Sunday, February 01, 2009

In Memory of June

The June of the book and movie Henry and June was, for a time, a classic femme fatale—visually striking, full of vitality, smart and seductive yet also maddeningly mysterious.

Most of the world knows of June through the writings of others—mainly her one-time husband Henry Miller (who used his relationship with her as material for volumes of his prose) and Anaïs Nin (whose diary became the primary source for Henry and June). Yet their published writings about June are not entirely reliable or definitive: Miller often employed a surrealistic technique that blended fiction and non-fiction to an extreme; Nin joined Miller in portraying June in a strongly subjective manner, the way an artist or photographer might have tried to capture aspects of her personality. And both writers knew June well for only a portion of her life.

As a result, most people get to know about June the femme fatale, a persona that she seems to have created for herself and that Miller and Nin tried to capture in her writings. It continues to be a challenge to uncover more details about June, though a number of researchers have made progress in that area. As someone who's curious about the "real" June, I appreciate their efforts.

So I was pleased (and, actually, amazed) to find this post identifying June's Arizona grave at the great Miller-related blog The Cosmodemonic Telegraph Company. From reading it, you can get a sense of how slippery the details of June's life and death can seem to be. It does seem that, after marrying Stratford Corbett and retiring as a New York City social worker, she came to live in Arizona near one of her brothers, whose gravestone seems to be pictured here.

I'm touched by her brother's own double headstone inscription "FRAN, I LOVE YOU/ED." Apparently June was not the only family member with a passionate or romantic strain. She died thirty years ago, just weeks after Anaïs Nin. Miller died three years later—in June.

No comments: