Academic journal article Nexus: The International Henry Miller Journal

Editor's Note

Academic journal article Nexus: The International Henry Miller Journal

Editor's Note

Article excerpt

Jeanette Winterson's review of Frederick Turner's recent book on Tropic of Cancer reignited discussion over Henry Miller s representation of women. Like Kate Millett, Sandra Gilbert, and Susan Gubar before her, Winterson reduces Miller's narrative to a single question: "Why do men revel in the degradation of women?" Others, such as media critic Todd Gitlin, accepted Winterson's a priori assumptions without question. It's unfortunate that a writer of Winterson's stature, a writer whose complex narratives frequently employ sex, fails to support her warrant that Tropic of Cancer revels in the degradation of women--or that such a phenomenon lies at the heart of the book.

Once again, Miller's declaration in The World of Sex that most readers fail to reconcile his use of sex with his metaphysical side rings true. Winterson is correct that raw, even brutal, sex exists in Tropic of Cancer and that women in the book often function merely to satisfy urges. What she refuses to admit, however, is that Miller felt that America's sexual taboos, those mores that failed to acknowledge basic passion stripped of its civilizing veneer, caused the true degradation-of both women and men. She further ignores, or fails to recognize, several of Miller's key aims in the book, including the (re)birth of the artist, the condemnation of materialist society, and spiritual transcendence. …

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