This is a blog post about failure, because I was supposed to have finished Tropic of Cancer by now, and I have yet to even get close. So here are my thoughts and opinions about the book that I haven't even finished yet.
I tried to read this book a really long time ago but couldn't because I got too frustrated at how terrible Henry Miller treated the women he wrote about. They often don't have names and appear only as sexual objects to be used up by Miller and his terrible companions. But now that time has passed I decided to give the book another try, and it was just as terrible as it was the first time, but now I have a new perspective on it.
My band's marching show was severely criticized a couple of years ago for being insensitive. The day I heard about the unkind remarks that were being made about us and our show I began my lifelong journey as a defender of art, and that journey has brought me back to this book. Despite it being deeply misogynistic and very inappropriate, I still feel like Tropic of Cancer is a valuable book to have around. Maybe not give it to elementary school kids, or even middle schoolers really, but it is a book that has a lot of important insights to offer on the world.
Henry Miller states at the beginning of his book that this is his attempt to document everything that has been kept out of books. He wants to bring to light all the disgusting truths of humanity that we often try to hide. And he does a wonderful job at that. It pisses you off because he comments on the parts of life we all like to pretend don't exist. We like to pretend that women are treated well and everyone is happy and no one thinks ugly and terrible things. He doesn't romanticize anything, just writes honestly and openly about what he sees, experiences, and thinks.
The book has value simply because it is a piece of work that originated from someone's true soul. Miller's heart is with his book and for that it matters, for that it should not be shut down and criticized. It is more than just a work of erotic fiction, it is a journey through a disgusting man's mind, and it forces us to look at the bad parts of life we shove down. It is a book that will make you think twice about the way you view women, because Miller's violent misogyny catches us off guard, and sadly reflects the thoughts and actions that many men and women still take apart in today. Tropic of Cancer will show you all the dark parts about yourself and the society around you, and it will inspire change, simply because you would hate to see the world be as disgusting as Miller thinks it is.
Everyone who has the time should read this book. Be warned that there is strong language and sexual scenes, but these are inserted in order to tell a story. They do not exist for the sake of existing, but to aide in Miller's honest recounting of his life in Paris.
Have a happy holidays!
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