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The Book of Martyrdom and Artifice: First Journals and Poems: 1937-1952
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The Book of Martyrdom and Artifice: First Journals and Poems: 1937-1952

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  181 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) kept a journal his entire life, beginning at the age of eleven. In these first journals the most important and formative years of the poet’s storied life are captured, his inner thoughts detailed in what the San Francisco Chronicle calls a “vivid first-person account...Ginsberg’s unmistakable voice coming into its own for the first time.” Ginsber ...more
Paperback, 544 pages
Published February 5th 2008 by Da Capo Press (first published October 10th 2006)
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Nov 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
It is difficult to write about this book in any coherent way. More than anything, this book has helped drive home the difference between the concept of a diary and the concept of a journal. Even though this book clearly states its identity as a collection of Ginsberg's journaling, I went in hoping for more of a diary. Be warned--the diary portions of the books are few and far between. If you, like me, are looking for passages where Ginsberg recounts day to day thoughts and encounters with Lucien ...more
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: journals-memoirs
4,5 stars**

I really enjoyed reading these journals -what a surprise eh ? Not-. If you are looking to learn more about the Beat generation, this book might not be for you, while Ginsberg recalls certain moments he spent with his friends and fellow students and at times brings up his relationships with some of them, this is not your chance to dive into their uni dorm rooms (Shame, I would have loved that but let's not talk about what I wish this was...). Instead most of the entries are self analys
Jun 08, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: journal-diary
The earliest writings in Allen Ginsberg’s journals are the kind of things one might expect to find in a journal written by a pre-teen boy—comments on relations with his family, notes about teachers at school, mentions of a trip to a relative’s house or of an evening at the movies. One gets a sense in these passages of Ginsberg as a rather studious but otherwise typical youth. In later pages, as Ginsberg begins thinking of himself as a serious writer, his journal writings become both more detaile ...more
Param Anand
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
That the author of these journals grew into the writer of Howl and Other Poems proves there is hope for us all.
Feb 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book was just reissued in a paperback edition by Da Capo Press. Knowing I'm a Beat fan, my editor there gave me a copy. And this book is definitely for hardcore Beat fans. It starts with an adolescent and scarily precocious Ginsberg and stops before Ginsberg broke huge with Howl. So you really need a deep interest in Ginsberg and the origins of the Beat scene to get into this as heavily as it deserves. I think the best new insights in the book come when A.G. talks about the period when Herb ...more
I should note I have this book, but haven't done much reading in it. It's fun for a casual pick up now and then as most books of this kind are. Early on though its quite humorous. Young Allen (at least amidst ages 12-17) loved to passively insult senators in newspaper letters to the editor all the while forecasting his own genius. Rather oddly, his father would jokingly ammend passages in his journal and even write some as "Allen". Quite strange. When it comes to Allen's college years, the journ ...more
David Brown
Allen Ginsberg is the only one of the Beat trinity whose work I have not read. Wanting to start at the beginning, I picked up this book from the library. It started out interesting as an earnest and somewhat naive young Ginsberg makes his way out into the world on a journey of discovery. Once he arrives at Colombia College, however, things get so bogged down in a morass of the mundane that I felt as though I had to slug my way through to the end.

That is not to say this tome is without merit. Gi
Lisa Kozlowski
Oct 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Knowing next to nothing about Ginsberg, I started back to front with the poems, then skipped to the section about his early days at Columbia and meeting Kerouac, Carr, Burroughs among others; then started at the very beginning and read his early entries, then skipped to his life after leaving Columbia and read through to the end...then re-read some of the poems. Full of youthful self-consciousness and self-confidence in his ability as a writer; not faultering through all the drugs and lonliness ...more
Jennifer Kelly
May 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
He was so young and filled with so much unnecessary angst, morbidness, and pity-partying. If someone asked him in 1952 when the journals end that he was going to set the world on fire and change how people feel about poetry or that he would fall in love with someone who would really love him back - I don't think he'd have believed it for a minute. He sounds like he wants to give up on everything - but he really had his whole life ahead of him.
This book is one of those that would be good for a b
May 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Entry from May 1941: "As I said, I am writing to satisfy my egotism. If some future historian or biographer wants to know what the genius thought and did in his tender years, here it is. I'll be a genius of some kind or other, probably in literature. I really believe it. (Not naively, as whoever reads this is thinking). I have a fair degree of confidence in myself. Either I'm a genius, I'm egocentric, or I'm slightly schizophrenic. Probably the first two."

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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 A ...more
More about Allen Ginsberg...
“I don't do anything with my life except romanticize and decay with indecision.” 155 likes
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