Woodblock printing is a technique for printing text, images or patterns used throughout East Asia and originating in China in antiquity as a method of printing on textiles and paper. As a method of printing on cloth, the earliest surviving examples from China date to before 220 AD. Woodblock printing existed in Tang China during the 7th century AD and remained the most common East Asian method of printing books and other texts, as well as images, until the 19th century. Ukiyo-e is the best known type of Japanese woodblock art print. Most European uses of the technique for printing images on paper are covered by the art term woodcut, except for the block-books produced in the 15th century in India. Prior to the invention of woodblock printing and stamps were used for making impressions; the oldest of these seals came from Egypt. The use of round "cylinder seals" for rolling an impress onto clay tablets goes back to early Mesopotamian civilization before 3000 BC, where they are the most common works of art to survive, feature complex and beautiful images.
A few much larger brick stamps for marking clay bricks survive from Akkad from around 2270 BC. There are Roman lead pipe inscriptions of some length that were stamped, amulet MS 5236 may be a unique surviving gold foil sheet stamped with an amulet text in the 6th century BC; however none of these used ink, necessary for printing, but stamped marks into soft materials. In both China and Egypt, the use of small stamps for seals preceded the use of larger blocks. In Europe and India, the printing of cloth preceded the printing of paper or papyrus; the process is the same—in Europe special presentation impressions of prints were printed on silk until at least the 17th century. The wood block is prepared as a relief pattern, which means the areas to show'white' are cut away with a knife, chisel, or sandpaper leaving the characters or image to show in'black' at the original surface level; the block was cut along the grain of the wood. It is necessary only to ink the block and bring it into firm and contact with the paper or cloth to achieve an acceptable print.
The content would of course print "in reverse" or mirror-image, a further complication when text was involved. The art of carving the woodcut is technically known as xylography, though the term is used in English. For colour printing, multiple blocks are used, each for one colour, although overprinting two colours may produce further colours on the print. Multiple colours can be printed by keying the paper to a frame around the woodblocks. There are three methods of printing to consider: Stamping Used for many fabrics, most early European woodcuts; these items were printed by putting paper or fabric on a table or a flat surface with the block on top, pressing, or hammering, the back of the block. Rubbing Apparently the most common for Far Eastern printing. Used for European woodcuts and block-books in the 15th century, widely for cloth; the block is placed face side up on a table, with the fabric on top. The back of the paper or fabric is rubbed with a "hard pad, a flat piece of wood, a burnisher, or a leather frotton".
Printing in a press "Presses" only seem to have been used in Asia in recent times. Simple weighted presses may have been used in Europe. Printing-presses were used. A deceased Abbess of Mechelen in Flanders in 1465 had "unum instrumentum ad imprintendum scripturas et ymagines... cum 14 aliis lapideis printis", too early to be a Gutenberg-type printing press in that location. In addition, jia xie is a method for dyeing textiles using wood blocks invented in the 5th-6th centuries in China. An upper and a lower block is made, with carved out compartments opening to the back, fitted with plugs; the cloth folded a number of times, is inserted and clamped between the two blocks. By unplugging the different compartments and filling them with dyes of different colours, a multi-coloured pattern can be printed over quite a large area of folded cloth; the method is not printing however, as the pattern is not caused by pressure against the block. The earliest woodblock printing known is in colour—Chinese silk from the Han dynasty printed in three colours.
On paper, European woodcut prints with coloured blocks were invented in Germany in 1508 and are known as chiaroscuro woodcuts. Colour is common in Asian woodblock printing on paper; the earliest dated book printed in more than 2 colours is Chengshi moyuan, a book on ink-cakes printed in 1606 and the technique reached its height in books on art published in the first half of the 17th century. Notable examples are the Hu Zhengyan's Treatise on the Paintings and Writings of the Ten Bamboo Studio of 1633, the Mustard Seed Garden Painting Manual published in 1679 and 1701. In Japan, a multi-colour technique called nishiki-e spread more and was used for prints from the 1760s on. Japanese woodcut became a major artistic form, although at the time it was accorded a much lower status than painting. In both Europe and Japan, book illustrations were printed in black ink only, colour reserved for individual artistic prints. In China, the reverse was true, colour printing was used in books on art and erotica.
