Black Sun: The Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby


Harry Crosby was the godson of J. P. Morgan and a friend of Ernest Hemingway. Living in Paris in the twenties and directing the Black Sun Press, which published James Joyce among others, Crosby was at the center of the wild life of the lost generation. Drugs, drink, sex, gambling, the deliberate derangement of the senses in the pursuit of transcendent revelation: these were Crosby's pastimes until 1929, when he shot his girlfriend, the recent bride of another man, and then himself. Black Sun is novelist and master biographer Geoffrey Wolff's subtle and striking picture of a man who killed himself to make his life a work of art.

"… As an object of worship the sun is various and slippery, and in his rush toward a coherent system of belief and symbolic representation, Harry confused unity with totality, so that he attempted to absorb within his belief every aspect and atom of the sun that man in his wisdom or silliness had ever found cause to venerate. The sun – all-seeing eye, blinding light, source of life, killer of Icarus and Phaethon, masculine principle, creative principle, godhead and the eye of the godhead – is at once more comprehensive and a paradigm of ambiguity. To use its mythology and manifestations as material for literature or belief was to be drawn irrevocably into the sun’s orbit, for the only way Harry could reconcile the paradoxes inherent in the sun was to worship it in toto. So he did, bringing to his worship a hotchpotch of Christian faith in an afterlife and pagan rituals, adding to his stew every scrap he could find left over from the Aztecs or Pharaohs, the Greeks or Romans, Goethe or D. H. Lawrence, Rimbaud or the tarot pack."