Quiet Days in Clichy

ISBN: 080213016X
ISBN 13: 9780802130167
By: Henry Miller

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About this book

This tender and nostalgic work dates from the same period as Tropic of Cancer (1934). It is a celebration of love, art, and the Bohemian life at a time when the world was simpler and slower, and Miller an obscure, penniless young writer in Paris. Whether discussing the early days of his long friendship with Alfred Perles or his escapades at the Club Melody brothel, in Quiet Days in Clichy Miller describes a period that would shape his entire life and oeuvre.

Reader's Thoughts

Abu Hasan

أعتقد أن العنوان ينبغي أن يكون (أيام داعرة في كليشي) فهو يعكس مضمون الكتاب بدقة بعكس العنوان الخادع

Henry Martin

Quiet Days in Clichy - there is nothing quiet about Miller's days in Clichy. Henry Miller is my 'one author who affected me the most' (and I am not using the word influenced on purpose). I've read and reread his novels countless times, always finding new meanings, hidden messages, obscure sentences that burst forth with life. Miller has the power to pick me up when I'm down, the power to make me laugh when I'm sad, the power to see beauty in our messed-up world. Why? Because his works are full of life; life unrestricted, untamed, like pure blood just drawn and spilled all over the pages while still warm. That's Miller for me. Quiet Days in Clichy chronicles a period of about one year. As usual, Miller is broke, sharing an apartment with his friend, who in this book goes by the name of Carl (Alfred Perles, an excellent author himself). In Miller's own words: "When I think of this period, when we lived together in Clichy, it seems like a stretch in Paradise. There was only one real problem, and that was food. All other ills were imaginary. I used to tell him so now and then, when he complained about being a slave. He used to say that I was an incurable optimist, but it wasn't optimism, it was the deep realization that, even though the world was busy digging its grave, there was still time to enjoy life, to be merry, carefree, to work or not to work." This statement, is straightforward Miller if you never read him. Miller, throughout his books and most of his actual life, has had problems with money, or rather the lack of money. As for being an incurable optimist? - no, Miller was not an optimist, he was a man who has lived life to the fullest, tasting all and baring nothing. If you are familiar with his books, you know it wasn't always easy. "It was a period when cunt was in the air." Did I forget to mention that Miller was awfully honest when it came to matters of sex? Most of his works have an underlying sexual motif, a presence of sorts. Some more than others, and Quiet Days in Clichy is of the former category. While many call Miller obscene and even go as far as calling his books pornographic, I've never felt this way. Miller's sex scenes and encounters are spread throughout his work in a matter-of-fact way. He assigns them no importance beyond their occurrences and their consequences. His sexual encounters (while prolific) just happen, so to speak. Here now, tomorrow... It would be foolish to deny that sex played an important role in Miller's life and in his writing, but his writing of sex is not meant to arouse or to provoke, it just is. Sort of like Bukowski's drinking - it just is. This short novella has a surprising amount of crazy encounters in it. Knowing that during this period Miller was writing my favorite book of all time, Black Spring, helps put things into perspective. There is sex peppered throughout the pages, but the sex itself is of no importance. The encounters, however, are. The people Henry and Carl encounter are all rather interesting, their interactions almost psychotic. Especially the episode which results in their departure to Luxembourg. Here, we are offered a different side of Miller. Instead of the carefree, jovial Miller tasting all life has to offer, here, he sounds more like Miller in New York. He's discontent, "...observing the quiet, dull life of a people which has no reason to exist, and which in fact does not exist, except as cows or sheep exist." and "All they were concerned about was to know on which side their bread was buttered. They couldn't make bread, but they could butter it." And despite finding beauty in the Pfaffenthal, "A thousand years' peace seemed to reign over this somnolent vale. It was like a corridor which God had traced with his little finger, a reminder to men that when their insatiable thirst for blood had been appeased, when they had become weary of strife, here they would find peace and rest."He compares Luxembourg to the gray city he dislikes so very much, "Luxembourg is like Brooklyn, only more charming and more poisonous." "Better to die like a louse in Paris than live here on the fat of the land..."Upon arrival back in Paris, Miller states: "Better a good venereal disease than a moribund peace and quiet. Now I know what makes the world civilised: it's vice, disease, thievery, mendacity, lechery. Shit, the French are a great people, even if they are syphilitic. Don't ever ask me to go to a neutral country again. Don't let me look at any more cows, human or otherwise. I was that peppery I could have raped a nun."What comes next is an insanely exaggerated scene where sex takes over and all boundaries cease to exist. Cheating a whore by giving her an uncovered check is not anything to be proud off, but Henry and Carl put on quite a show to disguise the fact that the check is bad. This episode, while seemingly unimportant brings to what I consider the best in Miller's writing - the words that resurface in Black Spring. "Head rolls off table-head rolls off...little man on wheels...wheels...legs...millions of legs..."The surreal, creative Miller takes over here. This is the Miller I love. The sex scenes end, and he retires with this: " I got off my ass, yawned, stretched, staggered to the bed.Off like a streak. Down, down, to the cosmocentric cesspool. Leviathans swimming around in strangely sunlit depths. Life going on as usual everywhere. Breakfast at ten sharp. An armless, legless man bending bar with his teeth. Dynamic falling through the stratosphere. Garters descending in long graceful spirals. A woman with a gashed torso struggling desperately to screw her severed head on. Wants money for it. For what? She doesn't know for what. Just money. Atop umbrella fern lies a fresh corpse full of bullet holes. An iron cross is suspended from its neck. Somebody is asking for a sandwich. The water is too agitated for sandwiches. Look under S in the dictionary!"This reminds me I'll have to revisit Black Spring soon. Overall, Miller's narrative in this novella is what one would expect from Miller. Being an early book, it appears as if he is holding back a bit, but not enough to be politically correct.

