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Tropic of Capricorn (Modern Classics) Paperback – 12 Jul 1993

3.9 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Paperback, 12 Jul 1993
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Flamingo; (Reissue) edition (12 July 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000654584X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006545842
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 1.9 x 13 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,471,561 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'The world of Capricorn is peopled by eccentrics and nymphomaniacs, to say nothing of the incorrigibly eccentric Miller himself. There is also a memorable portrait of his father, a delicate account of childhood, and savage, humane comedy in the bedlam of an employment office. The rest: fornication and anarchism, sometimes very funny, always rich, exultant and honest.' Sunday Times 'In the course of Tropic of Capricorn, Miller as a Miss Lonelyhearts of the Cosmodemonic Telegraph Company, hires and fires an inexhaustible queue of ex-convicts and whores who turn the office into a hive of degradation. Miller lives constantly at the flashpoint of violence, which he manages to convert to comedy without undermining the anger' Observer 'Tropic of Capricorn is a teeming frieze of fights, copulations and epiphanies. The emphasis is on the mysterious value of ordinary life, not its futility' New Statesman 'A superb entertainment' New York Times

From the Back Cover

A riotous and explosive mixture of joys and frustrations, 'Tropic of Capricorn' chronicles Miller's early life in New York, from his repressive Brooklyn childhood spent amongst 'a galaxy of screwballs' to frantic, hilarious years of dead-end jobs and innumerable erotic adventures. Irreverent and ironic, 'Tropic of Capricorn' is both a comic portrait of the irrepressible Miller himself and a scathing attack on respectable America, the very foundations of which he hoped to shatter.

Publication of 'Tropic of Capricorn' and its sister-volume 'Tropic of Cancer' in Paris in the 1930s was hailed by Samuel Beckett as 'a momentous event in the history of modern writing'. The books were subsequently banned in the UK and the USA for nearly thirty years.

"The world of Capricorn is peopled by eccentrics and nymphomaniacs, to say nothing of the incorrigibly eccentric Miller himself. There is also a memorable portrait of his father, a delicate account of childhood, and savage, humane comedy in the bedlam of an employment office. The rest: fornication and anarchism, sometimes very funny, always rich, exultant and honest"
SUNDAY TIMES

"In the course of 'Tropic of Capricorn', Miller as a Miss Lonelyhearts of the Cosmodemonic Telegraph Company, hires and fires an inexhaustible queue of ex-convicts and whores who turn the office into a hive of degradation. Miller lives constantly at the flashpoint of violence, which he manages to convert to comedy without undermining the anger"
OBSERVER

"'Tropic of Capricorn' is a teeming frieze of fights, copulations and epiphanies. The emphasis is on the mysterious value of ordinary life, not its futility"
NEW STATESMAN

"A superb entertainment"
NEW YORK TIMES

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. White on 27 April 2006
Format: Paperback
I read this book, having seen reviews on other sites, and having read Henry and June by Anais Nin and some of her other novels. People had made comments that this book changed their life, and their way of looking at the world. I found it liberating. There are moments of clarity which strike resonance and truly make you stand back and revalue the accepted. There is a review on this site that calls this book disgusting. They missed the point. By a long way. There is an energy and vitality to Millers writing that is infectious, and quite simply, brilliant.
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Format: Paperback
To say that Henry Miller hated humanity is a complete falsehood. To quote from his essay 'The Hour of Man': "By responding with a full spirit to any demand which is made upon us we aid our fellow man to help himself". The reaction of one of the other reviewers demonstrates the enduring greatness of this book, and that its power to shock lies not in its famed obscenity but in its unparalleled honesty. When I read Henry Miller I am continuously struck by the truthfullness of what I read. This can be too much for some people to bear, to quote from the same essay:
"We hide from the face of reality: it is too terrible, we think. Yet it is we, we, only we, who have created this hideous world. And it is we who will change it- by changing our own inner vision."
I should also say that Miller's prose style is virtuosic and NOT 'stream-of-consciousness'. Miller does not present us with the inner thoughts of characters written in such a way as to reflect the processes of thought. He writes mostly from the first person, but with such freedom and virtuosity as I have never come across. Like a bird trapped in a cage, Miller sings his heart out for the pure joy of it. Reading this book for the first time was the most moving experience I have ever had when engaging with a work of art.
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The book itself needs no commentary, an epochal classic. I want to comment on the presentation, i.e. this particular Penguin books edition. Not to judge a book by its cover, but still it is important to the pleasure of reading that the object one holds in one's hands meet certain aesthetic standards - and that the cover be somehow suitable to the content. So it's no faint praise to say that this is one of the few editions of Henry Miller's books that is actually pleasing to the eye. Outside of the New Directions titles and the now-rare Olympia Press and Obelisk Press editions published in Paris, Miller's books seem to be stubbornly fated to cheap tasteless cover designs - of which the absolute nadir has to be the Grove Press editions of the 1960s, which are still omnipresent. The cover design for this Penguin edition of the two "Tropics" is for once tasteful, and the artwork appropriate to the contents.

