The best minds of my generation A literary history of the Beats

Allen Ginsberg, 1926-1997

Book - 2017

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Subjects
Published
New York : Grove Press 2017.
Edition
First Grove Atlantic hardcover edition
Language
English
Physical Description
xxviii, 460 pages ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN
9780802126498
0802126499
Main Author
Allen Ginsberg, 1926-1997 (author)
Other Authors
Anne Waldman, 1945- (writer of foreword)
  • Foreword / by Anne Waldman
  • Editor's preface
  • A definition of the Beat Generation / by Allen Ginsberg
  • 1. Course overview
  • 2. Kerouac's "Origins of the Beat Generation"
  • 3. Reading list
  • 4. Visions
  • 5. Jazz, bebop, and music
  • 6. Music, Kerouac, Wyse, and Newman
  • 7. Times Square and the 1940s
  • 8. Carr, Ginsberg, and Kerouac at Columbia
  • 9. Kerouac, Columbia, and Vanity of Duluoz
  • 10. Lucian Carr's influence on Kerouac
  • 11. Kerouac and Vanity of Duluoz, part 2
  • 12. Meeting Burroughs and Ginsberg's suspension from Columbia
  • 13. Kerouac and The Town and the City
  • 14. Kerouac and Visions of Cody, part 1
  • 15. Kerouac, Cassady, and Visions of Cody, part 2
  • 16. Kerouac in old age
  • 17. Burroughs's first writings and "Twilight's Last Gleamings"
  • 18. Burroughs, Kerouac, and And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks
  • 19. Burroughs, Joan Burroughs, and Junkie
  • 20. Burroughs and Korzybski
  • 21. Burroughs and the visual
  • 22. Burroughs and The Yage Letters
  • 23. Burroughs and Queer
  • 24. Burroughs and Naked Lunch
  • 25. Burroughs and the cut-up method
  • 26. Burroughs and The Ticket That Exploded
  • 27. Neal Cassady and As Ever
  • 28. Kerouac and the "Essentials of Spontaneous Prose"
  • 29. Kerouac and On the Road
  • 30. Kerouac and The Subterraneans
  • 31. Jack Kerouac and fame
  • 32. Kerouac, sketching, and method
  • 33. Corso and The Vestal Lady on Brattle
  • 34. Corso and Gasoline and Other Poems
  • 35. Corso and The Birthday of Death
  • 36. Corso and "Bomb"
  • 37. Corso and "Power"
  • 38. Corso and Herald of the Autochthonic Spirit
  • 39. Ginsberg's early writings
  • 40. Ginsberg and William Carlos Williams
  • 41. Ginsberg and the "The Green Automobile"
  • 42. Ginsberg and "Howl"
  • 43. Ginsberg, "Howl," and Christopher Smart
  • 44. Ginsberg and Cézanne
  • 45. Ginsberg and the San Francisco renaissance
  • 46. John Clellon Holmes
  • 47. Peter Orlovsky
  • 48. Carl Solomon
  • 49. Kerouac's "Belief and Technique For Modern Prose"
  • Works cited within the text
  • Allen Ginsberg's reading list for "A Literary History of the Beat Generation".
Review by Library Journal Reviews

