In 1966, Henry Miller was 75, living in Pacific Palisades and finally enjoying the acclaim that had come with U.S. publication of his once-banned books. In February of that year, Miller met 28-year-old Hoki Tokuda at the home of his friend Dr. Lee Siegel . A Japanese jazz singer, Tokuda had recently arrived in America. Soon Miller began to haunt the Imperial Gardens in Hollywood, where she performed. Their relationship is chronicled in a book of Miller's letters, edited by Joyce Howard, to be published next month.
February 22, 1966 Dear Hoki
I hope to see you one evening this week at the Imperial Gardens. Maybe I will bring my friend Joe Gray along. He wants to meet nice Japanese girl.
Henry Miller April, 1966 Dear Hoki
Tonight you looked more beautiful than ever. Every time I look at you I wonder are you happy or sad. Always there is the mask. But sometimes I think I can see behind the mask--like Alice stepping through the mirror. I would love to fall in love with you, but I know that you are only in love with love. God bless you!
Henry-San July 20, 1966 Hoki darling--
Every time I see you I get a little happier--and a little sadder too. Happy because I see you once again, sad because I see you for only a little while. We are moving on different levels. We are like trains that pass each other in the night. Hello! Goodbye! Till next time. Sayonara! A bientot! My ears are still filled with the sound of your voice; my eyes are still looking into yours and drowning there; I see your hair waving and I wander alone in a bamboo forest, bewitched by your smile which comes and goes like clouds racing through a summer's sky. I feel so close to you and yet I am a thousand light-years away. I thank you for making my heart beat again--if only it would burst! The days fly, and I remain, love growing stronger all the time. Ah yes, "love is a many splendored thing!" You make me rich.
Blessings on you, my beloved Hoki! Speak to me in your dreams--I am listening.
Henry-San September, 1966 Sunday 2:30 a.m. Dear Hoki--Anata bakari! (my only one)
This morning I learned over the telephone that my last wife (Eve) had just died in her sleep after a wonderful happy day. She was the best of all my wives (and mistresses), she did everything for me, and continued to do so even after we were divorced and she remarried. And I repaid her for all her goodness by running off to Europe with a worthless young bitch whom I grew tired of in a very short time.
At noon today I was weeping and sobbing fit to break my heart. I thought it would never stop. When it did I went to the Siegels to play ping-pong--and then began an afternoon and evening during which I was as gay and alive as I have ever been. I ended up in a restaurant with four Canadian girls at my table and one on my lap. Still merry, more alive than ever, and finally dating the French waitress who happened to be one of my fans.
A few moments ago I woke up, sat like a statue, immovable--like a stone Buddha, but minus the seraphic smile--In those fifteen or twenty minutes of trance I reviewed my whole life with women. And I came to the conclusion that I am, and never was, any good for any woman.
I tell you this so that you know what I am and that you may rest easy in your soul. I shall never try to possess you, never expect anything of you, and warn you that even as a friend I may be no good.
If I love you it's because I can't help myself. Now I feel I can kill this love--because I know it's a selfish love. I had deluded myself into thinking that my love, whether returned or not, would exalt you. . . .
You are a free woman and I hope you remain so. Save your love for Mah Jongg, horses, good food and the little things which cause no pain, no worry, no anxiety, no surrender of yourself. Be the sing-song girl which you are and stay with it.
Forget that you ever gave me a thought. Stay cool as a cucumber and pretend that you are happy, successful and adored by everyone. You have nothing to lose but your soul.
I may be seeing you soon again but with another eye. Life is too short to waste it in search of the impossible. I have come to realize at last that what I thought was mystery hidden in the depths of your enchanting dark eyes is nothing more than a vacuum.
Your Henry-San 12/8/66 Dear, dear Hoki--