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Collected poems, 1947-1980 Hardcover – 1984

4.1 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Amazon.com Review

Tortured by the paranoia and mental illness of his immigrant mother, and by his own homosexuality in a society that was homophobic, Allen Ginsberg's early work was as much a measure of his self-loathing as his detestation of social hypocrisy and injustice. His poems reached depths of humiliation and shame that presaged a mental breakdown, followed by recovery with the help of Buddhist philosophy. Ginsberg's political commitment was fired by his involvement with Jack Kerouac, Gary Snyder and others in the Beat movement, a poetry of social protest that refused perceived elitist boundaries. Despite a tendency toward propaganda, Ginsberg's best poetry is infused with satiric comedy and cheerful self-parody, and is most readily appreciated when read aloud. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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"Both an American publishing landmark and an immediate classic of international importance." -- -- Choice

Ginsberg, at his best, is alert, unprogrammed, free. -- The New Yorker, Helen Vendler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 837 pages
  • Publisher: Harper & Row; 1st edition (1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060153415
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060153410
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 2.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #721,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I just finished reading Ginsberg's complete poems, 1947-1997 -- Collected Poems, White Shroud, Cosmopolitan Greetings, and Death and Fame -- fifty years and over a thousand pages of poetry. My overall impression is that he was probably the kindest, most moral member of the beat generation. When the other beats were penniless & borrowing money, Ginsberg was the one they borrowed money from. Corso would steal Ginsberg's manuscripts and sell them to used book dealers to score heroin, and each time Ginsberg would walk down to the book dealer and buy back his priceless words. Where Kerouac preached his own version of buddhism and gave it up a few years later for catholic alcoholism, Ginsberg remained a dedicated student of buddhist compassion to the end of his days.

And that's what shines thru in many of these poems -- compassion, attention to the present, and the courage to be so honest about his life and his feelings. Many of these poems are raw, experimental, informal, and spontaneous, almost like journal entries. This book contains numerous classics -- Pull My Daisy (written with Kerouac & Cassady in 1949), Howl, America, Kaddish, Mescaline, Lysergic Acid, Wichita Vortex Sutra, Wales Visitation, Elegy for Neal Cassady, Memory Gardens (elegy for Jack Kerouac), and Ode to Failure, among others.

Some of the most common themes are world travel, nature, daily events, progressive politics, the US invasion of Vietnam, the peace movement, road trips, drug use, the beats, gay sex, hinduism, buddhism, death, and love. In other words, Ginsberg wrote about his life. He talks about his friends dying, his father dying, his mother's insanity and death, his loves, his joys, and whatever is pressing and interesting to him at the moment.
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I am a Allen Ginsberg fan all Americans should read and discuss Allen Ginsberg from a political perspective and his life chronicles the turmoil of a society in decay and the contradictions of the left in America.and more.

CONVOLUTED BOURGEIOS BUDDHIST THINKER BUT GREAT POET
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pros: This compilation is amazing. It covers almost all of his work, includes artwork found in the compilations, and has an awsome refrence section that explains era specific phrases/notes about the poems and an alphabetical directory of proper names.

Con: Its not a very preaty book tho, and is quite intimidating to hold in the hand at times if you wanted to read to people or something.
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Hello, Good Lookers.

This collection of Allen Ginsberg's poetry is indeed quite electric. He was the art-form's left to the complacent's right. His writing is at times grudgingly painful, and at others, descriptively beautiful. He was a soul with a connection to his art.

Ginsberg set the course of change for a whole movement (Beat) as well as for an entire society. He was a voice when many had none. He took chances, and paid for them. In this book one can truly see him bearing his soul, his humanity.

His writing is so profound at times, that the beauty lies, not in the words, but in the life and lifestyle he led. Ginsberg was so proficient at transcending the human condition and finding something almost prophetic about it, that his poetry is a must-read for any serious student of poetry.

While some may be turned-off by Ginsberg's stuff, his art lies, again, not so much in the words, but, in himself; for Ginsberg was the art-form, and he lived a life to prove it!

Thanks for thaking the time to read my review.

Rock On, Kids,

Dr. Of Style
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By A Customer on March 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
Ginsberg's startling, erratic genius is on display in this alternately inspiring and exasperating volume. I give it 5 stars because Ginsberg MUST be read and appreciated; the man changed the face of poetry, as well as pop culture, holding enormous influence over Bob Dylan, who would reinvent rock and roll and help inspire a cultural revolution. Why Ginsberg was not awarded a Nobel is astonishing to me.
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Terribly overrated. Ginsberg's prose is shocking, sure, but that whole stream of consciousness thing just lacks subsance. I'd give it no stars, if I could.
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Format: Paperback
This might be the first life-changing book I encountered (Warhol, Borges and Nabokov would come later) - I actually (astonishingly, in retrospect) stumbled across both Ginsberg - this collection - and Ferlinghetti in the library of a North Carolina high school in 1986. I kept this book checked out for most of the school year, gradually committing vast chunks of it to memory.

Ginsberg was raw, real, more than willing to be a mess in life and in literature, which is exceptionally humanizing, and the poems are, and always will be this vast something from the depths of the collective American unconscious - "Howl" and "Kaddish" most famously, but in less well-known, but no less wonderful pieces like "Wichita Vortex Sutra" as well.

Fans of Ginsberg (or of the beat movement in general) will already know much of this, but this collection is much more than that - some of the most vital American writing of the 20th century.

-David Alston
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