Hip Sublime: Beat Writers and the Classical Tradition

Hip Sublime: Beat Writers and the Classical Tradition

by Sheila Murnaghan, Ralph M. Rosen


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Despite their self-presentation as iconoclasts, the writers of the Beat Generation were deeply engaged with the classical tradition. Many of them were university-trained and highly conscious of their literary forebears, and they frequently incorporated their knowledge of Greco-Roman literature into their own subversive, experimental practice. Seeking to transcend the superficiality, commercialism, and precariousness of life in post-World War II America, the Beat writers found in their classical models both a venerable literary heritage and a discourse of sublimity through which to articulate their desire for purity.
In this volume, a diverse group of contributors explore for the first time the fascinating tensions and paradoxes that arose from interactions between these avant-garde writers and a literary tradition often seen as conservative and culturally hegemonic. With essays that cover the canonical Beat authors—such as Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William Burroughs—along with less well-known figures—including Kenneth Rexroth, Ed Sanders, and Diane di Prima—Hip Sublime: Beat Writers and the Classical Tradition brings long overdue attention to the Beat movement’s formative appropriation of the Greek and Latin classics.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780814254691
Publisher: Ohio State University Press
Publication date: 04/07/2018
Series: Classical Memories/Modern Identitie Series
Edition description: 1
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.68(d)

About the Author

Sheila Murnaghan is the Alfred Reginald Allen Memorial Professor of Greek in the Department of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Disguise and Recognition in the Odyssey.
Ralph M. Rosen is the Vartan Gregorian Professor of the Humanities in the Department of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of Making Mockery: The Poetics of Ancient Satire.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction Stephen Dickey Sheila Murnaghan Ralph M. Rosen 1

Chapter 1 Beats Visiting Hell: Katabasis in Beat Literature Stephen Dickey 15

Chapter 2 "Thalatta, Thalatta!": Xenophon, Joyce, and Kerouac Christopher Gair 38

Chapter 3 "The Final Fix" and "The Transcendent Kingdom": The Quest in the Early Work of William S. Burroughs Loni Reynolds 55

Chapter 4 The Invention of Sincerity: Allen Ginsberg and the Philology of the Margins Matthew Pfaff 73

Chapter 5 Radical Brothers-in-Arms: Gaius and Hank at the Racetrack Marguerite Johnson 97

Chapter 6 Riffing on Catullus: Robert Creeley's Poetics of Adultery Nick Selby 116

Chapter 7 Sappho Comes to the Lower East Side: Ed Sanders, the 5ixties Avant-Garde, and Fictions of Sappho Jennie Skerl 138

Chapter 8 Robert Duncan and Pindar's Dance Victoria Moul 160

Chapter 9 Kenneth Rexroth: Greek Anthologist Gideon Nisbet 184

Chapter 10 Philip Whalen and the Classics: "A Walking Grove of Trees" Jane Falk 210

Chapter 11 Troubling Classical and Buddhist Traditions in Diane di Prima's Loba Nancy M. Grace Tony Trigilio 226

Chapter 12 Towards a Post-Beat Poetics: Charles Olson's Localism and the Second Sophistic Richard Fletcher 252

Afterword "Standing at a Juncture of Planes" Nancy M. Grace Jennie Skerl 271

List of Contributors 277

Index 281

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