Chapter Thirteen: The Forties and Fifties Social Background of This Period： When World War Ⅱstarted in Europe in 1939, people felt that America should worry about its own problems and forget the rest of the world. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor changed all that. By 1945, America was a world power with huge international responsibilities. This made Americans both proud and extremely uncomfortable. After the war, America entered an Age of Anxiety. The politics of America were influenced by two great fears. First, there was the fear of the Bomb; many Americans were sure there would be a war with the Soviet Union using atomic bombs. Also, in the late forties and early fifties, fear of Communism became a national sickness. American authors in the fifties show that they are very uncomfortable in the post-war world. The new political fears are less important to them than their own psychological problems in the new American society. It is not a period of important experiments in style. Rather, the most interesting authors are developing new and important themes. Many black American and Jewish-American writers try to express their opions by looking at their own cultural and racial backgrounds. Others explore the ideas of modern philosophy and psychology. The new writers of the South, however, seem s little less modern. In their work, we still feel the sad, heavy weight of the past. The central theme of their work, however, is often loneliness and the search for the self. This makes their work deeply interesting to modern readers everywhere. The Major writers Eudora Welty (1909-2001) Eudora Welty was born in Jackson, Mississippi. As the title of her most recent book suggests, One Writer’s Beginnings (1983) describes the significant roles played by her family and home in shaping Welty’s artistic sensibility. Her formal education included attendance at Mississippi State College for Women, the University of Wisconsin, and the Columbia University School of Business. Welty’s first short story appeared in 1936 and, with the help of Robert Penn Warren and Cleanth Brooks, Welty published six other stories over the next three years. A Curtain of Green, Welty’s first collection of stories, was published in 1941 with an excellent preface by Katherine Anne Porter. The forties also saw publication of Welty’s first short novel (The Robber Bridegroom, 1942), a second collection of stories (The Wide Net, 1943), a second novel (Delta Wedding, 1946), and a collection of interrelated stories (The Golden Appeals, 1949). The Ponder Heart, a short novel, appeared in 1954, and a collection entitled The Bride of the Innesfallen was published the following year. In 1970, Welty’s longest novel, Losing Battles, was published, and her WPA-inspires photographs, One Time, One Place, appeared in 1971. The Optimist’s Daughter, a novel awarded the Pulitzer Price in 1972, was followed by a collection of essays, The Eye of the Story (1978), The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty (1980), and One Writer’s Beginning (1983). In as much as she grew up listening to and reading fairy tale, legend ,and myth, Welty’s narrative technique owes as much to an oral as to a written tradition. A Brief Analysis of the Author’s Important Work About Death of a Travelling Salesman Death of a Travelling Salesman is a powerful and almost mystical account of a stranded salesman who seeks refuge in the home of two hillbillies, only to meet his death - remains one of Welty's best known, a small masterpiece. The short story Death of a Travelling Salesman is about a salesman who losses his way on a road without sigh posts in backwoods Mississippi. He spends the night with some simple country people. The description of one of these people suggests that they belong to another world.The next morning, Bowman leaves them. Standing all alone on the road, he dies of a heart attack. Many of Welty’s characters live and die alone. They don’t understand either life or themselves. Flannery O’ Connor(1925－1964) Mary Flannery O’Connor grew up in the South — in Georgia. The only child of Edward Francis O’Connor and Regina Cline O’Connor, she lived in Savannah her first thirteen years. Then the family moved to Milledgeville, to the house where O’Connor’s mother had grown up. O’Connor’s father died three years later. The following year, when O’Connor was seventeen, she entered Georgia State College for women, now Georgia College. In 1945 O’Connor left Georgia to study creative writing at the Writers’ Workshop of the State University of Iowa, where she wrote a series of short stories and earned a master’s degree in fine arts. She then embarked on her first novel, working on it at Yaddo, an artists’ colony in upstate New York, in an apartment in New York City, and while boarding with friends in Ridgefield, Connecticut. In 1950, O’Connor suffered an attack of lupus, the disease that had killed her father. During the next thirteen years she hobbled about with a cane or crutches, raised peafowl, and wrote for two or three hours a day. Sometimes she was well enough to travel within or beyond Georgia to give a speech or a reading or to accept an honorary degree. But mostly she lived quietly on the farm — until surgery in February 1964 reactivated the lupus; she died in August, at the age of 39. O’Connor completed two novels, Wise Blood and The Violent Bear It Away, but is better remembered for her two volumes of short stories, A Good Man Is Hard to Find and the posthumous Everything That Rises Must Converge. Several other volumes have been published since her death: a complete collection of stories and also collections of essays (Mystery and Manners), letters (including The Habit of Being), and book reviews (including The Presence of Grace). A Brief Analysis of the Author’s Important Work A Simple Analysis on A Good Man Is Hard to Find: O’Connor’s apocalyptic fiction attempts to show her readers their limitless need for God’s mercy. In A Good Man is Hard to Find, she does this through the interaction of a prim little old lady and a serial killer, known as the Misfit. We would normally expect that a grandmother should represents goodness while a serial killer should represent evil. O’Connor, however, seems to hold precisely the reverse in this case. Similarly, we would expect the old woman to represent life and the Misfit death; again, O’Connor suggests the opposite, believing that life without spirituality is a living death, and through meeting the Misfit -- even though the meeting is fatal -- the old woman gains a chance of attaining salvation. This fateful meeting occurs when the car occupied by the old woman and her dysfunctional family takes a wrong turn, and breaks down on the way to visit an old family homestead. The old woman has insisted that they visit this place because she identifies it with the sort of Southern gentility that her wishy-washy son Bailey, his insipid wife, and their bratty children lack. This not-so-wise woman is under the mistaken opinion that being well-dressed and respectable is next to Godliness, when in fact there is no relationship whatsoever. Nothing is next to Godliness, O’Connor argues; there is only Godliness. Either one is a believer, or one is not -- and the old woman is not. Because God wants to draw his strayed sheep back to himself, one way or the other, He causes this misguided family to cross paths with someone who will bring them back to Him -- forcibly. One by one, the entire family is killed by the Misfit. The grandmother, the last to go, is the only one to recognize the Misfit's cosmic function. Like the old woman’s children, the Misfit has been raised without spirituality; and without spirituality. In effect, the Misfit has said that if