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Tropic of Cancer

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  57,722 ratings  ·  2,941 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 volume ...more
Paperback, 318 pages
Published January 6th 1994 by Grove Press (first published 1934)
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Gaia I'm reading the last pages of the book. Personally, I don't think the point was to denigrate women, and I did not feel dissuaded. Whores do exists,…moreI'm reading the last pages of the book. Personally, I don't think the point was to denigrate women, and I did not feel dissuaded. Whores do exists, and he talks about them, sometimes with strong words and expression, but it's all part of his poetical style. He writes down the decay of his society, and from the bottom of the dirt, meaningless, life, from chaos he builds up a brand new rebirth by means of art and sound and literature and women too. Of course is a male point of view and it can be hard to find yourself it, and I do believe that some women could not appreciate it. However the message of the whole book is just so powerful when you feel it that you can read it from a higher point of view and surpass the first impressions, that can be found offensive. if you didn't already, I suggest you to read some of the love letters Henry wrote to Anais Nin. He put down words every woman would love to hear from a lover.
(Of course this is a personal thought) (less)
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3.68  · 
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 ·  57,722 ratings  ·  2,941 reviews

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Sep 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 17, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Paul Bryant
Feb 13, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: novels
My fiction addiction
Had lost all its friction
I needed raw meat but this new stuff was veggie
Predictable, safe, and not bold, tough and edgy
I thought Tropic of Cancer
Would be the answer
For years it was banned
Throughout every land
But five c words per page
Suppressed masculine rage
And tours of French pudenda
Was his only agenda
So reading Henry Miller
Just made me feel iller
And iller
And iller
And iller
Sep 05, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Paquita Maria Sanchez
I am going to create a new goodreads bookshelf titled "sausage party." It will exist solely for Henry Miller.
Jason Pettus
Jul 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. 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
I feel like I have been reading this for a thousand years.

After reading Anais Nin's The Delta of Venus some months ago, Miller appeared on my radar. It seemed only natural to follow up her collection with something of his, given their well-known relationship. Plus, Tropic of Cancer, Miller's semi-autobiographical memoir from his time in Paris, was a banned book in the U.S. after its publication in 1934. It wasn't until 30 years later that the Supreme Court deemed it "non-obscene". I love the ide
John Carncross
Apr 27, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Steven Godin
Don't really have the enthusiasm to review this in depth, so will be brief. This was my second buddy-read, reading a chapter per week, the fact Paris was the setting got the thumbs up from me before even turning a page, and I have to admit, I was at first dazzled by Miller's writing, the whole bohemian lifestyle scene was quite extraordinary, if a little exaggerated. But over time, I started to drastically lose interest, everything just became a little too childish for my liking, in the way he c ...more
Apr 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
"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 something for old people, like Henry James.

I kinda hat
Sep 21, 2009 rated it liked it
I'm usually quite a fan of zeitgeist crystallization in literature. Here is a true account/fiction which places a smudgy magnifying glass to the underbelly of a famed city. Paris has NEVER been described THIS ugly!

The protagonist is Mr. Miller, and he lives in absolute poverty, which enhances his artist's eye. He transcends the tangibility and heaviness of matter...

Anyway, I know this was controversial and even banned for decades because of the sexual depictions and language. This is from the 30
Ian "Marvin" 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)
Oct 14, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
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
Nov 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1001-list
“I believe that today more than ever a book should be sought after even if it has only one great page in it. We must search for fragments, splinters, toenails, anything that has ore in it, anything that is capable of resuscitating the body and the soul.”

Tropic of Cancer was a visceral, pulsating heap of 1930’s Paris, served up by an American expat writer/drifter/ne’er-do-well. Interestingly, this thing was banned in the U.S. for over 25 years due to its so-called “obscene content.” I personall
Vit Babenco
Apr 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What is a writer’s internal world? What is a writer’s external world?
One is ejected into the world like a dirty little mummy; the roads are slippery with blood and no one knows why it should be so. Each one is traveling his own way and, though the earth be rotting with good things, there is no time to pluck the fruits; the procession scrambles toward the exit sign, and such a panic is there, such a sweat to escape, that the weak and the helpless are trampled into the mud and their cries are unhe
K.D. Absolutely
Aug 08, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  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
Jan 29, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition






an astute, thoughtful, sensitive examination of the common man with candid observations of art, society, community, and psychology





Parthiban Sekar
“I am going to sing for you, a little off key perhaps, but I will sing.”

This is definitely not one of those books which you take on your holidays to a sunny-side parks, get cozy, and read, as it contains extreme contents, acts, thoughts, and ideas which would leave you dumbfounded and deranged. There was no any usual forms of addressing "Women": it lacks "Ladies" and misses "Miss" (You get the idea, don't you?); There are also countless women who take a colloquial name by their anatomy. No Wond
Luís C.
In the meridian of time there is no justice: there is only the poetry of motion creating the illusion of truth and drama. If at any time and anywhere we face face to face the absolute vanishes that great sympathy that made men like Gautama and Jesus seem divine..

"Tropic of Cancer" was first published in 1934 and was soon accused of pornographic and obscene, getting banned in the US until the year of 1961. Today, reading, although permitted, still causes some discomfort and nausea. It's like gett
Jan 15, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2010
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
Dec 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
“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.”

One of many quotes in this book that touched my soul.

I have long been attracted to books about American authors that moved to Paris. Their lives seemed so interesting and different from anything in the US. So that was my original draw to this book. Then
Jr Bacdayan
Jan 29, 2017 rated it liked it
"Some day I'll write a book about myself, about my thoughts. I don't mean just a piece of introspective analysis... I mean that I'll lay myself down on the operating table and I'll expose my whole guts... every goddamned thing. Has anybody ever done that before? - What the hell are you smiling at? Does it sound naïf?"
Mar 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 20-ce, fiction, us
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."
Trenton Judson
Mar 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
“When into the womb of time everything is again withdrawn chaos will be restored and chaos is the score upon which reality is written.”

This is one of those amazing books that does violence to your system (think Lolita, Naked Lunch, Ulysses) but still leaves you gobsmacked by its brilliance. IT is the brazen, tortured soul of a man going through an existential crises in Paris. The novel is a cry in the dark; a delirious shout in the void. Miller's prose dances on the edge of the cracked mirror o
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing

I suppose it is a difficult book. Not in terms of language but what Miller is trying to achieve through this novel. One has to pay attention. Else, one might dismiss it after a few pages. One must read it slowly before jumping to quick conclusions. I understand why this book got so much flak. Very often people condemn a book without reading it or not reading it properly. In fact, there are also moments where I too got annoyed by the author's 'in your face' style. But there is much in it that I l
May 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
They say - "a picture is worth a thousand words", so here's a picture of Henry Miller being thoroughly nuzzled in 1975


raunchy, innocent, depraved, virtuous, full of desperate joy and utter sadness.

Simply wonderful.
وائل المنعم
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
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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, California. Miller's fir
“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.” 1416 likes
“Everybody says sex is obscene. The only true obscenity is war.” 645 likes
More quotes…