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1 - A Denial of Categories

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 September 2012

Katy Masuga
Affiliation:
University of Paris III, Sorbonne Nouvelle
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Summary

We were, without knowing it, members of that traditional underground which vomits forth at suitable intervals those writers who will later be called Romantics, mystics, visionaries or diabolists. It was for such as us — then mere embryonic beings — that certain “outlandish” passages were written.

— Henry Miller, Plexus

MILLER'S WORK HAS BEEN collectively placed in several literary genres and historical or cultural categories, and one result is an unfortunate reductive quality in assessments of Miller's work. Although the categories themselves create their own complex issues of form, coding, and points for inclusion, these intricacies, first and foremost, limit a general understanding, and hence judgment, of Miller's work. Three categories are assessed in this chapter: surrealism, obscenity and pornography and the confession, or autobiography. While useful or enlightening issues may arise out of arguments following from such categorizations, this chapter considers how the categories impact negatively on an analysis of Miller's work. It also notes how these categories are fundamentally contrary to the over-arching position asserted in this book that Miller's is a form of “minor literature” in terms of its multiplicity of readings and their peculiarity, adaptability, and fluidity.

The three categories chosen for analysis in this chapter are the most dramatic readings of Miller's work in terms of the way they provide both supportive and oppositional perspectives on the writer.

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Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2011

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  • A Denial of Categories
  • Katy Masuga, University of Paris III, Sorbonne Nouvelle
  • Book: The Secret Violence of Henry Miller
  • Online publication: 12 September 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781571137647.002
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  • A Denial of Categories
  • Katy Masuga, University of Paris III, Sorbonne Nouvelle
  • Book: The Secret Violence of Henry Miller
  • Online publication: 12 September 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781571137647.002
Available formats
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To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • A Denial of Categories
  • Katy Masuga, University of Paris III, Sorbonne Nouvelle
  • Book: The Secret Violence of Henry Miller
  • Online publication: 12 September 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781571137647.002
Available formats
×