Tropic of Cancer
Region: North America
Subject: Explicit Sexuality, Sexual/Gender Orientation
Artist: Henry Miller
Confronting Bodies: U.S. Government
Dates of Action: 1938
Location: United States
Description of Artwork: Henry Miller's, Tropic of Cancer, deals explicitly with his sexual adventures and challenged models of sexual morality.
The Incident: The novel, Tropic of Cancer, was banned from entering the United States along with all other Henry Miller novels.
Results of Incident: In 1961 the ban is lifted, although the work is deemed "obscene" by the Citizens for Decent Literature. In the fall of 1961, police officials in the Chicago area systematically intimidated bookstores who sold the Tropic of Cancer, making several arrests. The book's publisher, Grove Press, along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit arguing it is illegal for officials to interfere with the sale of the novel. During the first year of publication Grove Press spent more than $100,000 fighting 60 cases nationwide. It was not until 1964 that the US Supreme Court finally declared Tropic of Cancer not to be obscene and its sale protected by the US constitution.
Source: New York Public Library, New York City