Henry Miller's recollections of the books that influenced him the most

For the extraordinary writer that Miller was, he was an extraordinary reader too. He wrote a book on the subject of the books in his life that could be described as a beautiful ode to the words that made Miller.
Siddhartha
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Siddhartha

by Hermann Hesse

About the book:  In the novel, Siddhartha, a young man, leaves his family for a contemplative life, then, restless, discards it for one of the flesh. He conceives a son, but bored and sickened by lust and greed, moves on again. Near despair, Siddhartha comes to a river where he hears a unique sound. This sound si...


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Heart of Darkness: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)
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Heart of Darkness: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

by Joseph Conrad

About the book:  Joseph Conrad's enduring portrait of the ugliness of colonialism in a deluxe edition with a gripping cover by Hellboy artist Mike MignolaHeart of Darkness is the thrilling tale of Marlow, a seaman and wanderer recounting his physical and psychological journey in search of the infamous ivory trader Kurtz. Traveling upriver into the heart of the African continent, he gradually becomes obsessed by this enigmatic, wraith-like figure. Marlow's discovery of how Kurtz has gained his position of power over the local people involves him in a radical questioning, not only of his own nature and values, but of those that underpin Western civilization itself.For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.


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Leaves of Grass
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Leaves of Grass

by Walt Whitman

About the book:  Leaves of Grass is a poetry collection by the American poet Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Though the first edition was published in 1855, Whitman spent his entire life writing and re-writing Leaves of Grass, revising it in several editions until his death. This resulted in vastly different editions over four decades—the first a small book of twelve poems and the last a compilation of over 400 poems. The poems of Leaves of Grass are loosely connected and each represents Whitman's celebration of his philosophy of life and humanity. This book is notable for its discussion of delight in sensual pleasures during a time when such candid displays were considered immoral. Where much previous poetry, especially English, relied on symbolism, allegory, and meditation on the religious and spiritual, Leaves of Grass (particularly the first edition) exalted the body and the material world. Influenced by Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Transcendentalist movement, itself an offshoot of Romanticism, Whitman's poetry praises nature and the individual human's role in it. However, much like Emerson, Whitman does not diminish the role of the mind or the spirit; rather, he elevates the human form and the human mind, deeming both worthy of poetic praise.


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The Brothers Karamazov
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The Brothers Karamazov

by Fyodor Dostoevsky

About the book:  When brutal landowner Fyodor Karamazov is murdered, the lives of his sons are changed irrevocably: Mitya, the sensualist, whose bitter rivalry with his father immediately places him under suspicion for parricide; Ivan, the intellectual, whose mentaltortures drive him to breakdown; the spiritual Alyosha, who tries to heal the family's rifts; and the shadowy figure of their bastard half-brother Smerdyakov. As the ensuing investigation and trial reveal the true identity of the murderer, Dostoyevsky's dark masterpiece evokes a world where the lines between innocence and corruption, good and evil, blur and everyone's faith in humanity is tested.


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Gargantua and Pantagruel
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Gargantua and Pantagruel

by Francois Rabelais

About the book:  Consisting of five books, this masterpiece is Rabelais' magnum opus. It chronicles different events in the life of Gargantua and his son Pantagruel. Using his learned wit and biting satire as a facade, Rabelais discusses several serious issues. The apparent humour and brilliant use of language offers pure reading pleasure. Entertaining and profound!


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A Season in Hell
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A Season in Hell

by Arthur Rimbaud

About the book:  Arthur Rimbaud wrote a few pieces that set french poetry aghast around 1873. He


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The women of Cairo
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The women of Cairo

by Gerard De Nerval

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Nadja
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Nadja

by André Breton

About the book:  "Nadja, " originally published in France in 1928, is the first and perhaps best Surrealist romance ever written, a book which defined that movement's attitude toward everyday life. The principal narrative is an account of the author's relationship with a girl in teh city of Paris, the story of an obsessional presence haunting his life. The first-person narrative is supplemented by forty-four photographs which form an integral part of the work -- pictures of various "surreal" people, places, and objects which the author visits or is haunted by in naja's presence and which inspire him to mediate on their reality or lack of it. "The Nadja of the book is a girl, but, like Bertrand Russell's definition of electricity as "not so much a thing as a way things happen, " Nadja is not so much a person as the way she makes people behave. She has been described as a state of mind, a feeling about reality, k a kind of vision, and the reader sometimes wonders whether she exists at all. yet it is Nadja who gives form and structure to the novel.


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Greek Drama and Dramatists
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Greek Drama and Dramatists

by Alan H. Sommerstein

About the book:  The history of European drama began at the festivals of Dionysus in ancient Athens, where tragedy, satyr-drama and comedy were performed. Understanding this background is vital for students of classical, literary and theatrical subjects, and Alan H. Sommerstein's accessible study is the ideal introduction. The book begins by looking at the social and theatrical contexts and different characteristics of the three genres of ancient Greek drama. It then examines the five main dramatists whose works survive - Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes and Menander - discussing their styles, techniques and ideas, and giving short synopses of all their extant plays. Additional helpful features include succinct coverage of almost sixty other authors, a chronology of significant people and events, and an anthology of translated texts, all of which have been previously inaccessible to students. An up-to-date study bibliography of further reading concludes the volume. Clear, concise and comprehensive, and written by an acknowledged expert in the field, Greek Drama and Dramatists will be a valuable orientation text at both sixth form and undergraduate level.


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Star of the Unborn
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Star of the Unborn

by Franz Werfel

About the book:  A satiric fantasy predicting the shape of things to come.


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