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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 listeners say about Tropic of Cancer

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A great sordid classic

Would you consider the audio edition of Tropic of Cancer to be better than the print version?

Not entirely - only for the purpose of listening to it in my car.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Tropic of Cancer?

Van Norden's tirade about microphones in his trousers

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

No I haven't. Even though I like Campbell Scott as an actor and enjoyed his narration, I didn't feel that it matched what I expected, which was more of a Brooklyn accent.

Who was the most memorable character of Tropic of Cancer and why?

Mona stood out for me, as she was like a ghost, weaving in and out of the story. (Mona was based on Miller's second wife June - who was also like a ghost in his life). The other characters, including Henry, are quite sordid and hopeless.

Any additional comments?

Paris and the left bank, in the early 1900's, was often romanticized, and for the most part - rightly so. With 'Tropic of Cancer' though, you get it warts and all - the bed bugs, lice and cockroaches - the poverty, sleeping on straw, moldy cheeses and breads, rancid butter etc. The pendulum also swings to the other side where you have the 'swanky' side of life, the prostitutes, the sex, the great meals. You also have to wade through crap like women being referred to as 'c*nts' - however - believe me, it's worth it for the rhapsodizing and for the history. It's interesting, funny, has great dialogue and is a kind of sordid classic!

9 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Joyce-Like with desperation instead of magic

This has much of the feel of James Joyce, but lacks a magic I always get from Joyce. Here the character expresses a desire to unmake modern capitalistic society, but has no idea what to do instead. The book is permeated with an unstated fear of death, and worse, complete non-existence. There is a lot of crude language (mostly C#&T, but a lot of S#&T and F#&K), which many may find crude and uninteresting, if not offensive.

Some reviews seem to think this is a book is a celebration of life, instead it seemed to me a desperate striving for somethinness as the alternative is too fearful to consider. Others (including the protagonist) believe this is expressing the true essence of actual life. I get that essence from Joyce and Whitman but here the striving and the crudeness and the isolation and the immorality, seemed only a mask for fear. Fear is a reality, but it is not the only reality. I suppose that is the fundamental weakness I found in this novel, it was not multidimensional. Joyce and Whitman are frank, and sometimes dark, yet wonderfully multidimensional.

While I would recommend any Joyce and novels like A Clockwork Orange to my (adult) daughter or my wife, I would not recommend this one. I am quite glad I read it, and understand why it is considered important (particularly for the time) but I don't think reading it improved me or my life.

The narration was excellent expressing the dry striving of the protagonist.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Awesome

This is the same narrator for many audiobooks I've purchased. Initially, his voice sounds very monotone and boring but after a while it flows. I think this one is very well done. I tried to read this book several times in my life, but the audiobook makes it much easier to digest, listening to it 30 minutes here... 30 minutes there. on the way to work, while going to bed, etc. Great book.

31 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A madman who dances with lightening in his hands

“When into the womb of time everything is again withdrawn chaos will be restored and chaos is the score upon which reality is written.”

This is one of those amazing books that does violence to your system (think Lolita, Naked Lunch, Ulysses) but still leaves you gobsmacked by its brilliance. IT is the brazen, tortured soul of a man going through an existential crises in Paris. The novel is a cry in the dark; a delirious shout in the void. Miller's prose dances on the edge of the cracked mirror of Modernism. It is dazzling, sharp and extremely dangerous.

This is NOT a novel for the weak, the timid, the easily shocked or those that believe art exists (or should exist) without shadows. Miller lifts the sheets and describes the decay, the despair and the rot of humanity. If you are not prepared for the monstrous vision of Miller you won't be able to find the roses in the dung heap, and thus you will be unable to question your own desire for roses in the first place.

43 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

a lexical magician!

You have to know what you're getting into with Henry Miller as his works may at times come across as utterly tasteless. For some people (myself incl.) those moments make me laugh so much I cry! Not a book to necessarily delve into in public places...but this author has a lexicon that is true genius.

16 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fabulous book, nice reading, terrible, many, guitar interludes

Love this book, but why oh why have the frequent elevator music jam band breakdowns?

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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outstanding outstanding outstanding

What an incredible book! Henry Miller was brilliant. His mixture of filth and fantasy was perfect. I'll never be the same. I recommend this 100%.

5 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

So much poetry, so little plot

I had read this decades ago. I wasn't all that impressed. But hearing it read aloud makes the poetry come through. There is a lot of musing on life and Paris and friends: and that is lovely to listen to. There really isn't any plot, just some extended narrative and a few anecdotes. I thought the narrator did a good job of playing the observer that Henry Miller was. My only complaint was that it needed more chapter breaks.

8 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Loved it.

I liked the story, the performance, everything. The tone of the book and Campbell mix so nice. It was an amazing experience.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Profane but compelling

Much has been written about Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller's semi-autobiographical novel, documenting his time as a struggling American writer in France. It is as vulgar, misogynistic and racist as imagined. It is also extremely engaging and beautifully written.

Moving to Paris in 1930 after the lesbian lover of his second wife died and having left his wife in New York, he lived the life of the quintessential starving writer in Paris for a year before being hired by the Paris bureau of the Chicago Tribune as a proofreader. His lecherous, hard partying life with fellow Ex-pats served as much of the framework of Tropic of Cancer. Greatly Inspired by James Joyce, he employed a stream of consciousness style. But he carried it to a new level, unabashedly and in great detail recounting the highly charged sexual lifestyle into which he wallowed while in France. His writing style and persona attracted the attention of French-Cuban-American writer and essayist Anais Min, who along with her husband Hugh Guiler, provided much of the funding for Miller's Paris decade.

As well as becoming one of his countless sexual partners, she was also his editor and arranged for Tropic of Cancer to be published in France in 1934. It was immediately branded as pornographic and banned from importation into the United States by the Customs Service. This ban stood for 30 years and numerous legal challenges, inevitably becoming a landmark 1964 Supreme Court case that determined it was not pornographic. This allowed legal importation, though countless tens of thousands of copies had been smuggled into American throughout the decades.

Having recently endured a couple of novels by D.H. Lawrence as part of the Modern Library's Top 100 books of the 20th Century, it was refreshing to have Tropic of Cancer come up on my list. Personally, I found Lawrence more annoying rather than titillating. In Miller, his brand of literary sexuality, though more pointed and brutal, also felt more honest. Candor, as well as captivating prose, elevates Miller head and shoulder above Lawrence.

Tropic of Capricorn will be coming up on my list soon.

1 person found this helpful