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TROPIC OF CANCER by  Henry Miller - First Edition - 1940 - from Quill & Brush (SKU: 52777)


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by Miller, Henry

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About This Item

New York: Medusa, 1940. First U.S. edition of the author's first and most famous book. One of only 1000 copies in the first issue light green boards with gilt spine lettering. According to Shifreen & Jackson, an overrun of 200 to 500 unbound sheets were printed for later distribution, accounting for the nine variants following this one. Spine lettering rubbed but readable, spine and board edges toned to tan, green topstain faded, endpaper cracked at front hinge, spine shaken. Altogether good or perhaps better.


Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer is one of the most notoriously and frequently censored books in the history of American literature. In a combination of autobiography and fiction, the novel centers of Miller’s own life as a struggling writer in Paris in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Tropic of Cancer is written in the first person and lacks linear organization, two of Miller’s most favored techniques. Some chapters are narratives about Miller’s friends and workplaces, and others are stream-of-consciousness-style reflections, but all of the chapters touch on the sexual exploits and general low-life ruthlessness in which the author had engaged at the time. Tropic of Cancer was first published by Obelisk Press, a French publisher of soft pornography, in Paris in 1934. Shortly thereafter, the novel was banned in the US and later tried for charges of obscenity, a trial that challenged American pornography laws at the time. In 1961, the ban of Tropic of Cancer was lifted, and later that year, Grove Press published the first US edition of the novel, but only after the firm’s Barney Rosset offered Miller a sizeable advance and promised to defend the author in any future legal battles regarding the publication. Grove Press’s edition of Tropic of Cancer sold over 1 million copies by the end of 1961… and was the subject of about 60 lawsuits as well, one of which involved the American Civil Liberties Union. All of this hullabaloo makes one wonder what the reactions might have been if Miller had decided to go with the novel’s working title, Crazy Cock — which was, ironically, far more modest than the published version. Regardless, the novel’s 1970 film adaptation, directed by Joseph Strick, received an X rating (meaning no one 17 and under admitted). Today, Tropic of Cancer finds itself ranked 50th on Modern Library’s “100 Best” English-language novels of the 20th century and 59th on The Guardian’s list of the 100 best novels.

Read More: Identifying first editions of TROPIC OF CANCER


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Quill & Brush US (US)
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Miller, Henry
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Place of Publication
New York
Date Published
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Quill & Brush

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This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers. member since 2007
Middletown, Maryland
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About Quill & Brush

Quill & Brush was established in 1976 by Allen & Patricia Ahearn, the authors of the well-respected reference for booksellers and collectors, Collected Books: The Guide to Identification and Values.At present the Quill & Brush is run by the Ahearns' eldest daughter, Beth Fisher. Allen is semi-retired but continues to buy, sell, and perform professional appraisals.


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The collective of the top, fore and bottom edges of the text block of the book, being that part of the edges of the pages of a... [More]
In reference to a hinge or a book's binding, means that the glue which holds the opposing leaves has allowed them to separate,... [More]
The decorative application of gold or gold coloring to a portion of a book on the spine, edges of the text block, or an inlay in... [More]
The outer portion of a book which covers the actual binding. The spine usually faces outward when a book is placed on a shelf.... [More]
A book or pamphlet which does not have a covering binding, sometimes by original design, sometimes used to describe a book in... [More]
A hardcover in which the text block is loose, but still attached to the binding.
The portion of the book closest to the spine that allows the book to be opened and closed.

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