Jewels in Her Crown: Treasures of Columbia University Libraries Special Collections

Exhibition Themes > Literature > 220. Allen Ginsberg

220.  Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997).  Howl (for Carl Solomon). Typescript with autograph corrections, 7 pages, January 1956. RBML, Carr Papers

Ginsberg graduated from Columbia College in 1948, traveled widely, and held a number of jobs, ranging from floor-mopper in a cafeteria to market researcher, before writing Howl, now recognized by many as the most significant of the Beat Generation poems. Ginsberg enclosed this typescript in a letter to Lucien Carr, in which he called attention to the "new style, long lines, strophes." Howl is a violent lament of the destruction by society of the poet's generation, and both the style and content clearly demonstrate that the poem follows in the tradition of Walt Whitman. The first edition, preceding Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights Books publication, was mimeographed, and Ginsberg sent a copy to his former English professor Mark Van Doren, now in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library's Van Doren Papers.

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