John Wilcock Defends Henry Miller


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April 6, 1961, Vol. VI, No. 24

The Village Square

By John Wilcock

[Henry Miller is] regarded by many as one of the great writers of his time. This attitude is not shared by the U.S. Customs Authorities, who have done their utmost to see that the major portion of his work is not allowed to sully the minds of decent, God-fearing Americans – despite the fact that Miller’s books are available in almost every country in the world except his own.

He is not a man who can be dismissed briefly, and it is doubtful if anybody who has ever read any of his “banned” works (“Tropic of Cancer,” “Capricorn,” “World of Sex,” “Nexus,” “Sexus,” “Plexus,” “Black Spring”) has not been violently affected by them in one way or another. Better than anyone else alive he is able to inject into his writing a sense of pure freedom – the freedom that is regarded (mistakenly) by the prurient as sexual license. Miller’s complete inability to compromise will not allow him to accept the hypocrisies that so often pass for censorship or protection of the “innocent” (where are they?) in America…

With all of the checks, counterbalances, restrictions and diversions that society currently has to distract us, it is difficult to appreciate how much the writings of one man can still affect us, but I have rarely met any fan of Miller who wasn’t a fanatical fan. His good friend Frances Stellof of New York’s Gotham Book Mart (41 West 47th Street) told me: “I have had people tell me that Henry Miller changed the course of their lives,” and I do not find this hard to believe…

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