a person is not willing to accept God, then he or she might as well throw propriety to the winds, and go out and become a serial killer. In O’Connor’s view, to reject God’s love in small ways is just as sinful as rejecting his love in big ones, because without God there is no value system left. Carson McCullers(1917-1967) Lula Carson Smith was born in Columbus, Georgia. From the age of five she took piano lessons, and at the age of 15 she received a typewriter from her father. Two years later she moved to New York to study piano at Juilliard School of Music, but never attended the school - she managed to lose the money set aside for her tuition. McCullers worked in menial jobs and devoted herself to writing. She studied creative writing at Columbia and New York universities and published in 1936 an autobiographical piece, ―Wunderkind‖ in Story magazine. It depicted a musical prodigy's failure and adolescent insecurity. In 1937 she married Reeves McCullers, a failed author. They moved to North Caroline, living there for two years. During this time she wrote The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. McCullers's marriange turned out to be unlucky. They both had homosexual relationships and separated in 1940. She moved to New York to live with George Davis, the editor of Harper's Bazaar. McCullers became a member of the art commune February House in Brooklyn. After World War II McCullers lived mostly in Paris. Her close friends during these years included Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams. In 1945 McCullers remarried with Reeves, and in 1948 under depression she attempted suicide. McCullers's bitter-sweet play The Square Root of Wonderful (1958) was an attempt to examine these traumatic experiences. The Member of the Wedding (1946) described the feelings of a young girl at her brother's wedding. The Broadway production of the novel had a successful run in 1950-51. Carson McCullers suffered throughout her life from several illnesses. She died in New York on September 29, 1967, after a stroke and a resultant brain haemorrhage. Her last book, Illumination and Night Glare (1999), McCullers dictated during her final months. A Brief Analysis of the Author’s Important Work About The Ballad of the Sad Café: The Ballad of the Sad Café is a fable about love's power to transform and destroy, choosing lovers and beloved with seemingly malevolent whimsy. Brusque, tomboyish spinster Miss Amelia, who doctors the locals and makes moonshine in her swamp-hidden still, virtually runs her sad-sack Depression-era mill town. Miss Amelia would be an odd duck in any burg. With her short, blond hair, severely androgynous features, towering bearing and awkward gait, she bears a disconcerting resemblance to David Bowie. The local laborers are loafing as usual on Amelia's porch one moonlit, moonshine- soaked night, when a very strange stranger shows up -- he's a hunchbacked dwarf, and he claims to be Miss Amelia's distant Cousin Lymon. To everyone's amazement, antisocial Amelia takes him in. And falls in love with him. Soon Lymon has invited the gawkers and gapers into Amelia's long-darkened home, and the place blossoms into a bustling cafe. Lymon amuses the locals with his capers and screeching jokes, and Miss Amelia even puts on her mother's red dress! Seems that years earlier, rangy Marvin Macy fell in love with Amelia, and she married him for some reason, remaining stoically impassive behind her wedding veil. But Amelia refused to sleep with Macy, tossing him down the stairs, then making him sleep in the barn when he dared to suggest his marital privilege. Humiliated and emotionally shattered, he left town and wound up in the penitentiary. When Macy returns to town bent on revenge, malevolent Cousin Lymon is instantly infatuated by this Marlboro man, the only person immune to Amelia's steely power. This sets up a torturous love triangle that culminates in a fistfight between Amelia and Macy. Saul Bellow(1915-) The son of immigrant parents from Russia, Saul Bellow grew up in a Jewish ghetto of Montreal, Canada, where he learned Yiddish, Hebrew, and French. In 1924 his family moved to Chicago, a city that often appeared in his fiction. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University, in 1937 he entered the University of Wisconsin at Madison to study anthropology but left there in December to become a writer. After World War Ⅱ, he taught at the University of Minnesota in Europe, and lived in Paris for a period of time. Since 1963 he has been a professor at the University of Chicago. Bellow published his first novel, The Dangling Man, in 1944. Three years later, Bellow published The Victim. With The Adventures of Augie March (1935), Bellow broke free from the modernist chains that bound him. Bellow’s much-anthologized Seize the Day (1956) is certainly a more somber novel than Augie March, yet it is not a return to the largely humorless pessimism of his novels of the 1940s. Henderson the Rain King (1959) also possesses some of the dark comedy of Seize the Day. Herzog (1946) was an enormous critical and financial success. The next two novels, Mr. Sammler’s Planet (1970) and Humboldt’s Gift (1975), strengthened Bellow’s reputation. In The Dean’s December (1982) Bellow confronts more directly than in any of his other novels, political and social problems. Bellow has also written short stories, some of which are collected in Mosby’s Memoirs and Other Stories and Him with His Foot in His Mouth and Other Stories, a non-fiction book on Israel, To Jerusalem and Back, several plays, and a number of essays. During his career, Bellow has received many awards for his writing, including the Noble Prize for Literature in 1976. A Brief Analysis of the Author’s Important Work About The Dangling Man: Bellow transformed his own frustrating experiences with the draft board into The Dangling Man, a novel presented as a rambling series of journal entries in which Joseph, the protagonist, futilely attempts to withstand the regimentation of the modern world. From the opening paragraphs, Joseph's self-pitying voice attacks the Hemingway model of manly restraint. Joseph uses his confessional style to confront the world of limits, but in the end he must resign himself to the regimentation of army life. Joseph, the protagonist of The Dangling Man, grapples with a sense of personal disintegration and self-betrayal as he awaits his call-up for the Army during the Second World War. We see how, in that context, his ongoing struggle to attain a firm sense of who he is and what he stands for as an individual is related to his marginality as a Jew in American society. For example, Joseph's attempt to define his commitment to his brother's family is shaped by his inability to reconcile their crass materialism with his sense of their forebears' more spiritual existence. About Herzog: Herzog, Bellow's major novel from the 1960s, centers on a middle-aged Jewish intellectual, Moses E. Herzog, whose life had come to a standstill. He is on the brink of suicide, he writes long letters to Nietzsche, Heidegger, ex-wife Madeleine, Adlai Stevenson, and God. As Augie March, Moses Herzog is introspective and troubled, but he finally also finds that he has much reason to be content with his life. Moses Herzog's rambling account of his effort to move from the emotionally charged personal life that has caused him so much suffering to a calmer, more rational existence is interspersed with a stunning series of eccentric letters written to a broad range of public figures. The epistolary method permits Bellow to blend the public and the private in a way that enriches the historical relevance of his fiction. In Herzog the protagonist's awareness of his marginality plays