Tropic of Cancer

Tropic of Cancer

Tropic of Cancer

Tropic of Cancer

Synopsis

Now hailed as an American classic, Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller's masterpiece, was banned as obscene in this country for twenty-seven years after its first publication in Paris in 1934. Only a historic court ruling that changed American censorship standards, ushering in a new era of freedom and frankness in modern literature, permitted the publication of this first volume of Miller's famed mixture of memoir and fiction, which chronicles with unapologetic gusto the bawdy adventures of a young expatriate writer, his friends, and the characters they meet in Paris in the 1930s. Tropic of Cancer is now considered, as Norman Mailer said, "one of the ten or twenty great novels of our century."

Excerpt

Here is a book which, if such a thing were possible, might restore our appetite for the fundamental realities. The predominant note will seem one of bitterness, and bitterness there is, to the full. But there is also a wild extravagance, a mad gaiety, a verve, a gusto, at times almost a delirium. A continual oscillation between extremes, with bare stretches that taste like brass and leave the full flavor of emptiness. It is beyond optimism or pessimism. The author has given us the last frisson. Pain has no more secret recesses.

In a world grown paralyzed with introspection and constipated by delicate mental meals this brutal exposure of the substantial body comes as a vitalizing current of blood. The violence and obscenity are left unadulterated, as manifestation of the mystery and pain which ever accompanies the act of creation.

The restorative value of experience, prime source of wisdom and creation, is reasserted. There remain waste areas of unfinished thought and action, a bundle of shreds and fibers with which the overcritical may strangle themselves. Referring to his Wilhelm Meister Goethe once said: "People seek a central point: that is hard, and not even right. I should think a rich, manifold life, brought close to our eyes, would be enough without any express tendency; which, after all, is only for the intellect."

The book is sustained on its own axis by the pure flux and rotation of events. Just as there is no central point, so also there is no question of heroism or of struggle since there is no question of will, but only an obedience to flow.

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