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Tropic of Cancer (Harper Perennial Modern Classics) Paperback – 3 May 2005

3.8 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Paperback, 3 May 2005
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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; New Ed edition (3 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 589815504X
  • ISBN-13: 978-5898155049
  • ASIN: 0007204469
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 12.7 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 378,133 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


‘A ranting, randy book carried along by a deep, sensual enjoyment of living.’ Sunday Times

‘Tropic of Cancer is a great prophetic book, a warning of what deadens life, an affirmation that it can yet be lived in an age whose sterile non-cultures seek to thwart all mainsprings of fertility. Miller reveals himself as a battered faun, a crafty innocent, a lonely, lazy, sometimes fearful, always steadfast, worshipper of life’ Spectator

About the Author

Henry Miller was born in Brooklyn, New York. In 1930, he went to live in Paris and for the next ten years he mingled with impoverished expatriates and bohemian Parisians. His first published book, Tropic of Cancer appeared in 1934 published by the Obelisk Press in Paris. It was followed five years later by its sister volume Tropic of Capricorn. Sexually explicit, these books electrified the European literary avant-garde and were almost universally banned outside France. In 1961, after an epic legal battle, Tropic of Cancer was finally published in the US (and then in England in 1963). Miller became a household name, hailed by the Sixties counter-culture as a prophet of freedom and sexual revolution. He died on June 7 1980.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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Henry Miller's most famous book-one presumes- is a sort of autobiography. The plot (if indeed the book has a plot) tells of the life of a destitute writer and his hungry and marginal existence in post World War One Paris. Notorious for being banned upon publication back in 1934 the book has acquired (and retained) its cult status among several generations of readers. The book is most commonly read as some sort of erotic classic: certainly, the book abounds with graphic descriptions of all manner of sexual encounters but the book is also a fine vehicle for Mr Miller's prose style which- nearly eighty years on-I greatly enjoyed. Miller is clearly much more than a mere pornographer and he was obviously influential upon many later American writers (Jack Kerouac, perhaps).

It is worth noting that George Orwell was a huge fan of this book going so far as to call it 'one of the most important books of the 1930s' and certainly it is not difficult to see parallels with this book and many passages in Orwell's own 'Paris and London' in that both books deal with the lives of the destitute and penniless. Miller also appears to share Orwell's love of ironic detail such as the episode where a pious young Hindu- sent Europe with funds to spread the message of Gandhi- uses the money to run amok in a whorehouse!

Certainly since the so called 'sexual revolution' of the 1960s it is possible to read this book as some sort of herald of more enlightened attitudes towards sexuality. To some extent it is. Miller writes with a frankness that even many modern writers would think twice about. However, it would be interesting to read a good feminist analysis of this book as so much of its content is about what men do to (often powerless) women such as Elsa, the repeatedly seduced German maid.
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By A Customer on 22 Aug. 2002
Format: Paperback
This is an amazing book. If you're young, confused, full of energy yet not sure how to use it or express yourself, this book is a bible. Miller shows how the essential core of human self-belief can guide you through any adversity. Self-awareness, love of life and acceptance of the fact that anything is possible with sheer faith are at the heart of this book; on the surface is an intensely funny and readable picaresque odyssey full of earth and sex. You can read it and re-read it and it will always make you feel that life is worth it.
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...and he does not nibble earlobes or graze the back of the neck with the finger tips. Sorry ladies.

I was that very youthful 16 shortly after the "unexpurgated" Grove Press version of this work was first published. "Underage" in those days of yore was a fussier concept, and so I mustered courage and walked into the bookstore of a large department store in downtown Pittsburgh, and nervously carried this book to the cash register. The cashier must have been all of 19. I probably misread her glance, and blurted out the prepared line: "It's for a school assignment." She was decent enough not to chuckle too much, and rang up the sale.

So this became one of the first "adult" books that I read, in both senses of the word. And small portions of it I have remembered over lo' these many years, like the flashlight routine and the calendar, what you should not do in a bidet (which, at the time, I had never heard of), and that virtually mandatory name by which all women should be referred to: a hard guttural sound, with four letters, which refers to the only "useful" part of their anatomy. And, of yes, there was a lot of venereal disease, and a rather casual attitude towards it. Even at 16, on the threshold of making some independent choices of my own, I did have to wonder if this is how the "real adult world" worked.

And so, on the re-read I found that I had walked on many of the streets of Paris that he so liberally sprinkles his text with. And I knew all the authors (and had read many of them), including his oblique reference to Marcel Proust. I found his conduct appalling and his description of it more so.
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the first henry miller book i read and still the best (mind you i've only managed three so far). to put it lightly, he was a very intense chap. you get the feeling he wrote it all as fast as he could. it's about when he lived in paris, the friends he made, the hunger he experienced and the near-endless stream of whores he dipped into. it's brilliant because he's so passionate, dark but funny in places. like nothing i'd ever read.
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This book is like nothing I have ever read. It isn't an easy read that's for sure and it's a very uneven piece of literature yet there is something rugged about it that makes it more than admirable. Henry's rant which is not merely a novel or a book, nor a poem but a 'prolonged insult, a gob of spit in the face of Art, a kick in the pants to God, Man, Destiny, Time, Love, Beauty . . .what you will.' Henry writes and so it is; some of this work is difficult summarise because it is so spontaneous and random that it is difficult to put a finger on it. Some of it is written in the present tense and some of it in the past. Some of it is memoir some of it is fantasy but it all gels together to produce a dream-like projection of what it's like to live on the edge with no job in the middle of Paris in the 1930's.

George Orwell had written a great essay about this book called 'In The Whales Mouth' which also helps to sum up what this novel it really about and what it compromises. Henry describes the atmosphere of Paris like no other author and he uses his very own neurotic stream of consciousness style to get his point accross. What I found this book to be about was the liberation of yourself from conventions; from the restraint of society and finding your own independant and artistic voice. Henry had certainly done this.

There are many funny stories and memorable moments in this book and some of the characters in which Henry describes are hillarious like some of the people Henry had took advantage of - the devil he was at times. The whole is like a confession, a surrender of the ego which is why I found it quite hard at times to get through. This is well worth reading if you are interested bohemianism and moving beyond the conventional barriers of everyday life which bind us to society. I also recommend 'The Tropic Of Capricorn' which for me was an easier read.
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