22 August (1944): Allen Ginsberg to Jack Kerouac

In the letter below, Allen Ginsberg writes to Jack Kerouac, who was at the time incarcerated at Bronx County Jail as an accessory after the fact in Lucien Carr’s murder of David Kammerer. Kerouac had helped Carr dispose of the murder weapon (a knife) as well as some of Kammerer’s belongings. Carr, who had been romantically pursued by Kammerer for several years, killed in apparent self-defense, and spent two years in jail. In August of 1944, Kerouac married girlfriend Edie Parker while still in police custody. Once married, Parker was able to borrow money from her trust fund to post Kerouac’s bail. The marriage was annulled four years later.

New York, New York
mid-August 1944

To: Jack Kerouac, Bronx County Jail


Cher Jacque: on the subway:

I’ve been escorting la belle dame sans mercip [Edie Parker] around all morning — first to Louise’s, now to jail. I haven’t a permit, so I won’t visit you.

I saw her carry Dead Souls to you yesterday — I didn’t know you were reading it (she said you’d started it). We (Celine [Young] et moi), took it out of the college library for Lucien [Carr], too. Anyway, and to get to the point: Good! That book is my family Bible (apart from the Arabian Nights) — it has all the melancholy grandeur of modder Rovshia [Mother Russia], all the borscht and caviar that bubbles in the veins of the Slav, all the ethereal emptiness of that priceless possession, the Russian soul. I have a good critical book on it home — I’ll send it to you (or, I hope, give it to you) when you’re finished with the book. The devil in Gogol is the Daemon Mediocrity, I’m sure you’ll therefore appreciate it. Anyway, I’ll finish some other time.

Edie and I looked into D. Klavier [David Kammerer]’s old room — all the penciled inscriptions on the wall had been painted over by some philistine house-painter. The little graphite mark above the pillow is no more — it once bore emblem (where plaster had fallen off the wall) “Lu — Dave!” The snows of yesteryear seem to have been covered by equally white paint.

To get off this morbid recherche tempest fourtuanatement perdu, I’m reading Jane Austen and finishing Dickens’ Great Expectations. I also started Bronte’s Wuthering Heights for the second time for an English course; and of course I am also plowing thru about 4 history books at a time (when Edie isn’t chewing my ear) mostly about revolution in Europe in the 19th century. When I am finished I will start one here.

Give my fondest love to Grumet [Jacob Grumet, the assistant district attorney] — A pet de eu fease.