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Other titles in the Icons of America series:
Renegade: Henry Miller and the Making of "Tropic of Cancer" (Icons of America)by Frederick Turner
Synopses & Reviews
Though branded as pornography for its graphic language and explicit sexuality, Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer is far more than a work that tested American censorship laws. In this riveting book, published to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of Tropic of Cancer's initial U.S. release, Frederick Turner investigates Miller’s unconventional novel, its tumultuous publishing history, and its unique place in American letters.
Written in the slums of a foreign city by a man who was an utter literary failure in his homeland, Tropic of Cancer was published in 1934 by a pornographer in Paris, but soon banned in the United States. Not until 1961, when Grove Press triumphed over the censors, did Miller’s book appear in American bookstores. Turner argues that Tropic of Cancer is “lawless, violent, colorful, misogynistic, anarchical, bigoted, and shaped by the same forces that shaped the nation.” Further, the novel draws on more than two centuries of New World history, folklore, and popular culture in ways never attempted before. How Henry Miller, outcast and renegade, came to understand what literary dynamite he had within him, how he learned to sound his “war whoop” over the roofs of the world, is the subject of Turner’s revelatory study.
"Turner's latest plunge into Henry Miller's epic life brims with zeal for both Miller and his fiction. Turner (Into the Heart of Life: Henry Miller at One Hundred) argues that Tropic of Cancer's storied history reflects that of the nation, and to prove it he delves into 200 years of folk heroes and pop culture — which results in questionable digressions. The mythologizing German boy from Brooklyn, whose family had a strain of mental illness and anti-Semitism, becomes the adult who pursues his sexual compulsions in Times Square and goes on to befriend prostitutes in Parisian slums. As an autodidact, Miller begins writing several novels, one about a wife who runs away with a female lover, and another with the help of his lover AnaÃ¯s Nin. Turner artfully obscures details missing in Miller's 'violently anti-literary' life, but occasionally tries to thicken the plot with bizarre, unnecessary psychologizing. Though the book succeeds as a biography, as the making of Tropic of Cancer it proves underwhelming. Agent: Robin Straus Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
The untold story of Henry Millers explosive 1934 novel, banned in America for more than a quarter century
Banned as pornography in the U.S., Tropic of Cancer was notorious for explicit sexuality and graphic language. This book reveals the untold story of Miller's novel and explores its unique importance in American literature.
About the Author
Frederick Turner is the author or editor of a dozen books, including Into the Heart of Life: Henry Miller at One Hundred. He lives in Santa Fe, NM.
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