwell begins reviewing for the New English Weekly.

Nov 14 - Orwell reviews Tropic Of Cancer in New English Weekly.

Nov 29 - Miller comments on this review in a letter to Durrell: "[Orwell] talks about 'the vilification of human nature' (sic!). Oh well ......"
1936
Feb 25 - Michael Fraenkel (Miller’s housemate) writes to Orwell.

May 3 - Fraenkel again writes to Orwell. (In Inside The Whale, Orwell will say that Fraenkel, Lawrence Durrell and Miller “almost amount to a 'school'” of writing style.)

June - Black Spring is published. Orwell will make (mostly) critical reference to it in Inside The Whale.

August - Miller writes to Orwell.

September - Orwell writes Miller “at length” about Black Spring (ref: Happiest Man Alive, p.191)

September - Miller writes to Orwell.

Sept 24 - Orwell’s review of Black Spring appears in the New English Weekly.

Oct 6 - Miller writes to Orwell [seen at left in 1936].

Dec 15 - Orwell leaves en-route for Spain.

Dec (23?) - Before continuing on to Barcelona, Orwell visits Henry Miller in Paris.

Dec 30 - Orwell enlists with POUM in Barcelona.

1937
Jan 20 - In a letter to Lawrence Durrell, Miller includes Orwell in a list of what he calls “all these bloody, bleeding blokes with their navel-strings uncut.”

March - In a letter to Durrell, Miller describes Orwell as “a nice chap, but ignorant.”
Mar 8 - Orwell sends a copy of his newly-published Road To Wigan Pier to Miller;

(date?) - Miller answers a questionnaire for the short-lived Marxist Quarterly magazine, stating that his response to war is pacifism. (Orwell will later reference this in Inside The Whale).
[the Quarterly ran for three issues, all throughout 1937; the issue Miller appeared in is unknown to me]

July - Orwell back in England.

September - Miller tells Durrell that Orwell has promised to take a subscription to for The Booster.

Oct 21 - Orwell reviews The Booster (this issue?) in the New English Weekly.

Oct 29 - Alfred Perles writes to Philip Mairet (editor of New English Weekly), presumably about Orwell, as the letter is now part of Orwell’s correspondence collection.

Nov 4 - An uncredited piece by Durrell appears in New English Weekly; it's a response to Orwell’s review of The Booster.

Nov 7 - Miller writes to Orwell. ("with enclosures")

Nov 11 - Orwell responds to Durrell’s critique of his Booster review, in New English Weekly. Orwell will later make a brief reference to The Booster in Inside The Whale.

1938
Apr 20 - Miller sends a letter to Orwell while he is in a sanitarium in Kent. According to Ferguson in Henry Miller: A Life, (p.250), Miller offers to send Orwell copies of Tao Te Ching and Chuang Czu in order to back up his pacifist argument.

1939
May 10 - Tropic Of Capricorn in published in Paris. In Inside The Whale, Orwell complains that he hadn’t yet read it due to the “Police and Customs authorities” who block access to it in Britain.

May 24 - Orwell begins writing Inside The Whale.
[incidentally, he wrote this domestic diary page just three days later].

June 13 - Letter from Jack Kahane of Obelisk Press to Orwell (Kahane would die that year, a fact referenced in Inside The Whale).
Aug 12 - Detectives raid Orwell's cottage at Wallington on a tip about "obscene items published by Obelisk" and seize his illegal copy of Tropic Of Cancer.

December - Orwell completes Inside The Whale.

1940
Mar 11 - Inside The Whale is published.

1944
(date?) - Orwell makes a minor reference to Miller in his Benefit Of Clergy essay on Dali: "Dali mentions L’Âge d’Or and adds that its first public showing was broken up by hooligans, but he does not say in detail what it was about. According to Henry Miller’s account of it, it showed among other things some fairly detailed shots of a woman defecating."

1949
Mar 14 - Miller writes to Durrell: “Orwell – Pfui! That man lacks nearly everything, in my opinion. He hasn’t even a good horizontal view.”
May - Orwell sends Miller a complimentary copy of his latest novel, 1984.

Jun-Jul - Lawrence Durrell writes to Orwell.
References
Orwell biographical material (in timeline form): Remembering George Orwell website. They cite Gillian Fenwick's George Orwell - A Bibliography as their source. I have also culled a few facts from the Orwell biography Orwell: Wintry Conscience Of A Generation (J. Meyers) and Orwell: The Life (D.J. Taylor).
References to letters sent to Orwell, from the official Orwell microfilm collection in the UK [PDF].
Miller's letters to Lawrence Durrell taken from The Durrell-Miller Letters, 1935-80, edited by Ian S MacNiven.
An informative and illustrated guide to the publication of Orwell's major works may be found at the Brown University on-line exhibit.

9 Comments:

Blogger Corina said...

Thank you for this, all very useful information.
Orwell's letter to Miller - his reaction to Black Spring - was published in The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, vol. I (An Age Like This, 1920-1940), ed. Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus. It is dated 26 August 1936.

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