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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 61-62 | volume XI | July-October, 2008



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 61-62July-October, 2008

The Manifesto of Montage and Non-Conformist

(“Tropic of Cancer” by Henry Miller)

p. 1
Igor Isakovski

One of the most significant novels in the world, “Tropic of Cancer” (Paris, 1934) by Henry Miller does not stop inspiring literary debates and discussions, even now, 74 years after its first issue. In his first book (the other two written prior to it, “Moloch or, This Gentile World” and “Crazy Cock” were published posthumously) Miller experiments with the literary expression: an experiment that will leave deep traces in the civilization heritage of the contemporary novel in the 20th century. Using the montage as a basic literary tool, in his “Tropic of Cancer” Miller creates a collage of poetry in prose, lively and fierce dialogues, crazy and seemingly unstoppable monologues, landscapes that always depict something more than the landscape itself (spiritual restlessness, corporal yearnings, wild drunkenness…), a gallery of fluid characters that are here with a single goal: the author uses them to severely criticize the society, art, the world. To complete the picture, Miller spices it all with surrealistic passages that can be used as a case study for any stream of consciousness essay. This montage procedure is transported in the literature of the late 20th century: postmodernism has it as one of its supreme guidelines even today.
    However, the influence of “Tropic of Cancer” (and Miller’s work in general) becomes visible quite some time before postmodernism; without inhibitions, Miller creates a literary expression that is in itself a rebellion and breaking of conventions. Miller’s literary expression is a social act, opposing the conformism, hypocrisy, search for a new liberated man. That is why his influence is first seen in the way in which the American Beat generation experiences the world and its place in it: the rebellion that Miller starts in the thirties of the last century is transponded in various shapes and forms in the literature of the most part of the 20th century.
    The novel itself tells a story of the kind that we are already used to today: the loneliness of the human being in the city, the fight for survival and self realization. Miller makes his story easily and smoothly: as if he does not really care to tell the story, but to reveal more about himself and the world by telling it. That is why his characters are fluid: this novel could do without any of them, but the narrator needs them because he finds new and unresearched paths in thought and awareness in

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