Mark McKenna

I would put a spoiler alert up here, but does anyone NOT know what they're going to find in a Henry Miller novel? Well, if you don't . . ."Quiet Days in Clichy" is Miller's tale of being young in Paris in the 30s, a tale he re-worked and published in 1956. It's the usual raconteur's delight of meals, whores, sex, spiritual insight, mysticism and scenery that makes Henry Miller Henry Miller. Miller was famously dissected by Kate Millet in her 1970 book "Sexual Politics" -- torn to shreds, with each shred pinned like a butterfly -- and people STILL like reading him. Women included.So why?As a writer I'm going to say it's his voice.Voice is the hardest and the most subtle element of writing to teach, to understand, or to accomplish -- and he just had it. He wrote with an ease; he went from scene to scene in such a natural way that people just like reading him. I would compare his writing to Isaac Singer's in that way (and that way only). Additionally, there's the outrageous sexual point of view present in Miller's writing, a POV that still has power in our age, as "sex workers" form unions. Isaac Singer? So where's Henry's Nobel Prize? (Ahh, I guess it's too late now.)ps. If you like Henry Miller track down a photograph of him taken in Big Sur. It shows him playing ping pong, naked, with two beautiful naked young women. Not salacious; it might make you smile.


When I noticed this book in the used book store, I picked it up, randomly turned to page 35 and read:"She bent down and gave me a kiss on both cheeks. As she did so her boobies fell out and brushed my face."What grown man says "boobies?" This is Arthur Miller for Christs Sakes!

Caitlin Creevy

Henry Miller is my most hated writer. Sir, I'm glad you had a chance to bang so many chicks. Very radical.

Mel Bossa

There are some great passages and at times the prose is stunning, but over all, this little book didn't rock my world as Tropic of Cancer did. I will pick up Tropic of Capricorn next time instead.However, Carl, Miller's writer friend and foe, is definitely a favorite of mine. I know a guy like that. Maybe we all do.Anyway, for anyone wanting to meet Miller for the first time, I wouldn't start with this novel.

Lauren Smith

Talented and unabashedly debaucherous, Joey (a fictionalised Miller) and his roommate Carl mostly seem to spend their ‘quiet days in Clichy’ either writing or fucking. Every woman in these two stories exist entirely as sex objects for Joey and Carl, and almost all of them are ready and willing to spread their legs, for money or lust, and occasionally with utter indifference.Normally, this would lead me to rip the story to shreds for its sexism, but I was completely swayed by Miller’s brilliant writing. There isn’t much of a plot here and there are no admirable (or perhaps even likeable) characters, but I devoured every word. It makes me feel like the parents of Colette, the 15-year old runaway waif who gets taken in by Carl and Joey and becomes their “Cinderella, concubine and cook”. When Colette’s parents eventually find her they naturally want a word with Carl about his illicit relationship with their daughter. But upon finding out that he and Joey are writers who study the likes of Proust and Goethe, they are instantly placated and decide not to press any charges. As Carl interprets it, “The French have a great respect for writers, you know that. A writer is never an ordinary criminal”.In the same way, the artistry of Miller’s writing makes me forgive, and in fact, thoroughly enjoy the depravity of his content. Should I feel a bit guilty, or perhaps deceived about this? I don’t know, but oh, what a great read!Read more reviews on my blog Violin in a Void


