Tropic of Capricorn

I just started reading Tropic of Capricorn for the Experimental Fiction group and I have already discovered some interesting observations on the human condition hidden behind all the pornography (just kidding, there’s more pornography on a cable television program than in Henry Miller’s writing, and even then it is integral to the narrative so maybe it’s just honest and not really pornography).

I’m not sure if these quotations stir my 21st century mind or if they whip me back to the 1960s when we experimented with ideas, tried out new drugs, and marched up the 405 shouting Freedom Under Clark Kerr. Here are a few sections from early on in Tropic of Capricorn.

“The earth is one great sentient being, a planet saturated through and through with man, a live planet expressing itself falteringly and stutteringly; it is not the home of the white race or the black race or the yellow race or the lost blue race, but the home of man and all men are equal before God and will have their chance, if not now them a million years hence.”

“Who has the last say? Man! The earth is his because he is the earth, its fire, its water, its air, its mineral and vegetable matter, its spirit which is cosmic, which is imperishable, which is the spirit of all the planets, which transforms itself through him, through endless signs and symbols, through endless manifestations.”

“I didn’t dare to think of anything them except the “facts.” To get beneath the facts I would have had to be an artist, and one doesn’t become an artist overnight. … One can’t make a new heaven and earth with “facts.” There are no “facts”—there is only the fact that man, every man everywhere in the world, is on his way to ordination. Some men take the long route and some take the short route. Every man is working out his destiny in his own way and nobody can be of help except by being kind, generous and patient.”

I invite you to pop in at the Henry Miller Memorial Library Blog.

2 thoughts on “Tropic of Capricorn

  1. I’ve read some other works of Henry Miller but surprisingly never “Tropic of Capricorn”. The quotes are insightful and seem like something I should recommend to younger readers; for some reason, I think it might particularly appeal to high school or college students. Maybe it’s the certainty of it, the black and white?

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    1. I have most of Henry Miller on the shelf but haven’t read him in a number of years. I understand that Cancer tends to be enough for many readers and they never get to Capricorn. They’re both highly autobiographical (like most of Miller) and really should get equal attention.

      Capricorn is quite interesting in its presentation of the angst involved in working in an office for a boss, etc. I can see how several later writers could have used Capricorn as a model. Get a copy and see what you think.

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