a central role in his struggle to come to terms with himself during a severe emotional and intellectual crisis. Moses Herzog is strongly attached to his Jewish past. He cherishes the memories of growing up in an observant home, and is aware that he owes his idealism, his moralism, and his desire to be a decent person largely to his Jewish upbringing. Yet, on the other hand, he feels that precisely these aspects of his upbringing have been a source weakness in his relationships with other people and in his work as a philosopher and historian. Many critics consider Herzog one of the major literary achievements of the post-War period. Issac Bashevis Singer (1904-1991) Isaac Bashevis Singer was born on July 24, 1904 in Radzymin, Poland. In 1921 he enrolled in Rabbinical School, but left only two years later to work for a Yiddish literary magazine. By 1935 he had published his first book, Satan in Goray (1935). That same year, Singer followed his brother, Isaac Joshua Singer to America. In New York, Isaac Bashevis Singer began working for The Jewish Daily Forward, a Yiddish newspaper. During the 1940s Singer published his work in a number of journals as well as serially in the The Forward. Throughout the 1940s, Singer’s reputation began to grow among the many Yiddish- speaking immigrants. In 1950 Singer produced his first major work, The Family Moskat. He followed this novel with a series of well-received short stories, including his most famous, "Gimpel, The Fool." Throughout the 1960s Singer continued to write on questions of personal morality. One of his most famous novels was Enemies: A Love Story. Throughout the 1970s he wrote dozens of stories that were eventually collected into books, and published in Yiddish and English as well as many other languages. He branched out, writing memoirs and children’s books as well as two other major novels set in the twentieth century, The Penitent (1974) and Shosha (1978). The same year as his publication of Shosha, Singer won the Nobel Prize in literature. After being awarded the Nobel Prize, Singer continued to write during the last years of his life, often returning to Polish history which so entranced him throughout his early life. In 1988 he published The King of the Fields and three years later, Scum, a story of a man living in an early-twentieth-century Polish. That same year, Isaac Bashevis Singer died at the age of eighty-seven in Surfside, Florida. A Brief Analysis of the Author’s Important Work About The Magician of Lublin: The Magician of Lublin tells the story of Yasha, a talented magician who performs throughout Poland in the late 1800s. He has the talent to pick any lock, escape any barrier. A non-observant Jew, Yasha finds that his abilities to juggle before an audience extend to the lives he must juggle off-stage. While his religious, dutiful wife waits for him at home, his many mistresses eagerly await his next trip to the city. Yasha Mazur, is a Jewish Don Juan, consumed with restlessness and expressing it through a myriad of affairs. Caught between shtetl values and theatrical sophistication, Yasha is confronted with the greatest challenge of his life. How he escapes, and ultimately finds his own true self, is a parable of man's ongoing search for personal meaning. Bernard Malamud (1914-1986) Malamud was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Russian Jewish immigrants. His parents were not highly educated and knew very little about literature or the arts. Malamud attended high school in Brooklyn. His first writing was for the literary magazine at Erasmus Hall, from which he graduated in 1932. In the middle of the Depression, he spent four relatively unhappy years at the City College of New York where he obtained a B.A. degree from Columbia University in English. After graduation, he worked in a factory and as a clerk at the Census Bureau in Washington, D. C. Although he wrote in his spare time, Malamud did not begin writing seriously until the advent of World War II and the subsequent horrors of the Holocaust. He questioned his religious identity and started reading about Jewish tradition and history. In 1949, Malamud joined the faculty of Oregon State University, where he taught for twelve years while completing his first four books. In 1949, Malamud joined the faculty of Oregon State University, where he taught for twelve years while completing his first four books. He left this post in 1961 to teach creative writing at Bennington College in Vermont. He remained there until shortly before his death in 1986. A Brief Analysis of the Author’s Important Work About The Fixer: The Fixer won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award in 1967. In a search for a suffering Everyman plot, Malamud had thought of several subjects--the trial of Alfred Dreyfus and the Sacco-Vanzetti case, among others--before deciding on a story he had heard from his father as a boy, that of the trial of Mendel Beiliss for ritual bloodletting and murder in 1913 in Russia. Through this story, Malamud also tried to answer the question of how the death camps in Germany had been possible. Hero Yakov Bok's last name suggests a scapegoat, and also the goat mentioned in the song chanted for the end of the Passover Seder as a symbol of Jewish survival. Introduction of the novel: The character of Bok is in many ways similar to that of Morris Bober in The Assistant, but the initial passive suffering of Bok is transformed into an active, deliberate suffering so that Bok adds Frank Alpine's commitment to Boberlike endurance. Unlike Bober's, Bok's prison is real, not metaphoric, and Malamud lets his readers know it. He grimly records the physical torment, mental suffering, and spiritual degradation. There is no relief from the insects, the pails of excrement, the beatings, and particularly the humiliating body searches in which each of Bok's orifices is probed, first two, and then six times a day. Through it all, Bok maintains his innocence, first from stubbornness, but later from a gradually emerging sense of principle. As with Bober, Bok's life is an endurance test whose only activity is suffering, but unlike Bober, Bok's actual imprisonment allows him to attain a spiritual freedom that eludes Bober. Bober finally learns to accept Frank Alpine's struggles in his behalf, but for Bok there is no one to carve some meaning out of the absolute absurdity of his existence except himself. The technique of the novel is heavily influenced by the earthiness and mysticism of Isaac Bashevis Singer, Sholom Aleichem and I. L. Peretz, who made the Yiddish folktale into an art form. The style validates the hero's philosophic musings, which are spoken in the simplest language possible, and also accomodates the dream visions, particularly the appearance to Bok of Tsar Nicholas II, who tries to defend his realm's treatment of Jews. Although the style comes from the literate folktale, the philosophy itself often comes from Dostoevsky, particularly The Brothers Karamazov. Bok attempts to escape his unpromising future as well as his self-pitying condition by leaving the Russian ghetto in which he was born and going to Kiev. He passes for a Christian, gets a good job, and lives in a sector forbidden to Jews, all of which only makes him the likely scapegoat when the murdered child is found. While he is imprisoned Bok learns that he cannot escape his fate or his history--that he is not only a Jew, but the symbol of all Russian Jews. Although it is not clear whether or not Bok believes in God at the close of the novel, it is clear he understands that the possibility of retaining his human dignity requires belief. Like Frank Alpine, Bok must discover the meaning of the suffering that seems to be the central factor in