Analysis: Allen Ginsberg's Howl

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This textual analysis belongs to the first part of Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’, written in 1955, and finished in 1956. ‘Howl’ is a poem written in four parts, in which the last part is as well known as ‘Footnote on Howl’, because there is a variation in structure and rhythm from the other three first parts. The poem has the subtitle ‘For Carl Solomon’, a friend of Ginsberg which he met in a mental institution, and in which ‘Ginsberg found real genius in his life and his insanity’, because some of this Part I is related to Solomon insanity. ‘Howl’ is an introspection of Ginsberg’s America, in which we can find madness, political criticism and free love as the central themes of this part.

The poem starts introducing and talking about the beat generation, ‘the best minds of my generation’ (1), and the desperation felt after World ‘War’ II (17), and how they felt ‘alienated by the mechanization and intellectual conformity’, and another social problems on this period as ‘madness’ (2), or ‘poverty (8). Those ‘best minds’ wasn’t understood in universities, and they ‘were expelled’ (18), it shows how the academic institutions were controlled by the political institutions of his period, trying to hind in that way, the evolution of a new kind of consciousness emerging little by little in that period, the beat idiosyncrasy. The text even tells about a real event in Ginsberg’s life, in which he was accused of obscenity after writing a message on the window of his bedroom, when he describes ‘obscene odes on the windows of the skull’ (14-15). In this Post-War period, people move to big cities as New York and its suburb as Brooklyn, or Bronx (24, 39, 42), in which those cities were full of ‘new intellectual movements’ as music, art and literature, but as well, overflow of alcohol, drugs and sex, in which Ginsberg depicted those cities ‘with drugs, with waking nightmares, alcohol and cock and endless balls’ (25-29) or ‘on benzedrine until the noise of wheels and children...
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