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From Capricorn to Cancer

I paced the emergency room, flipping through a movie magazine while the eyes of others glanced in my direction.  Keenest were those of my three friends, a Christian, A Buddhist and a Jew who were eager to get me seated.  I flipped to the back of the magazine and skimmed to the 22 Dec to Jan 20, Being a Capricorn was something I shared with Vishnu and Jesus.  I started reading each of the horoscopes out loud,  From Aquarius to Sagitarius every horoscope seemed to match my splintered personality. Like a Capricorn my methods were misunderstood, I was aloof and difficult to talk to. With each quickened step, unspoken thoughts and sick jokes circled my mind.  A smirk hit my face when I thought of one about a Jew, a Buddhist and a Christian walking into an emergency room...

What had lead me to this emergency room is a tale of March madness after madness; December depression after deprssion that spanned back over a decade. Like clockwork from that first December depression that raged into spring hysterics resulting in hospitilization. In 1998 my first cloud of depression raged into a storm of anger, energy and insomnia that landed law enforcement at my door. From handcuffs to Jailhouse, staring outside the cell at a sign stating "You are a bloody idiot". I had lost my bearings into a wilderness so savage that it would take months to just realize who I was. Yet confusion still persists to this day; a hurricane of emotions circling around me waiting to make landfall at some inconvenient time.

Tropic of Cancer (novel)

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Tropic of Cancer

1st edition cover

Henry Miller

United States


Erotic novel

Obelisk Press

Publication date

Media type
print (hardback & paperback)


Followed by
Tropic of Capricorn

Tropic of Cancer is a novel by Henry Miller, first published in 1934 by Obelisk Press in Paris. 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. While famous for its frank and often graphic depiction of sex, the book is also widely regarded as an important masterpiece of 20th century literature. Time magazine included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.[1]

The novel included a preface credited to Anaïs Nin (although allegedly penned by Miller himself).[citation needed]

The book was famously distributed by Frances Steloff at her Gotham Book Mart, in defiance of censorship pressures.



[edit] Plot introduction

Set in France (primarily Paris) during the 1930s, Miller tells of his life as a struggling writer. Combining fiction and autobiography, some chapters follow a strict narrative and refer to Miller's actual friends, colleagues, and workplaces; others are written as stream-of-consciousness reflections. It is written in the first person, as are many of Miller's other novels, and often fluctuates between past and present tense. There are many passages explicitly describing the narrator's sexual encounters, but the book does not solely focus on this subject.

[edit] Legal issues

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.

A copyright infringing "Medusa" edition of the novel was published in New York City in 1940 by Jacob Brussel; its title page claimed its place of publication to be Mexico. Brussel was eventually sent to jail for three years for the edition[2], a copy of which is in the Library of Congress.

[edit] Critical reception

George Orwell called this novel

"the most important book of the mid-1930s [and Miller is] the only imaginative prose-writer of the slightest value who has appeared among the English-speaking races for some years past."[3]

Samuel Beckett hailed it as "a momentous event in the history of modern writing".[citation needed] Norman Mailer, in his book on Miller, Genius and Lust, called it "one of the ten or twenty greatest novels of the century". The Modern Library named it the 50th greatest book of the 20th century.[4] Edmund Wilson 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 happening 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.[5]

In his dissent from the majority holding that the book was not obscene, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael Musmanno 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."[6]

[edit] References or allusions

  • In the Seinfeld episode "The Library", Jerry is accused of never returning it to the public library after borrowing it many years before, during high school, in 1971. It is revealed at the end of the episode that Mr. Haymen, the old gym teacher, stole it after an altercation with George.

[edit] References in other works

Loving would be easy if your colors were like my dreams,
red gold and green, red gold and green.

Desert loving in your eyes all the way.
If I listened to your lies would you say
I'm a man (a man) without conviction,
I'm a man (a man) who doesn't know
how to sell (to sell) a contradiction.
You come and go, you come and go.

Karma karma karma karma karma chameleon,
you come and go, you come and go.
Loving would be easy if your colors were like my dreams,
red gold and green, red gold and green.

Didn't hear your wicked words every day
and you used to be so sweet, I heard you say
that my love (my love) was an addiction.
When we cling (we cling) our love is strong.
When you go (you go) you're gone forever.
You string along, you string along.

Treasures of Wealth are Good
Treasures of the Mind are Better
Treasures of the Heart are Best
Tags: bio, bipolar

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