Tropic of Cancer (novel)

Tropic of Cancer (novel)

infobox Book |
name = Tropic of Cancer
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption =
author = Henry Miller
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country = United States
language = English
series =
genre = Novel
publisher = Obelisk Press
release_date = 1934
english_release_date =
media_type = Print (Hardback & Paperback)
pages =
isbn = NA
preceded_by =
followed_by = Tropic of Capricorn

"Tropic of Cancer" is a novel by Henry Miller, first published in 1934 by Obelisk Press in Paris and still in print (Grove Press 1987 paperback: ISBN 0-8021-3178-6). Its publication in 1961 in the United States by Grove Press led to an obscenity trial that was one of several that tested American laws on pornography in the 1960s. While famous for its frank and often graphic depiction of sex, the book is also widely regarded as an important masterpiece of 20th century literature. "Time" magazine included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005. [ [,24459,tropic_of_cancer,00.html ALL-TIME 100 Novels] ]

The novel is set in France (primarily Paris) during the 1930s. It is written in the first person, as are many of Miller's other novels, and often fluctuates between past and present tense. Some chapters follow a strict narrative and refer to Miller's actual friends, colleagues, and workplaces; others are written as stream-of-consciousness reflections. There are many passages explicitly describing the narrator's sexual encounters, but the book does not solely focus on this subject.

The novel included a preface credited to Anaïs Nin (although allegedly penned by Miller himself).Fact|date=July 2008

In 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court, in "Grove Press, Inc., v. Gerstein", cited "Jacobellis v. Ohio" (which was decided the same day) and overruled state court findings of obscenity.

A copyright infringing "Medusa" edition of the novel was published in New York City in 1940 by Jacob Brussel; its title page claimed its place of publication to be Mexico. Brussel was eventually sent to jail for ten years for the edition, a copy of which is in the Library of Congress under call number PS3525.I5454 T7 1940.

Critical reception

George Orwell called this novel "the most important book of the mid-1930s" and Miller "the only imaginative prose-writer of the slightest value who has appeared among the English-speaking races for some years past." [ [ Comments by Orwell on Tropic of Cancer] ] Samuel Beckett hailed it as "a momentous event in the history of modern writing".Fact|date=July 2008 Norman Mailer, in his book on Miller, "Genius and Lust", called it "one of the ten or twenty greatest novels of the century". The Modern Library named it the 50th greatest book of the 20th century. [ [ Modern Library's 100 Best Novels] ] Edmund Wilson said of the novel:

The tone of the book is undoubtedly low; "The Tropic of Cancer", in fact, from the point of view both of its happening and of the language in which they are conveyed, is the lowest book of any real literary merit that I have ever remember to have read... there is a strange amenity of temper and style which bathes the whole composition even when it is disgusting or tiresome. [Aschenbrenner, Karl (1974). [ "The Concepts of Criticism"] . Springer. p. 485. Google Book search. Retrieved on 27 July, 2008. ]

In his dissent from the majority holding that the book was not obscene, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael Musmanno wrote "'Cancer' is not a book. It is a cesspool, an open sewer, a pit of putrefaction, a slimy gathering of all that is rotten in the debris of human depravity." ["Commonwealth v. Robin", 218 A.2d 546, 561 (Pa. 1966).]

Cultural references

*The novel was featured in a 1991 episode of "Seinfeld", "The Library".
*Tom Lehrer, after singing the song "New Math", says that he wants to write a math textbook because he "knows it will sell a million copies" by calling it "Tropic of Calculus".
*The novel is read and discussed in "After Hours", a film by Martin Scorsese. In the 1991 version of "Cape Fear", also directed by Scorsese, the characters of Max Cady and Danielle Bowden discuss the book briefly.
*Several prominent lyrics from Wilco's "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" album are taken from the novel. (examples required)
*A quote from the novel ("Boris has just given me a summary of his views. He is a weather prophet. The weather will continue bad, he says. There will be more calamities, more death, more despair. Not the slightest indication of a change anywhere... We must get in step, a lock step, toward the prison of death. There is no escape. The weather will not change.") precedes Thomas Pynchon's short story, "Entropy".
*In the novel "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater" by Kurt Vonnegut, the book is mentioned several times.
*In the novel "Factotum" by Charles Bukowski, the character Henry Chinaski reads it on a long bus ride.
*Madonna mentions the novel in her book "Sex".
*The book is briefly mentioned in the memoir "Rocket Boys".
*In the play "Pterodactyls", by Nicky Silver, the novel is mentioned by the character Emma: "She reads poems by Emily Bronte and I read chapters from "The Tropic of Cancer" by Henry Miller" (Act II, Scene 2).
*Claire Danes' character in the film "I Love You, I Love You Not" can be seen reading the novel's sequel "Tropic of Capricorn" at the beginning of a scene in which she appears lustful and fantasizing about Jude Law's character.
*Along with "Tropic of Capricorn", this novel is mentioned in the episode Deluge of the popular sitcom "M*A*S*H".
*It is referenced in the expressionist epic drama, "The Chapel Perilous" by Dorothy Hewett.
* The character Cristina in Woody Allen's 2008 "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" can be seen reading the novel during her romantic stay with Juan and Maria Elena.
* The character Jesse Fitzgerald in Jodi Picoult's "My Sister's Keeper" mentions reading it.

ee also

* "Tropic of Capricorn"


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