As John Clellon Holmes tried to deal with the disappointment of his novel’s rejection by Knopf, he began to realize that he was closer to an answer to his dilemma than he thought after reading portions of the manuscript of Jack Kerouac’s The Town and the City, including its description of Allen Ginsberg and others in their crowd. On February 23, 1949, Holmes met Herbert Huncke for the first time, catching a glimpse of the gritty reality that would become the material for “The Transgressors.” Huncke, an indigent thief, hustler, and drug addict, had been an early guide for Kerouac, Ginsberg, and William Burroughs in their nightly prowls in Times Square. By the middle of April 1949, Holmes decided to abandon “The Transgressors,” but suddenly became visible in the world of poetry. As he contemplated using Ginsberg as the subject of his next novel, Holmes became more interested in the “visions” and what their meaning was for his friend.
Keywords: poetry, novel, John Clellon Holmes, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Herbert Huncke, Transgressors