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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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“Ginsberg is both tragic and dynamic, a lyrical genius...probably the single greatest influence on American poetical voice since Whitman.” (Bob Dylan)
From the Back Cover
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'm speechless but at the same time overwhelmed with the urge to Howl from the bottom of my ball's!!Published 7 months ago by michael noble
This book was shipped to me while I was on a deployment in the middle of the ocean! It shipped very quiickly. Read morePublished on March 15, 2013 by Adriana Hardee
I am happy with this book. It is great to see the authors thoughts and edits, and is overall a very pretty book. Read morePublished on March 29, 2012 by pragmatic_insanities