Tom Robbins Reads Tropic of Cancer: Banned Books Week 2001

Document Date: February 27, 2002

Banned Books Week 2001: Tom Robbins reads from Tropic of Cancer

Photo by Lawrence Gerald

Hear author Tom Robbins read an excerpt of Henry Miller’s novel Tropic of Cancer as part of our Banned Books Week audio special.

In 1950, the director of the ACLU of Northern California, Ernest Besig, attempted to import Miller’s Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn. U.S. Customs officials seized the books and Besig went to court to defend the work against obscenity charges. Finally, in 1964, thirteen years after the novel was first banned, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the work was not obscene, declaring that “material dealing with sex in a manner that advocates ideas, or that has literary or scientific or artistic value or any other form of social importance, may not be branded as obscenity and denied the constitutional protection.”

Tom Robbins is the author Another Roadside Attraction, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Still Life with Woodpecker, Jitterbug Perfume, and Skinny Legs and All, among many other novels. Robbins was born in North Carolina in 1936. He attended military school and received a degree in social science from the Virginia Commonwealth University in 1959. In 1962, he moved to Seattle, where he began work as a copyeditor and an art critic at local newspapers. Robbins currently lives in LaConner, Washington.

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