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Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller

Tropic of Cancer (1934)

by Henry Miller

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Obelisk Trilogy (1)

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6,05379687 (3.65)149
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» See also 149 mentions

English (71)  French (2)  Spanish (2)  Danish (1)  Italian (1)  Hebrew (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (79)
Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
Complete Shite. End of!! ( )
  Fergus_Cooper | Aug 4, 2015 |
Miller blew my mind when I was in college. I wonder what I would think now. ( )
  joeydag | Jul 23, 2015 |
why did I even buy this? ( )
1 vote virg144 | Mar 9, 2015 |
Apparently, Henry Miller was the Hank Moody of his time. And if you don't know who Hank Moody is, go watch Californication for fuck's sake. He's a fucking rock star of a writer. He gets all the pussy. Does all the blow. And he has a huge cock, like all rock stars do.

This book made me want to be a writer. I mean, many books have inspired me to write, but none other promised so much unending pussy. And anal. This book made the life of a broke and starving writer seem so bloody awesome.

But maybe it had less to do with the idea that writers get all the pussy, and more to do with the fact that this book is set in Paris, France. Because everyone knows that French girls are freaky sluts.

There wasn't much of a story in this book. It's not really a story. It's just the rantings of a sex-crazed writer. I don't know if you can even call it fiction, because it actually is the story if Miller's life in Paris.

He sort of blends fact and fiction. Like yes, he did walk down to the corner store to get some milk. But he didn't really get blown by a 14 year old girl on his way there. Those little details don't really matter, do they?

It makes me wonder if any of the crazy sex in this book actually happened. I think it's more likely that he didn't get laid at all. He was just writing this book and started fantasizing. I mean, why write about how bloody depressed I am? How about writing about some girl fellating me, while I write this epic masterpiece? Yea. That's hot.

It's funny to me that a lot of the best writers of our time are just glorified pornographers. Because that's what this book is. It's just porn, from beginning to end. Don't get me wrong, it's good porn. It's literary porn. So you can feel all smart and stuff while you're jackin' it. ( )
1 vote gecizzle | Mar 5, 2015 |
Henry Miller said of his classic, "This is not a book, in the ordinary sense of the word." He was correct. Whatever this type between two covers may be, it isn't a book. Miller hurls away every traditional expectation of Western fiction with both hands. Tropic of Cancer has nothing to recommend it but utterly brilliant writing and compelling narration. It is a turgid, nonstop onslaught of sociopathic confessionalism and overwrought surrealism, shot through with unabashed misogyny (women are described at least 2000 times by simply nationality and the C-word), racism, and anti-Semitism. There are sex scenes aplenty, but they are woven in so seamlessly that they don't seem dirty: obscenity would require some sort of setup; some distinction between the naughty and the nice. There is no nice. There is no love--no higher feeling whatsoever, in fact--no plot, and not even the merest suggestion of an original idea. At times, the writing veers off into two or three pages of the hugely ridiculous.

Miller's narrator, an expatriate writer whose name (make of this what you will) is Henry Miller, races through 1930s Paris a proud and self-confessed inhuman parasite, without the slightest clue that only his good looks, charm, and high I.Q. net him all the food, shelter, and sex he needs for a Walt Whitmanesque existence. Selfishness reigns supreme, and it is assumed that the narrator (who is at least 15 years too old for this kind of behavior) is owed, by divine right, the satisfaction of every desire by a chaotic universe populated by other selfish beings. It is impossible that any of Henry's so-called, interchangeable "friends" could be sicker than he is, and yet they are. Glimmers of black humor boil up out of the cauldron once in a while out of the Parisian gutters, but for the most part, Tropic of Cancer is serious antibusiness.

The closest thing Miller provides to a heroine is an insane Russian princess, Macha, who manages to be more disgusting, more conniving, and a more outrageous liar than all the men put together, and thereby earn, if not respect, then awe, the right to be called by her first name, and relative longevity (they don't get rid of her for at least two weeks) in the narrative. In the course of his nonjourney through this nonbook, the narrator learns nothing; he knows it all already; he is trying to convince the reader of nothing. Of course, nearly 80 years later we know that Miller's road doesn't lead to freedom but to reality TV, and that casting aside taboos and looking at the sordid underbelly of everything isn't ultimately liberating, but boring.

Every time I opened the novel, it gave me the sensation of being run over by a crazy bus with really muddy tires, or smacked in the face with a huge wave of lurid hedonism; and then I shook a chapter or three of Tropic of Cancer off like a heebie-jeebie and went about my business, and then (WHY?) picked it up again.

In a word, weird. Anais Nin thought it was the new King James Bible, but then she was sleeping with the author, and she was Anais Nin. If his mother hadn't beaten him and had given him a little affection, Miller would have been America's greatest writer. Four stars plus and not recommended for anyone, ever. ( )
  JMlibrarian | Mar 3, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (63 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Henry Millerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
康雄, 大久保翻訳secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gerhardt, RenateEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nin, AnaïsPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saarikoski, PenttiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shapiro, KarlIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wagenseil, KurtTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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These novels will give way, by and by, to diaries or autobiographies--captivating books, if only a man knew how to choose among what he calls his experiences that which is really his experience, and how to record truth truly. ---Ralph Waldo Emerson
First words
I am living at the Villa Borghese.
I have no money, no resources, no hopes. I am the happiest man alive. A year ago, six months ago, I thought that I was an artist. I no longer think about it, I am. Everything that was literature has fallen from me. There are no more books to be written, thank God. This then? This is not a book. This is libel, slander, and defamation of character. This is not a book, in the ordinary sense of the word. No, this is a prolonged insult, a gob of spit in the face of Art, a kick in the pants of God, Man, Destiny, Time, Love, Beauty

I believe that today more than ever a book should be sought after even if it has only one great page in it: we must search for fragments, splinters, toenails, anything that has ore in it, anything that is capable of resuscitating the body and soul.
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Book description
Autobiographical novel by Henry Miller, published in France in 1934 and, because of censorship, not published in the United States until 1961. Written in the tradition of Walt Whitman and Henry David Thoreau, it is a monologue about Miller's picaresque life as an impoverished expatriate in France in the early 1930s. The book benefited from favorable early critical response and gained popular notoriety later as a result of obscenity trials. Containing little plot on narrative, Tropic of Cancer is made up of anecdotes, philosophizing, and rambling celebrations of life. Despite his poverty, Miller extols his manner of living, unfettered as it is by moral and social conventions. He lives largely off the resources of his friends. In exuberant and sometimes preposterous passages of unusual sexual frankness, he chronicles numerous encounters with women, including his mysterious wife Mona, as he pursues a fascination with female sexuality. Tropic of Cancer was the first of an autobiographical trilogy, followed by Black Spring (1936) and Tropic of Capricorn (1939). (Review by The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature by way of Amazon)
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A stream-of-consciousness story of a poverty-stricken young American, living in Paris.

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