Miller starts out in the world of porn, a world in which (99% of the time) a man is lust incarnate and a woman is never a woman but only a "bitch," a "cunt," a "whore," a "piece of ass," a "lady" (rarely and temporarily), and so on. The book mostly consists of men discussing women in these terms, and women obliging their sexual desires, with appropriate submission. One woman is never excited by watching a man piss, but is terribly excited by a man climbing on top of her and pissing inside her. By the end of the book, however, Miller reveals a level of self-consciousness that cannot belong to pornography, or to "erotica." Miller displays an understanding of his subjectivity, of male subjectivity and weakness, of sheer vulnerability, that undermines anything approaching the fantasy of pornography and the sensuality of erotica (not that the book is ever really erotic in my understanding of the term). Moreover, Miller makes it awfully clear that from his point of view being "nothing but a cunt," an object of carnal pleasure, is not something that demands contempt, but something that he desires, that he even aspires to. There is certainly sexism in this book-- a lost fifteen year old girl is used as a station of sexual relief for males with zero irony or moral doubt, for just one example-- but there is little, maybe no misogyny. So the book, as a whole, is not porn. If it is, it's pretty bad porn. Dudes might get a few cheap thrills early on, and certain sorts of gals might dig the sheer magnitude of male lust on display, but you can't exactly jerk off to this stuff. And as I said, it's not erotic in the way I'd define erotic. It's not sensual or really human enough to be erotic. Miller quietly undoes and undermines any potential, I think, for this book to be either of those two things. So Quiet Days in Clichy is literary, and not a ridiculous artifact of misogyny. But it's not really good literature. For one thing, the sex is described in pretty laughable prose. For another, the book is excessively, at times intolerably, bohemian in the worst sense. Its world is a world in which catching and spreading the clap is far better than simply living a quiet and comfortable life. To me, beatitude (in this context) is about more than pursuing the lifestyle depicted here. It's also about finding some kind of gutter enlightenment. I think that Miller writes very well of the emotional struggles of being human, of the pleasures of satisfying one's carnal appetites, of living outside convention. I think he's an interesting guy I'd like to have conversed with. The ultimate world of this novel is mostly immature and sad and pretty ugly. I honestly, totally unironically think that great literature ought to be wise in some way. There's little real wisdom here, only baby steps toward that end. But those steps are valuable and sometimes beautiful. There's around half a great book here. A few bonus points for authenticity and balls.


Oh Henry, you naughty naughty devil, you...

Chris Freeman

Do people really live like this? Having random sex with prostitutes and girls that they treat like prostitutes? I don't think any female character in this book was treated like an actual human being. And they all seemed willing to spread their legs at any time. Henry Miller goes for it, though, and makes the two main male characters fairly round and three-dimensional. More so than I would have thought for womanizing scumbags. This book is not so much about a plot as it is describing some time spent in Paris. Sort of like sitting around hearing stories from a friend. Amazingly dirty stories that I've never heard from any of my friends. It is told in a nice casual tone, but sometimes the out-dated slang is funny when it's not supposed to be. For instance, "...pushed it in another notch or two. Then bango! it burst like a sky rocket." Also, I've never said "boobies" seriously when describing breasts. The dream sequence is totally worth it. Wonderful writing.


Henry's books are a pleasure to revisit. It is odd how one returns to Henry's books - hundreds of books later, their flaws are even more obvious, but so too is the tenderness, the rawness, the humor, the story - and above all, the genius. Never before and never again have we had an American writer quite like Henry. To be sure there have been plenty of imitators, plenty of ecstatic admirers, and an equal number of closeted admirers - but heirs? No. Geniuses? No. America seems to breed a lot of brilliance, but only the very rare genius - but I suppose that is true of every country. What will you find if you read this book rather than Tropic of Cancer or Sexus or another, greater Miller book? The etchings of a serial exaggerator, boaster, satyr, saint - sure, the book won’t glow on the shelf, but you’ll read it and smile, read it and muse, and you’ll be the better person for it. In my opinion, the second half, Mara-Marignon, is the better story.


