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Feast of ExcessA Cultural History of the New Sensibility$
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George Cotkin

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190218478

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190218478.001.0001

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Howling in the Wilderness

Howling in the Wilderness

Allen Ginsberg 1956

(p.75) { 5 } Howling in the Wilderness
Feast of Excess

George Cotkin

Oxford University Press

Opening with Allen Ginsberg’s reading of the incomplete Howl at the Six Gallery in the fall of 1955, this chapter follows the composition of the poem, its publication, and the subsequent censorship battle. The poem is placed within the heated context of fears about repression and the atomic bomb. Ginsberg’s poem, with its excessive images of violence, sexuality, and potential for liberation, captures aspects of the developing New Sensibility. The chapter examines how Ginsberg rebelled against the Cold War conformity of the period, helping to push forward art that was unhampered by constraints. The chapter concludes with victory for Ginsberg’s publisher, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, against those who would censor Howl.

Keywords:   Allen Ginsberg, Howl, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, censorship, poetry

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