In reviewing RENEGADE: Henry Miller and the Making of “Tropic of Cancer,” Jeanette Winterson explores mythmaking in cultural criticism, unearthing who and what gets ignored in the process.
“There is beauty as well as hatred in “Cancer,” and it deserves its place on the shelf. Yet the central question it poses was stupidly buried under censorship in the 1930s, and gleefully swept aside in the permissiveness of the 1960s. Kate Millett asked the question in the 1970s, but the effort to ignore it is prodigious. A new round of mythmaking is ignoring it once more. The question is not art versus pornography or sexuality versus censorship or any question about achievement. The question is: Why do men revel in the degradation of women?”