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Tropic of Cancer (Paperback) Paperback – 1994

3.7 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic (1994)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002VH3AMK
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,206 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

I read an old musty copy that made my eyes itch but it was worth every page. I adore Henry Miller ~ it's like reading words that are swirling in a blender. It's like he has a machine gun pointed at you and bang bang he starts shooting every word into your flesh except when they hit you, the words feel like whip cream and you just want to bathe in them. This was one writer that was fully alive. It starts off with him saying that he has no money and no resources and that he is the happiest man alive (love that)! This book was published in the 1930s and banned in America for being too smutty. Yes he talks about sex but he talks more about life and even more about living. He has more interesting things to say in this one book than most people ever say in an entire lifetime. This book is deep and funny ~ my favorite kind of books and people. If you haven't read it ~ give yourself a treat and dive bomb right into it. Henry Miller was a genius and even though he's dead ~ you can still enjoy him. He feels very much alive as you read him because he didn't save anything when he wrote ~ he gave everything and it feels like it. I wish more people were more like that ~ everyone is so busy saving it up for a rainy day. Not Henry.
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The worship around this book, and really around Miller himself, can be kind of hard to grasp over 80 years after it was published.

Tropic of Cancer, more than any other book I've read, really develops the romantic, libidinous idea of the starving, expat artist bumming around abroad, confronting staid social values (not to mention drinking and whoring his brain out).

The idea of the artist as a ruthless outsider, as a militant seeking something fleshy and essential which the rest of humanity is only too happy to ignore is not exactly new. But in Miller's richly imagistic, sensuous prose, he really brings it kicking and screaming definitely into the modern age. At it's best, this is like reading Celine of Baudillare, it's like he's talking directly to you.

With its confrontational, body-fluid filled reveries, Tropic of Cancer feels like the linkage between early 20th century french prose, with its descriptive decadence and its misanthropy, and the work of the Beats and subsequent expatriates and exiles. There were several times when I felt less like I was reading a novel, and more like I was reading cut out sections from 'Howl'
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hmmmm. I read it a year ago. I did like miller's prose as her talks about the human existence. and yes it is smutty byt 1930's standards but not so much today.. and yes I have read the c word more here than in all my years.. I think I did not get it otherwise because it came out in a time and place I am far removed from and being female. I don't think miller likes women much, he LOVES them in the sexual sense, they are only recepticles for his "manhood"..lol.. I admire the guts it took to be different in a time when mores were prim and proper.
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I have the Grove edition I bought at a local used bookstore and paid $2.00 for. The best part of this book is the essay at the beginning by Karl Shapiro written sometime in 1960-61, and in it he rejoices in the ban having been lifted off of Henry Miller's "Tropic of Cancer." He sums it up nicely comparing the ban lift to the decision of Judge Woolsey who stated about Joyce's banned book, "Ulysses"--that the book is "somewhat emetic, nowhere does it tend to be an aphrodisiac." In one word, emetic describes "Tropic of Cancer." If anyone finds it an aphrodisiac they must be a woman-hater sadist--in my opinion.

I think Miller is something of a "poseur," and don't doubt his sexual escapades, though written in the first-person narrative, are inventions. At page 39 I had to google to see if Henry Miller died of syphilis, especially since he declared "Parisians are syphilitic." Alas, no, he lived to the ripe old age of 88, painting water colors at his commune in Big Sur, California, or perhaps giving water color lessons at Esalen Institute to new-age hippie chicks. The irony is in his book he refers to a "beautiful American woman" who comes to Paris to study art and rent a flat, as a "velvet-snooted gazelle." He was being nice with that particular epithet since Miller generally refers to women as c_ _ _s. "Resentiment," on the part of Miller, no?

Given that Sigmund Freud's right-hand man, Otto Rank, along with Anais Nin (Miller's lover) financed his 9-year stay in Paris to write what is considered by Norman Mailer and others as "one of the great novels of our century," is interesting to say the least. This is definitely not a book I would consider one of the great American novels. Most of the book is written in phrases, so true as Shapiro writes, Miller is no writer.
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Henry; an ex pat in Paris there to write a book, is constantly side tracked by poverty; the need to blag a meal and -as a self confessed lecher -women. All his friends are in similar messes and-like him-are zeroes. But Paris is freedom; not the phoney freedom of the US which is stifled by puritanism ,social standings ethics and morals that kill the soul....
Written in 1934, 'Tropic of Cancer' is still profane and funny -80 years haven't diluted it any-proving I guess Miller's idea that mankind and his desires have never changed; only the organs that stifle alter from age to age. Possibly the only thing that dates this novel to any extent is the attitude to women, who are no more than objects to go to bed with.
What drags this book down a little are the lengthy purple patches where Miller philosophises on freedom; on the need for humans to enjoy everything in the human spectrum from the base (sex with syphilis ) to the highest forms of art-ideas that have been better expounded upon by Guide and Sartre amongst others, being a French school philosophy-but which-for me- always falls down and implodes of its own contradictions and paradoxes. To have absolute freedom is total poverty or freedom from the weight of social etiquette the answer? How much destruction of anothers freedom do you commit in order to sate your own desires of freedom ?(Miller's sex object only women; young boys for pederasts) But all this is for idle debate in a bar or classroom !
This book would have gained from editing out a lot of these purple moments, but even so, you will always have the very funny "adventures of" passages and can see the foundations of the modern novel abound. More than worth it for that.
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