the condition of being Jewish. In order to release himself from suffering, Bok is about to goad the guards into killing him. When he thinks of his father-in-law Shmuel, however, he realizes that his suicide scheme might be taken as a tacit admission of his guilt and the cause, therefore, of a wave of pogroms. Having understood that even isolated in his cell, he is part of the human race, he chooses to go on with his suffering. Bok extends his commitment when his wife Raisl comes to ask him to give her illegitimate child his name. He accedes to her wishes, deliberately branding himself a willing cuckold, because he realizes that her unfaithfulness was caused largely by his self-centeredness and self-pity. In acknowledging his complicity in her actions he gives up part of the guiltless-victim persona which helps most martyrs face their torments. Far from undermining his strength, however, the act of legitimizing his wife's son makes him for the first time both father and husband. Bok spends much of his imprisonment questioning the justice of his universe and the existence of a God who rules over it. Unlike Job, however, Bok finds no voice out of the whirlwind to give form to absurdity. No matter what the state does, Bok will not admit to the trumped-up charge of ritual murder--that he has killed a Christian boy to use his blood in the manufacture of matzos. Bok is offered all kinds of deals up to a complete pardon and physical freedom itself, if he will just sign a confession, but he insists on coming to trial. When he is given a confession to sign, he writes instead the document giving his paternity to Raisl's son, Chaim. Bok's heroism proves that human dignity can be maintained even at the most minimal levels of existence and among the most brutal examples of mankind. Philip Roth (1933-) Philip Milton Roth was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1933, the son of American-born parents and the grandson of European Jews who were part of the nineteenth-century wave of immigration to the United States. He grew up in the city's lower-middle-class section of Weequahic and was educated in Newark public schools. He later attended Bucknell University, where he received his B.A., and the University of Chicago, where he completed his M. A. and taught English. Afterwards, at both Iowa and Princeton, he taught creative writing, and for many years he taught comparative literature at the University of Pennsylvania. He retired from teaching in 1992. His first book was Goodbye, Columbus (1959), a novella and five stories that use wit, irony, and humor to depict Jewish life in post-war America. The book won him critical recognition, including the National Book Award for fiction, and along with that, condemnation from some within the Jewish community for depicting what they saw as the unflattering side of cotemporary Jewish American experience. His first full-length novel was Letting Go (1962), a Jamesian realistic work that explores many of the societal and ethical issues of the 1950s. This was followed in 1967 by When She Was Good, another novel in the realistic mode that takes as its focus a rare narrative voice in Roth's fiction: a young Midwestern female. He is perhaps best known--notoriously so, to many--for his third novel, Portnoy's Complaint (1969), a wildly comic representation of his middle-class New York Jewish world in the portrait of Alexander Portnoy, whose possessive mother makes him so guilty and insecure that he can seek relief only in elaborate masturbation and sex with forbidden shiksas. For readers of that hilarious novel, eating liver would never be the same (read the book and you'll understand). Portnoy's Complaint was not only the New York Time's best seller for the year 1969, it also made a celebrity out of Roth. . . an uncomfortable position that he would later fictionalize in such novels as Zuckerman Unbound (1981) and Operation Shylock (1993). Following the publication of Portnoy Complaint, Roth experimented with different comic modes, at times outrageous, as illustrated in the works Our Gang (1971), a parodic attack on Richard Nixon; The Breast (1972), a Kafkaesque rendering of sexual desire; The Great American Novel (1973), a wild satire of both Frank Norris's novelistic quest and the great American pastime, baseball; and the short story "On the Air." In My Life As a Man (1974), Roth not only introduces his most developed protagonist, Nathan Zuckerman, but but for the first time his fiction becomes highly self-reflexive and postmodern. One of his most significant literary efforts is the Zuckerman trilogy: The Ghost Writer (1979), Zuckerman Unbound, and The Anatomy Lesson (1983) and wrapped up with an epilogue, The Prague Orgy (1985) These novels trace the development of Roth's alter ego, Nathan Zuckerman, from an aspiring young writer to a socially compromised, and psychologically besieged, literary celebrity. In The Counterlife (1986), perhaps his most ambitious and meticulously structured novel, Roth brings a temporarily end to his Zuckerman writings. It is also the first time that the author engages in a sustained examination of the relationship between American and Israeli Jews. His next four books--The Facts (1988), Deception (1990), Patrimony (1991), and Operation Shylock--explore the relationship between the lived world and the written world, between "fact" and "fiction." Through his protagonist in these works, also named Philip Roth, the author questions the genres of autobiography and fiction, and he mischievously encourages the reader to become caught up in this literary game. Of these four books, only one, Deception, is billed as a novel. The other three are subtitled as an autobiography (The Facts), a memoir or "true story" (Patrimony), or a confession (Operation Shylock). The most elaborate of these, Operation Shylock, is arguably Roth's finest work, leading fellow writer Cynthia Ozick to call it in one of her interviews, "the Great American Jewish Novel" and Roth "the boldest American writer alive." Roth's next novel, Sabbath's Theater (1995), is a return to the outrageous psycho-sexual (and tragicomic) form that entertained and outraged so many in Portnoy's Complaint. Its "hero," the over-the-hill puppeteer Mickey Sabbath, is nothing if not a character portrait of transgressive behavior. However in his next three novels, what some critics call his American Trilogy, Roth relies once again on Nathan Zuckerman as his agent of focus. American Pastoral (1997), I Married a Communist (1998), and The Human Stain (2000) can be read as novels that reflect key moments in late twentieth-century American experience-- in the 1960s, 1950s, and 1990s, respectively--and each is chronicled by an older Zuckerman, no longer the mischievous and sexually-adventurous young writer he once was. In this later trilogy, the aged writer has become somewhat of a recluse who devotes himself exclusively to his writing, and through this writing reveals the stories of memorable individuals who, in many ways, represent the social, political, and psychological conflicts that define post-war America. In his latest novel, The Dying Animal (2001), Roth revisits the life of David Kepesh, the protagonist of The Breast and The Professor of Desire (1977). As in the earlier novels, Kepesh is concerned with the erotic side of existence and, as he puts it, "emancipated manhood." Yet even though its focus in explicitly sexual, this novel, like almost all of Roth's other works, has as its theme the ways in which individuals- -specifically men--live with desire in the larger sense of the word. One of the hallmarks of Roth's fiction is the ways in which sexual, communal, familial, ethnic, artistic, and political freedoms play themselves out on