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Renegade: Henry Miller and the Making of "Tropic of Cancer" (Icons of America) Hardcover – January 3, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

There is little to admire in the life of Henry Miller. He was a misogynist, an anti-Semite, a philanderer, a shameless self-aggrandizer, and a mooch who lived off his wife’s earnings from turning tricks. Beyond the fact that Tropic of Cancer made several of those Top 100 lists a few years ago, there isn’t much of his often brutish, scatological fiction that is held in even middling high regard today. But that’s not to say that he doesn’t fascinate. As a self-styled literary renegade, his personal history—his wild marriage to June, his relationship with Anais Nin, his bohemian lifestyle—attracts more sustained interest than his extensive oeuvre. But Tropic of Cancer was indeed groundbreaking, and as Turner demonstrates so well, the novel stirred such controversy when it was finally published in the U.S. in 1961, nearly 30 years after its appearance in France, that it helped pave the way for the liberation of American letters. Turner provides a great deal of background to show how deeply autobiographical the novel is in its gritty details and its in-your-face ethos. --Ron Antonucci

From Bookforum

Scholar Frederick Turner makes the case that Tropic of Cancer and its author are as quintessentially American as Walt Whitman and Mark Twain, and argues that Miller’s prose is part of deep strain in American culture that mistrusts highbrow anything, literature especially, but celebrates talk, and loves big talk best: It was not just a fish, but the biggest fish. —Sheila Heti
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Product Details

  • Series: Icons of America
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (January 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300149492
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300149494
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,845,928 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David K. on February 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Along with Erica Jong's Devil at Large, this has been one of the most illuminating books about Miller and the world he inhabited first in NY then in Paris, all of which led to that burst of creative energy that became Tropic of Cancer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robert Couteau on June 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Henry Miller himself would have enjoyed Frederick Turner's fine balance between passionate appreciation and solid scholarship, all of it delivered in a lively, flowing literary prose. Turner makes a strong case for the argument that it wasn't simply the author's provocative treatment of sexuality that fueled the decades-long attacks against Miller and his "Tropic of Cancer"; it was also his provocative spit in the face at many other forms of propriety that landed him in hot water. Turner's book also places "Tropic of Cancer" in a proper literary perspective: the Paris of the Thirties, which was nourished by so many expatriates who found their spiritual and creative roots in the cafes of Montparnasse. Although Miller was far to the left-of-center on most issues, his "politically incorrect" sexuality has largely resulted in his enduring "outsider" status. Turner's work is one more attempt to articulate Miller's place in a wider and more meaningful literary tradition. (For more on this, see my online essay with Rain Taxi Review: "Abandoning Hope to Discover Life: Commemorating the 51st Anniversary of the Grove Press Edition of Henry Miller's 'Tropic of Cancer', with a Special Tribute to Barney Rosset.")
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bill Mack English on March 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Henry Miller was a mystic who wrote dirty books. His voice was one of the most distinct to emerge from the twentieth century, and his trails and tribulations are well documented. When I first read the cover review in the New York Times I was thrilled that what I considered a fresh and exciting approach was being investigated. Like all Miller fans I was always interested in his creative process and what he went through to write his numerous masterpieces. But as I plowed through the first hundred pages of "Renegade" I began to get a sinking feeling. The book wasn't delivering what it had promised me and other fans. Instead of how Miller wrote Tropic of Cancer, I was getting a rather boring back story seemingly delivered by a befuddled old professor who didn't really have a grip on his material. The focus was all wrong, and I felt robbed. But then a miracle occurred. Suddenly the book got on point and became fascinating. By the time I finished Renegade, I felt like I'd gotten my money's worth. This is not a perfect work, but it does contain enough new insights to warrant a reading by Miller fans.Forgotten Strokes
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Henry Miller and his infamous first published novel, Tropic of Cancer, remained interesting ever since it was published, first in France in 1934 and then in Miller's homeland, the United States, in 1961. Tropic of Cancer isn't an easy novel to write since it doesn't what could be called a plot of any kind and it remains a challenge to read for some. I, however, conisider Tropic of Cancer was the most important novels written in the 20th century and Henry Miller remains one of my favorite writers. I really enjoyed this unique insight to why Miller wrote the Tropic of Cancer the way that he did.
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