Tropic of Cancer
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Tropic of Cancer

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  30,683 ratings  ·  1,616 reviews
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 volum...more
Paperback, 318 pages
Published January 6th 1994 by Grove Press (first published 1934)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jafar
So, I was glancing through some of the reviews here and noticed that someone has totally disparaged this book because its “hero” is immoral. It always bewilders me when people judge a book according to the moral judgment that they pass on its characters. Like when I was looking at the reviews of John Updike’s Run, Rabbit and saw a woman saying that she hated the book because Angstrom left his wife twice in the book. I was like, don’t take it personally, lady; he’s not your husband. A lot of peop...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally. Sorry; the last paragraph today gets cut off a few sentences early!)

The CCLaP 100: In which I read for the first time a hundred so-called "classics," then write reports on whether or not they deserve the label
Book #20: Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller (1934)

The story in a nutshell:
Like many of the ot...more
John Doe
Oct 07, 2013 John Doe rated it 3 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Hippies pretending to be yuppies
Shelves: reviewed


George Orwell wrote an essay about this book called, “Inside the Whale.” The title alludes to the Jonah story in the bible. In that story Jonah rejected his responsibility, ran, and was swallowed by a whale. He finally accepted his responsibility and returned to the world. In contrast, Orwell’s Miller doesn’t want to leave the whale. God’s punishment ironically is Miller’s safe and comfortable oasis. Miller can attempt to triumph over god in this way because he has chosen an ironic stance toward...more
Michael
Tropic of Cancer is held in high regard by Authors that I respect. In particular, George Orwell (whose essay, “Inside the Whale”) has high praise for Miller's bravery, directness and honesty.
Miller's foul language has lost the power to impress; modern readers will not feel the level of shock and awe experienced by previous generations. The book has so much critical adulation that I have spent a few weeks ruminating before expressing my own view.

I don't like it....

Oh, don't mistake me, I “get” it...more
Jonathan
This may be the greatest book ever written. This opening passage proves it:


"I have no money, no resources, no hopes. I am the happiest man alive. A year ago, six months ago, I thought 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, defamation of character. This is not a book, in the ordinary sense of the word. No, this is a prolonged in...more
Kate
I got through the first 150 pages before I decided that life is too short to waste time reading books you hate. Maybe I'm not smart enough or deep enough to appreciate a book like Tropic of Cancer, but for me each page was a tedious struggle. The author of the book's introduction boldy asserts that Henry Miller is "the greatest living author" (obviously, the edition I read was published prior to Miller's death in 1980), but I found Miller's frenetic, meandering style tiresome.

Don't get me wrong...more
E.
Apr 30, 2007 E. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Sophmores in college who recently finished "on the road" and want to really get wild
When I read this for the first time I thought the world was opening up and eating people.

I wanted to get drunk and go on a hooker spree, to move to Paris and generally debauch for the rest of my 20's....

Then I realized I kind of wanted to do all this anyways but with Miller's aid I could and even better I could disguise the whole thing as "literary."

I struggled through Capricorn, through The Books in My Life, through a number of Miller's personal letters and musings. I even made a pilgrimage t...more
Ian [Paganus de] Graye
GoodReads Memorial Plot Summary (Pages 1 - 30) (Warning: Contains Spoilers) (Sponsor: Grove Press)

We are living (view spoiler)/(view spoiler)/(view spoiler).

We walk down streets where (view spoiler)(view spoiler)(view spoiler)(view spoiler) lived.

The cancer of (view spoiler)...more
Paquita Maria Sanchez
May 25, 2010 Paquita Maria Sanchez marked it as to-read
I am going to create a new goodreads bookshelf titled "sausage party." It will exist solely for Henry Miller.
K.D. Absolutely
Feb 19, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Shelves: 1001-core, sex, picaresque
One of this book's themes is sex. So, if you are squeamish about sex on books, or about sex itself, then don't read this review. More importantly, DON'T read this book. My review is definitely lame compared to its sexual content.

But not reading the book is like being in the USA without tasting bagel in one of their international airports. Whenever I come to the US, I always grab a bagel and a cup of coffee while waiting for my flight. I think that bread (rarely sold here in the Philippines) defi...more
Trenton Judson
This may be one of the best books in the American cannon, and also, unfortunately, one of the most underrated. I read a lot of the reviews on the book before writing this and I found not very many that were thought out. I recall one reviewer giving up on the book because the "frenetic style was tiresome." Usually when someone has feelings like that, it is because they don't understand the literature and so their mind wanders. Another review noted that Miller's supposed "shock tactics" were outda...more
Wael Mahmoud
Tropic of Cancer first published in 1934 in France, but this edition was banned in the United States until 1961.

