Allen Ginsberg American Literature Analysis
When “Howl” was published, Ginsberg sent a copy to his former teacher at Columbia University, Lionel Trilling, a man widely regarded as one of the foremost professors of American literature. Trilling, who was fond of Ginsberg and wanted to encourage him, wrote in May, 1956, “I’m afraid I have to tell you that I don’t like the poems at all. I hesitate before saying that they seem to me quite dull . . . [but] I am being sincere when I say they are dull.” The significance of Trilling’s reply is not simply that he was unable to appreciate an exceptional poem but that he was unprepared to recognize the qualities of an entire tradition in American literature. Trilling’s training and experience had prepared him to respond with intelligence and insight to poems which the academic critical establishment regarded as important. The influence, however, of the New Critics—the writers who followed the teaching of such men as Cleanth Brooks, Robert Penn Warren, and John Crowe Ransom—left a line of poetic expression from Walt Whitman through Ezra Pound and on to Charles Olson, Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, and now Ginsberg essentially invisible.
When Ginsberg finished “Howl,” many poets outside the academic and publishing network of power were extraordinarily enthusiastic ( Kenneth Rexroth said that the poem would make Ginsberg famous “bridge to bridge,” meaning across the entire American continent), but many critics and professors...
(The entire section is 4820 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Allen Ginsberg Critical Essays. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!