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Word Count: 1,635
Ginsberg and Howl Allen Ginsbergs epic poem Howl is not only representative of the literature of the Beat Generation as many scholars contend but is also representative of the life and times that Ginsberg was raised and lived in Based strongly enough on his life to be considered autobiographical the poem touches on many of the major themes and ideas of Ginsbergs life and of his fellow Beat Generation writers poets and other miscellaneous inhabitants Not only is the poem a wealth of insight into Ginsberg and the other members of the Beat movements lives it is also an important poem in twentieth century literature setting a legal precedent that is the basis of much of the obscenity legislation passed after it For these reasons I contend that Allen Ginsbergs Howl is an important poem in American literature The first area of importance that Howl addresses is as an insight to the members of the Beat movement The opening line of the poem refers to Ginsbergs peers in the world of literature I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness This passage refers directly to Carl Solomon to whom the poem was dedicated and other members of his generation many of whom spent time in mental institutions The constant talk of drugs and sex especially homosexual sex refers to the pastimes even obsessions of Ginsberg and his compatriots Jack Kerouac William S Burroughs Lucien Carr Solomon Neal Cassidy and others Cassidy in particular is eulogized in Section I of the poem Anyone other than the casual reader would recognize that the initials NC in line 43 of the poem refer to Neal Cassidy the wild man who was the inspiration for Kerouacs On the Road and the subject of Ken Keseys The Further Inquiry and Thomas Wolfes The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test Cassidy was renowned among his peers for his success with women and his carefree attitude the lines of Howl
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