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Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
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Tropic of Cancer (1934)

by Henry Miller

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Obelisk Trilogy (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,88970710 (3.65)136
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    Working the Aisles: A Life in Consumption by Robert Appelbaum (Anonymous user)
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    The Demon by Hubert Selby Jr. (hazzabamboo)
    hazzabamboo: Filthy, sex-obsessed, unmistakably American, and characteristic lapses into stream of consciousness
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    Story of the Eye by Georges Bataille (fundevogel)
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» See also 136 mentions

English (63)  French (2)  Italian (1)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  Hebrew (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (70)
Showing 1-5 of 63 (next | show all)
Wow! What a controversial book. I can see why it was banned and why so many opinions are polarized in the ratings. First of all, I have to warn anyone who is thinking about reading this that there is a lot of crude language and blatant description of sex. That didn't bother me. What I did have trouble with was the misogynistic attitude of the main character, who often simply refers to women using the C word and treats them as objects rather than human beings.

That said, the author is writing about a misogynistic individual living in Paris during the depression and he does it with rawness and some beautifully written passages. Anyone reading this book needs to bear in mind that our culture is very different now. I think that reading this with a group who has a knowledgeable leader or using a reading guide is your best bet if you really want to get something out of it. There's a lot of meat to this book - if you can get underneath the layer of crudeness. It's a stream of consciousness piece about life and what it truly means to be happy, and the author shows us that it doesn't necessarily involve being wealthy.

Who should read this: Fans of authors such as Bukowski and Hemingway.
Who should not read this: Anyone who is squeamish or easily offended. ( )
  Neftzger | Dec 22, 2014 |
I've got to admit that I like this a lot better than I did when I first read it over 20 years ago, but I'm still no fan of the no-plot novel. Very similar to the feeling I got from Kerouac's On the Road in that these people are so self-absorbed. In the long run, who can really give a crap about them? But I do have a better appreciation for Miller's use of language. ( )
  AliceAnna | Oct 24, 2014 |
Extraordinarily interesting in places, it is extremely patchy with a sentence, or even several paragraphs, of excellent writing followed by pages of wasted paper and ink. The verbosity is maddening. Miller needed a good editor.

His moment of existential satori, which is described at page 97 et seq., in this edition, is followed by an intellectual leap of faith that is not rational; I think Miller would argue the absence of rational thinking on this issue was his point.

My other criticism would be that Miller tries to paint himself as a down-and-outer when he was a spoiled American, slumming in Paris with the Pound, Woolf and Hemingway crowd, who occasionally didn't get his American Express payment on time and had to borrow from American friends. He was never truly on the bum. In no way did he ever approach real destitution like Hamsun, Fante, Celine or Bukowski experienced. That difference in experience is significant and substantial because it makes him a poverty dilettante for whom being poor is an interesting experience that he can claim to embrace with joy and celebration. He did not experience the horror of contemplating death by starvation. It's easy to see why a later generation of upper middle class youth, who temporarily rejected their parent's wealth, identified with him.

A worthy read because of its reputation but not nearly as good as he frequently credited because his experience is less than genuine and the writing is so verbose. ( )
1 vote DinoReader | Aug 21, 2014 |
Miller's language and style are brilliant. I enjoyed his stories about his friends and peers a lot more than the rambling surrealist passages that pop up now and again. His character becomes less and less likable as the book goes on. That said, the point of this book is not for the reader to like the main character. Miller was basically an old school hipster complaining about hipster problems (before it was cool). ( )
  akissner | Apr 21, 2014 |
One of those bizarre cases of a book with brilliant style and language that for whatever reason never grabs me. It's slow and meandering, which I generally do not mind, but I've tried to read this a few times and haven't gotten more than 60 pages. I mean, I love Hunger and Ask the Dust, and those don't have any more direction than this, but Miller seemed all to pleased with his philosophical musings to actually write a good book.

It's unfortunate for me, anyway, because the 60 pages I read contained hundreds of amazing lines or quips, but they never seemed to gel into a compelling whole. ( )
  blanderson | Mar 4, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 63 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (42 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Henry Millerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gerhardt, RenateEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nin, AnaïsForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saarikoski, PenttiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shapiro, KarlIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wagenseil, KurtTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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
Dedication
First words
I am living at the Villa Borghese.
Quotations
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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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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