Tropic of Cancer


Influences on Miller

Critics and Miller himself have claimed that Miller was influenced by the following in writing the novel:

  • Louis-Ferdinand Céline, especially Journey to the End of the Night (1932), his semi-autobiographical first novel featuring a "comic, antiheroic character".[5]:109–110[37][48] Nevertheless, Orwell wrote "Both books use unprintable words, both are in some sense autobiographical, but that is all."[32]
  • Fyodor Dostoyevsky, especially his Notes from Underground (1864).[37]
  • James Joyce.[37] Nevertheless, Orwell felt that the novel did not resemble Joyce's Ulysses.[32]
  • François Rabelais.[37][49]
  • Henry David Thoreau.[50][51]
  • Walt Whitman, who wrote in a similar style about common people.[9][32][37][51] The poet is mentioned favorably in the novel several times, for example: "In Whitman the whole American scene comes to life, her past and her future, her birth and her death. Whatever there is of value in America Whitman has expressed, and there is nothing more to be said."[10]:239–240

Novel's influence on other writers

Tropic of Cancer "has had a huge and indelible impact on both the American literary tradition and American society as a whole".[52] The novel influenced many writers, as exemplified by the following:

  • Lawrence Durrell's 1938 novel The Black Book was described as "celebrat[ing] the Henry Miller of Tropic of Cancer as his [Durrell's] literary father".[53]
  • It has been claimed that the novel impressed the Beat Generation writers in the 1960s such as Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs.[16][28][54]
  • Erica Jong wrote "...when I was searching for the freedom to write [the 1973 novel] Fear of Flying, I picked up Tropic of Cancer and the sheer exuberance of the prose unlocked something in me."[8]:14 In turn, Miller praised Fear of Flying in 1974, comparing it to Tropic of Cancer.[55]

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