The earliest woodblock printed fragments to survive are from Ch
Madman's Drum is a wordless novel by American artist Lynd Ward, published in 1930. It is the second of Ward's six wordless novels; the 118 wood-engraved images of Madman's Drum tell the story of a slave trader who steals a demon-faced drum from an African he murders, the consequences for him and his family. Ward's first wordless novel was Gods' Man of 1929. Ward was more ambitious with his second work in the medium: the characters are more nuanced, the plot more developed and complicated, the outrage at social injustice more explicit. Ward used a wider variety of carving tools to achieve a finer degree of detail in the artwork, was expressive in his use of symbolism and exaggerated emotional facial expressions; the book was well received upon release, the success of Ward's first two wordless novels encouraged publishers to publish more books in the genre. In 1943 psychologist Henry Murray used two images from the work in his Thematic Apperception Test of personality traits. Madman's Drum is considered less executed than Gods' Man, Ward streamlined his work in his next wordless novel, Wild Pilgrimage.
A slave trader condemns his family to the curse of a demon-faced drum. The slave trader becomes rich and buys a mansion for his family, in which he displays the drum and the sword he used to kill the drum's original owner, he catches his son playing on the drum, beats the boy, insists he read and study. The slave trader is lost at sea; the boy devotes himself to study, while distancing himself from the vices of his peers. He embraces and rejects religion, a cross he tosses to the floor trips and kills his mother, he becomes a successful scientist, in middle age marries and has two daughters, but is cold and indifferent to his family. One by one he loses them: his wife dies after having an affair with a musician, one daughter falls into depression when her labor-organizer lover is framed and hanged for murder, the other daughter falls in love with a man who pimps her to others. Driven insane by the loss of all who were close to him, he equips himself with the forbidden drum to play music with a leering piper who has roamed his grounds for years.
Lynd Ward was born in Chicago to Methodist minister Harry F. Ward, a social activist and the first chairman of the American Civil Liberties Union. Throughout his career, the younger Ward's work displayed the influence of his father's interest in social injustice, he was drawn to art from an early age, contributed images and text to high school and college newspapers. After getting a university degree in fine arts in 1926, Ward married writer May McNeer and the couple left for an extended honeymoon in Europe. Ward spent a year studying wood engraving in Leipzig, where he encountered German Expressionist art and read the wordless novel The Sun by Flemish woodcut artist Frans Masereel. Ward freelanced his illustrations. In New York City in 1929, he came across the wordless novel Destiny by German artist Otto Nückel. Nückel's only work in the genre, Destiny told of the life and death of a prostitute in a style inspired by Masereel's, but with a greater cinematic flow; the work inspired Ward to create a wordless novel of his own: Gods' Man.
In his second such work, Madman's Drum, he hoped to explore more the potential of the narrative medium, to overcome what he saw as a lack of individuality in the characters in Gods' Man. Ward made 118 woodcuts for Madman's Drum; the black-and-white images are not uniform in size—they measure from 4 by 3 inches to 5 by 4 inches. Cape & Smith published the book in October 1930 in trade and deluxe editions, the latter in a signed edition limited to 309 copies. Jonathon Cape published the book in the UK in 1930, it had a Japanese publication in 2002 by Kokusho Kankōkai, in 2005 Dover Publications brought it back into print as a standalone edition in the US. It appeared in the collected volume Storyteller Without Words: The Wood Engravings of Lynd Ward in 1974, again in 2010 in the Library of America collection Lynd Ward: Six Novels in Woodcuts, edited by cartoonist Art Spiegelman; the original woodblocks are in the Lynd Ward Collection in the Joseph Mark Lauinger Memorial Library at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.
Madman's Drum is a more ambitious work than Gods' Man, with a larger cast of characters and more complicated plot. The book is more explicit in its far-leftist politics, includes a subplot in which the main character's sister's communist lover is executed for his political beliefs. Late in life Ward described it as "set a hundred years or more ago... in an foreign land", but that the story's situation and characters could be encountered "almost anywhere at any time". The art has a variety of line qualities and textures, more detail than in Gods' Man. Ward availed himself of a larger variety of engraving tools, such as the multiple-tint tool for making groups of parallel lines, rounded engraving tools for organic textures; the large cast of characters is distinguished by visual details in faces and clothing, such as the main character's sharp nose and receding hairline and his wife's checked dress. A wide range of emotions such as resentment and terror is expressed through exaggerated facial expressions.
