Publishers Weekly: Iron Curtain Journals

Fans will find fresh nuances and a richly intimate and immersive atmosphere.

Iron Curtail Journals (Allen Ginsberg)In these previously unpublished diaries of travel through Communist countries, poet Ginsberg charts an often choppy course through the Cold War’s roiling cultural waters. Greeted in his first stop, Cuba, as a state guest and unofficial beatnik ambassador, sharing Bob Dylan and Ray Charles records and other news of the U.S., Ginsberg mingles with enthusiastic youth, admiring but wary colleagues, and suspicious officials, and is eventually expelled by a state apparatus irked by his questions about the repression of homosexuality, marijuana, and free speech. The pattern more or less repeats itself in Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union, and Poland, to the detriment of the text, parts of which were confiscated. Editor (and Ginsberg biographer) Schumacher accordingly supplements his faithful transcription with some additional materials, such as letters and retrospective accounts. Revealingly frank, Ginsberg shares meetings, conversations, and dreams, including of an amorous encounter with Jean Genet: “as he turned to go down elevator I said ‘Adieu Jeannot’ an intimate diminutive from books.” Though these diaries largely confirm Ginsberg’s well-known role as a puckish, irreverent observer of historical events, scholars and fans will find fresh nuances and a richly intimate and immersive atmosphere that repay the effort of following the fragmentary diary format.


Article at Publishers Weekly.

Published in: Publishers Weekly