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Importante correspondance, inédite en anglais, adressée par Henry Miller à Maurice Nadeau, un de ses éditeurs en France et ami proche

MILLER (Henry)

Correspondance adressée par Henry Miller à Maurice Nadeau

152 documents, la plupart autographes signés, de divers formats datés du 28 mars 1947 au 9 septembre 1978

Exceptionnelle correspondance constituée de 152 documents rédigés en français, anglais et parfois dans les deux langues adressés à Maurice Nadeau, sa femme Marthe et/ou ses enfants Claire et Gilles : 103 lettres autographes signées, 17 lettres signées, 3 tapuscrits (What India means to me (tapuscrit corrigé), Préface à Rimbaud, From a letter to Dante Zaccagnini by John Cowper Powys), 24 cartes autographes signées, 1 télégramme, un programme musical annoté, 1 carton annoté et 2 coupures annotées.

Une grande partie de cet ensemble de 244 pages fit l'objet d'une publication en français (Henry Miller, Lettres à Maurice Nadeau 1947-1978, Buchet Chastel,  2012).

Cependant notre ensemble contient 19 documents inédits (16 LAS, 2 cartes signées et 1 programme annoté). De surcroît 40 documents intégralement rédigés en anglais, souvent parmi les documents les plus copieux et intéressants, n'ont été publiés qu'en français (22 LAS, 12 LS, 2 cartes, 2 tapuscrits, 2 coupures annotés). Il en est de même pour 9 autres documents rédigés dans les deux langues.

Plus des trois quarts des documents datent de la fin des années 40 au début des années 60, période de grande activité littéraire d'Henry Miller et de collaboration avec Maurice Nadeau.

Éminent critique littéraire, directeur éditorial et éditeur, Maurice Nadeau (1911-2013) fut tout d'abord lecteur de l'oeuvre d'Henry Miller découverte lors de la publication de Tropique du Cancer, chroniqueur de ses écrits dans diverses revues dont Combat, fondateur en 1947 du comité de défense de l'écrivain face à la censure, son éditeur en français (notamment de deux volumes de la trilogie de La Crucifixion en rose, Plexus et Nexus, interdits aux États-Unis (Maurice Nadeau rédigera également la postface à la réédition de Sexus au Cercle du Livre précieux en 1963) et du Monde du sexe en 1952) et un ami proche et fidèle ainsi qu'un confident (Henry Miller séjourna chez Maurice Nadeau pendant plusieurs semaines à l'occasion de son voyage en Europe en 1953).

Nous ne pouvons donner qu'un aperçu de cette copieuse correspondance abordant de nombreux sujets :
- La littérature (Albert Cossery, Sade, Hemingway, Nerval, Rimbaud, Hamsun et surtout Flaubert (l'étude que lui consacra Maurice Nadeau plût énormément à Miller)),
- son oeuvre littéraire et la publication de ses livres en français (en sus d'éditer bon nombre de livres de Miller en français, Maurice Nadeau publia des textes de Miller en revue, dans Les Lettres nouvelles notamment, et fut toujours consulté avant la publication de livres chez d'autres éditeurs français),
- la censure aux États-Unis et les démêlés d'Henry Miller avec la justice américaine,
- son avis sur des sujets sociétaux ;
- le travail graphique de l'écrivain (aquarelles) ; et
- sa vie sexuelle et personnelle (rencontre avec Eve McLure, ses enfants, séparation et décès d'Eve, ...).

Première lettre à propos du Comité de Défense de Henry Miller, LAS (5 pp. in-4) : "Big Sur, California March 28th 47 My dear Maurice Nadeau - André Breton has just put in my hands the latest news about the "Comité de Défense", which gave me a definitive thrill. It seems to me that I owe you an apology for never having written you to express my deepest appreciation of your valiant efforts concerning this issue. I have no doubt that you are the "genius" behind this formidable bulwark of names. There is always one, it seems, who assumes responsibility and takes action - the spark which ignites the flame. I realize too that you are the sort of man who takes a stand and gives challenge regardless of the personality of the "victim". It is for this reason I feel even more grateful to you...".

What India means to me (tapuscrit corrigé, 5 pp. in-4, 23 septembre 1948) : "From childhood there have been two countries I have always longed to visit - India and China..."

A propos de l'écriture de Books in my Life, LS (4 pp. in-4) : "For Maurice Nadeau / Big Sur, California February 24th 1950 / Dear friends, The enclosed list, representing both books I have read in the past and wish to reread as well as books I have never read but wish to get acquainted with, comprises those books I would like to add to my library. I say "need" them, because I am in the midst of writing a book about books [The Books in my life] : just to thumb some of these titles would stimulate me no end...".

