"Confessing out the Soul to Conform to the Rhythm of Thought": A Reading of Allen Ginsberg's Beat Poetry/"confessing out the Soul to Conform to the Rhythm of Thought": 'N Interpretasie Van Allen Ginsberg Se Beatpoesie

By Kruger, Haidee | Literator: Journal of Literary Criticism, comparative linguistics and literary studies, April 2007 | Go to article overview

"Confessing out the Soul to Conform to the Rhythm of Thought": A Reading of Allen Ginsberg's Beat Poetry/"confessing out the Soul to Conform to the Rhythm of Thought": 'N Interpretasie Van Allen Ginsberg Se Beatpoesie


Kruger, Haidee, Literator: Journal of Literary Criticism, comparative linguistics and literary studies


Abstract

"Confessing out the soul to conform to the rhythm of thought": a reading of Allen Ginsberg's Beat poetry

Much critical writing about the Beat Movement has focused on the strong interrelationship between the literary and social discourses within and around the movement. However, the study of Beat literature also necessitates an awareness of its position within the literary discourse of the twentieth century. Beat writing may be seen as standing in the unstable, shifting territory between two equally unstable, shifting literary movements: modernism and postmodernism. Beat poetry pits itself against high modernism and the New Critical tradition, draws upon some aspects of early avant-garde modernism, and simultaneously remoulds these aspects into what may be regarded as the beginnings of postmodernism in the USA. This article presents a reading of Allen Ginsberg's Beat poetry against this literary-historical background. A brief general overview of some of the key characteristics of Beat poetry is given, followed by a discussion of a number of Beat poems, organised around some salient features of Ginsberg's Beat poetry that may be linked to Beat poetry's position in the transition from modernism to postmodernism.

Key concepts:

Beat poetry Ginsberg, Allen modernism postmodernism

Opsomming

"Confessing out the soul to conform to the rhythm of thought": 'n interpretasie van Allen Ginsberg se Beatpoesie

Kritiese bydraes oor die Beatbeweging fokus dikwels op die sterk verwantskap tussen die literere en sosiale diskoerse binne sowel as rondom die beweging. Die studie van Beatletterkunde vereis egter ook 'n bewustheid van die beweging se posisie binne die literere diskoers van die twintigste eeu. Beatpoesie kan beskou word as deel van die onstabiele, veranderlike terrein tussen twee ewe onstabiele, veranderlike literere bewegings: modernisme en postmodernisme. Beatpoesie verwerp die tradisies van hoogmodernisme en die New Criticism, gryp terug na aspekte van vroee avant garde-modernisme, en word terselfdertyd deel van wat beskou kan word as die oorsprong van postmodernisme in die VSA. Hierdie artikel behels 'n interpretasie van Allen Ginsberg se Beatpoesie teen hierdie literer-historiese agtergrond. 'n Kort oorsig van die kerneienskappe van Beatpoesie word verskaf, waarna enkele Beatgedigte bespreek word aan die hand van belangrike eienskappe van Ginsberg se Beatpoesie wat gekoppel kan word aan die posisie van Beatpoesie in die oorgang van modernisme na postmodernisme.

Kernbegrippe:

Beatpoesie Ginsberg, Allen modernisme postmodernisme

1. Introduction

Allen Ginsberg's Beat poetry is widely regarded as representative of Beat beliefs and poetics, and over the years he has become the spokesperson and chronicler of the movement. Ginsberg's long publishing career, spanning half a century, suggests the importance of Beat poetics as a continued force in contemporary poetry, also evident in the steady stream of anthologies as well as popular and academic publications about Ginsberg and various aspects of the Beat Movement (see for example Campbell, 1999; Lee, 1996; Morgan, 2000; Peabody, 1997; Raskin, 2005; Sanders, 2000).

Much critical writing on the Beats has focused on the strong interrelationship between the literary and social discourses within and around the movement, with the emphasis often falling on the effects that the Beats' literary discourse had on the social discourse of the USA of the 1950s and the development of countercultural movements (see for example Charters, 1993; George & Starr, 1985). However, the study of Beat literature also necessitates an awareness of its position within the literary discourse of the twentieth century. Beat writing may be seen as standing in the unstable, shifting territory between two equally unstable, shifting literary movements: modernism and postmodernism. Beat poetry pits itself against high modernism, draws upon some aspects of early avant-garde modernism, and simultaneously remoulds these aspects into what may be regarded as the beginnings of postmodernism in the USA (see Russell, 1985:242; Huyssen, 1986:188). …

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