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on 27 April 2006
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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on 15 March 2006
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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on 20 July 2013
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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on 2 November 2002
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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on 9 March 2007
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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on 18 June 2013
These days, with precious few minutes left after work and family to sit down and read, I'm sad to say I rarely finish a novel. But Tropic of Capricorn just gripped from the beginning and I'm already a hundred pages in. I even read it on the bus.
It's premature for me to say whether this is a great or a flawed book. The brutal honesty at times is coarsely delivered. But overall, the scale of the ambition, the fire and intensity with which it's delivered... True, it comes out like a rant, a huge outpouring of ideas and experiences, but that is an essential part of the work, sweeping away form, straight from the heart. For a comparator you'd have to go European e.g. Céline, but this book takes it a notch up in terms of the sheer force of the writing.
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on 18 April 2011
I first picked this book up in Australia when I was travelling up the east coast, I was in Surfers Paradise at the time. This was the first Miller book I had ever read and it moved me beyond words. It is the prequel to his classic The Tropic of Cancer and tells the story of Miller before he set off to Paris on his bohemian escepade. The novel in itself is reflective on Miller having the inner-strength and wisdom to give up his conventional working lifestyle and being able to move out of that box that we get stuck in from time to time.

Miller was fed-up with America and writes of his hatred of the monotonous and repetitive nature of everyday working life. He worked in an office for a telegraphing company and it's not so much what or where Henry Miller is writing about, it's his raving rants, his ingenius flow of words which he uses to describe the feelings he felt for the lifestyle in the twenties. He writes with great spiritual insight and is the deepest writer who has written in auto-biographical format.

If you can identify with Miller's unconventional attitude towards conformity and his desire to escape this depressive way of life it will only make you yearn to go travelling to really explore the world for what it really is. Henry also inspired the beat generation and if you enjoyed 'On The Road' then no doubt you will like this book too as it has a terrific flow but Miller is slightly more fiery. Miller was a great artist and I recommend you watch his interviews on youtube as well as if you listen to his voice you will understand what I mean as he was far ahead of his time...
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on 24 May 2005
I'm amazed no one else has reviewed this book before. It's a novel of historic importance, where you can see the earlier restrictions artists placed upon themselves in creating forms thrown off, to allow such inspired and vivid passages as you find in the book
The book suffers in part for the abandonment of traditional prose style, and the flourishes it goes into, but Henry Miller created his most direct and striking work inside this book. It led me to reading most of what he's written, but I would still consider this book to have had the most impact
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on 8 November 2012
So many influences bubbling under the surface, nods to the metaphysicals at every turn and equally prequelling current and not so current writers.
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on 7 April 2014
I really like it and I found it very useful for my personal interests in arts and literature. It comes as it is described, so very satisfactory.
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