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

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  188 ratings  ·  18 reviews
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 s ...more
Hardcover, 523 pages
Published October 10th 2006 by Da Capo Press
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Arthur Cravan According to Wikiquote:
"Not a Kerouac quote, but by Allen Ginsberg in his journal of 30 July 1947. Published in The Book of Martyrdom and…more
According to Wikiquote:
"Not a Kerouac quote, but by Allen Ginsberg in his journal of 30 July 1947. Published in The Book of Martyrdom and Artifice, page 199."(less)

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Nov 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
David Brown
Oct 02, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Jennifer Kelly
May 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 08, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 Singh
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
That the author of these journals grew into the writer of Howl and Other Poems proves there is hope for us all.
Jul 02, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Oct 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
It's hard to read anyone's journals, even if that person is as brilliant (and as important to me as an artist) as Ginsberg is. They just get rambly - that's sort of what a journal is for. This covers a period of his life (college and meeting Keroac, Carr, Cassady, Bourroughs etc.) which is really fascinating though, and I enjoyed the insights if it did take me forever to get through. (Plus it meant I knew the story of Kill Your Darlings before there was even a movie...)
GK Stritch
Sep 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating--provides an insightful look at those Columbia College years: Lucien, Celine, Jack, Edie, Bill, Joan, Kammerer and the murder, and a bit more information on Naomi, Louis, and Eugene, coming straight from the eyes and voice of a young Allen. Also noted is Allen's initial immature and funny student's reaction to his first assignment with William Carlos Williams (p. 145).
Drew Hoffman
Mar 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It's a magnificent pleasure to read the early thoughts of a true master of his craft and "The Book of Martyrdom and Artifice" never disappoints. Ginsberg shares the conflicted feelings and journey toward self-acceptance that fuelled his later masterpiece "Howl" changing the landscape of poetry forever.
Jana LaRue
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The earliest parts of the book, the earliest writing of Ginsberg, while fascinating, are not the most interesting or engaging part of the book.

My personal favourite piece featured in the essay—and perhaps, dare I say, my favourite Ginsberg piece—is "A Monologue Without Images or Music".

I highly recommend it to any Ginsberg fans or Beat fans.
Excellent collection of journals. It is great reading from a young Ginsberg, age 11 into his 20's. It's not often we get to learn the early thoughts of a great writer. There is a lot of information given about the other Beats - Kerouac, Burroughs, Cassady, etc. The poems at the end of the book weren't very revealing, but they do show the early stages of poems to come.
Ann M
Nov 06, 2007 marked it as to-read
To read the 1947 section, after I finish the original On the Road, scroll version -- Kerouac is writing about Allen's journal-keeping of his grand experiment with Neal Cassady. I'd like to see those notes.
Mar 02, 2014 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tristan Stewart
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Ginsberg is such an interesting figure. Loved delving in to his early journals. The writing is so personal and authentic. His early poems were fantastic as well. I only wish I could have half the mind that he had at this age.
Shane Kelly
Apr 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Nice to read. Allen Ginsberg had some great gifts.
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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
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