Friday, 22 March 2013

Tropic of Cancer



Miller, Henry. Tropic of Cancer. 1934.


Recently I was rereading this "scandalous" book. When Miller is relating his struggle in Paris, he mentions Maugham:
Indigo Sky swept clear of fleecy clouds, gaunt trees infinitely extended, their black boughs gesticulating like a sleepwalker. Somber, spectral trees, their trunks pale as cigar ash. A silence supreme and altogether European. Shutters drawn, shops barred. A red glow here and there to mark a tryst. Brusque the facades, almost forbidding; immaculate except for the splotches of shadow cast by the trees. Passing by the Orangerie I am reminded of another Paris, the Paris of Maugham, of Gauguin, Paris of George Moore. I think of that terrible Spaniard who was then startling the world with his acrobatic leaps from style to style. I think of Spengler and of his terrible pronunciamentos, and I wonder if style, style in the grand manner, is done for.
By that time, Maugham has published Of Human Bondage (1915) and The Moon and Sixpence (1919), in which Paris serves as one of the main settings. 

And what did Maugham think about Henry Miller? In July 1951:
"Henry Miller?" he [Maugham] muses. "Yes, When he is...pornographic I find him most amusing, and when he is...philosophic I find him dull" (Garson Kanin, Remembering Mr. Maugham, New York, Atheneum, 1966, p. 30).


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