Ward broadens his use of visual symbolism, as with a young woman's purity represented by a flower she wears—she is deflowered by a young man whose vest is adorned with flowers. His house displays a floral stucco pattern and is adorned with phallic spears and an exultant rooster as a weathervane. To French comics scripter Jérôme LeGlatin, the "madman" in the tit
Georgetown University is a private research university in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D. C. Founded in 1789 as Georgetown College, the university has grown to comprise nine undergraduate and graduate schools, among which are the School of Foreign Service, School of Business, Medical School, Law School. Located on a hill above the Potomac River, the school's main campus is identifiable by its flagship Healy Hall, a National Historic Landmark. Georgetown offers degree programs in forty-eight disciplines, enrolling an average of 7,500 undergraduate and 10,000 post-graduate students from more than 130 countries. Georgetown is the oldest Catholic and Jesuit-affiliated institution of higher education in the United States; the Jesuits have participated in the university's academic life, both as scholars and as administrators, since 1805. The majority of Georgetown students are not Catholic. Georgetown's notable alumni include U. S. President Bill Clinton, U. S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, CIA Director George Tenet, King Felipe of Spain, as well as the royalty and heads of state of more than a dozen countries.
In 2015, Georgetown had 1190 alumni working as diplomats for the U. S. Foreign Service, more than any other university. In 2014, Georgetown ranked second in the nation by the average number of graduates serving in the U. S. Congress. Georgetown is a top feeder school for careers in consulting and investment banking on Wall Street. Georgetown is home to the country's largest student-run business, largest student-run financial institution, the oldest continuously running student theatre troupe, one of the oldest debating societies in the United States; the school's athletic teams are nicknamed the Hoyas and include a men's basketball team that has won a record-tying seven Big East championships, appeared in five Final Fours, won a national championship in 1984. The university has a co-ed sailing team that holds thirteen national championships and one world championship title. Jesuit settlers from England founded the Province of Maryland in 1634. However, the 1646 defeat of the Royalists in the English Civil War led to stringent laws against Roman Catholic education and the extradition of known Jesuits from the colony, including missionary Andrew White, the destruction of their school at Calverton Manor.
During most of the remainder of Maryland's colonial period, Jesuits conducted Catholic schools clandestinely. It was not until after the end of the American Revolution that plans to establish a permanent Catholic institution for education in the United States were realized; because of Benjamin Franklin's recommendation, Pope Pius VI appointed former Jesuit John Carroll as the first head of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States though the papal suppression of the Jesuit order was still in effect. Carroll began meetings of local clergy in 1783 near Annapolis, where they orchestrated the development of a new university. On January 23, 1789, Carroll finalized the purchase of the property in Georgetown on which Dahlgren Quadrangle was built. Future Congressman William Gaston was enrolled as the school's first student on November 22, 1791, instruction began on January 2, 1792. During its early years, Georgetown College suffered from considerable financial strain; the Maryland Society of Jesus began its restoration in 1805, Jesuit affiliation, in the form of teachers and administrators, bolstered confidence in the college.
The school relied on private sources of funding and the limited profits from local lands, donated to the Jesuits. To raise money for Georgetown and other schools in 1838, Maryland Jesuits conducted a mass sale of some 272 slaves to two Deep South plantations in Maringouin, Louisiana from their six in Maryland, ending their slaveholding. President James Madison signed into law Georgetown's congressional charter on March 1, 1815, creating the first federal university charter, which allowed it to confer degrees, with the first bachelor's degrees being awarded two years later. In 1844, the school received a corporate charter, under the name "The President and Directors of Georgetown College", affording the growing school additional legal rights. In response to the demand for a local option for Roman Catholic students, the Medical School was founded in 1851; the U. S. Civil War affected Georgetown as 1,141 students and alumni enlisted in one army or the other, the Union Army commandeered university buildings.
