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The Book of Martyrdom and Artifice

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About the Author

Allen Ginsberg's Howl was one of the most widely read and translated poems of the twentieth century. He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and cofounder of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa Institute. Juanita Lieberman-Plimpton worked with Allen Ginsberg and as an editor in New York City. She now owns and runs her own business, Mud Pie Productions and lives in western Massachusetts. Bill Morgan was Allen Ginsberg's literary achivist and is author of the biography I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg. He lives in New York City.


The troubled and excitable mind of the young Beat poet is given free rein in this exhaustive and often illuminating collection of his early private writing. The text serves as an evolving portrait of both a writer and a man: from the first, self-conscious high school entries to the stylistically mature entries of the early '50s, the degree of insight and the fluidity of prose multiplies exponentially. Throughout, Ginsberg lives up to his reputation as the most intellectually rigorous as well as the most neurotic of the Columbia gang that included Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs. Luckily, his neuroses mostly of a sexual/ romantic nature are often expressed with lucidity and intensity. Ginsberg's obsessive relationship with the charismatic Neal Cassady is discussed at particular length, often in a narrative, slightly fictionalized form that provides a fascinating, and significantly more interior, counterpoint to Kerouac's On the Road. An appendix of early poems provides significant insight into Ginsberg's developing aesthetic. As a whole, the poems are entertaining in their own right, but, like most of the journals, they can best be appreciated in reference to Ginsberg's body of later writing. 16 b&w photos. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"(A) gem... Ginsberg's journals reveal a sensitive, vulnerable imagination." Washington Post Book World"

Beat poet Allen Ginsberg's (1926-97) previously published journals include Indian Journals (1970), Journals: Early Fifties, Early Sixties (1977), and Journals: Mid-Fifties (1995), with the earliest journals probably the most interesting. Here, Ginsberg recounts his first meetings with fellow Beat figures Lucien Carr, Jack Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs at Columbia University and comments on the sensational events surrounding the birth of the Beat generation, including Carr's murder of David Kammerer, who was pursuing Carr romantically at the time. Ginsberg also provides firsthand accounts of his drug experiments, his struggle to come to terms with his homosexuality, and his role in a string of burglaries that led to his confinement in a mental hospital. Reading lists, recordings of dreams, and excerpts from letters are also included. An appendix contains more than 100 early poems, many published here for the first time. There are helpful notes by editors Lieberman-Plimpton and Morgan as well as by Ginsberg, who worked on the manuscript before his death. Sixteen black-and-white photos from Ginsberg's private archive complete the book. Highly recommended for contemporary literature collections. William Gargan, Brooklyn Coll. Lib., CUNY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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