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Tropic of Cancer

Tropic of Cancer


by Henry Miller

Tropic of Cancer Theme of Suffering and Disease

The title of the book—Tropic of Cancer—says it all. Miller is living in a place where disease and discomfort are the norm. And you know what? He seems to like it that way. It's all part of life's great majesty: birth, death, hunger, disease, aging, loss, and death. Bring it on. Plus, according to our writer protagonist, suffering is what makes you a good artist, offering all sorts of rich material. The good news is that Henry and his friends seem to have a small degree of sympathy for each other's suffering… right?

Questions About Suffering and Disease

  1. Does Henry identify any difference between artistic suffering and "real" suffering?
  2. Why does Henry laugh in the face of suffering?
  3. Who suffers the most in Tropic of Cancer? Is there more physical suffering or mental suffering?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

According to the first chapter, Henry thinks that Jews suffer better than Gentiles.

Henry equates neurosis and suffering and thinks that creativity comes from both of them. Basically, he believes that you have to be a mental case to be a good writer.

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