By the time of President Abraham Lincoln's May 1861 visit to campus, 1,400 troops were living in temporary quarters there. Due to the number of lives lost in the war, enrollment levels remained low until well after the war. Only seven students graduated in 1869, down from over 300 in the previous decade; when the Georgetown College Boat Club, the school's rowing team, was founded in 1876 it adopted two colors: blue, used for Union uniforms, gray, used for Confederate uniforms. These colors signified the peaceful unity among students. Subsequently, the school adopted these as its official colors. Enrollment did not recover until during the presidency of Patrick Francis Healy from 1873 to 1881. Born in Georgia as a slave by law and mixed-race by ancestry, Healy was the first head of a predominantly white American university of acknowledged African descent, he identified as Irish Catholic, like his father, was educated in Catholic schools in the United States and France. He is credited with reforming the undergraduate curriculum, lengthening the medical and law programs, creating the Alumni Association.
One of his largest undertakings was the construction of a major new building, subsequently named Healy Hall in his honor. For his work, Healy is known as the school's "second fo
Electrotyping is a chemical method for forming metal parts that reproduce a model. The method was invented by Moritz von Jacobi in Russia in 1838, was adopted for applications in printing and several other fields; as described in an 1890 treatise, electrotyping produces "an exact facsimile of any object having an irregular surface, whether it be an engraved steel- or copper-plate, a wood-cut, or a form of set-up type, to be used for printing. In art, several important "bronze" sculptures created in the 19th century are electrotyped copper, not bronze at all. In printing, electrotyping had become a standard method for producing plates for letterpress printing by the late 1800s, it complemented the older technology of stereotyping. By 1901, stereotypers and electrotypers in several countries had formed labor unions around these crafts; the unions persisted into the 1970s, but by the late 20th century, after more than a century in widespread use for preparing plates, the two technologies had been bypassed by the transitions to offset printing and to new techniques for the preparation of printing plates.
As with metal casting and stereotyping, a mold is first formed from the model. Since electrotyping involves wet chemical processes and is done near room temperature, the molding material can be soft. Materials such as wax, gutta-percha, ozokerite were used; the mold's surface is made electrically conducting by coating it thinly with fine graphite powder or paint. A wire is attached to the conducting surface, the mold is suspended in an electrolyte solution. Electrotyping is activated by electric currents that flow between anode wires that are immersed in the solution and the wire connected to the coated mold. For copper electrotyping, a typical aqueous electrolyte contains copper sulfate and sulfuric acid, the anode is copper; the electric current causes copper atoms to dissolve from the anode's surface and to enter the electrolyte as copper ions. Copper ions are taken up by the mold's conducting surface at the same rate at which copper dissolves from the anode, thus completing the electrical circuit.
When the copper layer on the mold grows to the desired thickness, the electric current is stopped. The mold and its attached electrotype are removed from the solution, the electrotype and the mold are separated. An animation of the electrotyping process was produced in 2011 by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Other metals besides copper can be electrotyped. There is a second type of electrotyping, used in which the copper film is deposited onto the outside of a form, is not separated from it. In this use the form is waterproofed plaster, which remains as a core after electrotyping. In German this method is known as Kerngalvanoplastik. Electrotyping is related to electroplating, which permanently adds a thin metallic overlayer to a metallic object instead of creating a freestanding metal part. Electrotyping and electroforming both produce metal parts, but differ in technical details. Electroforming involves the production of a metallic part around a metallic mandrel, although the term is sometimes used more broadly to encompass all electrodeposition processes.
As noted above, electrotyping forms the part using a non-conducting mold or form whose surface has been made conducting by applying a thin coating of graphite or metal powder. At present, most sources credit Moritz Hermann Jacobi with the invention of "galvanoplasty" or electrotyping in 1838. Nineteenth-century accounts credited Thomas Spencer or C. J. Jordan with the invention in England, or Joseph Alexander Adams in the United States; the electrotyping industry was limited for some decades by the sources of the electric currents needed to activate the deposition of metal films into the mold. In the initial work, the Daniell cell was used to provide these currents; the Daniell cell was replaced by the Smee cell after the latter's invention by Alfred Smee in 1840. Both of these cells are forerunners of contemporary electrical batteries. By the 1870s, mechanical generators were being used. One of the first applications of electrotyping was in printing. Electrotyping was used to make copper reproductions of engraved metal plates or wooden carvings, which were used to print artwork.
