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Tropic of Cancer | [Henry Miller]

Tropic of Cancer

Now hailed as an American classic, Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller's masterpiece, was banned as obscene in this country for 27 years after its first publication in Paris in 1943. 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 of Miller's famed mixture of memoir and fiction.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Tropic of Cancer is Henry Miller's 1934 "autobiography as novel" about the impoverished, middle-aged writer's expatriate sojourn in depression-era Paris and France. Banned in the US until 1961 for its sexual content, Tropic of Cancer has been and remains a literary classic of a unique sort. "A dirty book worth reading," Ezra Pound famously wrote, as he went on to compare it to James Joyce's Ulysses. Prominent 1930s literati — including T. S. Eliot, John Dos Passos, Aldous Huxley, and George Orwell — joined in praising this non-literary, literary work.

Campbell Scott's narrative style has a unique stamp. His baseline technique in Tropic of Cancer is the dampening of his voice, joined with a masterly expressive control that emanates from this restriction. The effect is a quite strong sense of, and control over, mood and an intimate narrative connection with the individual listener. Scott's approach is suggestive of sotto voce, literarily "under speaking", similar to that bit of news spoken by a friend through a cupped hand in lowered tones into your ear — in the Age of iPod, the narrator speaking through your earphones. Scott moves fluently from this baseline into the very lively stuff of Miller's tropes, riffs and rhetoric, and comically charmed outrages. Scott hits the marks, even as a tonal resonance of intimate communication remains constant. And Henry Miller's narrative voice? George Orwell observed, in his 1940 essay "Inside the Whale", "Read him for five pages, ten pages, and you feel the peculiar relief that comes not so much from understanding as from being understood. 'He knows all about me,' you feel. 'It is as though you could hear a voice speaking to you...with no humbug in it, no moral purpose, merely an implicit assumption that we are all alike.'"

With their production of Tropic of Cancer, Harper Audio and Campbell Scott have reached an elusive artistic benchmark: that point where the voice of the author and the voice of the narrator converge. —David Chasey

Publisher's Summary

Now hailed as an American classic, Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller's masterpiece, was banned as obscene in this country for 27 years after its first publication in Paris in 1943. 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 of Miller's famed mixture of memoir and fiction, which chronicles with unapologetic gusto, the bawdy adventures of a young expatriate writer, his friends, and the characters they meet in Paris in the 1930s. Tropic of Cancer is now considered, as Norman Mailer said, "one of the 10 or 20 great novels of our century".

©1961 Grove Press, Inc.; (P)2008 HarperCollins Publishers

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.2 (238 )
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3.7 (133 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Kenny Bangkok, Thailand 12-03-12
    Kenny Bangkok, Thailand 12-03-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Oh Henry"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Too bad all of Henry Millers books are not audiobooks. Definitely one of the best writers I have come in contact with. Although there are massive ramblings, there are also very focused rants that hit a cord.


    What does Campbell Scott bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Campbell is a good reader but I thought he could have been a bit scruffier to match the drunken nature of the character.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, there is too much to think about, I actually wanted to roll back the audio and revisit passages; not so easy in audio format.


    Any additional comments?

    I read this in book format years ago and this audio version really intrigued me to go back and read all of the Henry Miller books again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barry Petaluma, CA, United States 09-27-12
    Barry Petaluma, CA, United States 09-27-12 Member Since 2006

    My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A truly frank depiction of his times"

    The think I have to appreciate about this book is that it tells a really honest picture of the world in the time it was written. Literature (at least in the English-speaking world) up to this time had generally circumscribed certain areas of life from being openly depicted. I suppose it's debatable whether Miller qualifies as literature. I often felt like he was merely publishing his personal journal, though whether many people were that frank even in their own journals is up for question. The point is that our impressions of those times are colored by the literature that has come down to us, and gets reinforced by the films made about those times. Miller reminds us that people then were pretty much like people now. I'd like to quote what he said in the movie Reds about that but I'm pretty sure that would violate community standards at Audible.com. Clearly, the grungy part of the world Miller inhabited at that time was not the whole world, but it was there and he documented it. I also have to appreciate that he never attempted to justify his lifestyle. He simply wrote it down and left it to other people to decide if it was worth reading. Regardless of your opinion of him or his books, there is no denying he brings a vivid energy to the page you will not find in most other authors. One other thing I have to comment on is that in this book, as in a number of other novels from that era, the real story is only vaguely alluded to and only becomes clear at the end. Those who are distracted by the narrator's language and exploits are likely to miss the point. Whether the point is worth being dragged through Paris's demimonde is up to the reader to decide.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suzanne Reichel Hillsboro, OR USA 11-08-10
    Suzanne Reichel Hillsboro, OR USA 11-08-10 Member Since 2008

    Suzanne Reichel

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    "Worst book I've ever read/listened to!"

    I'm going to assume this book is a classic because the language used was shocking in its day, but now it just seems crude and the storyline was boring beyond belief.

    5 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sandra Gallup, NM, United States 10-08-12
    Sandra Gallup, NM, United States 10-08-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Dont waste your time"
    What would have made Tropic of Cancer better?

    Nothing. Its just not what I enjoy listening to/reading.


    What could Henry Miller have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Nothing.


    Have you listened to any of Campbell Scott’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Campbell Scott's performance was fine. He has a wonderful voice for this type of use.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Disappointment.


    Any additional comments?

    I read the reviews of this book online and I realize that this book was significant at the time of its realease. However, in this day and age, the language that was offensive back then is almost common place now. I have no issue with the language. I just couldnt get into the story. Its one of the only books I've ever put down and didnt finish.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James C. San Luis Obispo, CA, USA 04-28-09
    James C. San Luis Obispo, CA, USA 04-28-09
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    "Surprisingly good"

    Excellent in every way, except for the music, which I would lose.

    2 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barrie new york, NY, USA 06-07-09
    Barrie new york, NY, USA 06-07-09
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    "junk"

    What junk. Skip it.

    2 of 25 people found this review helpful
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