San Francisco: City Lights, 1956. First Edition. First issue, with Lucien Carr noted in the dedication, 2-page introduction by William Carlos Williams, and no mention of printing on the copyright page. A Very Good+ to Near Fine copy of this important work of Beat literature. Original black paper wrappers with white card title band. A few stray marks to the front panel, slight toning at the spine, internal contents generally in excellent condition. Signed and dated by the author in the year of publication.
Allen’s Ginsberg’s hugely influential poem, one of the great works of Beat Generation literature. Ginsberg had begun work on “Howl” years before its publication in 1956, partly at the urging of his therapist. The writer Kenneth Rexroth, one of Ginsberg’s close friends, reviewed early drafts of the work, and thought it was too forced and constrained, and so Ginsberg rewrote the poem, removing many of the linguistic and syntactical limits he had originally labored under. This allowed him to develop the style for which the poem – and Ginsberg – are now famous for. “Howl” itself focuses on the experiences of Ginsberg’s fellow travelers and beatniks of 1950s San Francisco and engendered no small amount of controversy upon its release. (The owner of City Lights Books, which first published the work, would be charged – and later acquitted – of obscenity.) Very Good + (Item #2183)