Tropic of Cancer (novel)
Tropic of Cancer is a novel by Henry Miller
Henry Miller
Henry Valentine Miller was an American novelist and painter. He was known for breaking with existing literary forms and developing a new sort of 'novel' that is a mixture of novel, autobiography, social criticism, philosophical reflection, surrealist free association, and mysticism, one that is...

 which has been described as "notorious for its candid sexuality" and as responsible for the "free speech that we now take for granted in literature." It was first published in 1934
1934 in literature
The year 1934 in literature involved some significant events and new books.-Events:* The first Flash Gordon comic strip is published.*Boris Pasternak and Korney Chukovsky are among those present at the first Congress of the Soviet Union of Writers....

 by the Obelisk Press
Obelisk Press
Obelisk Press was an English language press based in Paris, France, which was founded by Jack Kahane in 1929.Kahane, a novelist, began the Obelisk Press after his publisher, Grant Richards, went bankrupt. Going into partnership with a printer, Kahane, as Cecil Barr, published his next novel...

 in Paris, France, but this edition was banned in the United States. Its publication in 1961
1961 in literature
The year 1961 in literature involved some significant events and new books.-Events:*First English production of Bertolt Brecht's The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui*Michael Halliday publishes his seminal paper on the systemic functional grammar model....

 in the U.S. by Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press is an American publishing imprint that was founded in 1951. Imprints include: Black Cat, Evergreen, Venus Library, Zebra. Barney Rosset purchased the company in 1951 and turned it into an alternative book press in the United States. The Atlantic Monthly Press, under the aegis of its...

 led to obscenity trials that tested American laws on pornography in the early 1960s. In 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 declared the book non-obscene. It is widely regarded as an important masterpiece of 20th century literature.

Writing and publication

Miller wrote the book between 1930 and 1934 during his "nomadic life" in Paris. Miller gave the following explanation of why the book's title was Tropic of Cancer: "It was because to me cancer symbolizes the disease of civilization, the endpoint of the wrong path, the necessity to change course radically, to start completely over from scratch.”

Anaïs Nin
Anaïs Nin
Anaïs Nin was a French-Cuban author, based at first in France and later in the United States, who published her journals, which span more than 60 years, beginning when she was 11 years old and ending shortly before her death, her erotic literature, and short stories...

 helped to edit the book. In 1934, Jack Kahane
Jack Kahane
Jack Kahane was a Manchester-born writer and publisher who founded the Obelisk Press in Paris in 1929.He was the son of Selig and Susy Kahane, both Romanian-born immigrants. Kahane, a novelist, began the Obelisk Press after his publisher, Grant Richards, went bankrupt...

's Obelisk Press
Obelisk Press
Obelisk Press was an English language press based in Paris, France, which was founded by Jack Kahane in 1929.Kahane, a novelist, began the Obelisk Press after his publisher, Grant Richards, went bankrupt. Going into partnership with a printer, Kahane, as Cecil Barr, published his next novel...

 published the book with financial backing from Nin, who had borrowed the money from Otto Rank
Otto Rank
Otto Rank was an Austrian psychoanalyst, writer, teacher and therapist. Born in Vienna as Otto Rosenfeld, he was one of Sigmund Freud's closest colleagues for 20 years, a prolific writer on psychoanalytic themes, an editor of the two most important analytic journals, managing director of Freud's...


Emerson quotation, preface, and introduction

In the 1961 edition, opposite the novel's title page is a quotation from Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet, who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century...

These novels will give way, by and by, to diaries or autobiographies—captivating books, if only a man knew how to choose among what he calls his experiences that which is really his experience, and how to record truth truly.

The 1961 edition includes an introduction by Karl Shapiro
Karl Shapiro
Karl Jay Shapiro was an American poet. He was appointed the fifth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1946.-Biography:...

 written in 1960 and entitled "The Greatest Living Author." The first three sentences are:
I call Henry Miller the greatest living author because I think he is. I do not call him a poet because he has never written a poem; he even dislikes poetry, I think. But everything he has written is a poem in the best as well as in the broadest sense of the word. ...

Following the introduction is a preface written by Nin in 1934, which begins as follows:
Here is a book which, if such a thing were possible, might restore the our appetite for the fundamental realities. The predominant note will seem one of bitterness, and bitterness there is, to the full. But there is also a wild extravagance, a mad gaiety, a verve, a gusto, at times almost a delirium. ...


