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Allen Ginsberg’s Translations of Apollinaire and Genet in the Development of his Poetics of ‘Open Secrecy’

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>12/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture
Issue number5
Volume18
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The journals, letters and poems of Allen Ginsberg are marked by constant reference to literary models that give just as much weight to French as to American writers. Focusing on his long involvement with Guillaume Apollinaire and Jean Genet’s works, this article argues that Ginsberg meticulously constructed the genealogy of his poetry through a threefold strategy of literary quotation, translation and encryption. Uncovering this strategy through analysis of “Howl,” “At Apollinaire’s Grave,” and “Death to Van Gogh’s Ear!” does more than simply nuance or deepen our understanding of Ginsberg’s work in the 1950s; it reveals that it was largely through his engagement with French literature that he developed the very aesthetic and hermeneutic method of his poetry.