A propos de Sexus, LS (3 pp. in-4) : "Big Sur, California March 7th, 1950 ... About Sexus... Sometimes I have to laugh when I read people's reactions to my "excessive" use of sexual experience. Your question as to my purpose in this connection demands a fair and frank answer. In the autobiographical narratives I have no purpose! I am simply relating my life story - the truth about myself, as best I can - leaving it entirely to the reader to draw his own conclusions. If there seem to be superabundant sex episodes, it is because the period I write of was replete with them. When I come to other aspects of my daily life, I give them fully too. (Right now I am writing a book about my experience with books - no sex in it. I have read hardly a dozen "pornographic" or "obscene" books in my life). But do not overlook, when reading this volume, or of the Tropics, that the periods covered embrace a number of years. If you add up these sexual bouts you will find that they are not proportionately big. And another thing - when I talk about sex I am talking about sex, not about love necessarily though the two are not always divorced. We have plenty of classic antecedents for this frank treatment of the subject...".   

Concernant l'influence de John Cowper Powys, LS (2 pp. in-4) : "Big Sur - March 9th, 1950 / My dear Maurice Nadeau : A letter from Girodias received the other day, in which he speaks of the reactions or lack of reaction ! of the critics to Sexus, impels me to quote certain passages from the Preface to a book I read long ago (Visions and Revisions) - it was published in 1915. The book is by a man who influenced me greatly, and whom I have paid tribute in this new book I am working on. His name is John Cowper Powys (Welsh, now living again in Wales). Here, then, are some excerpts from the Preface. They may appeal to you - and possibly to some of your readers...".

Au sujet de la censure, LAS (6 pp. in-4) : "5/12/51 my dear Nadeau - Congratulations on your renewed effort to combat the censor ! I read the letter to the judges of Nancy in "Combat". A bookseller - or rather a large import and export firm - in Holland informed me recently that all the "banned" books can be read easily and openly in Holland - exportation from France is permitted. Holland will publish "Tropic of Cancer" in Dutch very soon ; Germany like-wise. Sweden is contemplating publishing Black Spring (Printemps noir). France will look ridiculous if these Puritanical countries bring out translations of the suppressed books. I hear that Céline has been "amnistié" and will return to France soon. Good news ! Very sorry indeed to hear that Seghers has abandoned the idea of publishing "The World of Sex". You must read it soon. I think it might (?) be strategic to publish it before "Plexus" comes out. You will see what I mean when you read it".

Rencontre d'Eve McLure, LAS (1 p. in-4) : "Big Sur 4/20/52 Mon cher Nadeau - Bonnes nouvelles ! Tout a changé pour le mieux, sur tous les plans. Primo, j'ai trouvé une femme adorable, belle et douce qui m'adore - c'est la soeur de Louise Schatz, la femme de Lillik Schatz. Pur hasard. Je suis comme un être nouveau...".

Au sujet de Plexus, LAS (1 p. in-4)  : 5/15/52 My dear Nadeau - Six copies of "Plexus" have just come. Delighted with the format and presentation. Am reading it slowly and savouring it. So far, no serious mistakes. The translation may not be "géniale", as you put it, but seems very sound, thorough and considerate of the original. I am enjoying the reading of it. More of all this when I terminate the reading. You spoke of the photos I sent you. Unless I specifically requested certain ones to be returned to me, why not keep them. I like the one you chose for the jacket. (The book as it now looks, reminds me of the first Paris edition of "Ulysses"). What I would like of you is a few clipping (reviews) of "Plexus", "Le Monde du sexe" and the "Rimbaud" (Mermod), if you can think to send me any from time to time...".

Retour aux États-Unis et réflexions amères sur la société américaine, LAS (6 pp. in-4) : "De Berkeley, California 1er août 1953 cher Maurice - Le voyage de Paris à N.Y. a duré 28 heures exactement, et de N.Y. à San Francisco 16 heures. [...] Je suis dépaysé. Rien ne me plaît ici. Tout me semble hideux et ennuyant. Ce n'est pas le "Cimetière marin" mais un cimetière d'âmes. C'est fou la différence entre les deux continents. La misère ici vient du vide, chez vous des raisons matérielles, ou réelles. Rien n'est réel ici. Et les gens les mieux situés - mieux payés - sont les plus misérables. [...] Je suis tellement plein de dégoût pour mon pays que je ne peux guère attendre d'écrire. Depuis le "Cauchemar climatisé", écrit en 1942, les américains ont avancés (sic) vers un néant inimaginable. C'est hallucinant ce rythme accéléré ! Et très mauvais signe. [...]  La propagande (américaine) a inoculé tout. C'est une chute universelle. J'appartiens, moi, plus que jamais, à une autre époque - celle de Emerson, Thoreau et Whitman...".

