Henry Miller Short Stories

Instructor: Adrienne Nicholson
Henry Miller, a famous and controversial writer, was known for his provocative books and taboo subject matter. His collections of short stories stays true to his unique form of writing. This lesson will examine these shorter works, giving a brief introduction to what is included in each collection.

Who is Henry Miller

Henry Valentine Miller was an American writer who migrated to Paris shortly after he began to find some success in his work. He was actively writing during what would be considered the Beat era of literature in the 1920s and 1930s. His career continued throughout his life up until his death in 1980. His most famous works include The Tropic of Capricorn, The Colossus of Maroussi and The Time of The Assassins.

Miller is famous for creating a new kind of semi-autobiographical novel that combined characters, philosophical musings, surrealist storytelling, sex, and social criticism. Some of his work was banned from publication in the United States due to explicit and provocative language and taboo subject matter.

Miller's short stories consist of a vast array of subjects that commonly appear in his longer works. They span from the surreal to the sexual, and from literary criticisms to philosophical reflections. These shorter works make up a rich diversity of Miller's ability to weave a story and explore an idea.

Henry Miller Short Story Collections

Stand Still Like the Hummingbird

Published in 1959, this is a book of about two dozen vignettes and philosophical musings as well as some practical advice to make it through the harsh world. Miller's range of topics span from Walt Whitman to censorship, from love to money, from Henry David Thoreau to morality. This collection is a testament to the diversity of Miller's thought and his profound passion. Some stories, like First Love are autobiographical glimpses into Miller's own life. Other stories, like An Open Letter to All and Sundry and The Angel is My Watermark, demonstrate Miller's deep concern for the artist in society and his own passion for watercolour painting. In an example of Miller at his comedic best, Money and How it Gets That Way is Miller's satirical take on economics.

The Cosmological Eye

A collection of short prose writings drawn from Miller's time in Paris in the 1930s. These stories, once again, are so diverse in their subject matter, ranging from the semi-autobiographical tales of his own life to philosophical essays and even some surrealist stories. Much of the subject matter is from the same period of his life that Tropic of Capricorn, Miller's most famous work, was written. Taking place during his time in the famous Villa Seurat in Paris, what Miller presents in these short vignettes is raw and unrestrained life and vitality.

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