Related topics

‘Tropic of Cancer’ Manuscript Sells for $165,000; Called a Record Price

February 15, 1986

NEW YORK (AP) _ The manuscript of Henry Miller’s ″Tropic of Cancer″ sold at auction Friday for $165,000, a record for a modern manuscript sold in the United States, said a spokesman for Sotheby’s auction house.

John Fleming, a New York book dealer, bought the 926-page, mostly typewritten manuscript on behalf of an unidentified party which plans to put it on deposit in the Morgan Library in Manhattan, said Matthew Weigman, the spokesman.

″Tropic of Cancer″ was written in Paris in 1932-33 and published there in 1934, causing a sensation because of its uninhibited descriptions of the author’s sex life and free use of obscene words.

The book was banned as obscene in the United States. In 1961, Grove Press challenged the laws by printing ″Tropic of Cancer,″ which became a best seller and generated about 60 lawsuits against booksellers and Grove.

In 1964, the Brooklyn District Attorney issued a warrant for Miller’s arrest on obscenity charges. The resulting legal battle went to the Supreme Court, which decided in Miller’s favor, effectively destroying U.S. obscenity laws.

The manuscript, which contains about twice as much material as the published novel, remains in the scrambled state in which Miller left it - Sotheby’s did not attempt to order the pages to match the published book.

Miller, who was born in New York in 1891, died in 1980 after giving his daughter, Valentine Miller, permission to auction the manuscript.

Weigman, the Sotheby’s spokesman, said the previous record price for a modern manuscript sold in the United Stats was $132,000, paid Feb. 7 for a 24- page James Joyce manuscript that was used in ″Finnegan’s Wake.″

Update hourly