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Tropic of Cancer

Tropic of Cancer


by Henry Miller

Analysis: Writing Style


We're here to tell you that Miller is going to make you do a little work following his train of thought. This guy is no Hemingway. Nope, Henry Miller liked to fancy it up. He wrote during the what we call the Modernist era, which was basically a period of radical interpretation. And the almost stream-of-consciousness writing style of Tropic of Cancer fits in perfectly.

As an example, here's Henry going on a typical tangent on his favorite subject:

Tania, where now is that warm cunt of yours, those fat, heavy garters, those soft, bulging thighs? There is a bone in my prick six inches long. I will ream out every wrinkle in your cunt, Tania, big with seed. I will send you home to your Sylvester with an ache in your belly and your womb turned inside out. Your Sylvester! Yes, he knows how to build a fire, but I know how to inflame a cunt. I shoot hot bolts into you, Tania, I make your ovaries incandescent. […] After me you can take on stallions, bulls, rams, drakes, St. Bernards. You can stuff toads, bats, lizards up your rectum. You can shit arpeggios if you like, or string a zither across your navel. I am fucking you, Tania, so that you'll stay fucked. And if you are afraid of being fucked publicly I will fuck you privately. I will tear off a few hairs from your cunt and paste them on Boris' chin. I will bite into your clitoris and spit out two franc pieces. (1.19)

It's not easy to offer sophisticated literary criticism about that one. But the point is that Miller clearly writes straight from his mind—or, um, something else altogether. It's all about instinct, a love of pure experience, and freedom from all of the hypocrisy he sees in the world.

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