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Tropic of Cancer (1934) - Henry Miller

Related: Henry Miller - explicit - erotic fiction - sexual revolution - obscenity trials - 1934

Tropic of Cancer (1934) - Henry Miller [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Tropic of Cancer belongs to that modernist generic category of explicit and sordid, but profoundly unerotic literature. It is however, not without its defendents; George Orwell called it "the most important book of the mid-1930's" and The Modern Library named it the 50th greatest book of the 20th century. [Aug 2006]

Henry Miller's 1934 novel, Tropic of Cancer, had explicit sexual passages and could not be published in the United States; an edition was printed by the Obelisk Press in Paris and copies were smuggled into the United States. (As of 2003, used book dealers asked $7500 and up for copies of this edition.) In 1961, Grove Press issued a copy of the work and lawsuits were brought against dozens of individual booksellers in many states for selling it. The issue was ultimately settled in the by the U. S. Supreme Court's 1973 decision in Miller v. California. In this decision, the court defined obscenity by what is now called the Miller test. The Wikipedia article on pornography notes that "In the United States, hardcore pornography is legal unless it meets the Miller test of obscenity, which it almost never does."


    Autobiographical novel by Henry Miller, published in France in 1934 and, because of censorship, not published in the United States until 1961. Written in the tradition of Walt Whitman and Henry David Thoreau, it is a monologue about Miller's picaresque life as an impoverished expatriate in France in the early 1930s. The book benefited from favorable early critical response and gained popular notoriety later as a result of obscenity trials. Containing little plot on narrative, Tropic of Cancer is made up of anecdotes, philosophizing, and rambling celebrations of life. Despite his poverty, Miller extols his manner of living, unfettered as it is by moral and social conventions. He lives largely off the resources of his friends. In exuberant and sometimes preposterous passages of unusual sexual frankness, he chronicles numerous encounters with women, including his mysterious wife Mona, as he pursues a fascination with female sexuality. Tropic of Cancer was the first of an autobiographical trilogy, followed by Black Spring (1936) and Tropic of Capricorn (1939). --The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature

    Tropic of Cancer is a sexually explicit novel by Henry Miller, first published in 1934 by Obelisk Press in Paris and still in print (Grove Press 1987 paperback: ISBN 0802131786). 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.

    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. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropic_of_Cancer_%28novel%29 [Oct 2005]

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