Set in France (primarily Paris) during the late 1920s and early 1930s, Tropic of Cancer centers around Miller's life as a struggling writer. Late in the novel, Miller explains his artistic approach to writing the book itself, stating:
Up to the present, my idea of collaborating with myself has been to get off the gold standard of literature. My idea briefly has been to present a resurrection of the emotions, to depict the conduct of a human being in the stratosphere of ideas, that is, in the grip of delirium."

Combining autobiography and fiction, some chapters follow a narrative of some kind and refer to Miller's actual friends, colleagues, and workplaces; others are written as stream-of-consciousness reflections that are occasionally epiphanic
Epiphany (feeling)
An epiphany is the sudden realization or comprehension of the essence or meaning of something...

. The novel is written in the first person
First person
First person may refer to:* First-person narrative, a literary device* First-person interpretation, a museum technique* First Person , an interview-based television series created by Errol Morris...

, as are many of Miller's other novels, and does not have a linear organization, but rather fluctuates frequently between the past and present.


The book largely functions as an immersive meditation on the human condition. As a struggling writer, Miller describes his experience living among a community of bohemians in Paris, where he intermittently suffers from hunger, homelessness, squalor, loneliness and despair over his recent separation from his wife. Describing his perception of Paris during this time, Miller wrote:
One can live in Paris—I discovered that!—on just grief and anguish. A bitter nourishment—perhaps the best there is for certain people. At any rate, I had not yet come to the end of my rope. I was only flirting with disaster. ... I understood then why it is that Paris attracts the tortured, the hallucinated, the great maniacs of love. I understood why it is that here, at the very hub of the wheel, one can embrace the most fantastic, the most impossible theories, without finding them in the least strange; it is here that one reads again the books of his youth and the enigmas take on new meanings, one for every white hair. One walks the streets knowing that he is mad, possessed, because it is only too obvious that these cold, indifferent faces are the visages of one's keepers. Here all boundaries fade away and the world reveals itself for the mad slaughterhouse that it is. The treadmill stretches away to infinitude, the hatches are closed down tight, logic runs rampant, with bloody cleaver flashing.

There are many passages explicitly describing the narrator's sexual encounters. A 1978 paper found the sexual comedy in the book to be "undeniably low… [but with] a stronger visceral appeal than high comedy." The characters are caricatures, and the male characters "stumbl[e] through the mazes of their conceptions of woman."

A 2002 analysis examined the theme of homophobia
Homophobia is a term used to refer to a range of negative attitudes and feelings towards lesbian, gay and in some cases bisexual, transgender people and behavior, although these are usually covered under other terms such as biphobia and transphobia. Definitions refer to irrational fear, with the...

 in the novel. It found that the novel contained a "deeply repressed homoerotic
Homoeroticism refers to the erotic attraction between members of the same sex, either male–male or female–female , most especially as it is depicted or manifested in the visual arts and literature. It can also be found in performative forms; from theatre to the theatricality of uniformed movements...

 desire that periodically surfaces."

Music and dance are other recurrent themes in the book. Music is used "as a sign of the flagging vitality Miller everywhere rejects." References to dancing include a comparison of loving Mona to a "dance of death," and a call for the reader to join in "a last expiring dance" even though "we are doomed."


Other than the first-person narrator "Henry Miller," the major characters include:
  • Boris: A friend who rents rooms at the Villa Borghese. The character was modeled after Michael Fraenkel, a writer who "had sheltered Miller during his hobo days" in 1930.
  • Carl: A writer friend who complains about optimistic people, about Paris, and about writing. Miller helps Carl write love letters to "the rich cunt, Irene," and Carl relates his encounter with her to Miller. Carl lives in squalor and has sex with a minor
    Minor (law)
    In law, a minor is a person under a certain age — the age of majority — which legally demarcates childhood from adulthood; the age depends upon jurisdiction and application, but is typically 18...

    . The inspiration for Carl was Miller's friend Alfred Perlès
    Alfred Perles
    Alfred Perlès was an Austrian writer , who was most famous for his associations with Henry Miller, Lawrence Durrell, and Anaïs Nin....

    , a writer.
  • Collins: A sailor who befriends Fillmore and Miller. As Collins had fallen in love with a boy in the past, his undressing a sick Miller to put him to bed has been interpreted as evidence of a homoerotic desire for Miller.
  • Fillmore: A "young man in the diplomatic service" who becomes friends with Miller. He invites Miller to stay with him; later the Russian "princess" Macha with "the clap
    Gonorrhea is a common sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. The usual symptoms in men are burning with urination and penile discharge. Women, on the other hand, are asymptomatic half the time or have vaginal discharge and pelvic pain...

