Ian S. MacNiven
Ian. S. MacNiven is a American biographer.
In 1935 a young Englishman living on Corfu wrote enthusiastically to a middle-aged Brooklynite who had just published a succès de scandale in Paris: “… Tropic [of Cancer] turns the corner into a new life which has regained its bowels.” Henry Miller, realizing that in Lawrence Durrell he had hooked his ideal reader, responded: “You’re the first Britisher who’s written me an intelligent letter about the book.” Thus began a correspondence that ended only with Miller’s death in 1980—nearly 1,000,000 words later. The Durrell-Miller Letters, 1935-80 contains an extensive and representative selection of the total correspondence. Almost half of the present volume has never been published before, including some recently recovered “lost” letters; in addition, many passages expurgated from letters published in 1963 have been restored. Editor Ian S. MacNiven of the State University of New York, Maritime College, is quite right to regard the Durrell-Miller correspondence as a dual biography of the creative lives of two of this century’s great literary iconoclasts, a biography “At once as serious as Schopenhauer and as winning as wine.”
Like the ancient colossus that stood over the harbor of Rhodes, Henry Miller’s The Colossus of Maroussi stands as a seminal classic in travel literature. It has preceded the footsteps of prominent travel writers such as Pico Iyer and Rolf Potts. The book Miller would later cite as his favorite began with a young woman’s seductive description of Greece. Miller headed out with his friend Lawrence Durrell to explore the Grecian countryside: a flock of sheep nearly tramples the two as they lie naked on a beach; the Greek poet Katsimbalis, the “colossus” of Miller’s book, stirs every rooster within earshot of the Acropolis with his own loud crowing; cold hardboiled eggs are warmed in a village’s single stove, and they stay in hotels that “have seen better days, but which have an aroma of the past.”