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Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller

Tropic of Cancer (original 1934; edition 1961)

by Henry Miller

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5,88569710 (3.65)133
Title:Tropic of Cancer
Authors:Henry Miller
Info:Grove Press (1961), Edition: 7th Printing, Mass Market Paperback
Collections:Read but unowned, In the day

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Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller (1934)

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English (62)  French (2)  Italian (1)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  Hebrew (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (69)
Showing 1-5 of 62 (next | show all)
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 |
Read this nearly fifteen years ago, but barely remembered it. The surrealist style doesn't do much for me, but it's a nice portrait of the drinking and whoring ex-patriate crowd in Paris during the early 1930s (after the big names of ten years earlier had moved on). Also, it's a nice sketch of the sort of people who eagerly signed up to fight Franco a few years after this was published.

I'm giving this only 3 stars because there's no actual plot. It could be a memoir; it's definitely not a traditionally organized novel. That was a point in its favor during the surrealist and early Modernist movement, but it's essentially Kerouac 25 years early.

The GLBT note is mainly due to a supporting character (from Idaho) proclaiming his desperate, undying love for a young (apparently teenage) boy back home. The other men don't think it's possible for a man to fall in love with another man, but their friend ignores their scorn. There are quite a lot of homoerotic situations and men being naked around each other (and sharing whores together), but these scenes lack the rich detail that the rest of the book has and I wonder if Miller was self-censoring or if it was a publisher's decision.

This novel was published in 1934 in Paris and banned from sale or import to the US. Its first US publication in 1961 caused a groundbreaking Supreme Court obscenity trial.

( )
  sageness | Feb 7, 2014 |
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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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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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