"I SAW THE BEST MINDS OF MY GENERATION DESTROYED BY MADNESS": VERY SCARCE FIRST EDITION OF ALLEN GINSBERG'S HOWL AND OTHER POEMS, 1956
GINSBERG, Allen. Howl and Other Poems. San Francisco: City Lights, (1956). Small quarto, black paper wrappers, mounted white wrap-around label; pp; 44. Housed in a custom clamshell box and chemise.
First edition, first printing, one of only 1000 copies, of Ginsberg's definitive anthem of the Beat generation, a handsome copy of a cornerstone work in American poetry.
Howl, published by poet and bookstore owner Lawrence Ferlinghetti at City Lights Bookshop, proved "extraordinarily popular… [with] its outrageous, Whitmanesque title poem a vers-libre anthem for the entire Beatnik revolt against middle-class mores and the political establishment's 'death culture,' quite explicit anent Ginsberg's promiscuous homosexuality. Ginsberg himself emerged as the youth movement's most visible guru, and his frequent public performances were more `happenings' than poetry readings, as he chanted, made music, smoked pot, and did not hesitate to strip naked" (Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry, 187). Williams, in his introduction, describes how Ginsberg "met a man named Carl Solomon with whom he shared among the teeth and excrement of this life something that cannot be described but in the words [Ginsberg] has used to describe it," before he advises us to "Hold back the edges of your gowns, Ladies, we are going through Hell." First printing, with Lucien Carr's name on the dedication page. The white paper wrap-around label glued on the wrappers was used only for the first and second printings (Cook 4). "Howl for Carl Solomon," together with the poems "A Supermarket in California," "Sunflower Sutra," and "America," among the poems included in the present volume, was issued in an extremely scarce 1956 private edition of 25 copies printed on 8 1/2- by 11-inch paper that Ginsberg distributed to friends (Morgan A1a1). Morgan A3a1.1.
Interior especially fine and pristine, with only light foxing to bright wrappers. A splendid about-fine copy.