There’s a wonderful post here in a site about William Blake.
What should my eyes behold, when surfing to find why viewers were accessing my page on Milton Klonsky, but (first) old reviews of a play in which his biography was distorted – fiction presented as fact – because he left so many mysteries about his life. But I had known Milton personally and was aghast that the playwright of Klonsky and Schwartz turned Milton Klonsky’s character and even persona upside down. He was unrecognizable, whereas a true account of him, in a book by Seymour Krim, said:
“There was no childish competitiveness on the part of Klonsky vis-à-vis these stern [famous literary] figures, it was not to test himself in the ring of literature that he braved or broke the standards erected by these Twentieth-Century culture heroes (like my friend Mailer, who puts courage above reality) but rather it was because he had truly been born with a special line hooked into the inner switchboard of existence . . . in [an] extraordinary way [he] made abstract concepts real as your hand—like a religious Poe and possessed a spiritual life so grave and proportionate that only the superbest adult utterance could do it justice.” Seymour Krim, Views of a Nearsighted Cannoneer
I knew Krim’s essay on Milton, which the playwright obviously didn’t.
But the reason I write this blog is because of what I came across next: (2) a posting by a man named W.C. Bamberger, who suspected that the play couldn’t be accurate. He had nothing to prove this suspicion, though. Just his examination of Milton’s writings. Above this elegant blog, explaining the suspicion, he had posted a photograph of Milton that had to have come from my www, marharrell.com website. It had to, and yet I didn’t know him. I read on. Bamberger said that “’Klonsky on Blake’ parallels ‘Kerouac on Benzedrine,’ or ‘William James on nitrous oxide.’ That is, Blake intoxicates Klonsky, helps him look at the world with sustained energy, and from new perspectives.”
After a brilliant examination of Milton’s work, Bamberger concludes, “Klonsky died in 1982, but he hasn’t been entirely forgotten. He even appears as a character in Klonsky and Schwartz, a two-person play by Romulus Linney that debuted in 2005. “Schwartz” is Delmore Schwartz, the briefly brilliant, long-dimming poet who was Klonsky’s friend for years. In the play the Klonsky character suffers both from feeling that he is a lesser writer than his friend and from trying to keep Schwartz’s madness from killing him. But there is nothing of the particular Klonsky in the play; the characters could have been given any two writers’ names with even roughly the same relationship and nothing would be lost. Is it romanticizing, I wonder, to believe that Klonsky, a contrary and fiercely individual mind, would have preferred complete oblivion to a bland survival in name only?”
I just posted a bravo to him here
. That posting by him is well worth reading. Also, it adds some balance and justice to the universe, that by peering into what a person left behind, one might challenge a play that has been performed around the country – porporting to describe that author. But the facts don’t add up. The evidence doesn’t line up. And without ever meeting Milton, Bamberger acted on his suspicion.
Milton, as the title indicates, in a protagonist in my new book: Keep This Quiet: My Relationship with Hunter S. Thompson, Milton Klonsky, and Jan Mensaert.