    " joins them. Fillmore and Miller disrupt a mass while hung over. Toward the end of the book, Fillmore impregnates and promises to marry a French woman named Ginette, but she is physically abusive and controlling, so Miller convinces Fillmore to leave Paris without her. Fillmore's real-life counterpart was Richard Galen Osborn, a lawyer.
  • Mona: A character corresponding to Miller's estranged second wife June Miller
    June Miller
    June Mansfield Miller was the much-written-about and discussed second wife of Henry Miller.- Early life :...

    . Miller remembers Mona, who is now in America, nostalgically.
  • Tania: A woman married to Sylvester. The character was modeled after Bertha Schrank, who was married to Joseph Schrank. Tania has an affair with Miller, who fantasizes about her:

O Tania, where now is that warm cunt of yours, those fat, heavy garters, those soft, bulging thighs? There is a bone in my prick six inches long. I will ream out every wrinkle in your cunt, Tania, big with seed. I will send you home to your Sylvester with an ache in your belly and your womb turned inside out. Your Sylvester! Yes, he knows how to build a fire, but I know how to inflame a cunt. I shoot hot bolts into you, Tania, I make your ovaries incandescent.
  • Van Norden: A friend of Miller’s who is "probably the most sexually corrupt man" in the book, having a "total lack of empathy with women." Van Norden refers to women using terms such as "my Georgia cunt," "fucking cunt," "rich cunt," "married cunts," "Danish cunt," and "foolish cunts." Miller helps Van Norden move to a room in a hotel, where Van Norden brings women "day in and out." The character was based on Wambly Bald, a gossip columnist.

United States

Upon the book's publication in France in 1934, the United States Customs Service
United States Customs Service
Until March 2003, the United States Customs Service was an agency of the U.S. federal government that collected import tariffs and performed other selected border security duties.Before it was rolled into form part of the U.S...

 banned the book from being imported into the U.S. Frances Steloff sold copies of the novel smuggled from Paris during the 1930s at her Gotham Book Mart
Gotham Book Mart
The Gotham Book Mart, in operation from 1920 to 2007, was a famous midtown Manhattan bookstore and cultural landmark. The business was located first in a small basement space on West 45th Street near the Theater District, it then moved to 51 West 47th Street, then spent many years at 41 West 47th...

, which led to lawsuits. A copyright-infringing edition of the novel was published in New York City in 1940 by "Medusa" (Jacob Brussel
Jacob Brussel
Jacob Brussel was an antiquarian bookseller and publisher in New York whose firm J.R. Brussel also dealt in pornography. He published a pirated edition of Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller and the first part of Oragenitalism by Gershon Legman in 1940, but was raided and jailed for three...

); its last page claimed its place of publication to be Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

. Brussel was eventually sent to jail for three years for the edition.

In 1961, when Grove Press legally published the book in the United States, over 60 obscenity lawsuits in over 21 states were brought against booksellers that sold it. The opinions of courts varied; for example, in his dissent from the majority holding that the book was not obscene, Pennsylvania Supreme Court
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania is the court of last resort for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It meets in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.-History:...

 Justice Michael Musmanno
Michael Musmanno
Michael Angelo Musmanno was an American jurist, politician, and naval officer of Italian heritage.Musmanno was born in Stowe Township, in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, an industrial neighborhood a few miles west of Pittsburgh.Musmanno rose to the rank of Rear Admiral in the United States Navy...

 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."

Lawyer Charles Rembar
Charles Rembar
Charles Rembar was an American lawyer who was born in Oceanport, New Jersey and grew up in Long Branch, New Jersey. He graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor's degree in 1935 and received his law degree from Columbia Law School in 1938...

 led an "effort to assist every bookseller prosecuted, regardless of whether there was a legal obligation to do so." Rembar successfully argued two appeals cases, in Massachusetts and New Jersey, although the book continued to be judged obscene in New York and other states.

In 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Grove Press, Inc. v. Gerstein, cited Jacobellis v. Ohio
Jacobellis v. Ohio
Jacobellis v. Ohio, , was a United States Supreme Court decision handed down in 1964 involving whether the state of Ohio could, consistent with the First Amendment, ban the showing of a French film called The Lovers which the state had deemed obscene.Nico Jacobellis, manager of the Heights Art...

(which was decided the same day) and overruled state court findings that Tropic of Cancer was obscene.

