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Howl: Original Draft Facsimile, Transcript, and Variant Versions, Fully Annotated by Author, with Contemporaneous Correspondence, Account of First ... (Harper Perennial Modern Classics) Paperback – October 10, 2006


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Product Details

  • Series: Harper Perennial Modern Classics
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics; 1st HPMC Edition/ 1st Printing 2006 edition (October 10, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061137456
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061137457
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 8.9 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #637,698 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Taken all together, Ginsberg’s 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)

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.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Allen Ginsberg's Howl has long been one of my favorite poems.
Bill R. Moore
Beyond its great literary status, "Howl" is a political milestone, being initially banned and labeled "obscene" for what by today's standards is laughably mild.
Fixed Stars Govern a Life
All the notes and handwriting can make it very hard to read the text.
pragmatic_insanities

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Fixed Stars Govern a Life on September 18, 2007
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Considering Ginsberg embraced Kerouac's "First thought, best thought," motto, Howl's 50th anniversary edition, which includes many photocopied pages of handwritten and typed revisions, proves Ginsberg did plenty of revisiting and change to those first thoughts. Choosing better, more musical adjectives, adding to and shaping his images to enhance the mental scenery, and the great big cross-outs in pencil, turn this long, occasionally tough read into something wondrous.

Anyone who hasn't read Howl might not get the beauty of this book. Howl, (at first impression, anyway) appears to be a spontaneous effusion of cadence, gibberish, sexual references and glamorized psychosis. It is funny, frank and unashamed, and in those Eisenhower American-era days, what Ginsberg did was a brave and scary thing. He and his publisher, the poet, Lawrence Ferlinghetti (who owned City Lights Books) certainly had their work cut out defending it.

Beyond its great literary status, "Howl" is a political milestone, being initially banned and labeled "obscene" for what by today's standards is laughably mild. This version of Howl is dedicated to Ferlinghetti, who along with the American Civil Liberties Union, championed the poem with First Amendment Protections. As we all know, Howl won its censorship trial to became one of the best and most widely read poems of modern time.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By John J. Martinez on October 13, 2009
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(This is a review for the critique of the book "Howl: Original Draft Facsimile, Transcript, and Variant Versions, Fully Annotated by Author, with Contemporaneous Correspondence, Account of First Public...etc.", not about the book itself.)

This book, at a whopping 208 pages, portrays the author, Allen Ginsberg in a cultural and artistic flux as both poet and as creator who's process is also in flux as well. It is also not for the feint of heart except for those who are true fans of the 4 page typewritten epic poem, Allen's first real foray at attempting what can only now be called true free-form poetry from 1956.

The poem itself is full of life and is a ripped-open from the heart - and even his soul - portrayal of his own life; his view of his life from a mirror. This book breaks it down by the entire process - from the original typewritten version to the crossed-out edited parts, the many revisions, the "final" copies of different versions sent to friends who kept them for over 50 years (and luckily some of them, not all of them, reprinted here for the first time ever), to even letters corresponding back and forth from those same friends about it's then-impact, his subsequent secret agony in having opened up a Supreme Court type firestorm over the readings, and much much more ephemera concerning it.

It's a lot to take in, and it can't be done in one sitting. Almost everyone from that time period chimes in - Neal Cassidy, ex-lovers, Ferlinghetti, the publishers, and writings and thoughts by Ginsberg himself, who contributed unlimited access to his own personal papers among his other "scraps of paper," as he called them. (Sadly, Allen would never see this publication in it's final form as he died right before it was published.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Thomas E. Defreitas on July 16, 2012
Here we are granted invaluable insight into the making of "Howl." We see the visions and revisions of Allen Ginsberg, America's poetic enfant terrible, as he composes what is indisputably -- even if the more prim among us recoil from the vividness -- a literary masterpiece. We see his drafts, the marginal corrections, the typescript itself as it evolves into the high-powered dynamo that we know so well.

The annotations to Ginsberg's more recondite references are of immense worth to the reader, who can now situate this poem properly in its literary and temporal climate. Also of vital importance is the small anthology of "precursor texts": the great poems of the past which inspired Ginsberg as he wrote his chef-d'oeuvre -- Whitman, Lorca, Shelley, William Carlos Williams, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Hart Crane, and even old Christopher Smart!

We learn from this variorum edition that Ginsberg's prosody is always controlled, never to the point of hampering his freedom of expression, but always with an eye to enhancing the "diction galvanized against inertia."

Included also is a brief history of the legal battles surrounding "Howl" (in the sedate 1950s, the obscenity caused much startlement!), and a small sampling of the immediate critical reaction to Ginsberg's most famous work. John Hollander's review fascinates, even though it is a hostile reaction -- Hollander's shamefaced pentimento, taking back some of his opprobrium, is appended.

This volume will be of especial appeal to Ginsbergians, to champions of the Beat movement in literature, and to anyone who is fascinated by mid-20th century American literary history.
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