It turns out that Henry Miller (1891-1980), one of the great American writers of the 20th century, was quite interested in UFOs and even had a sighting in Big Sur, California. Miller is best remembered for books like Tropic of Cancer (1934), Tropic of Capricorn (1939) andNexus (first American edition 1965). The two Tropics were considered so controversial because of their explicit erotic content based on Miller’s bohemian lifestyle in Paris during the 1930s, that they were banned in the United States as “obscene” between 1934 and 1961. Even after the ban was officially lifted in 1961, booksellers continued to be harassed for selling Miller’s books until 1964, when the Supreme Court declared that the sale of Tropic of Cancer was protected by the constitution.
Henry Miller is of course best known for his avant-garde literary work, but he was also interested in a number of off-beat subjects like the prophecies of Nostradamus, Indian mysticism and UFOs or flying saucers. His fascination with the 16th century French prophet Michel de Nostradamus is well documented—he is mentioned in several of Miller’s books and letters. Miller corresponded with and even visited in 1953 Dr. Max de Fontbrune, a well known French expert on Nostradamus in the period right before, during and after World War Two. It was while looking at the Miller-Nostradamus connection a while ago that I discovered that he had been fascinated also by the UFO subject when the so-called flying saucers first emerged in American popular culture in the late 40s and early 50s.
I was able to track down some of the Keyhoe references in two of Miller’s books. In The Books in My Life, published in 1969, Miller mentions Keyhoe right in the Preface, together with Nostradamus and other “books and authors I intend to dwell in the future”:Mary V. Dearborn writes in her1991 book, The Happiest Man Alive – A Biography of Henry Miller, that “Miller was also a passionate believer in UFOs, and during the 1950s he would come to believe that an invasion by aliens was imminent. For a time he promoted a book called Flying Saucers Are Real, by Donald Keyhoe; friends like [the British novelist Lawrence] Durrell were merely amused…” That was Major Keyhoe’s first book published as a paperback in 1950, which is considered with Frank Scully’sBehind the Flying Saucers as the first two UFO books published in the USA. Keyhoe went on to write several other books on the subject and became the influential director of the National Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) in the late 1950s, one of the major UFO organizations back then.
And Nostradamus, Janko Lavrin, Paul Brunton, Péguy, Ouspensky’sIn Search of the Miraculous, Letters from the Mahatmas, Fechner’sLife After Death, Claude Houghton’s metaphysical novels, Cyril Connolly’s Enemies of Promise (another book about books), the language of night, as Eugene Jolas calls it, Donald Keyhoe’s book on the flying saucers, cybernetics and dianetics, the importance of nonsense, the subject of resurrection and ascension, and, among other things, a recent book by Carlo Suarès (the same who wrote on Krishnamurti), entitled Le Myhe Judéo-Chrétien [The Judeo-Christian Myth].
This partial list of authors and titles gives a pretty good idea of the range of metaphysical and occult books—what today we would call New Age books—that interested Miller. Later on in the same book, Miller writes: “At this point I think it important to mention the fact that SCIENCE has just discovered the efficacy, the therapeutic efficacy, of Love. The Sunday supplements are full of this subject. Next to Dianetics, the Flying Saucers and Cybernetics, it is apparently the great discovery of the age.”
In The Durrell-Miller Letters, 1935-1980, a book of his correspondence with the well known British novelist Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990), author of The Alexandria Quartet, there is a letter to Durrell from Big Sur, California, dated May 7, 1954, where Miller writes in part:
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