Summary of Miller’s Tropic of Cancer

An experienced field on which a paradoxical and contradictory current of one human life unfolds-the life of an indigent American in Paris at the turn of the 1920s-1930s-becomes, in essence, the entire western civilization of the twentieth century engulfed in a deadly crisis.

With Henry, the hero of the book, we first encounter in cheap furnishings in Montparnasse at the end of the second year of his life in Europe, where he was led by an irresistible aversion to the regulated and businesslike way of life of compatriots imbued with the spirit of wingless practicality and profit. Not being able to get accustomed to the petty-bourgeois circle of Brooklyn immigrants from whose family he was born, “Joe” (as some of his current friends call him) became a voluntary outcast from his motherland, plagued by material concerns. With America, he connects only the memory of the former wife of Monet, who returned home, and the constant idea of ​​a money transfer from overseas,

which is about to come to his name. Until now, dividing the roof with intermittent accidental work-earnings, the emigre writer Boris, he is constantly obsessed with the idea of ​​how to get money for food,

The hero-narrator is a typical “roll-over” field; from countless worldly troubles, forming into a chain of fragments-fragments, it is invariably saved by intuitive common sense and seasoned with a decent dose of cynicism an ineradicable craving for life. He does not disdain at all, admit to himself: “I’m healthy.” He is healthy, no sorrows, no regrets, no past, no future. “

Paris, “just like a huge infectious patient, scattered on the bed. Beautiful streets look not so disgusting just because of them pumped out pus.” But Henry \ Joe lives in the natural surroundings of whores, pimps, brothel dwellers, adventurers of all stripes… He easily fits into the life of the Parisian “bottom”, in all its naturalistic unattractiveness. But a powerful spiritual principle, a craving for creativity, paradoxically coexist in Henry / Joe’s nature

with the instinctive voice of the womb, turning a shocking physiological detail into a story about the shady side of being in the enchanting polyphony of the sublime and earthly.

Despising the fatherland as an exemplary stronghold of vulgar bourgeoisness, which does not have the slightest illusions about the prospects of the whole of modern civilization, it is driven by an ambitious desire to create a book – a long insult, spitting in the face Art, kick in the ass God, Man, Destiny, Time, Love, Beauty. .. “- and in the process of this, at every step, it encounters the inextricable strength of the culture accumulated by mankind over the century. And the Satellites, to which Henry / Joe is nailing a half-hungry existence-the literary writers Karl, Boris, Van Norden, the playwright Sylvester, the painters Kruger, Mark Swift, and others, who are vainly seeking recognition, face this dilemma.

In the chaos of the cancer-affected alienation of the existence of an incalculable multitude of singles, when the only refuge of the character is the streets of Paris, every accidental collision – with a companion in misfortune, a drinking companion or a prostitute – is able to unfold into a “happening” with unpredictable consequences. Expelled from “Villa Borghese” in connection with the appearance of the housekeeper Elsa Henry, Joe finds shelter and a table in the house of the playwright Sylvester and his girlfriend Tanya; Then he finds refuge in the house of a Hindu who trades in pearls; unexpectedly gets the place of a proofreader in an American newspaper, which loses a few months later at the whim of the event; then, fed up with the society of his sex-obsessed buddy Van Norden and his ever drunken female partner Masha (rumored to be a Russian princess) for some time becomes an English teacher at the Lyceum in Dijon, so that in the end of the spring next year again be without a penny in your pocket on the streets of Paris, an even more profound conviction that the world is rolling into the tartaras, that he is nothing more than a “gray desert, a carpet of steel and cement, “in which, however, there is a place for the imperishable beauty of the Sacré-Coeur Church, the inexplicable magic of Matisse’s paintings (” … so overwhelming the triumphant color of genuine life “), the poetry of Whitman (” Whitman was the poet of the Body and poet of the Soul. The first and last oetom.

Today it is almost impossible to decipher it, it is like a monument with hieroglyphics, the key to which is lost. “) There is also a place for the royal dance of eternal nature painting the city landscapes of Paris in unique tones and the majestic current of the Seine, triumphant over the cataclysms of time:” Here, where this river so smoothly carries its waters between the hills, lies the land with such a rich past that, no matter how far back your idea ran, this land has always been and always was a person on it. “

Shrinking, as it seems to him, from himself the oppressive yoke of belonging to the unfounded foundations of bourgeois civilization, Henry Joe does not know the ways and possibilities to resolve the contradiction between the fever-ridden entropy of society and eternal nature, between the wingless existence of contemporaries mired in petty vanity and again and again, over the dull horizon of everyday life with the spirit of creativity. However, in the passionate confession of G. Miller’s autobiography stretching to many volumes (the “Tropic of Cancer” was followed by the “Black Spring” (1936) and “The Tropic of Capricorn” (1939), followed by the second novel trilogy and a dozen essays), such significant signs and the peculiarities of human destiny in our turbulent and dramatic age, that an eccentric American, which was at the source of the avant-garde searches of the literature of the modern West, and today there are many pupils and followers. And even more – readers.

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Summary of Miller’s Tropic of Cancer