Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) was one of twentieth-century literature's most prolific letter-writers. This definitive volume showcases his correspondence with some of the most original and interesting artists of his time, including Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Neal Cassady, Lionel Trilling, Charles Olson, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Philip Whalen, Peter Orlovsky, Philip Glass, Arthur Miller, Ken Kesey, and hundreds of others. Through his letter writing, Ginsberg coordinated the efforts of his literary circle and kept everyone informed about what everyone else was doing. He also preached the gospel of the Beat movement by addressing political and social issues in countless letters to publishers, editors, and the news media, devising an entirely new way to educate readers and disseminate information. Drawing from numerous sources, this collection is both a riveting life in letters and an intimate guide to understanding an entire creative generation.
In 1962 Allen Ginsberg wrote to Bertrand Russell: All I know is, I've lived in the midst of apparent worldly events and apparent transcendental insights, and it all adds up to I don't know what. Both the worldliness and the transcendence come through in these letters by the beat poet, published for the first time. As the poet's biographer and prolific literary archivist, Morgan has selected just 165 out of more than 3,700 letters. They offer a comprehensive look at Ginsberg's life, from his earliest letter to the New York Times in 1941 to his dying message to Bill Clinton requesting an arts prize unless it's politically inadvisable or inexpedient. Ginsberg wrote at length to just about anyone: Kerouac and other literary colleagues, of course, but also journalists and literary critics who failed (in his estimation) to fully appreciate what the beats had accomplished. The playful, experimental side of his personality comes through, from his youthful attempts to attract the attention of Ezra Pound to his experiments with LSD. Ginsberg's admirers will be glad Morgan has followed the poet's instructions not to smooth out rough horny communist un-American goofy edges. (Sept. 15)
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Da Capo Press
September 06, 2008
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