the field of contemporary existence. In addition to his novels and short stories, Roth has also proven to be an accomplished essayist. In collections such as Reading Myself and Others (1975) and the more recent Shop Talk (2001), his focus is on the act of writing, both his own and that of other authors. The lengthy interviews that make up Shop Talk first appeared in such publications as the New York Times Book Review, the New York Review of Books, the New Yorker, and the London Review of Books. The pieces themselves are a testament to Roth's unwavering and ongoing admiration of some of the most significant writers in the last half of the twentieth-century. Until 1989 he was the General Editor of the Penguin book series "Writers from the Other Europe," which he inaugurated in 1974. The series helped to introduce American audiences to, among others, Milan Kundera, Primo Levi, Aharon Appelfeld, and Ivan Klima. Unlike many aging novelists, whose productive qualities wane over time, Roth has demonstrated a unique ability not only to sustain his literary output, but even surpass the scope and talent inherent in his previous writings. His latter fiction is arguable his best work, as demonstrated by the succession of awards he received in the 1990s (and the fact that he's on the short list for the Nobel Prize). He has lived in Rome, London, Chicago, and New York. He currently lives in Connecticut. His awards and honors include: Goodbye, Columbus and Five Short Stories (1959) Letting Go (1962) When She Was Good (1967) Portnoy's Complaint (1969) The Breast (1972) The Great American Novel (1973) My Life As a Man (1974) The Professor of Desire (1977) The Ghost Writer (1979) Zuckerman Unbound (1981) The Anatomy Lesson (1983) The Counterlife (1986) Operation Shylock (1993) Sabbath's Theater (1995) American Pastoral (1997) The Human Stain (2000) The Dying Animal (2001) Reading Myself and Others (2001) Goodbye, Columbus(1959): "Goodbye, Columbus" first appeared in the autumn-winter 1958-59 issue of the Paris Review and shortly thereafter in Goodbye, Columbus, and Five Short Stories (1959). This collection brought Philip Roth recognition as one of America's most important fiction writers. "Goodbye, Columbus" treats many of the themes for which Roth is best known: acculturation and assimilation of second and third generation Jews into American life; their attempts to fulfill the American dream; their relationship to their heritage, both American and European; and the tension between wealth and intellect. The story's central character and narrator, Neil Klugman, embodies all of these themes. Living with his Aunt Gladys in the Jewish section of Newark, he meets and falls in love with Brenda Patimkin, daughter of Ben Patimkin, who made a fortune in kitchen and bathroom sinks. The Patimkins live in Short Hills, New Jersey, an affluent suburb. As Neil drives there, he feels that he is approaching heaven. When he arrives, he is struck not only by the Patimkins' affluence but also by their athletic prowess and their eating ability as they all sit at one table and gorge themselves. Neil contrasts this meal to the meals in his aunt's home, where Gladys feeds each person separately, one after the other. The title of the story derives from a record Ron Patimkin, Brenda's brother, owns. It recounts the events of his senior year at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, and it ends with the words, "goodbye, Columbus ... goodbye, Columbus ... goodbye ..." Yet the story's title also refers to Christopher Columbus. Neil too is a discoverer of a new world, the world of the Patimkins, one that promises fulfillment for all Neil's worldly dreams. But it demands a sacrifice in return: to become a part of that world, he must, he feels, become a Patimkin. When Ron decides to marry, Ron abandons his dream of being a physical education teacher to meet his "responsibilities" by entering the Patimkin business. At Ron's wedding, Ben says to Neil and Brenda, "There's no business so big it can't use another head," implying that if Neil marries Brenda, he too will enter the business. But Neil ultimately rejects the Patimkin world. Neil connects his trips to Short Hills with a little black boy's coming to the library to look at a book of Gauguin's paintings of Tahiti. In a key dream, Neil pictures himself and the child on a ship moving inexorably away from an island in the Pacific. The female natives on the island throw leis at them and say the concluding words of Ron's record. Neither the child nor Neil wants to leave, but neither can do anything about it. In the dream, Neil is Columbus, and the land he must leave is the world of Brenda. He ultimately decides that he is unwilling to become a Patimkin, and he realizes the truth of what he thinks earlier: "No sense carrying dreams of Tahiti in your head, if you can't afford the fare." When Neil spends his two-week vacation just before Labor Day at the Patimkin household, he realizes that he has fallen in love with Brenda, but he also gets a taste of what life as a Patimkin would be. Shortly after moving in, he sees the hostility between Brenda and her mother as they argue concerning Neil's visit, which occurs just after Ron has announced that he is getting married in two weeks. As Brenda runs from her mother, Neil finds himself sitting on his one Brooks Brothers shirt and pronouncing his own name aloud. Neil's last name, Klugman, is a Yiddish word for clever or smart one, but it also means cursed one. In fact, the story's title inevitably connects Neil's name with a saying ubiquitous in Jewish immigrant neighborhoods in east coast cities around the turn of the 20th century: a klug tzu Columbus, a curse on Columbus, the discoverer of the land in which the immigrants found themselves suffering so much. Ben's brother Leo assumes Neil will marry Brenda. At Ron's wedding, Leo tells Neil that Neil is "a smart boy" who will "play it safe" and not "louse things up." But after Neil apparently decides to ask Brenda to marry him, he discovers that he cannot. Towards the end of his stay at the Patimkin house, Neil asks Brenda to buy a diaphragm. She initially refuses, indicating, Neil feels, her lack of commitment to their relationship. Then, she relents, but when she goes back to Radcliffe at the beginning of the school year, she leaves her diaphragm in a drawer at home, where her mother finds it. Neil visits her in Cambridge, where she tells him what happened. Neil feels, with what seems justification, that Brenda left the diaphragm on purpose to hurt her mother. He apparently feels that Brenda has been using him all along. He tells her, "I loved you, Brenda, so I cared." She responds, "I loved you." Then, both realize what tense they have used, and Neil leaves. Before he calls a cab to take him to the train station, he looks through a window into the Harvard University library, where he knows Patimkin sinks have been installed. He sees his own reflection in the window and beyond sees the stacks with their "imperfectly shelved" books. He returns to Newark in time to go to work the next morning. Ultimately, Neil is unable to stay in the New World that Brenda represents. He is unwilling or unable to pay the fare. Instead, he returns to the imperfect world of Newark and his job at the Newark Public Library, with its own "imperfectly shelved" books. Portnoy's Complaint (1969): Portnoy's Complaint is a satiric novel which describes a Jewish man's futile struggle for freedom from his past, specifically the guilt, restrictions, and taboos imposed upon him by his parents and religion during childhood, and his sense of alienation in the present. The story is told in monologue form by the main character, Alexander Portnoy, who is relating