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4 - Material Trifles

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 September 2012

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

When I saw an external object, my awareness that I was seeing it would remain between me and it, lining it with a thin spiritual border that prevented me from ever directly touching its substance; it would volatize in some way before I could make contact with it, just as an incandescent body brought near a wet object never touches its moisture because it is always preceded by a zone of evaporation.

— Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time: Swann's Way

AS MENTIONED IN THE INTRODUCTION and chapter 1, Miller's writing, particularly passages of the urban landscape, has been analyzed under various genres, such as surrealism and romanticism, which appear in critical texts previously mentioned as well as in Henry Miller, the Modern Rabelais (1990) by John Parkin. Although these methods do provide interesting routes for specific modes of interpretation, my approach is to consider Miller's writing (his presentations of people and things) in light of the manner in which the language presents objects as being complete or, in some way, incomplete. Miller's language causes the reader to question conventional forms of literature, which suggest that descriptions of objects are unable to actually provide complete “pictures” of those objects.

This technique on Miller's part might appear to critics as a shortcoming, as if he is making this assertion in his own work, when, in fact, Miller alludes, deliberately and tactically, to volatility in language.

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Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2011

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  • Material Trifles
  • 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/10.1017/9781571137647.005
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  • Material Trifles
  • 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/10.1017/9781571137647.005
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

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.

  • Material Trifles
  • 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/10.1017/9781571137647.005
Available formats
×