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In the Galleries: Henry Miller’s "Tropic of Cancer"

Henry Miller's 'Tropic of Cancer' (1934) was banned in the United States for 30 years. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.
Henry Miller's 'Tropic of Cancer' (1934) was banned in the United States for 30 years. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.

Upon its publication in 1934, Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer was deemed obscene by the United States Customs Department and was not legally available in the United States. Editions like this one, published in Japan, were smuggled into the U.S. to satisfy demand. Miller had been seeking an American publisher since 1934 and had hoped to defend Tropic of Cancer in court as early as 1936. Local district attorneys, however, were not persuaded, and over 50 cases against the novel were brought to various state and local courts. The ban on Miller’s work was finally lifted in 1964 after a Florida case made its way to the U. S. Supreme Court, which ruled that Tropic of Cancer may be legally sold and distributed throughout the United States.

Miller’s novel and articles relating to his work are on view in the exhibition Banned, Burned, Seized, and Censored through January 22.

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