chapter  4
46 Pages

Californian Tranquility

During his sojourn in Paris, Henry Miller perfected the spiral form that allowed him both to dispense with the factual and narrative transparency that marred his earliest works and to forge a new, dynamic mode of expression that would permit him to explore the convolutions of the self. Such essential textual spadework completed, Miller-now a resident of California-could return to the imaginative reexamination of the relationship he considered pivotal to his development as a man and artist.1 Whereas in Crazy Cock, Miller originally felt slavishly obliged to remain faithful to the facts, in his long-anticipated project, the Rosy Crucifixion trilogy, Miller could capitalize on the narrative breakthroughs of Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn and view his life with June in a much more flexible manner that would let him search for a subjective rather than objective truth.2 As he wrote to Lawrence Durrell in a letter of 12 July 1947, “there is every sort of style and treatment in the 750 pages I have written, and a good bit is diffuse, opaque, rambling, hugger-mugger” (Durrell and Miller 1988: 213). Miller no doubt recognized that spiral form, with its insistence on heteroglossia and polystylism, would function much more effectively than his previous, Dreiserian mode of expression did in handling both June’s hypermutability and his own profound artistic transformations. Miller employs spiral form as a textual forum in which he may range freely from the raw (auto)biographical data of his life with June and offer highly idiosyncratic interpretations of those facts. Miller also places his relationship with June in a broader context, for spiral form does not confine him to a strict chronology. Through the employment of spiral form, Miller revivifies the past and creates a narrative of mythological proportion.