Comparing Henry Miller and Jack Kerouac
I. IntroductionIt has never been an uncommon thing for one to retreat to nature in an attempt to ‘find one’s self,’ and somewhat cliche these days is the retreat to nature to ‘find God.’ Hundreds of books, essays, seminars, and retreats devote themselves to helping one understand how to find enlightenment and healing through connecting with nature. It is a phenomenon that transcends religious boundaries—everyone, from Buddhists to Christian Mystics to Quakers, seems to think that the key (or, at least, one of the keys) to enlightenment lies in nature. As one may suppose, this is not a new concept. Throughout literary history, there is a distinct trend of authors praising the virtues of nature, singing of the peace that it brings and the enlightening attributes of these places away from the noise and clutter of the cities. Shakespeare tells of finding “tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, [and] sermons in stone”(Shakespeare); William Wordsworth implores us to let nature be our teacher; Goethe claims that there is rest and respite on the mountain top; and George Washington Carver admits that he tries commune with nature everyday. It seems that from Henry David Thoreau right down to contemporary authors, no generation or writing period has been devoid of at least one prolific author who takes to nature in order to find the answers.Two such authors, searching for…well, searching for that certain enlightenment and repose that can only be found in nature, were Henry Miller and Jack Kerouac. And despite the fact that Big Sur, California, is the chosen destination for revelation for both authors and that both authors are torn between the introspective qualities of being ‘secluded,’ and the desire for connectedness to society, they were from (moderately) different lifestyles and backgrounds and viewed the revelations that nature bestowed to them individually quite differently. By contrasting the situations and temperaments of the two authors, one can begin to see why their experiences differed so greatly.
II. Henry MillerHenry Miller, born in December of 1891, spent the majority of his childhood in Brooklyn (”Henry Miller” 1). He attended high school, but never finished college; instead, he worked a variety of jobs that never lasted long, from driving a cab to working in a library (ibid.). In 1917, he ma…
…city (thus, they are very occupied with what is happening in their community.) This seems to be Miller’s salvation, while at the same time being Kerouac’s downfall. Regardless of why it worked for one and not the other, it is evident that both sought what so many today seek: to connect themselves with God and to find peace by submersing themselves in nature.Bibliography
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