In summer 1977, Ginsberg thought it was time for a literary history of what he, Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and others had accomplished and designed a course he taught five times, first at the Naropa Institute and later at Brooklyn College. Compiled and edited by renowned Beat scholar Morgan, this book presents those lectures, complete with notes. The portrait of a generation.. Copyright 2016 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Jack Kerouac may have coined the term Beat Generation, but it was Ginsberg's indefatigable energy that shaped and sustained one of the most significant movements in American literature. In 1977, Ginsberg designed a course on the history of the Beat Generation, which he taught several times between then and 1994 at the Naropa Institute and Brooklyn College. Working from transcripts of nearly 100 taped lectures, Morgan, a leading authority on Ginsberg and author of numerous books on the Beat Generation, has done a superb job organizing and editing the material, while preserving the poet's voice and lecture style. Following Ginsberg's own emphasis, Morgan's selection focuses on the core New York City group: Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Gregory Corso, and Ginsberg himself. Minor figures, including Herbert Huncke, Lucien Carr, and John Clellon Holmes, are covered to a lesser degree. The arrangement is more or less chronological as Ginsberg celebrates the lives and works of his literary brothers beginning with their early meetings in the 1940s. VERDICT Along with Morgan's earlier work, The Typewriter Is Holy: The Complete, Uncensored History of the Beat Generation, this firsthand account from the movement's chief spokesman will be essential reading for anyone interested in the subject. [See Prepub Alert, 10/31/16; "Editors' Spring Picks," LJ 2/15/17, p. 23.]—William Gargan, Brooklyn Coll. Lib., CUNY Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Beat biographer Morgan's (The Beats Abroad) transcript of Ginsberg's university lectures, given first at Naropa Institute in 1977 and later at Brooklyn College, are a gold mine for anyone interested in beat literature. Ginsberg discusses William Burroughs, Neal Cassady, Gregory Corso, Herbert Huncke, and himself, but Jack Kerouac is the soul of the book, portrayed throughout with admiration and affection, if not always reverence. Citing their influences in everything from jazz to Dostoyevsky, Ginsberg depicts the beats not as criminals, addicts, or delinquents but as restless, beatific seekers after spiritual truth. Covering mainly the years between 1947 and 1957, Ginsberg's critical technique is to offer a catalogue of breakthroughs, epiphanies, and favorite passages or "big sentences," interspersed with gossipy anecdotes and revelatory asides. Ginsberg reads and thinks like a poet; interested in language and style, he abandons narrative to leap from image to image, yoking grandiloquent statements with pungent summations and deadpan remarks. Fans of the period will embrace Ginsberg's raconteur style and insider knowledge about his friends and their achievements; those who need a more comprehensive or linear grounding in beat literature might start with another of Morgan's works. (Apr.) Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A personal, yet critical, look at one of the most important literary movements of the 20th century, is told through the words of one of the Beats' most central members, Allen Ginsberg, and is based on a seminal series of his lectures that have been compiled and edited by a renowned Beat scholar.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"In the summer of 1977, Allen Ginsberg decided it was time to teach a course on the literary history of the Beat Generation. This was twenty years after the publication of his landmark poem "Howl," and Jack Kerouac's seminal book On the Road. Through thecreation of this course, which he ended up teaching five times, first at the Naropa Institute and later at Brooklyn College, Ginsberg saw an opportunity to make a record of the history of Beat Literature. Compiled and edited by renowned Beat scholar BillMorgan, and with an introduction by Anne Waldman, The Best Minds of My Generation presents the lectures in edited form, complete with notes, and paints a portrait of the Beats as Ginsberg knew them: friends, confidantes, literary mentors, and fellow revolutionaries. Ginsberg was seminal to the creation of a public perception of Beat writers and knew all of the major figures personally, making him uniquely qualified to be the historian of the movement. In The Best Minds of My Generation, Ginsberg shares anecdotes of meeting Kerouac, Burroughs, and other writers for the first time, explains his own poetics, elucidates the importance of music to Beat writing, discusses visual influences and the cut-up method, and paints a portrait of a group who were leading a literary revolution. For academics and Beat neophytes alike, The Best Minds of My Generation is a personal and yet critical look at one of the most important literary movements of the twentieth century"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Presents a collection of lectures given by Allen Ginsberg in which he discusses other members of the Beat Generation, including Jack Kerouac and Peter Orlovsky, both as friends and as revolutionaries.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

In 1977, twenty years after the publication of his landmark poem “Howl,” and Jack Kerouac’s seminal book On the Road, Allen Ginsberg decided it was time to teach a course on the literary history of the Beat Generation. Through the creation of this course, which he ended up teaching five times, first at the Naropa Institute and later at Brooklyn College, Ginsberg saw an opportunity to present the history of Beat Literature in his own inimitable way. Compiled and edited by renowned Beat scholar Bill Morgan, and with an introduction by Anne Waldman, The Best Minds of My Generation presents the lectures in edited form, complete with notes, and paints a portrait of the Beats as Ginsberg knew them: friends, confidantes, literary mentors, and fellow revolutionaries.Ginsberg was seminal to the creation of a public perception of Beat writers and knew all of the major figures personally, making him uniquely qualified to be the historian of the movement. In The Best Minds of My Generation, Ginsberg shares anecdotes of meeting Kerouac, Burroughs, and other writers for the first time, explains his own poetics, elucidates the importance of music to Beat writing, discusses visual influences and the cut-up method, and paints a portrait of a group who were leading a literary revolution. For Beat aficionados and neophytes alike, The Best Minds of My Generation is a personal yet critical look at one of the most important literary movements of the twentieth century.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

A unique and compelling history of the Beats, in the words of the movement’s most central member, Allen Ginsberg, based on a seminal series of his lectures