Monday, October 30, 2006

"The Book of Martyrdom and Artifice"

In bookstores on November 1: The Book of Martyrdom and Artifice: First Journals and Poems 1937-1952 by Allen Ginsberg, Bill Morgan (Editor), Juanita Lieberman-Plimpton (Editor).

From the publisher:
Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) kept journals his entire life, beginning at the age of eleven. These first journals detail the inner thoughts of the awkward boy from Paterson, New Jersey, who would become the major poet and spokesperson of the literary phenomenon called the Beat Generation. The Book of Martyrdom and Artifice covers the most important and formative years of Ginsberg's storied life. It was during these years that he met Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs, both of whom would become lifelong friends and significant literary figures. Ginsberg's journals--so candid he insisted they be published only after his death--also document his relationships with such notable figures of Beat lore as Carl Solomon, Lucien Carr, and Herbert Huncke. Conversations with Kerouac, his beloved muse Neal Cassady, and others have been transcribed from Ginsberg's memory, and information will be found here relating to the famous murder of David Kammerer by Carr--a startlingly violent chapter in Beat prehistory--which has been credited in New York magazine as "giving birth to the Beat Generation." It was also during this period that he began to recognize his homosexuality, and to think of himself as a poet. Illustrated with photos from Ginsberg's private archive and enhanced by an appendix of over 100 of Ginsberg's earliest poems, The Book of Martyrdom and Artifice is a major literary event.
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.
Previously here on the blog: "Howl" ... fifty years later

--Marshal Zeringue