The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: English Studies: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Constance Perry

Second Advisor

Judith Dorn

Third Advisor

Carol Mohrbacher

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Henry Miller, Friedrich Nietzsche, Buddhism, Zen, Twentieth Century Literature


Henry Miller, the notorious and frequently misjudged author, and Friedrich Nietzsche, the furiously passionate and often misunderstood philosopher, share striking similarities in the theoretical concerns found throughout their works. Partially appropriated from and inspired by Zen-Buddhism, Miller and Nietzsche’s related philosophies led both authors to conclude that the greatest task in life is to pursue the honest creation of Art, the Self, and Joy. Additionally, these two enigmatic essayists mutually emphasized the importance of loving the physical world and physical existence while living joyfully by uniting with other elated, lean and free spirits to deconstruct and recreate the Self, as well as social constructs such as Art and God. This exploration surveys the similar presence of Zen-Buddhist theories visible in both Miller’s Tropic of Cancer and Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None. In close analysis of their related texts, insights into the life and times of Henry Miller and his infamous muse, Friedrich Nietzsche, will be discussed in examination of the Zen-Buddhist influence and representations evident throughout their respective works.