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The Essential Ginsberg

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  309 ratings  ·  27 reviews
Featuring the legendary and groundbreaking poem “Howl,” this remarkable volume showcases a selection of Allen Ginsberg’s poems, songs, essays, letters, journals, and interviews and contains sixteen pages of his personal photographs.

One of the Beat Generation’s most renowned poets and writers, Allen Ginsberg became internationally famous not only for his published works but
Paperback, 448 pages
Published May 26th 2015 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 2015)
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On the Road by Jack KerouacHowl and Other Poems by Allen GinsbergThe Dharma Bums by Jack KerouacNaked Lunch by William S. BurroughsJunky by William S. Burroughs
Beat Lit
204 books — 161 voters
The House of the Dead by Fyodor DostoyevskyDemons by Fyodor DostoyevskyThe Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956 by Aleksandr SolzhenitsynThe Sound and the Fury by William FaulknerLook at the Harlequins! by Vladimir Nabokov
To Read in 2018
50 books — 1 voter

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Sep 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I dare your reality, I challenge your very being!

My hate-love with Ginsberg continues. This is a pretty epic collection of poems, essays, interviews, music, and photos(!), and I feel like it's a must read if you have any interest in Ginsberg or the Beat movement in general. There are so many gems in this book that I found myself wishing I owned the copy I was holding so I could bust out my highlighter, and at the same time there were numerous moments where I had to put the borrowed copy down
Sarah Wilson
Mar 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
I received a review copy of this book from Harper Perennial (Harper Collins Publishers) in exchange for an honest review. As said by Ginsberg, in this wonderful collection, banned books will live forever, and he wasn't wrong. Through his essays, journals, interviews and letters, this definitive volume inspires the reader to delve deeper into the body of work of Ginsberg's, which still remains one of the most impressive literary canons in American history.

It had been a couple of years since I
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: beat, poetry
Basically one of my favourite writers. I cannot say I agree with everything he says, particularly his more esoteric views on drug usage and property, but the way he articulates his speech, with a justified sense of self-importance and grandeur and a beautifully written rhetoric makes it impossible to not appreciate this compilation. Michael Schumacher did a wonderful job editing this, an anthology that, through the man's own words in essays, poems, songs and letters, tells the story of several ...more
Joaquín C. Martín-Rayo
Jun 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
No hay una palabra mejor para definir este libro: esencial. Esta antología resulta imprescindible tanto para los neófitos como para los que (como yo) deseen acercarse un poco más a la obra de Allen Ginsberg y conocer con mayor profundidad su estilo, sus sentimientos y su vida.