The electrotypes could be incorporated along with movable type to compose the formes for printing. Jacobi published his first account of electrotyping in October 1838. In 1839, electrotyping was used by Russian printers for government documents. In England, the first use of electrotyping for printing appeared in the London Journal of April 1840, other English examples are known f
Vincent van Gogh
Vincent Willem van Gogh was a Dutch post-impressionist painter, among the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art. In just over a decade he created about 2,100 artworks, including around 860 oil paintings, most of them in the last two years of his life, they include landscapes, still lifes and self-portraits, are characterised by bold colours and dramatic and expressive brushwork that contributed to the foundations of modern art. However, he was not commercially successful, his suicide at 37 followed years of mental illness and poverty. Born into an upper-middle-class family, Van Gogh drew as a child and was serious and thoughtful; as a young man he worked as an art dealer travelling, but became depressed after he was transferred to London. He spent time as a Protestant missionary in southern Belgium, he drifted in ill health and solitude before taking up painting in 1881, having moved back home with his parents. His younger brother Theo supported him financially, the two kept up a long correspondence by letter.
His early works still lifes and depictions of peasant labourers, contain few signs of the vivid colour that distinguished his work. In 1886, he moved to Paris, where he met members of the avant-garde, including Émile Bernard and Paul Gauguin, who were reacting against the Impressionist sensibility; as his work developed he created a new approach to still lifes and local landscapes. His paintings grew brighter in colour as he developed a style that became realised during his stay in Arles in the south of France in 1888. During this period he broadened his subject matter to include series of olive trees, wheat fields and sunflowers. Van Gogh suffered from psychotic episodes and delusions and though he worried about his mental stability, he neglected his physical health, did not eat properly and drank heavily, his friendship with Gauguin ended after a confrontation with a razor when, in a rage, he severed part of his own left ear. He spent time including a period at Saint-Rémy. After he discharged himself and moved to the Auberge Ravoux in Auvers-sur-Oise near Paris, he came under the care of the homeopathic doctor Paul Gachet.
His depression continued and on 27 July 1890, Van Gogh shot himself in the chest with a Lefaucheux revolver. He died from his injuries two days later. Van Gogh was unsuccessful during his lifetime, was considered a madman and a failure, he became famous after his suicide, exists in the public imagination as the quintessential misunderstood genius, the artist "where discourses on madness and creativity converge". His reputation began to grow in the early 20th century as elements of his painting style came to be incorporated by the Fauves and German Expressionists, he attained widespread critical and popular success over the ensuing decades, is remembered as an important but tragic painter, whose troubled personality typifies the romantic ideal of the tortured artist. Today, Van Gogh's works are among the world's most expensive paintings to have sold at auction, his legacy is honoured by a museum in his name, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which holds the world's largest collection of his paintings and drawings.
The most comprehensive primary source on Van Gogh is the correspondence between him and his younger brother, Theo. Their lifelong friendship, most of what is known of Vincent's thoughts and theories of art, are recorded in the hundreds of letters they exchanged from 1872 until 1890. Theo van Gogh was an art dealer and provided his brother with financial and emotional support, access to influential people on the contemporary art scene. Theo kept all of Vincent's letters to him. After both had died, Theo's widow Johanna arranged for the publication of some of their letters. A few appeared in 1906 and 1913. Vincent's letters are eloquent and expressive and have been described as having a "diary-like intimacy", read in parts like autobiography; the translator Arnold Pomerans wrote that their publication adds a "fresh dimension to the understanding of Van Gogh's artistic achievement, an understanding granted us by no other painter". There are more than 600 letters from around 40 from Theo to Vincent.
There are 22 to his sister Wil, 58 to the painter Anthon van Rappard, 22 to Émile Bernard as well as individual letters to Paul Signac, Paul Gauguin and the critic Albert Aurier. Some are illustrated with sketches. Many are undated. Problems in transcription and dating remain with those posted from Arles. While there Vincent wrote around 200 letters in Dutch and English. There is a gap in the record when he lived in Paris as the brothers lived together and had no need to correspond. Vincent Willem van Gogh was born on 30 March 1853 into a Dutch Reformed family in Groot-Zundert, in the predominantly Catholic province of North Brabant in the southern Netherlands, he was the oldest surviving child of Theodorus van Gogh, a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church, Anna Cornelia Carbentus. Van Gogh was given the name of his grandfather, of a brother stillborn a year before his birth. Vincent was a common name in the Van Gogh family: his grandfather, who received a degree in theology at the University of Leiden in 1811, had six sons, three of whom became art dealers.
