“All that Cellar-Deep Jazz&rdquo
THE TIMES SEEM to have Caught up with Henry Miller, not only in the sexual sophistication that permits the recent publication of Tropic of Cancer, but in the further respect of often seeming as disordered and self-destructive as he was claiming modem life to be in the early 1930′s. If in 1934, the year of Cancer‘s publication, it was histrionic to call for and accept the imminent destruction of civilization, Miller has lived on to see his political and social maledictions gain in plausibility, so that he now appears on the scene as a prophet with a certain grisly honor. Moreover, the literary extremism of Cancer ties in with the recent revival of the romantic impulse, particularly the more unrestrained attempts to respond to- or swing with-the times. Karl Shapiro’s rather frantic introduction to the Grove Press edition of the book suggests some of the reasons why Miller has not only been serving as one of the father figures of the Beat writers but also as a Vergil to more sophisticated writers, like Shapiro himself or Seymour Krim, who, having been brought to an impasse by the modem literary sin of intellectual pride, are following Miller’s lead to liberate their creative selves by a journey into their own tropics of cancer.
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