the personal details of his life to his psychiatrist, Dr. Spielvogel. Portnoy, in his early thirties, presents a highly moral exterior, displayed in his job as Assistant Commissioner of the New York Commission on Human Opportunity. In his private life, however, he uses obscenity and promiscuous sexual behavior in order to rebel against his upbringing and the unsympathetic and predominately gentile society in which he lives. We learn that as a child, when frustrated by his ineffectual father, Jake, and his smothering, melodramatic, and domineering mother, Sophie, Portnoy released his anger and frustration in excessive masturbation. Outwardly an obedient child and outstanding student, his childhood sexual fantasies always involved gentile girls whose homes he envied because he perceived them to be serene and normal, much like that depicted in the popular 1950s television show, Ozzie and Harriet. As an adult, Portnoy acts out his fantasies with gentile girls of various origins, acknowledging that his actions are directed less against the women themselves than their backgrounds. Portnoy, recognizing that his rebellious behavior is destructive and only leads to more feelings of guilt and frustration, makes a trip to Israel where, because everyone there is Jewish, he hopes to feel a sense of belonging. Here he meets Naomi, a woman in the Israeli army who reminds him of his mother. While attempting to rape her, Portnoy finds himself impotent. His flight to Israel demonstrates that he is as alienated there as at home. More to the point, the values and taboos that Portnoy ran away from and rebelled against were so ingrained within him that his hopes for escape are futile. As in most of his fiction Roth explores the effect of culture on an individual's search for identity with humor and satire. The use of the monologue technique enables Roth to present his protagonist--confessing, exaggerating and accusing others--in a disjointed, fragmented narrative style. J.D.Salinger (1919----) Jerome David Salinger is an American author best known for writing The Catcher in the Rye, considered one of the best books of the 20th century.Born in 1919 in New York City, Salinger began his writing career writing short stories for magazines in New York. While a lot of his writing was written with a view of making money, a few stories - most notably A Perfect Day for Bananafish, which starred Seymour Glass, stood out. He also published two episodes from what would become The Catcher in the Rye before he had to leave America to join the War and I'm Crazy and Slight Rebellion Off Madison. Some people speculate that Salinger was afraid that his death in the war might mean the end of the story he'd been thinking about since the early 1940s. His writing was interrupted for a few years by World War II, where he saw combat action in some of the fiercest fighting in World War II. This emotionally scarred him, and he wrote a number of books about war, most notably For Esme----With Love and Squalor, which draws on his wartime experience and is narrated by a traumatized soldier. His first novel, The Catcher in the Rye, was published in 1951 and became hugely popular both among critics and young readers. It is a classic coming-of-age novel told by a disturbed, immature but insightful teenager named Holden Caulfield. J.D. Salinger also wrote Franny and Zooey (1961) and Raise High the Roof-Beam, Carpenters and Sevmour----An Introduction (the two being published together in 1963) as well as other short stories (collected in the book Nine Stories). A major theme in Salinger's work is the agile but powerful mind of disturbed young men, and the redemptive capacity of children in the lives of such men. After the literary fame and notoriety of The Catcher in the Rye, Salinger became a recluse. He moved from New York to Cornish, New Hampshire where he continues to write novels but not to publish them. Salinger has tried to escape public exposure and attention as much as possible ("A writer's feelings of anonymity-obscurity are the second most valuable property on loan to him." ~Salinger). But he constantly struggles with the unwanted attention he gets as a cult figure. On learning of an author's intention to publish J. D. Salinger: A Writing Life, a biography including letters Salinger had written to other authors and friends, Salinger sued to stop the book's publication. The book was finally published with the letters' contents paraphrased; the court ruled that though a person may own a letter physically; the language within it belongs to the author. An unintended result of the lawsuit was that many details of Salinger's private life, including that he had written two novels and many stories but left them unpublished, became public in the form of court transcripts. In 1999, Salinger released his first new novel in thirty-four years – Hapworth 16, 1924, first published in The New Yorker as a short story in 1965. The novel will eventually be published by Orchises Press, a small publishing company. It has not appeared in print yet. The Catcher in the Rye (1951) Nine Stories (1953) Franny and Zooey (1961) Raise High the Roof-Beam, Carpenters (1963) The Catcher in the Rye (1951): Holden Caulfield, the narrator of The Catcher in the Rye, begins with the novel with an authoritative statement that he does not intend for the novel to serve as his life story. Currently in psychiatric care, this teenager recalls what happened to him last Christmas, the story which forms the narrative basis for the novel. At the beginning of his story, Holden is a student at Pencey Prep School, irresponsible and immature. Having been expelled for failing four out of his five classes, Holden goes to see Mr. Spencer, his History teacher, before he leaves Pencey. Mr. Spencer advises him that he must realize that "life is a game" and one should "play it according to the rules," but the sixteen-year-old boy, who has already left four private schools, dismisses much of what Spencer says. Holden returns to his dormitory where he finds Robert Ackley, an obnoxious student with a terrible complexion who will not leave Holden alone, and Ward Stradlater, Holden's roommate. Stradlater is conceited and arrogant, and he asks Holden to write an English composition for him. Stradlater prepares for a date with Jane Gallagher, a friend of Holden from several summers before, while Holden goes with Ackley and Mal Brossard into New York City to see a movie. When he returns, Holden does write the composition for Stradlater about his brother's baseball mitt. Holden tells about how Allie died of leukemia several years before and how he broke all of the windows in his garage out of anger the night that he died. When Stradlater returns, he becomes upset at Holden for writing what he thinks is a poor essay, so Holden responds by tearing up the composition. Holden asks about his date with Jane, and when Stradlater indicates that he might have had sex with her, Holden becomes enraged and tries to punch Stradlater, who quickly overpowers him and knocks him out. Soon after, Holden decides to leave Pencey that night and not to wait until Wednesday. He leaves Pencey to return to New York City, where he will stay in a hotel before actually going home. On the train to New York City, Holden sits next to the mother of a Pencey student, Ernest Morrow. Claiming that his name is actually Rudolf Schmidt (the name of the Pencey janitor), Holden lies to Mrs. Morrow about how popular and well-respected her son is at Pencey, when he is actually loathed by the other boys, and even invites her to have a drink with him at the club car. When Holden reaches New York, he does not know whom he should call, considering his younger sister, Phoebe, as well as Jane