The Journal of Albion Moonlightby Kenneth Patchen
Kenneth Patchen sets off on an allegorical journey of his own in which the far boundaries of love and murder, madness and sex are sensually explored. His is the tale of a disordered pilgrimage to H. Roivas (Heavenly Savior) in which the deranged responses of individuals point up the outer madness from which they derive in a more imaginative way that social protest
Kenneth Patchen sets off on an allegorical journey of his own in which the far boundaries of love and murder, madness and sex are sensually explored. His is the tale of a disordered pilgrimage to H. Roivas (Heavenly Savior) in which the deranged responses of individuals point up the outer madness from which they derive in a more imaginative way that social protest generally allows.
Like Camus, Kenneth Patchen is anti-cool, anti-hip, anti-beat.
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Meet the Author
Kenneth Patchen (1911-1972) was one of the most prolific American poets of his time. He was born in Niles, Ohio. He attended school at the University of Madison-Wisconsin where he met his wife, Miriam Oikemus. They moved to Greenwich Village and befriended many writers including E.E. Cummings, Anais Nïn, and Henry Miller. An accident occurred after his first publication that would eventually leave him an invalid. He and his wife later moved to San Francisco during the early years of the Beat Movement. Many Beat poets would cite Patchen as a major influence. His "experimental protests" in poetry, painting, and prose remain unprecedented. Aside from his many books of poetry, his acclaimed novels, and his concrete visual works, Kenneth Patchen also collaborated with John Cage for the radio-play The City Wears a Slouch Hat, and worked with Charles Mingus developing jazz poetry. Patchen was an unwavering pacifist and many of his works have a political bent. Patchen was the first recipient of an NEA Literary Grant in 1967.
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Patchen loved the connection between music and words, and he especially loved jazz. 'Moonlight' was written in the early 1940s. It tells a sort of allegory of the difficulty of believing in the goodness of humanity during a time of horrific warfare. Stylistically, the book is all over the map -- very experimental. Some of the experiments don't work very well -- others do. So there are bits of genius throughout, things which are either moving or extremely funny. It's not a novel of fantasy or science-fiction -- and yet Albion's world, which includes some mention of Hitler and World War II, is also an earth existing in some sort of parallel universe. Angels can fall from the sky; people can be killed and then come back to life. Madness and violence are never far away, but also mixed in with or opposed to sections of beautiful, lyric prose. Some journal entries, or parts of them, are on a par with the best of the Marx Brothers or Mark Twain. There's also a theme of a search for and communion with God; either the divine within or the divine universal, that which may exist in all living things. The elusive and mysterious character Roivas represents this quest in the Journal. As a part of American literary history, Patchen's fictional 'Journal' has been an inspiration to many of those who later became known as the Beat writers in the 50s and 60s. I first learned of Moonlight's Journal while reading Richard Brautigan in the early 1970s, for instance. Henry Miller, the famous renegade or scoundrel of American Letters, made his mark as one of those who gave the earliest and most unreserved praise to Patchen's 'Journal of Albion Moonlight.' If you remember the phrase from the TV show 'Monty Python' -- 'And now for something completely different...' -- Patchen's Journal will certainly not disappoint you in that respect.