a cockroach crawling about amidst dismantled splendors


In 1939, with Europe already sinking into World War II, 46-year-old Henry Miller left Paris, knowing that a cycle of his life had come to an end. As an expatriate in Paris he’d found his voice, and published the novels — “Tropic of Cancer,” “Black Spring” and “Tropic of Capricorn” — which made his name. He’d had his legendarily steamy and dangerous affair with Anais Nin, and George Orwell had fired a salute on his behalf, hailing him as “a Whitman among the corpses.” Miller, although banned in America, had arrived, and then, restless as ever, he accepted the invitation of another writer, his friend Lawrence Durrell, to visit Greece and the island of Corfu. Miller, being Miller, didn’t merely nibble and float in Lotus-land: First published in 1941, “The Colossus of Maroussi” (New Directions: 240 pp., $12.95), which has been reissued with accompanying essays by Will Self and Ian S. MacNiven, documents his attempt to devour the Hellenic experience and turn it to advantage.

more from Richard Rayner at the LAT here.