My sense of her realness, her humanity, this shattered being that was a woman, was so shocking to me that a howl as doglike and despairing as her own rose in me unuttered and died again, to be a perpetual ghost....
"Howl", like much of his other poetry, is an intensely personal and also very complex poetic expression lacking rhyme and, to many people, also lacking reason.
Howl, by Allen Ginsberg, is a response to these tensions.
Allen Ginsberg enjoyed a long career as a leading figure in twentieth-century poetry and culture, in part because of his literary works, but also because of his social and political activities. A longtime spokesperson for the country’s disaffected youth, Ginsberg was a prominent figure in the counterculture and antiwar movements of the 1960s, as well as a leading member of the Beat Generation, a group of American writers and artists whose creative efforts and lifestyles represented a vehement rejection of middle-class values. With the publication of “Howl” (1956), Ginsberg stunned critics and readers alike with his innovative and, according to some, obscene verse.
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In 1957, Howl became the subject of a landmark obscenity trial. Because of its graphic sexual language, the San Francisco Police Department arrested Ferlinghetti, the publisher, for distributing obscene material. The ensuing trial attracted national attention as such distinguished literary figures as Walter Van Tilberg Clark and Mark Schorer spoke in defense of Howl. Schorer testified that Ginsberg’s use of crude language is not gratuitous, but necessary to capture the rhythms of ordinary speech. The testimony eventually persuaded Judge Clayton W. Horn to rule that Howl was not obscene, and Ferlinghetti was acquitted. The qualities cited in its defense helped make Howl the manifesto of the Beat movement.
Howl: Beat Generation and Ginsberg - Free Articles
After a brief introduction of the Beat “movement” and Allen Ginsberg’s life and work, in the main part of my paper I attempt to examine two topics related to Ginsberg: his relationship with his religious roots, Judaism, through some sections of his poem, “Kaddish”.
Howl: Beat Generation and Ginsberg
In the summer of 1948, Ginsberg had a profound mystical vision while reading the works of William Blake. Ginsberg felt that this experience had allowed him to penetrate the mysteries of the universe. In later years, Ginsberg tried to recapture the experience in writing, seeking to attain higher states of visionary awareness. This desire for a mystical state of being prompted him, along with his Beat friends, to experiment with an assortment of drugs. When their indulgences resulted in Ginsberg’s being arrested as an accomplice to theft, Ginsberg entered a plea of insanity and subsequently spent eight months in a mental institution. There, he met Carl Solomon, who both challenged Ginsberg’s academic theories about poetry and strengthened his understanding of contemporary poetry’s potential for expressing political resistance.
Allen Ginsberg - Poet | Academy of American Poets
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