In his great triptych “The Millennium,” Bosch used oranges and other fruits to symbolize the delights of Paradise. Whence Henry Miller’s title for this, one of his most appealing books; first published in 1957, it tells the story of Miller’s life on the Big Sur, a section of the California coast where he lived for fifteen years.
Big Sur is the portrait of a place—one of the most colorful in the United States—and of the extraordinary people Miller knew there: writers (and writers who did not write), mystics seeking truth in meditation (and the not-so-saintly looking for sex-cults or celebrity), sophisticated children and adult innocents; geniuses, cranks and the unclassifiable, like Conrad Moricand, the “Devil in Paradise” who is one of Miller’s greatest character studies.
Henry Miller writes with a buoyancy and brimming energy that are infectious. He has a fine touch for comedy. But this is also a serious book—the testament of a free spirit who has broken through the restraints and clichés of modern life to find within himself his own kind of paradise.
Written in gritty, journalistic detail, the story follows a platoon of Marines who are stationed on the Japanese-held island of Anopopei. Composed in 1948 with the wisdom of a man twice Mailer's age and the raw courage of the young man he was, The Naked and the Dead is representative of the best in twentieth-century American writing.