Use and identity of the narrator in the works of Henry Miller

Bursey, Jeffrey Robert Vincent. (1988) Use and identity of the narrator in the works of Henry Miller. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the use of the first-person narrator (the 'I') in six of Henry Miller's major works. Though Miller is seen primarily as a writer of sensational novels, upon closer examination he proves to be a major figure in American literature and in modern literature generally. Miller's works touch on contemporary literary concerns (such as the self in fiction, the distance between text and author); this thesis however concentrates solely on his utilization of the 'I' to make fiction and biography indistinguishable. -- Before addressing the use of the narrator in Miller's work, a re-evaluation of his contribution to literature is necessary. Chapter One begins the examination of the 'I' in his works, while at the same time linking him in this regard with other modernist writers (for example, Wyndham Lewis and James Joyce) with whom he is rarely compared; he belongs with this pioneering group because of his technical innovations and aesthetic concerns. To prove this, I will discuss Miller's writing style, bringing the argument to the point where his place among the modernists is evident - the point at which his use of the 'I' is explained in theoretical terms. -- Chapters Two and Three are extensive examinations of the six texts under review. The works are: Tropic of Cancer, Black Spring, Tropic of Capricorn, and The Rosy Crucifixion trilogy (Sexus, Plexus, and Nexus). Chapter Two explores the metamorphosizing 'I' of the first three books: in Black Spring and Tropic of Capricorn the 'I' is an uneven mixture of narrator and artist. Tropic of Cancer, on the other hand, reveals an 'I' who incorporates life and art, becoming, in Miller's terms, a man. -- The 'I' of The Rosy Crucifixion is different from earlier manifestations. Miller's trilogy follows the life of the first-person narrator prior to Tropic of Cancer. Sexus, Plexus and Nexus manipulate the 'I', exposing and playing with the author/narrator figure, and the form of the text. For Miller, image and theme recede to the background of his books as the more important figure of the 'I' predominates. The conclusion to the thesis is that Miller is a neglected figure of undeniable importance in literature.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/7170
Item ID: 7170
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 173-180.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > English Language and Literature
Date: 1988
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Miller, Henry, 1891---Criticism and interpretation

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