Though the term "San Francisco Renaissance" is usually associated with the Beat movement, it was in reality a collage of different communities, often at odds with one another, whose agendas were social and political as much as aesthetic. These subcommunities provided important contexts for subsequent counterculture developments such as gay liberation, feminism, and the New Left long before those movements attracted widespread public attention. In his study of these various impulses Michael Davidson devotes chapters to central figures such as Kenneth Rexroth, Robert Duncan, William Everson, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Michael McClure, Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, and Jack Spicer. He also examines the important but largely neglected context of women writers in a period dominated by misogynistic views. His final chapter brings things up to date by looking at developments in the Bay Area since the death of Jack Spicer.
Table of ContentsPreface; Acknowledgments; Introduction: enabling fictions; 1. The elegiac mode: rhetoric and poetics in the 1940s; 2. 'The darkness surrounds us': participation and reflection among the beat writers; 3. 'Spotting that design': incarnation and interpretation in Gary Snyder and Philip Whalen; 4. 'Cave of resemblances, cave of Rimes': tradition and repetition in Robert Duncan; 5. The city redefined: community and dialogue in Jack Spicer; 6. Appropriations: women and the San Francisco renaissance; 7. Approaching the fin de siècle; Notes; Index.