A cult modern classic, Tropic of Capricorn is as daring, frank and influential as Henry Miller first novel, Tropic of Cancer - new to Penguin Modern Classics with a cover by Tracey Emin. A story of sexual and spiritual awakening, Tropic of Capricorn shocked readers when it was published in 1939. A mixture of fiction and autobiography, it is the ...
A cult modern classic, Tropic of Capricorn is as daring, frank and influential as Henry Miller first novel, Tropic of Cancer - new to Penguin Modern Classics with a cover by Tracey Emin. A story of sexual and spiritual awakening, Tropic of Capricorn shocked readers when it was published in 1939. A mixture of fiction and autobiography, it is the story of Henry V. Miller who works for the Cosmodemonic telegraph company in New York in the 1920s and tries to write the most important work of literature that was ever published. Tropic of Capricorn paints a dazzling picture of the life of the writer and of New York City between the wars: the skyscrapers and the sewers, the lust and the dejection, the smells and the sounds of a city that is perpetually in motion, threatening to swallow everyone and everything. "Literature begins and ends with the meaning of what Miller has done." (Lawrence Durrell). "The only imaginative prose-writer of the slightest value who has appeared among the English-speaking races for some years past." (George Orwell). "The greatest American writer." (Bob Dylan). Henry Miller (1891-1980) is one of the most important American writers of the 20th century. His best-known novels include Tropic of Cancer (1934), Tropic of Capricorn (1939), and the Rosy Crucifixion trilogy (Sexus, 1949, Plexus, 1953, and Nexus, 1959), all published in France and banned in the US and the UK until 1964. He is widely recognised as an irreverent, risk-taking writer who redefined the novel and made the link between the European avant-garde and the American Beat generation.
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Quoted From a blog posted in The Guardian in 2007 by novelist-poet Rob Woodard.
"In 1960 the poet Karl Shapiro published an essay in the Parisian literary journal Two Cities in which he called Henry Miller "the greatest living author." The statement naturally caused a certain amount of controversy, although strong opinions concerning Miller's work were far from unusual. Ever since Miller's first novel, Tropic of Cancer, had been published in Paris in 1934, the American author had been eliciting extreme responses - positive and negative - from nearly everyone who came in contact with his writing. Nearly 50 years later, very little has changed...
...With books like Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, and Black Spring, Miller created a new kind of writing - part autobiography, part philosophical treatise, and part a strangely American brand of street corner storytelling. In Miller's worldview the human race had arrived at a point where it was no longer truly living life, but just existing, mistaking its own thoughts and fears for reality. And art, once the greatest expression of what it means to be human, had become little more than a decoration to conceal and soothe mankind's epic failure. So, like a bull in a literary china shop, Miller let his writing loose as a kind of cure-all for this state. With this tellingly artless prose, Miller of course goes on to create an entire book, or rather a career's worth of books, in which the subject matter is simply wherever the author's mind and heart need to wander. His topics included everything from incredibly lucid meditations on some of life's more profound aspects to warm tributes to some of Miller's favorite writers ..."
Mar 5, 2009
Tropic of Capricorn
Clearly, I remain out of the mainstream in my lack of respect for Miller's writing. Capricorn is simply a long, undivided continuation of Cancer's stream-of-consciousness, diarist project. Miller was invovlved to some extent in the Paris-scene, opium-dominated pastimes, and I can only believe that his choppy offerings are to a large extent a product of that influence. If one is searching for prurient, or other mind-expanding literature -- it ain't here.
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