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Allen Ginsberg: Beat Poet

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Repackaged and refreshed, this seminal biography of a counter-cultural icon is re-issued to form a core part of the Virgin backlist

About the Author

Barry Miles is author of many seminal books on popular culture, including the authorised biography of Paul McCartney, Paul McCartney- Many Years from Now; Ginsberg- A Biography; Jack Kerouac- King of the Beats and The Beat Hotel- Ginsberg, Burroughs and Corso in Paris, 1957-1963.


In overgenerous detail, this long, tedious biography records the rise to fame and the search for love by the now 63-year-old poet from Paterson, N.J. Son of a teacher-poet and his demented wife, Ginsberg was accustomed from childhood to crazed and eccentric behavior. In his student days he began using drugs to widen his consciousness and systematically explore his mind. Bizarre, mystic, passionate, pacifistic, gay Beatnik activist, Ginsberg always practiced what he preached in the extreme, according to the author. Miles, a British writer, depicts the poet's soulmates and bedmates Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs and Peter Orlovsky, his gurus Chogyam Trungpa and Timothy Leary. Describing his world travels, mantra-chanting, meditation, musical compositions and achievements as a photographer, Miles traces Ginsberg's development into a member of the establishment--``the most famous living poet on earth,'' the ``loudest and most influential voice'' among poets of his generation. Photos not seen by PW. (Sept.)

"This is a scholarly work and also much fun." * Guardian * "Will surely be consulted as an Ur-text for decades to come. Read it at the end, along with Ginsberg's fifteen best books, and you'll know why he matters." -- Michael Horowitz * Sunday Times * "Skilfully evokes the poet's childhood, authoritatively expresses his opinions on sundry matters of later life and work, gives him his due as lifeforce of youthful rebellion and in the 1960s counter. Read it; you'll enjoy yourself." -- Paul Berman * New York Times * "Concentrating on the simultaneity of the public and private in Ginsberg's life, Miles gives us a richer insight into his poetic value - and a better read - than many a tight-lipped critical filleting." -- Saul Frampton * Time Out *

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