Synopses & Reviews
In the decade before his death, Allen Ginsberg assembled the original typescripts of his prophetic masterpiece Howl, along with revisions and later drafts of each section of the poem; they are reproduced here in facsimile with facing-page transcriptions and notes. Following, and at the heart of this volume, are the poet's meticulous annotations of each verse of the successive drafts of Howl. A treasure trove of literary allusions, anecdotes, techniques of composition, as well as a veritable social history of the 1950s, the annotations offer a fascinating and unique insight into the material with which Ginsberg worked and the process by which his poem evolved.
A selection of contemporaneous correspondence from the mid-1950s reveals the variety of responses to Howl in all its newness and offers a glimpse of the lively literary comradeship among Beat Generation writers. Hitherto unpublished material from a wide range of poets and critics who were involved with the poem-Jack Kerouac, Gary Snyder, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, Richard Eberhart, John Clellon Holmes, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Carl Solomon, Louis Simpson, Philip Lamantia, Tuli Kupferberg, Lionel Trilling, and Gregory Corso-reads like a rich and exuberant tale of the tribe.
A complete bibliography of editions, translations, and recordings; first person accounts of the Howl trial and its first public reading, along with a series of remarkable photographs from the period complete the monumental exposition of Ginsberg's most celebrated poem.
Ferlinghetti's new introduction highlights the impact of Howl on American First Amendment protections as well as the place of the poem as a democratic catalyst ofthe many movements for peace and inclusiveness that grew in the following decades.
Allen Ginsberg was born June 3, 1926 in Newark, New Jersey and died on April 5, 1997 in New York City. In 1956, he published his remarkable poem Howl with City Lights Books, which overcame censorship trials to become one of the most widely read poems of our time.
“Taken all together, Ginsbergs poems are X-rays of a considerable part of American society during the last four decades.” The New Yorker
“Ginsberg is both tragic and dynamic, a lyrical genius...probably the single greatest influence on American poetical voice since Whitman.” Bob Dylan
First published in 1956, Allen Ginsberg's Howl is a prophetic masterpiece—an epic raging against dehumanizing society that overcame censorship trials and obscenity charges to become one of the most widely read poems of the century. This annotated version of Ginsberg's classic is the poet's own re-creation of the revolutionary work's composition process—as well as a treasure trove of anecdotes, an intimate look at the poet's writing techniques, and a veritable social history of the 1950s.
About the Author
Allen Ginsberg was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1926, a son of Naomi and lyric poet Louis Ginsberg. As a student at Columbia College in the 1940s, he began a close friendship with William Burroughs, Neal Cassady, and Jack Kerouac, and he later became associated with the Beat movement and the San Francisco Renaissance in the 1950s. After jobs as a laborer, sailor, and market researcher, Ginsberg published his first volume of poetry, Howl and Other Poems
, in 1956. "Howl" defeated censorship trials to become one of the most widely read poems of the century, translated into more than twenty-two languages, from Macedonian to Chinese, a model for younger generations of poets from West to East.
Ginsberg was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, was awarded the medal of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French minister of culture, was a winner of the National Book Award (for The Fall of America), and was a cofounder of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute, the first accredited Buddhist college in the Western world. He died in New York City in 1997.