by Henry Miller, originally published in 1941, Second Edition, 2010, introduction by Will Short, afterword by Ian S. MacNiven, a New Directions Paperback
This book was on a book list for our upcoming cruise to Greece and Turkey. It is a beautifully written travelogue written about a visit that Henry Miller made to Greece in 1939. Miller describes, in spiritual terms, his encounters with a number of characters and locations throughout his travels.
While Miller goes a bit overboard in his rapture with certain individuals as well as his dislike for anything having to do with America, his prose captures the essence of his experiences. After traveling recently to New Zealand and having friends ask me what it was like, I could only respond that “You have to go there to see for yourself”. This response is due to my lack of ability to describe what I felt when I was there. Miller, on the other hand, has the ability to capture not only what he saw and did, but also the deeply felt emotions he experienced while traveling.
Miller’s style encompasses extremely long sentences that incorporate stream of thought as well as short, staccato sentences reminiscent of Hemingway. Both seem to precisely fit when he uses them. The thoughts expressed in the longer sentences are easy to follow and Miller seems to finally plunk down the period in exactly the right spot.
Despite at times getting annoyed by Miller’s tirades about America and its faults, I really liked his vivid descriptions of Greece and his excellent writing. Note: Skip the introduction by Will Short. It struck me as being pompous and basically a bunch of garbage.