Amorous couple Chez Suzy
Rue Gregoire De Tous, 1932
“Everybody says sex is obscene. The only true obscenity is war.”
The Tropic of Cancer, tropic referred to as the Northern tropic with the sun at its zenith, its an event that occurs once per year at the time of the June solstice. Regarding the second word, Cancer, the author explains the title of his novel: “It was because to me cancer symbolizes the disease of civilization, the endpoint of the wrong path, the necessity to change course radically, to start completely over from scratch.”
Published in Paris in 1934, this title can be read as a metaphor of the City. Indeed, the City is the main character of this extraordinary book I’m currently reading. The ironic relationship of Miller with Paris, a love/hate relationship, with a city that shines like the sun at its zenith, that promises the splendor to the young artist who enters it, but that reveals itself as a disease while the same artist actually begins to live in it.
This aforementioned quote I find brilliant, refers at some point to the huge scandal that this novel had because of its language and its approach to some taboos for that time, the 30′s, especially related to sex. Prohibited in USA and UK for three decades because of the confusion between ethics and aesthetics that seems to lead to its interpretation, the novel was considered immoral and obscene.
I feel now very fortunate to read one of the greatest modernist writings in the universal literature and as Annais Nin said in the Preface “a book that might restore our appetite for the fundamental realities”.
“Books are finite, sexual encounters are finite, but the desire to read and to fuck is infinite; it surpasses our own deaths, our fears, our hopes for peace.”
― Roberto Bolaño