Y es que esto no es una autobiografía, pero la sensación que tiene uno al terminar de leer es la de tener entre las manos una obra biográfica. Los momentos clave de la vida de Ginsberg se entrelazan una y otra vez a través
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Everything is holy! everybody's holy! everywhere is holy! everyday is in eternity!"
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
“Recent history is the record of a vast conspiracy to impose one level of mechanical consciousness on mankind and exterminate all manifestations of that unique part of human sentience, identical in all men, which the individual shares with his Creator.” - from his essay ‘Poetry, Violence, and the Trembling Lambs’
I wasn’t able to get through this entire book before I had to return it but I liked what I read. I preferred the essays and journals to the poetry (most of his poems go right over me)
Jonathan Giammaria
Aug 30, 2018 rated it liked it
I highly recommend you read the poetry LAST if you are unfamiliar with Ginsberg or poetry in general. Also, there were a few duds across each chapter (I had to skip some of those letters near the end). But the photography, most of the poetry, and the essays and diary entries were really interesting.
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've always been curious to dig into more of Ginsberg's life and work beyond Howl, so I figured this was a great place to start. I was blown away by a lot of his other poems, particularly Kaddish, but I also loved reading his letters and essays as well. Definitely a great way to do a deep dive into Ginsberg's output.
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: collections
“To be so brave and so open about the situation in America and homosexuality while using a style of writing which was almost a stream of consciousness that was confusing to people was completely powerful.”
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, poetry
I wanted to like this a lot more than I actually did. I was only really familiar with his poem "Howl" before I read this. Like a lot of other poetry collections, there were a few really good ones, but I thought the majority were pretty meh.
Rob Roy
Oct 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, essay
Ginsburg is the key poet of the Beat Generation. Much of his work seems very topical to the time, and a bit archaic today. But, as a part of the generation after the Beats, I found some of his viewpoints interesting. Alas, there was no one in the background playing the bongos.
May 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
I remember why I had a Beats phase. Ugh. I love Ginsberg’s poetry. And the interviews and letters were super useful to understanding his poetry. Too bad he was a pedophile.
Oct 29, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, non-fiction
Should have picked up his Selected Poems instead of that +rambling letters/interviews???
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, poetry
It's a must read for any beat generation fans. Allen's poetry is not perfect, but it is definitely not boring and it is full of energy and emotions. In addition to that, I enjoyed reading the elaborate long letters, which Allen used to send to his close friends from his travels.
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Poems were phenomenal, the essays were quite interesting, as well as the letters and the interviews.
Jan 21, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: poetry, classics
I wanted like this so much more than I did. There were a few really beautiful lines—I love “who lounged hungry and lonesome through Houston seeking jazz or sex or soup,” from Howl—but mostly there was what honestly just sounded like gibberish. What does the phrase “new-nippled generations,” for example, even mean? I’ve pretty firmly established for myself that I am just not a poetry person, but I can't help continuing to try—especially in this case because I've always wanted to love the Beat ...more
Jun 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Allen Ginsberg's writing is without doubt the most intense writing I have ever read. It is strong, heated and emotional. All of these makes Ginsberg what Ginsberg was. He represented a clash of homosexuality and the topic of it publicly. He stood against the industrialisation and the society that America was becoming.
I dare you Reality, I challenge your very being.

I really enjoy his writing. I have so many yellow-marked-sentences and poems in this precious book, that I can only recommend this to
Fan Liu
Mar 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
A great collection of poems, letters, and essays by Ginsberg. By not only exploring Ginsberg's poems but also his essays/letters, you begin to understand his thought processes and the Beat Generation makes more sense/becomes less alienated for the common reader. Ginsberg conveys his thought processes, societal faults, and varied feelings through his powerful prose. Read "Independence Day Manifesto" - it's a great essay on the demise of free thought by authority, the purpose of free-verse ...more
Jan 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book was a fantastic introduction into the life and works of Allen Ginsberg. Previously, I had only read Howel, which I loved and is why I was excited to receive a galley of this book. Ginsberg's writing is beautiful both in verse and in prose and is so raw and unique even to the current age.

After reading this, I'm excited to find other books by and about him for future reading.
Interesting chiefly as cultural history. I didn't live through that time, but I like Ginsberg (as a personage). That said, the Beats' work feels dated at this point in history, period pieces, and much less influential than it probably seemed it would be 50-60 years ago. I don't find much of enduring artistic merit here.
Sara Habein
Jul 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Although I'm not 100% with Ginsberg on everything (and who is?), this is still a great collection of poems, letters, journal entries, essays, and photos. Not a quick read (which is great if you're in the mood to really savor something), though a fascinating read.
This gave me exposure to Ginsburg which I was lacking. That said, in all fairness, I did not finish it because it is not "my cup of tea". Not a fair review but an honest one
To read again
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Irwin Allen Ginsberg was the son of Louis and Naomi Ginsberg, two Jewish members of the New York literary counter-culture of the 1920s. Ginsberg was raised among several progressive political perspectives. A supporter of the Communist party, Ginsberg's mother was a nudist whose mental health was a concern throughout the poet's childhood. According to biographer Barry Miles, "Naomi's illness gave ...more