Where the Heart Is: Henry Miller in Big Sur
The nearly 20 years the writer Henry Miller spent in the remote cabin in California's Big Sur, were some of the most creatively fruitful in a long and storied career. When he first arrived in the in 1944, most of his books, still banned in the States, were being traded and treasured by a burgeoning scene of young artists whom would soon become known as The Beats. A road trip down the winding coastal road south from San Francisco, to Miller's home, became a right of passage for writers like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. Miller would write one of his greatest books in Big Sur, Sexus, the final in a trilogy of sensual, rebellious, experimental tomes that would play a large part in fueling the cultural revolution to come.
His life in California, after stints in Brooklyn, Paris and Greece, was remarkably calm, an idyll amid redwood and jagged sea cliff. There were hot springs walking distance from the cabin, friends to be found at the long wood bar at the nearby Nepenthe restaurant. He would be married twice while in Big Sur, and two of his children would be born there. The muse was everywhere for Miller in his time here, in the epic, sensuous nature surrounding him, in the wood stove warmth of his cabin, in old books, in the long nights talking literature in politics with eccentric neighbors, visiting artists and young acolytes. In his memoir on his life during this era, Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch, he would claim, "It was here in Big Sur, I first learned to say 'Amen.'"