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The Book of Martyrdom and Artifice: First Journals and Poems 1937-1952 Hardcover – November 1, 2006

5.0 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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.)
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Review

"Call it the education of a hero, a most welcome addition to the library surrounding the poet and his work." -- Kirkus Reviews, 10/1/2006

"Captures the spirit of the iconoclastic beat generation" -- Advocate, 12/5/06

"Fans of the group that included Ginsberg, William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac will find things to enthrall them here." -- InfoDad.com, 11/16/06

"Ginsberg's journals reveal a sensitive, vulnerable imagination." -- Washington Post, 11/26/06

"If you like Allen Ginsberg and want to know more about him, then this book is a wonderful resource." -- Portland Mercury, 1/11/07

"Shows that keen observation and intuitive reflection developed early did not waver in Ginsberg's last days." -- Bookselling This Week, Spring 2007 Book Sense Picks, Poetry Top Ten, 3/8/07

"The publication of Ginsberg's early diaries and hitherto unpublished poems... allows the reader to map Ginsberg's evolving consciousness and aesthetic." -- Gay & Lesbian Review, June 2007

"We have never seen the birth of the beat generation...as rivetingly told as it is here." -- January, Best of Non-Fiction 2006

"[A] vivid first-person account...Show[s] Ginsberg's unmistakable voice coming into its own for the first time." -- San Francisco Chronicle, 11/5/06

"[Ginsberg's] journals betray a lively intelligence, and even a jovial self-awareness...This book is a wonderful resource." -- The Stranger, 11/30/06
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 1st Da Capo Press Ed edition (November 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306814625
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306814624
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,772,214 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I wish I could have written like that when I was 11. I wish I could write like that now. Fascinating on many levels, from the literary to the prurient.

My copy is bound starting with the last page of the index, page five hundred and something, going backward. I tried to find some clue if that was the way it was intended, or if my copy is a rare (e-bay worthy) fluke. So far, I have found no answer within the book itself, although I am not by any means finished. Does anyone know? Is that the zen like pranksterish way its supposed to be, or did someone at DaCapo screw up?

NOTE: After much painstaking research, I have been able to discover that MY copy of the book was bound on the wrong side, and that ALL the OTHERS are bound the right way. So I'm going to shrink wrap it and sell it on e-bay in 50 years for millions of yuan.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A very interesting insight to the mind of the young, blossoming poet. After reading this book I feel I have a significantly deeper understanding of Ginsberg's poetry and the context surrounding the Beat Generation. From a very early age Allen had an eloquent and informed way of writing and possessed a certain vanity that only seemed to strengthen with age. While aspects of the reading got a bit tedious for me, such as his dwelling in obsessive heartache over a seemingly apathetic Neil Cassidy, I felt this was one of the most interesting journals of a writer I've yet to read. Some finer details I enjoyed were his monthly lists of books he'd read or music he'd bought, his written accounts of his dreams (some of which became poems) and the addition of relevant letters he'd sent and received from his friends or parents. I definitely recommend this book to any fan of Ginsberg's poetry or influence, or any a Beat Generation fan in general.
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Format: Hardcover
Ginsberg was perhaps the defining person of the Beat Generation. Technically I suppose that to be a true member of the beat generation club you had to be a personal friend of Ginsberg (although he never claimed to be the leader). It's also possible that being friends of some other members of the cordon of friends around him might count as well. Or, who knows, perhaps it could be anyone who shares the philosophy.

Anyway, this book might be called the early years of a Beat Generation Poet. It consists of journal entries from his early years, along with about 100 poems, some 65 of which have never been published. The entries are varied in subject, they reflect his thinking at the time. They are also a look inside a persons head that we don't often get to see. They describe the time he spent in psychiatric hospitals, his earliest homosexual feelings, the mental illness of his mother, and the early seeking of a religious home.

This is not a biography, it is the writings of the man himself, intended for publication only after his death.
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Format: Hardcover
The Book of Martyrdom and Artifice: First Journals and Poems 1937-1952 is edited by Bill Morgan and Juanita Lieberman-Plimpton and offers a rare view of the poet during his formative years rather than the more commonly covered later life works. As such, this will serve as a fitting and important introduction for both college-level and casual Ginsberg enthusiasts, surveying the contents of candid journals allowed to see publication only after his death, and including conversations with Jack Kerouac and other notable contemporaries. In packing in elements of his personal life and family relationships, succeeds in displaying many hitherto-unrevealed aspects of Ginsberg's life and personality - essential keys for a through, in-depth understanding of his writings.

Diane C. Donovan

California Bookwatch
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