Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
As a down-and-out writer, the narrator often has no place to stay; at such times, the streets of Paris become his refuge. Popular sidewalk cafés such as the Dôme, the Rotonde, and the Coupole provide him with vantage points from which he observes the city’s fascinating street life, hoping for the appearance of an acquaintance who may treat him to a drink or a meal.
Apartments. Parisian homes of the friends of the narrator, who is obsessed with shelter and food. He sleeps wherever someone will give him space on a floor or in a hall. After some thought, he devises a scheme whereby he eats a meal with each of seven friends once a week. What he sees in their abodes provides him with further material for his indictment of society. The apartment of one friend is strikingly sterile: “There is not a crumb of dirt anywhere, nor a chair misplaced.” Boris and Tania’s apartment is squalid but equally repugnant. At one point the narrator is taken in by a group of Russians, but their heavy food, their habit of sharing meals with worm-ridden dogs, and their poor hygiene drive the suddenly fastidious American away. For a while he stays with an Indian named Nanantatee, but the man’s hypocrisy and meanness lead to the narrator’s labeling him Mister Nonentity.
Miss Hamilton’s brothel. Brothel to which the narrator is asked to accompany another Indian man, a naïve disciple of Mohandas Gandhi. In one of the novel’s comic high points, the Indian shocks the brothel’s otherwise worldly employees by mistaking the function of the bidet. Tropic of Cancer was outspokenly explicit for its day, and much of its content involves the prostitutes of Paris.
*Seine River (sayn). Major French stream flowing through Paris that serves the narrator as a metaphor for everything flowing and in flux. Like Paris and its teeming streets, the Seine’s character changes as the narrator learns to accept his fate. Looking at it once, he sees “mud and desolation, street lamps drowning, men and women choking to death, the bridges covered with houses, slaughterhouses of love.” Later he characterizes the river as a “great artery,” and later still feels it flowing through him.
*Dijon (dee-ZHAHN). French city southeast of Paris where the narrator teaches English at a lycée (school) after he loses the proofreading job that Carl gets for him in Paris. His new position involves terrible meals and a dingy room but no pay. It is winter, so bitterly cold that toilets freeze, and the narrator feels like a prisoner in the spiritless institution. Dijon itself strikes him as a dirty hole.