Henry MILLER & Lawrence DURRELL
Hommage autographe signé de Lawrence Durrell et Henry Miller à une jeune française sur un menu de restaurant parisien
15 et 16 juillet 1969, 25,4x34,1cm, une feuille.
Handwritten tribute signed by Lawrence Durrell and Henry Miller to a young French lady on a Parisian restaurant menu
15 et 16 July 1969, 25.4 x 34.1 cm, one leaf
Menu from the “La Palette” restaurant in Montparnasse with a handwritten inscription of 15 lines signed by Henry Miller and dated “15/7/69,” followed by another 5 lines signed “Larry Durrell” and dated the following day “16/7/69.”
The two inscriptions have been cut out.
Previously unpublished and unusual handwritten document by Henry Miller and Lawrence Durrell, addressed to a young French lady and written on the back of a restaurant menu from the Montparnasse quarter where they had dined.
“Je reste ébloui par votre beauté, votre jeunesse éternelle et inspiratrice. Et patati et patata...” “I remain dazzled by your beauty, your eternal and inspiring youth. And so on and so forth...” (Henry Miller, line 9-10)
After several years spent in Greece, Egypt and Rhodes, the travelling writer Lawrence Durrell was forced to flee Cyprus following the popular uprisings that led to the island's independence. When he arrived in France in 1956, he had only a shirt and a typewriter but was rich with success from his novels Bitter Lemons of Cyprus and Justine, and he settled in the Languedoc village of Sommières, where he wrote the second part of his work: the monumental Avignon Quartet. Among the olive trees and under the Mediterranean sun, in the middle of the 1960s it is here that he meets the young and bubbly “Jani[RE1]
” (Janine Brun), a ravishingly beautiful thirty-something year old from Montpellier who worked in the Antiquities department of the Sorbonne in Paris. She was named “Buttons” in memory of their first meeting, where the young girl wore a dress covered in buttons.
Lawrence Durrell introduced “Jani” to his great friend Henry Miller, who also fell under the charm of “[sa] beauté et [sa] jeunesse éternelle" “[her] beauty and [her] eternal youth.” The three friends spent memorable evenings in Paris, during Henry Miller's rare visits to the city, of which we have a precious remain on this “La Palette” restaurant menu where they dined on 15 July 1969: Miller and Durrell compete to be the most spirited, writing two elegies in French to France and the young lady's beauty “Pour la belle Jani de Montpellier et du ciel ! Si vous êtes presqu'ange vous êtes aussi une fille de la terre, la bonne terre du Midi le royaume du marquis de Sade, de Gille de Rais - et de Pagnol [...].” “For the beautiful Jani from Montpellier and the sky! If you are almost an angel you are also a girl of the earth, the good earth of the Midi the kingdom of the Marquis de Sade, of Gille de Rais - and of Pagnol [...].” exclaims Henry Miller, to which Durrell replies at the bottom of the page: “Henri a du bon goût. C'est incontestable. Et moi j'ai eu de la bonne chance de vivre ses jours merveilleux avec Buttons à Paris. Inoubliables Dazzling Days.” “Henri has good taste. It is undeniable. And I, I have been lucky enough to share his wonderful days with Buttons in Paris. Unforgettable Dazzling Days.” In Sommières and in Paris, Jani brightened up Durrell's solitary days, and was described in his biography by Ian McNiven: “She was almost thirty but she looked much younger, with a girl's small-breasted figure, as dark-haired as Claude Kiefer was blonde, and not languorous but tremendously energetic" (Lawrence Durrell: A Biography, page 591).
Their relationship lasted until the late 1970s, Jani/Buttons appearing occasionally in Durrell's work (an in particular in the poem “Vaumort”, Collected Poems: 1931-1974) and in the writer's famous correspondence with Henry Miller: “that little demon Buttons [...] turned up for a New Year TRINC and stayed the night with me finally, in my eternal little Room 13 at the Royal,” (letter from Durrell to Miller, 6 January 1979). She also received letters and postcards full of concern, intimate allusions and reading recommendations from the two writers, as well as original works of art signed by Lawrence Durrell himself.
Rare testimony of the Parisian reunion of Henry Miller and Lawrence Durrell, both of them captivated by the fine food and the young French lady's beauty.
Réf : 66700