Other countries

The book was banned outside the U.S. as well:
  • In Canada, it was on the list of books banned by customs as of 1938. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police
    Royal Canadian Mounted Police
    The Royal Canadian Mounted Police , literally ‘Royal Gendarmerie of Canada’; colloquially known as The Mounties, and internally as ‘The Force’) is the national police force of Canada, and one of the most recognized of its kind in the world. It is unique in the world as a national, federal,...

     seized copies of the book from bookstores and public libraries in the early 1960s. By 1964, attitudes toward the book had "liberalized."
  • Only smuggled copies of the book were available in the United Kingdom after its publication in 1934. Scotland Yard
    Scotland Yard
    Scotland Yard is a metonym for the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Service of London, UK. It derives from the location of the original Metropolitan Police headquarters at 4 Whitehall Place, which had a rear entrance on a street called Great Scotland Yard. The Scotland Yard entrance became...

     contemplated banning its publication in Britain in the 1960s, but decided against the ban because literary figures such as T. S. Eliot
    T. S. Eliot
    Thomas Stearns "T. S." Eliot OM was a playwright, literary critic, and arguably the most important English-language poet of the 20th century. Although he was born an American he moved to the United Kingdom in 1914 and was naturalised as a British subject in 1927 at age 39.The poem that made his...

     were ready to defend the book publicly.

Individual reviewers

In a 1940 essay "Inside the Whale
Inside the Whale
"Inside the Whale" is an essay in three parts written by George Orwell in 1940. It is primarily a review of Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller with Orwell discursing more widely over English literature in the 1920s and 1930s...

," George Orwell
George Orwell
Eric Arthur Blair , better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist...

 wrote the following:

I earnestly counsel anyone who has not done so to read at least TROPIC OF CANCER. With a little ingenuity, or by paying a little over the published price, you can get hold of it, and even if parts of it disgust you, it will stick in your memory. ... Here in my opinion is the only imaginative prose-writer of the slightest value who has appeared among the English-speaking races for some years past. Even if that is objected to as an overstatement, it will probably be admitted that Miller is a writer out of the ordinary, worth more than a single glance....

Samuel Beckett
Samuel Beckett
Samuel Barclay Beckett was an Irish avant-garde novelist, playwright, theatre director, and poet. He wrote both in English and French. His work offers a bleak, tragicomic outlook on human nature, often coupled with black comedy and gallows humour.Beckett is widely regarded as among the most...

 hailed it as "a momentous event in the history of modern writing." Norman Mailer
Norman Mailer
Norman Kingsley Mailer was an American novelist, journalist, essayist, poet, playwright, screenwriter, and film director.Along with Truman Capote, Joan Didion, Hunter S...

, in his 1976 book on Miller entitled Genius and Lust, called it "one of the ten or twenty great novels of our century, a revolution in consciousness equal to The Sun Also Rises
The Sun Also Rises
The Sun Also Rises is a 1926 novel written by American author Ernest Hemingway about a group of American and British expatriates who travel from Paris to the Festival of San Fermín in Pamplona to watch the running of the bulls and the bullfights. An early and enduring modernist novel, it received...


Edmund Wilson
Edmund Wilson
Edmund Wilson was an American writer and literary and social critic and noted man of letters.-Early life:Wilson was born in Red Bank, New Jersey. His father, Edmund Wilson, Sr., was a lawyer and served as New Jersey Attorney General. Wilson attended The Hill School, a college preparatory...

 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 happenings 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.

In Sexual Politics, a book originally published in 1970, Kate Millett
Kate Millett
Kate Millett is an American lesbian feminist writer and activist. A seminal influence on second-wave feminism, Millet is best known for her 1970 book Sexual Politics.-Career:...

 wrote that Miller "is a compendium of American sexual neuroses," showing "anxiety and contempt" toward women in works such as Tropic of Cancer. In 1980, Anatole Broyard
Anatole Broyard
Anatole Paul Broyard was an American writer, literary critic and editor for The New York Times. In addition to his many reviews and columns, he published short stories, essays and two books during his lifetime...

 described Tropic of Cancer as "Mr. Miller's first and best novel," showing "a flair for finding symbolism in unobtrusive places" and having "beautiful sentence[s]." Julian Symons
Julian Symons
Julian Gustave Symons 1912 - 1994) was a British crime writer and poet. He also wrote social and military history, biography and studies of literature.-Life and work:...

 wrote in 1993 that "the shock effect [of the novel] has gone," although "it remains an extraordinary document." A 2009 essay on the book by Ewan Morrison
Ewan Morrison
Ewan Morrison is the author of the novels Swung, Menage, and Distance and the collection of short stories, The Last Book You Read.-Personal life:...

 described it as a "life-saver" when he was "wandering from drink to drink and bed to bed, dangerously close to total collapse."