A propos de Rimbaud, LAS (1 p. in-4 + tapuscrit de 6 pp. in-4) :
"Big Sur 5/24/55 Mon cher Nadeau. Je vous envoie ci-inclus une préface que je viens d'écrire pour une nouvelle édition américaine (New Directions) de mon "Rimbaud" [...] J'aurai un petit livre (150-200 pages) achevé à très bientôt, sur ma vie à Big Sur. Il me passionne. Titre : "Big Sur et les oranges de Hieronymus Bosch" (Les oranges de son "millenium", bien sûr!)..." + "It was just a hundred years ago last October that Rimbaud was born; In France the centenary was celebrated in spectacular fashion. Celebrated writers the world over were invited to make the pilgrimage to Charleville, his birthplace. [...] Aside from A Season in hell and the Illuminations, only a small number of his poems have found their way into our language. Even these few translations reveal a wide and inevitable variety of interpretation. Yet however difficult and unseizable his style and thought may be, Rimbaud is not untranslatable. To do his work justice is another matter. In English we have yet to produce a poet who is able to do for Rimbaud what Baudelaire did for Poe's verse, or Nerval for Faust, or Larbaud and his collaborators for Ulysses. I should like to make it clear that this little study, written ten years ago, is the outcome of a failure to translate, in the fashion intended, A Season in Hell. I still nourish the hope of rendering this text in a language more proximate to Rimbaud's own "nigger" tongue...".

Au sujet des Livres de ma vie, LAS (1 p. In-4) : "7/2/57 Cher Maurice - Gallimard m'a expédié premier ex. de "Livres de ma vie" et j'étais jubilant de voir dans l'appendice la liste des "Livres lus". Je l'ai écrit (Gaston G.) immédiatement exprimant ma reconnaissance. D'ailleurs je ne vois pas d'erreurs (!) dans cette liste tandis que dans le texte y en a bien assez. Quand nous étions chez vous je vous ai fait cadeau d'un petit carnet où j'avais commencer (sic), à la main la transcription des titres et noms d'auteurs qui figurent dans cette liste. Si vous n'avez pas peur que ce carnet soit volé ou perdu, je voudrais bien voir - dans un hebdomadaire littéraire où l'on ferait une critique du livre - un photostat ou deux des pages bien "scribouillées" de ce carnet. Est-ce possible ? Ou est-ce que vous êtes l'ennemi de Gallimard ? [...] On m'a nommé, élu, un membre honoraire de "The Institute of Arts and Letters" à New York City. Organisation unique en son genre aux E. U.. C'est la fin de Henry Miller, renegade et vaurien, quoi ! ...".

Préparation d'une édition complète de ses oeuvres en français, LS (2 pp. in-4) : "To Maurice Nadeau, Paris (regarding plan of definitive edition) June 23, 1964 Dear Maurice, This is in English, as my head is swimming with details. I have been studying the bibliographies of my work which list my books in chronological order - the English language titles, that is; as for the French and other translations these are very incomplete, but I assume I know the order in which the French versions of my books appeared. [...] As best as I can say now here are the items which never were translated into French : 1. What are you going to do about Alf (a plaquette) 2. Scenario (plaquette) This was broadcast over the Radio Paris late 1952, if I remember right. 3. Money and how it gets that way (plaquette) 4. Max and the White Phagocytes differs in contents from the French versions. 5. Hamlet in French is somewhat abridged, by content of Fraenkel and myself. 6. The Cosmological Eye was an American adaptation of Max and the White Phagocytes, but does not correspond with the Max book entirely. 7. The World of Sex : I have photostat pages of the original printed version (in English) which is heavily corrected. Looks like a Balzac ms. May be useful as illustrative material. 8. Aller Retour New York : there were two French versions, I believe; the first one was "édulcorée". Be sure to use the integral, corrected version. 9. Wisdom of the heart : French contents differ from the English. 10. Sunday after the war : same thing. ...".

Préface de Maurice Nadeau à l'édition illustrée de Sexus, LS (2 pp. in-4) : "Dec. 14, 1965 Cher Maurice [...] It was about five or six weeks ago that I finally received a copy (through Dr. Hoffman) of that de luxe illustrated edition of Sexus published by the Cercle du Livre Précieux. And for the first time I saw your Preface to it. What a pity that I did not know of your Preface before this, so that I could thank you. It was most excellent and gave me a thrill to read it. (I had to smuggle the book in through a friend working for Air France - what a joke!). [...] However, I do get a few things done, though no books (I have still to finish vol. 2 of Nexus.) When I can I paint water colors. [...] Recently I wrote a long introduction for a new edition of George Grosz' Ecce Homo - remember that shocking album of drawings ? ...".

