Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Hands (and Notebooks and Little Black Book) of Henry Miller

Handprint of Henry Miller's right palm.
...A man of good taste, intellectual quality of mind, and the ability to translate his ideas into words and action...he has a broad-minded attitude toward people and situations...He has a quick wit, he likes being with people who have alert minds so there can be a stimulating exchange of ideas...

In 1957, novelist Henry Miller made handprints of his right and left palms. In 1966, Miller sent the handprints, with instructions, to graphologist Dorothy Sara for analysis, the above quotation an excerpt from her report.

The left hand of god.

The prints are amongst 120 Miller-related items from the library of collector Roger Wagner, which PBA Galleries will be auctioning on March 18, 2010.

In addition to Miller’s handprints - which I strongly suspect that if sent to Ms. Sara under the name Joe Miller might have yielded another analysis altogether (what was she supposed to tell the famous novelist, that these are the hands of a guy with nothing better to do with his time?) - is a nine-page holograph notebook containing a list of Miller’s lovers throughout his life, with one to three-star ratings appended to their names. N.B.: By Miller’s count, he had forty lovers between childhood and 1948, the approximate date of this artifact. Compared to Warren Beatty, he's a virgin. His wife, June, and Anaïs Nin earned three stars. Three stars do not seem enough to allow for behavioral nuances.

A leaf from Miller's little black book.
The last three pages contain Miller’s translations of Japanese phrases not found in the Berlitz guide, i.e.: “I’m dying for you!”

...and another. Note the ratings to the left of each name.
As fascinating, cool, curious, and amusing as these items are, they’re novelties, with sale estimates of $1200-$1800 and $2500-$3000 respectively.

One of the erotic watercolor paintings
within the Miller notebooks 1932-1936.

The five-star, holy mackerel mama mia! lot in the collection is Miller’s Paris notebooks 1932-1936, in three volumes of typed and holograph manuscript. These extraordinary journals capture the thoughts, feelings, and reflections of Henry Miller during his most creative and productive years and provide source material for Tropic of Cancer, Black Spring, and Tropic of Capricorn, the works that brought him from obscurity to international fame. The notebooks also contain keys to the names of characters, typed and handwritten excerpts from Lady Chatterly’s Lover and Anaïs Nin’s diaries, lists of his debts, letters from friends, watercolors, erotic cartoons, photographs and much more. Apart from the original manuscripts to his first three novels, these notebooks are, with little argument, the single most significant and highly important items of Milleriana to come to market in a long time.

Leaves from Miller's notebooks 1932-1936.

The auction estimate for the notebooks of Henry Miller 1932-1936 is a cool $100,000-$150,000.


Images courtesy of PBA Galleries.
The auction catalogue for the entire Library of Roger Wagner, a total of 214 lots including the Miller material, can be found here.

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