Dharma Lion: A Critical Biography of Allen Ginsberg

Michael Schumacher, Author, Matthew A. Schumacher, Author
Michael Schumacher, Author, Matthew A. Schumacher, Author St. Martin's Press $35 (769p) ISBN 978-0-312-08179-9
Reviewed on: 09/28/1992
Release date: 10/01/1992
Paperback - 769 pages - 978-0-312-11263-9
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Allen Ginsberg, choreographer of the Beat movement, ambassador of the counterculture and great communicator of several hip generations, attracts attention that crosses natural, generational, sexual and literary boundaries. In this in-depth biography, Schumacher ( Reason to Believe ) covers Ginsberg's childhood in N.J. where he was born in 1926, his years at Columbia University, his travels, writings, homosexuality and political adventures up until 1981, the last year he was published by fellow poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights, which brought out Howl in 1956 and defended the poem against censorship prosecution. Given access to Ginsberg's private archives and having interviewed more than 100 people in 10 years of research, Schumacher weaves a monumental cultural biography, covering Ginsberg's famous Gallery Six reading, his sojourns to India, expulsion from Cuba and ``coronation'' in Czechoslovakia. Especially noteworthy is Schumacher's documentation of the circumstances and people surrounding the poet when he composed specific poems. Beat veterans will be delighted with this book, and newcomers well-informed by it. A brief postnote summarizes Ginsberg's activities between 1981 and the present. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.)
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