A propos du Gustave Flaubert de Nadeau, LS 2 pp. in-4 : "April 6, 1972 Cher Maurice - [...] Writing you at length about Flaubert book. Am still intoxicated by the music of it. I think I ought to send you the copy I read so that you may see, from my markings, underlinings and exclamations and so on just how much I was excited in the reading of it. I don't think I shall ever be able to express my amazement and admiration adequately. [...] I may have chance to review it for the Los Angeles Times, which is not the greatest newspaper in the world, but does command some attention. If not I shall try the N.Y. Times where the door always seems open to me (latterly, at least). [...] The book is really overwhelming, perhaps because it is exactly the kind of work I wanted to do with D. H. Lawrence and failed so miserably. [...] Before I go on with my eulogies I think I should relate an incident connected with Flaubert when I was working in my father's tailor shop... A man called Bowder [...] owed my father a petty sum [...] wanted to offer [a book] in payment of the debt. What was the book ? Bouvard et Pecuchet. He asked me if I had ever read anything of Flaubert's; I told him I had read Un coeur simple, Madame Bovary and Salammbô. He then began to explain the importance of Bouvard et Pecuchet warning that I might find it dull, stupid, nonsensical and so on, but that I was not to be deceived, that there was a great significance to this seeming nonsense. [...] Now, after the wonderful things you write about this great work, I must read it. ...".

A propos de la mort, sa grande amitié pour Maurice Nadeau, sa nouvelle compagne chinoise et Knut Hamsun, LAS, 5 pp. in-4 : "Oct. 8th 1972, Cher Maurice - I am finally going to the hospital on the 14th of this  month and will be there two weeks. [...] I think that as I get older I am getting more simple minded. The imminence of death is a very salutary thing. [...] I think I told you that I am deeply in love with another oriental woman, a mature one, lovely to look at, and possessing all those qualities I love in the oriental woman [...] I don't know why I tell you all this but I feel like pouring my heart out to you. I feel I neglected you very much. I can never get over the feeling of gratitude for all you and Marthe did for me. You especially, at a time when you did not know me in the flesh. It's rare to have a friend like you - even once in a life time. [...] For the 6th or 7th time I have just reread Hamsun's "Mysteries" and again, 50 years after first reading him (his "Hunger") I confess I would still love to be able to write like him. There are many greater writers than he, but he is my man, my writer. Curious, n'est-ce pas ? ...".

On joint :

Maurice Nadeau - The Greatness of Flaubert, New York, The Library Press, 1972. Edition originale américaine, exemplaire annoté par Henry Miller et dédicacé par lui à Maurice Nadeau (cf. lettre du 6 avril 1972).

Un ensemble de lettres adressées aux Nadeau :

- Eve Mc Clure, compagne d'Henry Miller de 1951 à 1962 : 2 lettres autographes signées (1 inédite), 5 lettres signées (1 inédite) et 1 carte autographe signée à Maurice Nadeau et sa femme Marthe.

- Anaïs Nin : 1 lettre autographe signée inédite à Maurice Nadeau.

- Ridgeley Cummings : une lettre signée, une lettre carbone et une coupure de presse

Des lettres signées de David Ray (1), Kathryn Winslow (1), Gérald Robitaille (1) et F.-J. Temple (1).


Un ensemble de photographies en tirage d'époque en noir et blanc :

- 7 photographies prises à l'occasion du voyage de Miller en France en 1953 : 1. Marthe, Maurice, Eve et Henry, 18 x 13 cm, Astra Press Service Photo, 2. Man Ray, Milton Mezzrow et Henry Miller, 18 x 13 cm, Astra Press Service Photo, 3. Eve et Henry, 18 x 13 cm, Astra Press Service Photo, 4. Marthe, Maurice, Eve et Henry, 28 x 18 cm, Astra Press Service Photo, 5. Eve et Henry à table, 22,2 x 18 cm, Interpress, 6. Eve et Henry dinant dans l'appartement prêté par Nadeau, 24 x 18,3 cm, 7. Eve, Valentine, Tony et Henry en bateau mouche sur la Seine, 24 x 18,3 cm.

- 6 photographies de Valentine et Tony, les enfants de Henry Miller (3 photographies annotées par Miller au verso).

- 2 photographies d'Eve McLure, 10,3 x 10,3 cm

- Une photographie carte de voeux représentant Emil White, annotation signée au dos d'Henry Miller : "Photo de Emil White devant sa cabane à Anderson Creek (Big Sur) où il a son "galerie d'art" à lui. Il paraît bien sérieux ici. HM".

68 000 €