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4.6 out of 5 stars
Howl, Kaddish and Other Poems (Penguin Modern Classics)
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 2 January 2012
With Ginsberg having been such a brilliant spoken poet, Howl is much more powerful to read at the same time as listening to a live recording of his reading it. With his intonation and tone behind it, the poem is even more moving and vivid than it is as written. A word of caution on this (the penguin classics 2009) edition though. Once I'd found an early enough recording to find Ginsberg completely unedited, I was surprised to come across the occasional small omission when comparing with this edition, usually a word here or there left out of this copy. However I was mostly infuriated by the deliberate starring out of one expletive in this Penguin edition. Ironically, the very same expletive is printed in an earlier stanza/breath of the poem without being starred, and then inexplicably its censored later on.

Given the poem's unique history when it comes to notions of obscenity and censorship, it seems sad that Penguin have felt the need to star out an expletive. While it is certainly not much of a mark on reading the poem, it does seem to undermine the spirit of reading the poem as raw and effectively as it was originally written, spoken and intended.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Allen Ginsberg, an icon of the Beat Generation is here represented with the poems that helped to make him so iconic. In this selection we have poems from 1952-1960, containing probably his most famous works.

Whether Ginsberg is writing about drugs, the state of the world or his mother his poems talk to something deep down in our psyche. Howl is an absolute masterpiece, displaying something primal that we can all feel and understand. Indeed this poem had to fight obscenity laws but of course won when it was deemed by the judge to be a work of art and not vulgar. Kadish, his poem to his dead mother is very moving and is quite lengthy. This collection shows how Ginsberg can move through different emotions with consumate ease. Also we have Mescaline in this book, in which we hear about the author's use of drugs.

Whatever Ginsberg has written about in this collection he manages to reach deep down inside of us all, and it is easy to see why he has had such a great influence on so many people. When the Beat started up it was to answer the feelings of uncertainty and angst left by the end of the Second World War that was still being felt. With the recent problems with the financial markets people are starting to feel the same now, showing that he is still as relevant to us now as when he first wrote.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 January 2014
I'm a big fan of the Penguin Modern Classics list (the edition I'm reviewing is ISBN 978-0141190167 for Kindle). Of course, the star here is Howl, but the supporting cast is solid - it's a round-up of Ginsberg's best, where his spontaneous free-flowing style never degenerated into confusion.

That said, the formatting could have been better. Poetry benefits from line numbers and more air between lines than you see in a novel; after all, poetic imagery's a bit denser, and more spacing gives you room to catch your breath between stanzas. Not a huge problem, but enough of one that a hobby reader like me even noticed it.
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VINE VOICEon 7 October 2014
I first heard of Ginsberg back in the mid-90s when Rage Against The Machine put 'Hadda Be Playing On The Jukebox' (not featured here) to music on a live b-side. I was struck by the power of the words but never did follow him up, until now.

I can't claim to understand all of Ginsberg's verses and the Beat presentation can be awkward at times, but you get the vibe and it's very vivid. Most of this collection isn't political but personal, and some things are quite painful to read. Kaddish is a very bleak picture of life with a mother suffering from mental health problems and my personal uncomfortable favourite.

Not sure how it stands up to his other collections as this is all I've read, but as a first dip into Ginsberg I find it recommended.
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on 13 March 2012
Before buying this book i was intrigued by Ginsberg as a figure and curious about his poetry. In buying this book i hoped for an introductory compilation so that i could familiarise myself with his work and decide if i actually like it or not. I think there are some good, funny and clever poems in this book and would advise anyone who, like me, wants to breifly check out his work to go ahead and buy it. If you're not a firt-time Ginsberg reader then a larger collection would better suit your needs, but to the firt-timer this is a nice way in.
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on 5 June 2014
I loved 'Howl' and enjoyed 'Kaddish'. Howl is a must for lovers of Burroughs and Kerouac (brilliant when read alongside 'And the Hippos Boiled In Their Tank') and I read it over and over now and again for the life and power it has in it. I have to say the rest I have struggled to find the want to finish reading, but purely on the merit of Howl & Kaddish I give this 5 stars
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on 30 October 2013
"Howl" is one of the best poems in English language of our times... And Ginsberg um of our best poets. Many other poems in this book are also of first quality. The book shows clearly ans poetically the basic dramas of our world: neurosis, drugs, nihilism etc. A masterpiece...
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on 11 April 2013
I'm in love with Ginsberg so this was always going to be wonderful, but yet again Penguin have omitted a good introduction; this is fine if you would just like to read the poetry, but an introduction is always welcome.
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on 29 May 2015
Super fast shipping. Amazing work by a talented man, small size and layout is easy to use and great for carrying around school.
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on 26 November 2013
Nothing to say after all these years- pure genius- a poetry master- should have read it in my youth- but better late than never
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