This Vincent may have been named after a sculptor. Van Gogh's mother came from a prosperous family in The Hague, his father was the youngest son of a minister; the two
Destiny (wordless novel)
Destiny is the only wordless novel by German artist Otto Nückel. It first appeared in 1926 from the Munich-based publisher Delphin-Verlag. In 190 wordless images the story follows an unnamed woman in a German city in the early 20th century whose life of poverty and misfortune drives her to infanticide and murder; the book was the first whose images were made with leadcuts instead of the more common woodcuts, showed a greater depth of character and cinematic sense than previous wordless novels. The book inspired American artist Lynd Ward to tackle the medium, beginning with Gods' Man in 1929. Ward's success brought about an American publication of Destiny in 1930; the book has become one of the best-known wordless novels. The book follows an unnamed woman in a German city in the early 20th century who lives a life of poverty and misfortune, she is the constant victim of her society—especially the men, such as her drunken, abusive father, the traveling salesman who gets her pregnant. She is imprisoned for the murder of her unwanted child, upon release turns to life as a prostitute.
The police hunt her down after she murders a man with an axe, as she jumps from an upper-floor window they shoot her dead. Otto Nückel was born in Cologne in the German Empire, he studied medicine in Freiburg before switching to art, which he studied in Munich in 1910–12. His paintings were less successful than the illustrations he made for magazines such as the satirical Simplicissimus and for books by Thomas Mann and E. T. A. Hoffmann. In 1918, the Belgian Frans Masereel created the first wordless novel, 25 Images of a Man's Passion, followed it up the next year with his longest and most successful work, Passionate Journey; such books achieved particular popularity in Germany, where they sold in the hundreds of thousands in the 1920s. Masereel's woodcut artwork drew inspiration from the German Expressionists and displayed socialist themes of struggle against social injustice, themes that were to be common in the wordless novel genre. Nückel's medium was the leadcut—engraved plates of lead—a medium Nückel turned to when he found wood in short supply in Germany.
Lead plates are more economical than wood in that they can be melted down and reused if errors are made during engraving. Destiny was the first wordless novel to employ lead engraving. Nückel made 190 prints in white for the book; the images range in size from 2 3⁄4 × 2 3⁄4 inches to 4 3⁄4 × 4 inches and were printed on 197-×-172-millimetre pages of thin Japanese handmade paper when the book was published in Germany in 1926. Das Schicksal: eine Geschichte in Bildern. Munich: Delphin-Verlag Destiny: A Novel in Pictures. New York: Farrar & Rinehart Schicksal eine Geschichte in Bildern. Zürich: Limmat Verlag Genossenschaft Destin. Paris: Éditions IMHO Destiny: A Novel in Pictures. New York: Dover Publications Nückel engraved his plates with a multiple tool, a sort of chisel that cuts multiple parallel lines at once, which gives a mechanical hatching texture to the print; the images vary not only in focus, from close-ups of faces to panoramas of crowds. In contrast to the earlier works of Masereel, Destiny focuses on an individualized woman instead of the plight of a man as cipher for humankind.
Lynd Ward found Nückel's book had greater psychological depth in its characters and plot development, more skilled technical achievement in the artwork. Canadian artist George Walker believed. American artist Lynd Ward discovered a copy of Nückel's book in New York in 1929 and was inspired by it to create wordless novels of his own, beginning with Gods' Man the same year; the success of both Gods' Man and the subsequent Madman's Drum led to a number of American publishers bringing other wordless novels into print, including Destiny in 1930, which sold well in the US. Literary scholar Martin S. Cohen called Destiny "perhaps the most pathetic... and one of the most memorable" examples of the wordless novel genre. Wordless novel scholar David Beronä judged the book "a pioneering work in the development of the contemporary graphic novel" for the complexity of its plot, its social consciousness, its focus on an individual character. Reviewer Christian Gasser commended the book's "narrative pull", which he credited as creating a "haunting, edgy narrative rhythm" of a story of persecution and Expressionist art.