I thought, while spending a year overseas, I would read books about people who were living far from home. I was reading "Shogun", but after a few weeks, I needed a break from James Clavell's straight-forward, no-frills prose. So, I thought I would give Henry Miller a try. (Going from 1600s Japan to 20th century Paris would be a fun shift, too.)I had started Miller's "Tropic of Cancer" years ago, but never got more than 50 pages into it because it was just so dense with philosophy, dream-like imagery, and Miller's devil-may-care personality. At the time, I just wasn't in the mood for it, but thought I'd give it another go, figuring it would be a good antidote to the plot-rich/poetry-weak book I had been reading. Unfortunately, "Tropic" wasn't available on Kindle, so I thought I'd go with this book, which some reviewers had said was an easier read than his more famous work. This was a true assessment. This was an easy read, and I finished the book in less than a week, but there's not much to it. Some nice writing from time to time, but hardly the dense poetic ruminations I had hoped to find. Instead, this book is really just some meandering memories of women (most of them prostitutes) by some expat American author. There are some vivid moments throughout, a nice essay on the color gray, and a fun dream sequence at the end of the 1st half, but it all amounts to a fairly forgettable read of booze, smut, a couple interesting characters, and no-regrets glibness.


إما أن تتقبل هنري ميللر كما هو فيروق لك و تجد نفسك من أنصاره الذين يهتفون بحماسة و دون حياء أو تبغضه إلى الأبد و تعاديه دونما هوادة و تصب اللعنات - كل اللعنات - على هذا الوغد . راقت لي بعض التعليقات في الموقع من بعض القراء الأجانب حيث كانت إحداهن منصفة إلى أبعد حد حين قالت أنه لا شك كاتبٌ رائع و إن بدا خنزيراً . هناك رأي آخر يتسائل لماذا لا يقلع الجميع عن قراءة هنري و هو الذي لا يتخلى عن البذاءات و سردها بكل الطرق البشعة و مع ذلك يلاقي نجاحاً مسعوراً - إن صح التعبير - و علل ذلك بصوته السردي البارع و العفوي جداً . العنوان مضلل بالمناسبة أو أن ميللر يقصد الهدوء الذي لا بد أن يعقب الصخب ! ليس ثمة الكثير من الأحداث و هذه عادة لم يقلع عنها الكاتب أبداً و عشاق الحبكات الروائية على موعد مع خيبة كبيرة إن ترقبوا شيئاً من هذا القبيل . و الكتاب فيه كاتبان يقدسان حياة اللهو و الشراب فاليوم خمر و غد ٌ كذلك و ما بعد الغد و على مدار الأسبوع الأول و الثاني و الثالث و من الواضح أن امرؤ القيس كان سيصبح صديقهما المفضل . لا شيء سوى أصناف النبيذ و العاهرات ! تقريباً لا شي آخر . هذا يدعو للتقزز غير أن للحقيقة زوايا أخرى من الممكن أن تصنع فارقاً فاللغة هنا تصلح كل ما أفسده الكاتب عن عمد . و لعلني أقتبس ما يوضح الفكرة بشكل أكبر . " إن كارل عبقري في التورط بالمشاكل . كانت المشكلة أو ربما الفضيلة أنه لا يستطيع أن يقول لا . إن معظم الناس يقولون على الفور لا ، بدافع غريزي أعمى أما هو فيقول نعم باستمرار . إنه يعيش حياته بدافع اللحظة و لا يتوقف عن مغازلة الخطر لا بدافع الشجاعة بل لأن ذلك يمنحه فرصة لشحذ ذكائه ! "


This book really feels like it was translated from French. And it was, in a psychic sense. The main prostitute he falls in love with -- I forget her name (I put the book back down on the porch), is like a Renoir painting come to life. She loves to eat and contemplate leisure. Not just experience leisure, but contemplated while experiencing it. The way Henry writes about her (and this is the first Henry Miller book I've ever read), you suddenly realize that he is a driven man, determined to become famous, or a great writer, or some amalgam of the two. Which is what he did do. But perhaps not what he should have done. He might have been a greater person if he had never written. And in a sense, this is what the book is saying. Henry is such a great writer, the truth drips out between his fingers.

حمد المطر

تستحق 4 نجوم. لكني اسقطت نجمة للاباحية المبالغ فيها التي تملأ العمل تماماً. العمل لا اعلم سبب كتابته فعلا. كاتبان منحطان فعلا كل رذيلة اباحية مع كل امرا قابلاها بفرنسا. يكتبان وينفقان المال على العاهرات وهكذا دواليك بعبثية غريبة. غالبا هذا حال الكثير من الفنانين وغيرهم.نقول المفيد. سرد ميللر خارق للعادة. مدرسة. عبارات قصيرة كل عبارة فيها الجديد والجاذب للقراءة وتسارع النوفيلا الرواية القصيرة. ساقرا له مدار الجدي

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