This being said, I am surprized - particularly given this is a Penguin edition - by the poor quality of the text printed here. Typos abound on nearly every page - even gross errors like incomplete sentences. It looks to me like some poor beast at Penguin was assigned to re-type the whole novel based on a previous printed edition, and were not all that into what they were reading... and nobody else bothered to read it again after they were done.
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By A Customer on 2 Nov. 2002
Format: Paperback
Henry Miller was one of the greatest writers of all time, and this is his masterpiece. He takes the seedlings planted in 'Cancer' and lets them grow to fruition. His prose has intense power and enfolds you completely. Miller's is a world ripe with unbridled possibilities. The magic and beauty of sex, of love, and of literature fills the novel and uplifts the reader. Miller's approach to the mysteries of existence is ultimately imbued with such humanity and generosity of spirit that reading his work can genuinely alter the way you wish to live your life. I read his books at university (15 years ago) when I was struggling to find a path through life, and I am thankful that I stumbled upon them - you will be too.
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Format: Paperback
im not going to write a serious review because im only a kid. i would just like to know why the person who gave one star thinks that something so bad is capable of producing depression - surely it has some power over you? it did for me; i felt almost sucidal after reading just some of this book when i was only seventeen, so be warned, there's a darkness to this text like no other i've experienced before, but it's because it's real. im reading it again now and im in love with it, the writing draws you in so that time can pass without you even realising. if it's actually the worst book you've ever read that's an achievment.
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This is an instance where the 'Star' system of reviewing simply does not work. Parts of this book are worthy of far more than 5 Stars while other areas barely merit 1 Star - hence my title, 'Some glorious moments in many terrible half-hours' - a term I once read in relation to Wagner's music. This book is Wagnerian in scale, while the female vagina serves as the 'Leitmotiv' (leading motif).
The 'Overture' - the first 60 or so pages, provide examples of some of the best writing I've yet encountered; but once we get into the book proper it often feels as though Miller does not really know where he intends to take us ... The 'Glorious Moments' are still there, but in-between these there are volumes of self-indulgent writing, usually related to historical figures/themes that do not always relate closely to the supposed idea of the book - growing up and being thoroughly disillusioned by life in the USA.
I think it's hugely misogynistic. Sad. Why insult and attempt to degrade the one thing one supposedly adores? To be this way hurts me as surely as it must hurt every woman on the planet. As a result of this it fails miserably in the arena of 'Erotica'. (I think it's as sexy as standing in the queue of a Salvation Army Soup Kitchen) It's called 'demystifying the female parts'. Really? Tell me; which man on this earth finds the female 'parts' a mystery? (Oh, for the fumbling, bungling day it once was) Having said all that, I believe the 'Glorious Moments' to be wonderful examples of genius at work - particularly the sections concerned with writing (page 32/3/4)- or the Dostoyevsky references (189) etc. and I also believe that, for anyone who is a writer or a writing student, then this book is a treasure trove of ideas and 'how to say it'. How sad it is that it is so uneven, and for that reason alone the Star system of reviewing simply does not work - hence my pathetic 3 stars.
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