Gallagher and another friend, Sally Hayes. He finally decides to stay at the Edmond Hotel. From his window he can see other guests at the hotel, including a transvestite and a couple who spit drinks back at each other, which makes him think about sex. He decides to call Faith Cavendish, a former burlesque stripper and reputed prostituted, but she rejects his advances. Instead, he goes down to the Lavender Room, a nightclub in the Hotel, where he dances with Bernice Krebs, a blonde woman from Seattle who is vacationing in New York with several friends. Holden thinks that these tourists seem pathetic because of their excitement over the various sights of the city. After leaving the Lavender Room, Holden decides to go to Ernie's, a nightclub in Greenwich Village that his brother, D.B., would often frequent before he moved to Hollywood. However, he leaves almost immediately after he arrives, because he sees Lillian Simmons, one of D.B.'s former girlfriends, and wishes to avoid her because she is a Œphony.' He walks back to the hotel, where Maurice, the elevator man, offers him a prostitute for the night. When this prostitute arrives, Holden becomes too nervous and refuses her. She demands ten dollars, but Holden believes that he only owes five. Sunny (the prostitute) and Maurice soon return, however, and demand an extra five dollars. Holden argues with them, but Maurice threatens him while Sunny steals the money from him. Maurice punches him in the stomach before he goes. Holden then imagines shooting Maurice in the stomach and even jumping out of the window to commit suicide. Holden calls Sally Hayes to meet her for a matinee and leaves his bags at a locker at Grand Central Station so that he will not have to go back to the hotel where he might face Maurice. At Grand Central he talks with two nuns about Romeo and Juliet and insists on giving them a donation. Before meeting Sally, Holden shops for a record for Phoebe and feels depressed when he hears children singing the song "If a body catch a body coming through the rye." He and Sally go to see a show starring the Lunts, which he knows Sally will enjoy because it seems sophisticated. When Holden sees Sally, he immediately wants to marry her, even though he does not particularly like Sally. After the show, Sally keeps mentioning that she sees a boy from Andover whom she knows, and Holden responds by telling her to go over and give the boy "a big soul kiss." When she talks to the boy, who goes to Andover, Holden becomes disgusted at how phony the conversation is. Holden and Sally go ice-skating and then have lunch together. During lunch, Holden complains that he is fed up with everything around him and suggests that they run away together to New England, where they can live in a cabin in the woods. When she dismisses the idea, Holden calls her a "royal pain in the ass," causing her to cry. After the date, Holden calls Carl Luce, a friend from the Whooton School who goes to Columbia and meets him at the Wicker Bar. Carl soon becomes annoyed at Holden for having a "typical Caulfield conversation" that is preoccupied with sex, and suggests that Holden see a psychiatrist. Holden remains at the Wicker Bar, where he gets drunk, then leaves to wander around Central Park. He nearly breaks down when he breaks Phoebe's record, and thinks he may die of pneumonia. Thinking that he may die soon, Holden returns home to see Phoebe, attempting to avoid his parents. He awakens her, but she soon becomes distressed when she hears that Holden has failed out of Pencey, and tells him that their father will kill him. He tells her that he might go out to a ranch in Colorado, but she dismisses his idea as foolish. When he complains about the phoniness of Pencey, Phoebe asks him if he actually likes anything. He claims that he likes Allie, and he thinks about how he likes the nuns at Grand Central and a boy at the Elkton Hills school who committed suicide. He tells Phoebe that he would like to be "a catcher in the rye," and he imagines himself standing at the edge of a cliff as children play around him. He would catch them before they ran too close to the cliff. When his parents come home, Holden sneaks out to stay with Mr. Antolini, his former English teacher at Elkton Hills. Mr. Antolini tells Holden that he is headed for a serious fall and that he is the type who may die nobly for a highly unworthy cause. He quotes Wilhelm Stekel: "The mark of an immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one." Holden falls asleep on the couch, and when he awakens he finds Mr. Antolini with his hand on Holden's head. Holden immediately interprets this as a homosexual advance, and decides to leave. He tells Mr. Antolini that he has to get his bags from Grand Central Station and that he will return soon. Holden spends the night at Grand Central Station, and then sends a note to Phoebe at school, telling her to meet him for lunch. He becomes increasingly distraught and delusional, believing that he will die every time he crosses the street and falling unconscious after suffering from diarrhea. When he meets Phoebe, she tells him that she wants to go with him and becomes angry when he refuses. He buys Phoebe a ticket for the carousel at the nearby zoo, and as he watches her, he begins to cry. Holden ends his story here. He refuses to tell what happened next and how he got sick, and tells how people are concerned about whether or not he will apply himself next year. He ends the story by telling that he misses Stradlater and Ackley and even Maurice. Norman Mailer (1923----) Norman Mailer was born in 1923 in Long Branch, N.J. Mailer grew up in Brooklyn and began attending Harvard University in 1939, it was while at university that he became interested in writing, he published his first story when he was 18. He graduated from Harvard with a degree in aeronautical engineering in 1943. Drafted into the army in 1944, he served in the Philippines, as a rifleman in a reconnaissance outfit with the Twelfth Armored Cavalry regiment from Texas until 1946. Just before enrolling in the Sorbonne, in Paris, he wrote The Naked and the Dead (1948) based on his personal experiences in World War II, it was both a critical and commercial success and hailed by many as one of the finest American novels to come out of WWII. Other highlights in a long and distinguished career include: The White Negro , a sociological and semi-autobiographical essay, one of his best pieces, in the authors own opinion. Advertisements for Myself, a collection of the best of Mailer's essays, stories, interviews and journalism from the 40's and 50's. Why Are We in Vietnam, a soul-searching novel on the place of violence in the Vietnam Years. Mailer's dramatic journalistic style can be best appreciated in the superb Armies of the Night, (Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award recipient), a recollection of his own experiences at the Washington peace rallies of 1968, during which he was jailed. Mailer won 6% of the vote in a five man primary to become Mayor of New York. He documented the 1968 Republican and Democratic Conventions in Miami and the Siege of Chicago and the first manned landing on the Moon in Of a Fire on the Moon. Mailer returned to examine violence in society in The Executioner's Song a novel based on the true life story of convicted murder Gary Gilmore. More recently, Harlot's Ghost an epic tour-de-force about the lifetime's of two generations in the CIA. Oswald's Tale gets behind the stereotypical view of Oswald and traces his journey from a disastrous childhood to the Marines to Minsk and onto his death in Dallas. A major figure in post-war American literature, Mailer's other credits include writing, directing and appearing in a number