Please join us for the next meeting of the Modern Japan History Workshop on Friday, April 9th at 6 pm JST. Our presenter this month will be Wayne Arnold (University of Kitakyushu), who will present his work on Henry Miller and Japan (details below).
This month’s session will be held online through ZOOM, and can be accessed using the following sign-in information:
Meeting link: https://u-tokyo-ac-jp.zoom.us/j/93164298056
The password for the meeting will be posted at the top of the MJHW website from April 5th onwards.
The workshop is open to all, and no prior registration is required.
Please direct any questions to Joelle Tapas at firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope to see you there!
Henry Miller and the Allure of Japan
Wayne Arnold, University of Kitakyushu
Throughout his life, American author Henry Miller (1891-1980) found himself drawn to Japan. This allure was not one-sided. As early as 1940, Japanese literary scholars started to take note of Miller’s literature, specifically his three primary works published in Paris during the 1930s, Tropic of Cancer (1934), Black Spring (1936), and Tropic of Capricorn (1939). Miller’s rise to fame across Japan began in 1953, resulting from the publication of the quickly banned Japanese versions of Cancer and Sexus (1949). Perhaps his most famous association with the country occurred in 1967, with the highly publicized and ill-fated marriage to jazz pianist Hoki Tokuda (ホキ徳田). Yet, previous biographies on Miller have overlooked a rich history of mutual infatuation between Miller and Japan. No extensive research in Japan has approached the topic of the Japanese interest in Miller. This talk provides an overview of this hitherto unexplored relationship. Drawing on archival materials in the United States and Japan, privately held letters from Miller in Japan, interviews with Japanese who knew Miller, and the myriad Japanese weekly magazines reporting on Miller, I outline the significance of Japan for Miller, and Miller for Japan. What will be revealed is a new avenue through which to examine the post-war interest in Japan with American culture and literature as perceived through Miller’s personal life and novels.