This long excerpt caught my eye in a public book closet near my neighbourhood, and I could not let go of this thin booklet. Having heard of Henry Miller long enough to actually “encounter” him in this way, it makes me wonder, what it at all planned? Does anyone ever try to pick a colour when being hit by the feeling of nostalgia? Don’t go, please, walk with me into this colour —
"As I write, night is falling and people are going to dinner. It's been a gray day, such as one often sees in Paris. Walking around the block to air my thoughts, I couldn't hep but think of the tremendous contrast between the two cities (New York and Paris). It is the same hour, same sort of day, and yet even the word gray, which brought about the association, has little in common with that gris which, to the ears of a Frenchman, is capable of evoking a world of thought and feeling." -- Quiet Days in Clichy by Henry Miller
Quiet Days in Clichy is not the most famous book from prolific Henry Miller, but it works like a magnet, attracting reader from the first page. How many times have we wondered through city Paris in our imagination, how many times we tried to define which colour, which tone to give for that precious city generously allow our soul to dwell freely? For Henry Miller, as he seizes his time, told us, Paris is gray, a unique gray that brings melancholy but also sparkling passion.
Only Henry Miller could tell how the obsession of brittle individual freedom could embrace passion. In his tales, various women encounter him in bars, apartments, on the road, in the mind. He called them “whores”, a language that was once banned and until now still considered obscene. But his “whores” live lives! They light up the gray atmosphere Paris imposed on everyone, turned it over, and used it as a ladder to their happiness.
Henry Miller created a series of auto fiction, which the protagonist wonders through Paris, as a writer, recording his encounters in a philosophical way. As he leads, readers walk through a jungle of self-exploration as well. Henry Miller’s “philosophical” is no greek mythology, rather is built on endless interactions with women, lovers, and constant searching. Who isn’t?
Life is constantly providing us with new funds, new resources, even when we are reduced to immobility. In life's ledger there is no such thing as frozen assets. - Quiet Days in Clichy by Henry Miller
Starting from 2019, WDR 5 launched Literature Marathon 2020 with theme “100 Bücher – 100 Farben” (100 books – 100 colours). Postcards that are distributed to local bookshops for readers to fill out — naming one book and the corresponding colour that the reader thinks — and mail it. I sent out more than ten cards with green, rainbow, red, black, but never gray. I would mail another card for Henry Miller’s Quiet Days in Clichy, since his portray of a gray Paris stirred the pessimistic melancholy with vivid red lips, searching for love and sex to chase vitality. He’s right,
A writer is never an ordinary criminal. –Henry MillerTweet
By saying “criminal” if Henry Miller means to write erotic novels, creating enchanting obscene descriptions, I would call him a Master. Enjoy listening to Hoki Tokuda (ホキ徳田)’s music , who was the wife of late Henry Miller.