of motion pictures. Mailer's latest novel is entitled The Gospel According to the Son, a first-person account of the life of a very human Jesus Christ. He is currently rumored to be working on the highly anticipated sequel to "Harlot's Ghost". Norman Mailer won the National Book Award for Arts and Letters in 1969 and the Pulitzer Prize twice, once in 1969 and again in 1980. The Deer Park has been adapted into a play and was successfully produced off- Broadway. In 1955 Mailer co-founded the Village Voice, and he was editor of Dissent from 1952 until 1963. For his role in demonstrations against the war in Vietnam he was jailed in 1967. He was President of PEN (US Chapter) from 1984 to 1986. Norman Mailer has been married six times and has nine children. The Naked and The Dead (1948), Barbary Shore (1951), The Deer Park (1955), The White Negro (1957), Why Are We in Vietnam? (1967) The Armies of the Night (1968), A Fire on the Mon (1970), The Executioner’s Song (1978, Ancient Evenings (1983) The Naked and The Dead (1948): In the Pacific during World War II, the officers live a comfortable life with good food, good drink and good quarters. To them, war is a game which they know they will win and the common soldiers are the pawns on the board. When the campaign slows down, the Commander sends a squad to the top of a mountain behind enemy lines to report on the Japanese troop movements. The squad is commanded by a tough cynical Sergeant who takes no prisoners and even takes the gold from the teeth of the enemy dead. Before the mission starts, the lieutenant, who has had a cushy job due to a life of wealth and privilege, criticizes the Commander over his attitude towards the common soldier and is re-assigned to lead the squad. The veteran Sergeant wants to complete this mission as ordered, and he will do everything he can do to see that it is successful. What is truly brilliant about this book is the fact that Norman gets into the heads of such a diverse group of people, from all walks of life and all corners of the United States; and all of them, no matter how stupid, no matter how narrow-minded, no matter how inarticulate, all of them, in their thoughts, teeter on the edge of profundity. An existential thread weaves its way through these characters and makes the novel, despite its bleakness and pointlessness, truly hopeful. Even if most of what these men say is mean and narrow-minded, in their thoughts they are capable of greatness. Norman is in fact so exact about human nature, there is such insight into our condition, that it's almost as if God wrote the book. Examples abound: Gallagher's spirits rose. He would be seeing his wife. But Mary was dead; this time his mind did not retreat quite so far. He sat there thinking of how pleasant the sunlight had been that morning as he climbed on the truck, and dumbly he understood that he wanted to go back to that moment. Back at 2d Battalion, Wyman had just wounded an insect. It was a long hairy caterpillar with black and gold coloring, and he had jabbed a twig into its body. The caterpillar began to run about in circles and then flopped over on its back. It was struggling desperately to right itself until Wyman held his burning cigarette near the insect's back. The insect writhed, and lay prostrate again, its back curled into an L and its legs thrashing helplessly in the air. It looked as if it were trying desperately to breathe. The entire book--the entire course of human existence--seems one long train of men inflicting pain and other men feeling pain; and the caboose is nowhere in sight. Robert Lowell (1917----1977) Robert Lowell was born in 1917 into one of Boston's oldest and most prominent families. He attended Harvard College for two years before transferring to Kenyon College, where he studied poetry under John Crowe Ransom and received an undergraduate degree in 1940. He took graduate courses at Louisiana State University where he studied with Robert Penn Warren and Cleanth Brooks. His first and second books, Land of Unlikeness (1944) and Lord Weary's Castle (for which he received a Pulitzer Prize in 1946, at the age of thirty), were influenced by his conversion from Episcopalianism to Catholicism and explored the dark side of America's Puritan legacy. Under the influence of Allen Tate and the New Critics, he wrote rigorously formal poetry that drew praise for its exceptionally powerful handling of meter and rhyme. Lowell was politically involved—he became a conscientious objector during the Second World War and was imprisoned as a result, and actively protested against the war in Vietnam—and his personal life was full of marital and psychological turmoil. He suffered from severe episodes of manic depression, for which he was repeatedly hospitalized. Partly in response to his frequent breakdowns, and partly due to the influence of such younger poets as W.D.Snodgrass and Allen Ginsberg, Lowell in the mid-fifties began to write more directly from personal experience, and loosened his adherence to traditional meter and form. The result was a watershed collection, Life Studies (1959), which forever changed the landscape of modern poetry, much as Eliot's The Waste Land had three decades before. Considered by many to be the most important poet in English of the second half of the twentieth century, Lowell continued to develop his work with sometimes uneven results, all along defining the restless center of American poetry, until his sudden death from a heart attack at age 60. Robert Lowell served as a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets from 1962 until his death in 1977. Allen Ginsberg (1926----1997) Allen Ginsberg was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1926. As a student at Columbia University in the 1940s, he began close friendships with William S. Burroughs, Neal Cassady, and Jack Kerouac, all of whom later became leading figures of the Beat movement. In 1954, Ginsberg moved to San Francisco. His first book of poems, Howl, overcame censorship trials to become one of the most widely read poems of the century, translated into more than twenty-two languages. In the 1960s and '70s, Ginsberg studied under gurus and Zen masters. He went on to co-found and direct the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute in Colorado. In his later years he became a Distinguished Professor at Brooklyn College. He died in 1997 in New York City. Howl (1956): If the birth of the Beat generation could be traced back to one event, it would probably be the first public reading of Allen Ginsberg's poem ``Howl'' 45 years ago this month at the now-defunct Six Gallery in San Francisco. I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, Starving hysterical naked, Dragging themselves through the Negro streets at dawn Looking for an angry fix… Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unobtainable dollars! Children screaming under the stairways! Boys sobbing in the armies! Old men weeping in the parks! Ginsberg is often called a modern Walt Whitman, because he uses free- form poetry to praise the free life-style. His poetry almost always has a message: defending drug-taking and homosexuality or attacking American society and politics. He is still personally popular among American young people today, but not as popular as he was in fifties and sixties. ``Howl,'' widely regarded as one of the great works of 20th century American poetry, is a 3,600-word torrent of unusually vivid and hellish imagery written in the long-line style of Walt Whitman's ``Leaves of Grass'' and echoing the rhythms of jazz. It has also become one of the most popular poems in U.S. history, having sold nearly a million copies in its City Lights edition -- very rare for a book of poetry.