Appearances in lists of best books

The book has been included in a number of lists of best books, such as the following:
  • In July 1998, the Board of the Modern Library
    Modern Library
    The Modern Library is a publishing company. Founded in 1917 by Albert Boni and Horace Liveright as an imprint of their publishing company Boni & Liveright, it was purchased in 1925 by Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer...

     ranked Tropic of Cancer 50th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.
  • In July 1998, students of the Radcliffe Publishing Course, at the request of the Modern Library editorial board, compiled their own list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century, and the book was ranked 84th.
  • Between July 1998 and October 1998, an online reader poll by the Modern Library placed the novel 68th among the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.
  • In a survey of librarians published in November 1998, the book was ranked 132nd in a list of 150 fiction books from the 20th century.
  • Time
    Time (magazine)
    Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

    magazine included the novel in its list of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005
    TIME's List of the 100 Best Novels
    Times List of the 100 Best Novels, is an unranked list of the 100 best novels—and 10 best graphic novels—published in the English language between 1923 and 2005. The list was compiled by Time critics Lev Grossman and Richard Lacayo....

  • The novel was listed in the 2006 book 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die
    1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die
    1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die is a literary reference book compiled by over one hundred literary critics worldwide and edited by Peter Boxall, Professor of English at Sussex University, with an introduction by Peter Ackroyd. Each title is accompanied by a brief synopsis and critique...

  • It was one of the "1000 Novels Everyone Must Read" in The Guardian
    The Guardian
    The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

    in 2009.
  • It was included in the list "The 75 Books Every Man Should Read" (2011) in Esquire
    Esquire (magazine)
    Esquire is a men's magazine, published in the U.S. by the Hearst Corporation. Founded in 1932, it flourished during the Great Depression under the guidance of founder and editor Arnold Gingrich.-History:...


Influences on Miller

Critics and Miller himself have claimed that Miller was influenced by the following in writing the novel:
  • Louis-Ferdinand Céline
    Louis-Ferdinand Céline
    Louis-Ferdinand Céline was the pen name of French writer and physician Louis-Ferdinand Destouches . Céline was chosen after his grandmother's first name. He is considered one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century, developing a new style of writing that modernized both French and...

    , especially Journey to the End of the Night
    Journey to the End of the Night
    Journey to the End of Night is the first novel of Louis-Ferdinand Céline. This semi-autobiographical work describes antihero Ferdinand Bardamu....

    (1932), his semi-autobiographical first novel featuring a "comic, antiheroic character." Nevertheless, Orwell wrote "Both books use unprintable words, both are in some sense autobiographical, but that is all."
  • Fyodor Dostoyevsky, especially his Notes from Underground
    Notes from Underground
    Notes from Underground is an 1864 short novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Notes is considered by many to be the first existentialist novel...

  • James Joyce
    James Joyce
    James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was an Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century...

    . Nevertheless, Orwell felt that the novel did not resemble Joyce's Ulysses
    Ulysses (novel)
    Ulysses is a novel by the Irish author James Joyce. It was first serialised in parts in the American journal The Little Review from March 1918 to December 1920, and then published in its entirety by Sylvia Beach on 2 February 1922, in Paris. One of the most important works of Modernist literature,...

  • François Rabelais
    François Rabelais
    François Rabelais was a major French Renaissance writer, doctor, Renaissance humanist, monk and Greek scholar. He has historically been regarded as a writer of fantasy, satire, the grotesque, bawdy jokes and songs...

  • Henry David Thoreau
    Henry David Thoreau
    Henry David Thoreau was an American author, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, and leading transcendentalist...

  • Walt Whitman
    Walt Whitman
    Walter "Walt" Whitman was an American poet, essayist and journalist. A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works. Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse...

    , who wrote in a similar style about common people. The poet is mentioned favorably in the novel several times, for example: "In Whitman the whole American scene comes to life, her past and her future, her birth and her death. Whatever there is of value in America Whitman has expressed, and there is nothing more to be said."

Novel's influence on other writers

Tropic of Cancer "has had a huge and indelible impact on both the American literary tradition and American society as a whole." The novel influenced many writers, as exemplified by the following:
  • Lawrence Durrell
    Lawrence Durrell
    Lawrence George Durrell was an expatriate British novelist, poet, dramatist, and travel writer, though he resisted affiliation with Britain and preferred to be considered cosmopolitan...

