Allen Ginsberg and Lionel Trilling

To be added to Wikipedia under Early Life and Family:

Leading up to his time at Columbia, Ginsberg planned to become a labor organizer. It was not until his arrival and engagement in literature classes that he became more interested in literature. This was mainly due to that freshman seminar. Ginsberg said later in life, “I was probably closest to Trilling because we were both Jewish and he sort of empathized with me.” Ginsberg was very close to Trilling while at Columbia. They engaged in great correspondence and debated about the meaning of modernist aesthetics. This correspondence, in the form of letters, written between Trilling and Ginsberg reveal their opinions about literary modernism in Post-War America. Beyond their discussion of literature, Trilling aided Ginsberg during his times of difficulty dealing with the university administration. In 1945 Ginsberg got into trouble with the university. After a dispute with dormitory’s janitor, Ginsberg wrote expletives on his window. Because his actions were considered obscene, Ginsberg was suspended from the university. Trilling wrote a letter on his behalf. These interactions were important to Ginsberg’s future in poetry.

Source:  Genter, Robert. “I’m Not His Father”: Lionel Trilling, Allen Ginsberg, and the Contours of Literary Modernism.” College Literature 31.2 (2004): 22-52. Web.

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