Tropic of Cancer is one of the most important and beautiful pieces of prose in the history of English literature, It isn't an ordinary novel, it's Miller's life in pairs, how he sees his friends, how he thinks about human being's big questions. What Miller is doing only is searching for food and if he finds it then he can give a "lay" and write some pages in his novel.

In this beautiful...more
Alex
Here a cunt, there a cunt, everywhere a cunt cunt

"Art consists in going the full length. If you start with the drums you have to end with dynamite."

But if you begin with masturbation, you don't necessarily end with sex.

There are books you have to read at a certain age. There are others that are ageless, and those books are better. This should be read when you're young and stupid. Are you young and stupid now? Fantastic; read this and hate me. Are you older? Then read something else.

maybe somet...more
Sketchbook
Henry Miller performs a cunning stunt. There is no odious P.C. here, which one must deplore. This faux-memoir isnt "sexy," but it is a vomit of hilarity. I long for the Baz Luhrmann musical version. Meantime, plunge in, whacckkk it, and then slurp a gonarrhea cocktail. Btw, don't eat the ham sandwich in the bidet.
Annette
One of my favorite passages:

"At night when I look at Boris' goatee lying on the pillow I get hysterical. O Tania, where now is that warm cunt of yours, those fat, heavy garters, those soft, bulging thighs? There is a bone in my prick six inches long. I will ream out every wrinkle in your cunt, Tania, big with seed. I will send you home to your Sylvester with an ache in your belly and your womb turned inside out. Your Sylvester! Yes, he knows how to build a fire, but I know how to inflame a cunt....more
Stela
The Tropic of Cancer, Wikipedia says, "also referred to as the Northern tropic, is the circle of latitude on the Earth that marks the most northerly position at which the Sun may appear directly overhead at its zenith. This event occurs once per year, at the time of the June solstice, when the Northern Hemisphere is tilted toward the Sun to its maximum extent."
The sun at its zenith, that is, in its full splendour, “tropic” being the word of reference here.
On the other hand, Henry Miller emphasiz...more
Michael
Tropic of Cancer is probably best known for being about sex, a book that was banned for over thirty years. An autobiographical novel of a struggling writer living in Paris in a community of bohemians. A fictionalised account of Miller’s life living underground, with prostitutes, painters and other writers.

This is an odd novel, not necessarily good but a literary landmark. Without Henry Miller we may never have books like Lolita, Naked Lunch, A Sport and a Pastime and even Tampa. On the plus side...more
Jana
The only reason this book is a classic is because men were editors and this book gave them boners. And then male readers had boners and women were shocked with Miller's vocabulary. So, it wasn’t that difficult to become a classic. Especially in those days, when a word cunt was such a taboo. But, again who am I joking, I have a few Irish/English male friends who blush when somebody says cunt around them. And they love Miller, so I think that's the individual matter of upbringing and bon ton, beca...more
August
Seems the contemporary catch phrase to label Miller by is "Misogynist." Whatever... he wrote from his perspective and never swayed from his own vantage point to impress anyone. He is a true artist. How else would he have attracted the love interest of such an intelligent, beautiful woman as Anaiis Nin? Tropic of Cancer, to me, borders on spiritual enlightenment by way of pure honesty. I also enjoyed reading Nin's diary showing her side of their mutual lust affair. She was as much of a lost soul...more
brian Lehnen
Honestly speaking, this felt like one of most difficult books I have ever read. Having started and stopped this book several times, I force fed myself Tropic of Cancer yet again, determined to get past page forty. So I read on, at times mired in the brilliance of Millers imagery and provocative prose (for the 1930s) yet frequently finding myself equally lost amidst his fragmented thoughts and misogynistic opinions.

An appreciation for creative explosive free thought is a must when reading this n...more
William
In short, I think Tropic of Cancer is a masterwork. Do read it! However let me yield the floor to George Orwell who's done far more thinking about the novel than I -- from his essay "Inside the Whale."

http://www.ourcivilisation.com/smartb...
Jenn(ifer)
The only thing that saved this book from a 1 star rating is the occasional stellar paragraph such as this:

"For some reason or other man looks for the miracle, and to accomplish it he will wade through blood. He will debauch himself with ideas, he will reduce himself to a shadow if for only one second of his life he can close his eyes to the hideousness of reality. Everything is endured - disgrace, humiliation, poverty, war, crime, ennui - in the belief that overnight something will occur, a mira...more
Rajeev Singh
Less of a book and more of a hodgepodge of raves and rants from a man who couldn’t accept life as it is: this sounds a bit too scathing but bears more than an element of truth in it. Raves and rants abound but they are so unabashedly honest, so slanderously abusive, so nakedly, sordidly libertine and at times, so beautifully poetic that one feels like going back to revisit some of the passages whose gist wasn’t lucid on the first attempt but turned out to be heavily-imbued with meaning on the s...more
Lis
i wrote this review before finishing the book, but i think i'll keep it:
i hated the start, and slowly learned to like it more and more. looking at other reviews that seems to be the opposite of what others said. perhaps i am enjoying what others called the "slow" parts most. at first i found him just trying to be artsy and shocking. it's hard to explain how it became an easier read. While some authors are easy to read because of a conversational style, i found miller's writing to be very in tune...more
Tyler
Jan 12, 2010 Tyler rated it 3 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Naughty Boys
Recommended to Tyler by: Goodreads Reviews
The mashup of the poetic and the vulgar sets this book apart in a way that sometimes annoys and more often hits the spot. Miller gets modernist stream-of-consciousness to work cleverly through the trash-talk. Though I can’t tell you how hard it was to find a quote clean enough to use, it’s better to show what just can’t be described. Notice here how naturally thought flows:

“After that,” – here Van Norden has to smile himself – “after that, mind you, he tells me how she sat in the chair with her...more
Shannon
This one was hard to rate. It is a worthy read for so many reasons: the tales of Paris in the window of time woven into the lives of intellectual bohemians spun so marvelously in both crass and captivating language. However, sensitive souls beware. It was a contributing factor (one of many) to a crisis of faith in my early twenties. The honest depravity of the male characters and the author himself confirmed all my worst suspicions of males being utterly inhuman and by far a lesser sex.
Xandra
A brilliant introduction, a few more scattered bits of intelligence, dirty words that make it all original and controversial, lots of boring ramblings, tedious writing... frustrating book. Men who think their penises are the best thing that ever happened to this world might find some empathy for this dude and have a deeper appreciation for his crap of a life. They may then proceed to circle jerk (who shoots the farthest wins) while giving extensive praise to the man-genius that was Henry Miller....more
Phil
This book defines what it means to live a totally free existence, a life wallowing in art and free of the constraints of time and money. Miller's amazing writing style and incredible vision make this one of the great books of the last century. The backdrop of this book is a civilization teetering, about to collapse. The squalid street life of 1920's Paris flows through this book with amazing force. Miller lives a parasitic existence whose only purpose is to write and read and eat and screw. His...more
Suzie
I don't know what was more embarassing - reading this book in public and wondering if anyone knew how vile it was, or seeing how many passages my mother had underlined in college. Naughty! (In her defense, she said she had no choice . . . )

This was one of those titles I'd heard a handful of authors drop, and thought I needed to know why. I'm still not sure I completely understand the fascination (though I'll grant he HAS beefed up my quotes section), but at least I can say I've read Henry Miller...more
Katie Abbott Harris
I thought this fictionalized memoir was highly overrated, and mostly tedious. It is a tale of ex-pat Henry Miller's time in Paris - the people he meets, the money he spends, the places he stays, the books he reads, and the sex, sex, and more sex in which he participates. The prose is an erratic and meandering stream of consciousness, and I have to sheepishly admit that if it weren't for the gratuitous erotic sections and profanity, I would have stopped reading out of boredom. In saying all of th...more
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This is sexist. 30 184 Feb 03, 2014 05:04AM  
Canberra Book Club: Tropic of Cancer 3 5 Feb 02, 2014 10:57AM  
Anais Nin's Introduction 5 30 Dec 29, 2013 01:16AM  
why is it named as tropic of cancer? 5 142 Mar 22, 2013 06:16PM  
Why the crap is everyone reading Tropic of Cancer? 24 513 Mar 08, 2013 06:34PM  
genre X: January Discussion: The Tropic of Cancer 10 47 Mar 08, 2013 11:08AM  
Huntsville-Madiso...: Staff Pick - Tropic of Cancer 1 6 Nov 03, 2012 12:55AM  
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Henry Miller sought to reestablish the freedom to live without the conventional restraints of civilization. His books are potpourris of sexual description, quasi-philosophical speculation, reflection on literature and society, surrealistic imaginings, and autobiographical incident.

After living in Paris in the 1930s, he returned to the United States and settled in Big Sur, Calif. Miller's first tw...more
More about Henry Miller...
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“I need to be alone. I need to ponder my shame and my despair in seclusion; I need the sunshine and the paving stones of the streets without companions, without conversation, face to face with myself, with only the music of my heart for company.” 685 likes
“Everybody says sex is obscene. The only true obscenity is war.” 367 likes
More quotes…