    's 1938 novel The Black Book
    The Black Book (Durrell novel)
    The Black Book is a novel by Lawrence Durrell, published in 1938 by the Obelisk Press. It is set with two competing narrators: Lawrence Lucifer on Corfu, in Greece, and Death Gregory in London. Faber and Faber offered to publish the novel in an expurgated edition, but on the advice of Henry Miller,...

    was described as "celebrat[ing] the Henry Miller of Tropic of Cancer as his [Durrell's] literary father."
  • It has been claimed that the novel impressed the Beat Generation
    Beat generation
    The Beat Generation refers to a group of American post-WWII writers who came to prominence in the 1950s, as well as the cultural phenomena that they both documented and inspired...

     writers in the 1960s such as Jack Kerouac
    Jack Kerouac
    Jean-Louis "Jack" Lebris de Kerouac was an American novelist and poet. He is considered a literary iconoclast and, alongside William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, a pioneer of the Beat Generation. Kerouac is recognized for his spontaneous method of writing, covering topics such as Catholic...

     and William S. Burroughs
    William S. Burroughs
    William Seward Burroughs II was an American novelist, poet, essayist and spoken word performer. A primary figure of the Beat Generation and a major postmodernist author, he is considered to be "one of the most politically trenchant, culturally influential, and innovative artists of the 20th...

  • Erica Jong
    Erica Jong
    Erica Jong is an American author and teacher best known for her fiction and poetry.-Career:A 1963 graduate of Barnard College, and with an M.A...

     wrote "…when I was searching for the freedom to write [the 1973 novel] Fear of Flying
    Fear of Flying (novel)
    Fear of Flying is a 1973 novel by Erica Jong, which became famously controversial for its attitudes towards female sexuality, and figured in the development of second-wave feminism....

    , I picked up Tropic of Cancer and the sheer exuberance of the prose unlocked something in me." In turn, Miller praised Fear of Flying in 1974, comparing it to Tropic of Cancer.


The novel was adapted for a film Tropic of Cancer (1970) directed by Joseph Strick
Joseph Strick
Joseph Strick was an American director, producer and screenwriter.Born in Braddock, Pennsylvania, Strick briefly attended UCLA before enrolling in the Army during World War II. In the Army, he served as a cameraman in the Army Air Forces.In 1948, he and Irving Lerner produced Muscle Beach...

 and starring Rip Torn
Rip Torn
Elmore Rual "Rip" Torn, Jr. , is an American actor of stage, screen and television.Torn received an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor for his role in the 1983 film Cross Creek. His work includes the role of Artie, the producer, on The Larry Sanders Show, for which he was nominated...

, James T. Callahan
James T. Callahan
James Thomas Callahan was an American film and television actor who appeared in more than 120 films and television shows between 1959 and 2007...

, and Ellen Burstyn
Ellen Burstyn
Ellen Burstyn is a leading American actress of film, stage, and television. Burstyn's career began in theatre during the late 1950s, and over the next ten years she appeared in several films and television series before joining the Actors Studio in 1967...

. Miller was a "technical consultant" during the production of the movie; although he had reservations about the adaptation of the book, he praised the final movie. The film was rated X in the United States, which was later changed to an NC-17 rating.


The typescript
A manuscript or handwrite is written information that has been manually created by someone or some people, such as a hand-written letter, as opposed to being printed or reproduced some other way...

 of the book was auctioned for $165,000 in 1986. Yale University
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

 now owns the typescript, which was displayed to the public in 2001.

See also

  • Henry and June
    Henry and June
    Henry and June: From the Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin is a 1986 book that is based upon material excerpted from the unpublished diaries of Anais Nin...

    (1986 book)
  • Henry & June
    Henry & June
    Henry & June is a 1990 American film directed by Philip Kaufman and stars Fred Ward, Maria de Medeiros, and Uma Thurman. It is loosely based on the book of the same name by the French author Anaïs Nin, and tells the story of Nin's relationship with Henry Miller and his wife, June.-Plot:The story...

    (1990 film)
  • Tropic of Capricorn
    Tropic of Capricorn (novel)
    Tropic of Capricorn is a semi-autobiographical novel by Henry Miller, first published in Paris in 1938. The novel was subsequently banned in the United States until a 1961 Justice Department ruling declared that its contents were not obscene. It is a sequel to Miller's 1934 work, the Tropic of...

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