Sunday, November 30, 2014

Henry Miller, "Notes on Aaron's Rod" (Black Sparrow Press, signed and limited)

Unless I'm terribly mistaken, Notes on "Aaron's Rod" is Henry Miller's only book with Black Sparrow Press. Notes on "Aaron's Rod" is a strange little volume that consists of Miller's annotations to the D.H. Lawrence novel Aaron's Rod, and runs at about 60 pages with Miller's actual notes filling only about a third of the book. Initially planned as a short critical pamphlet to be published by Obelisk Press, Notes on "Aaron's Rod" has been compiled and analyzed with an illuminating introduction and appendix by Seamus Cooney.

Cooney links Miller's notes into the author's timeline through some letters exchanged with Anais Nin and considers the importance of the text not just among Lawrence criticism but, more significantly, in Miller's personal oeuvre. "Most engagingly," he writes in his introduction, "it is a Henry Miller on the alert for points of agreement and resemblance between Lawrence and himself ("Lawrence is writing my story here"); finding in Lawrence many of his own preoccupations and interests; enthusiastically -- and with disarming lack of irony -- greeting shared opinions ("Exactly what I have felt and expressed"); and everywhere finding his semblance and frere."
As for Miller's notes, they read as a list of paginated citations, like the below:

p. 77. Aaron's speech to Josephine:

"I'm damned if I want to be a lover any more. To her or to anybody.... I don't want to care, when care isn't in me."

(Superb as speech of the artist who can not give himself completely -- who with[h]olds his love for creation. The theme of the book is not love or friendship between man and man. It's written to explain to himself the necessity for obeying his own creative impulse, the Holy Ghost within himself....

Fascinating, and makes me want to go track down a first edition of the Lawrence.

This is a signed and numbered copy, number 194 of 276 signed copies (which surely includes the 26 lettered copies). Miller signed the book not on the colophon like usual with Black Sparrow, but instead on a tipped in signature page before the book's table of contents.

 Currently reading:
Norman Mailer, Superman Comes to the Supermarket

Currently listening to:
Mountains, "Centralia"

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