The story, he suggests, may be allegory of the Weimar Republic in which it arose
Irwin Allen Ginsberg was an American poet and writer. He is considered to be one of the leading figures of both the Beat Generation during the 1950s and the counterculture that soon followed, he vigorously opposed militarism, economic materialism, sexual repression and was known as embodying various aspects of this counterculture, such as his views on drugs, hostility to bureaucracy and openness to Eastern religions. He was one of many influential American writers of his time known as the Beat Generation, which included famous writers such as Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs. Ginsberg is best known for his poem "Howl", in which he denounced what he saw as the destructive forces of capitalism and conformity in the United States. In 1956, "Howl" was seized by US Customs. In 1957, it attracted widespread publicity when it became the subject of an obscenity trial, as it described heterosexual and homosexual sex at a time when sodomy laws made homosexual acts a crime in every U. S. state. "Howl" reflected Ginsberg's own bisexuality and his relationships with a number of men, including Peter Orlovsky, his lifelong partner.
Judge Clayton W. Horn ruled that "Howl" was not obscene, adding, "Would there be any freedom of press or speech if one must reduce his vocabulary to vapid innocuous euphemisms?"Ginsberg was a practicing Buddhist who studied Eastern religious disciplines extensively. He lived modestly, buying his clothing in second-hand stores and residing in downscale apartments in New York's East Village. One of his most influential teachers was the Tibetan Buddhist Chögyam Trungpa, the founder of the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado. At Trungpa's urging and poet Anne Waldman started The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics there in 1974. Ginsberg took part in decades of non-violent political protest against everything from the Vietnam War to the War on Drugs, his poem "September on Jessore Road", calling attention to the plight of Bangladeshi refugees, exemplifies what the literary critic Helen Vendler described as Ginsberg's tireless persistence in protesting against "imperial politics, persecution of the powerless."His collection The Fall of America shared the annual U.
S. National Book Award for Poetry in 1974. In 1979, he received the National Arts Club gold medal and was inducted into the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Ginsberg was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1995 for his book Cosmopolitan Greetings: Poems 1986–1992. Ginsberg was born into a Jewish family in Newark, New Jersey, grew up in nearby Paterson; as a young teenager, Ginsberg began to write letters to The New York Times about political issues, such as World War II and workers' rights. While in high school, Ginsberg began reading Walt Whitman, inspired by his teacher's passionate reading. In 1943, Ginsberg graduated from Eastside High School and attended Montclair State College before entering Columbia University on a scholarship from the Young Men's Hebrew Association of Paterson. In 1945, he joined the Merchant Marine to earn money to continue his education at Columbia. While at Columbia, Ginsberg contributed to the Columbia Review literary journal, the Jester humor magazine, won the Woodberry Poetry Prize, served as president of the Philolexian Society, joined Boar's Head Society.
Ginsberg has stated that he considered his required freshman seminar in Great Books, taught by Lionel Trilling, to be his favorite Columbia course. According to The Poetry Foundation, Ginsberg spent several months in a mental institution after he pleaded insanity during a hearing, he was being prosecuted for harboring stolen goods in his dorm room. It belonged to an acquaintance. Ginsberg referred to his parents, in a 1985 interview, as "old-fashioned delicatessen philosophers", his father, Louis Ginsberg, was a high school teacher. Ginsberg's mother, Naomi Livergant Ginsberg, was affected by a psychological illness, never properly diagnosed, she was an active member of the Communist Party and took Ginsberg and his brother Eugene to party meetings. Ginsberg said that his mother "made up bedtime stories that all went something like:'The good king rode forth from his castle, saw the suffering workers and healed them.'" Of his father Ginsberg said "My father would go around the house either reciting Emily Dickinson and Longfellow under his breath or attacking T. S. Eliot for ruining poetry with his'obscurantism.'
I grew suspicious of both sides."Naomi Ginsberg's mental illness manifested as paranoid delusions. She would claim, for example, that the president had implanted listening devices in their home and that her mother-in-law was trying to kill her, her suspicion of those around her caused Naomi to draw closer to young Allen, "her little pet", as Bill Morgan says in his biography of Ginsberg, titled, I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg. She tried to kill herself by slitting her wrists and was soon taken to Greystone, a mental hospital, his experiences with his mother and her mental illness were a major inspiration for his two major works, "Howl" and his long autobiographical poem "Kaddish for Naomi Ginsberg". When he was in junior high school, he accompanied his mother by bus to her therapist; the trip disturbed Ginsberg – he mentioned it and other moments from his childhood in "Kaddish". His experiences with his mother's mental illness and her institutionalization are frequently referred to in "Howl".
For example, "Pilgrim State and Grey Stone's foetid halls" is a reference to institutions frequented by his mother and Carl Solomon