in Primary


Cannibals and Christians. New York: Dial, 29 August, 1967. Miscellany, 400 pp., $5.95.

London: Deutsch (minus all but one of the 54 poems in the American edition, which were restored in later editions, those lacking an “A” on the inside back flap of the dustwrapper and the truncated introduction of the first state).

Cannibals and Christians (1967)

Dedication: “To Lyndon B. Johnson, whose name inspired young men to cheer for me in public.” The acknowledgments note that “Ministers of Taste,” letters to Robert B. Silvers, editor of the New York Review of Books, appeared in Partisan Review. An extensive search has failed to turn them up. They are reprinted, however, in 67.11, 82.19 and 14.3. Rpt: “The Metaphysics of the Belly” is reprinted from 63.37; several selections from 66.11 appear, usually in a truncated form, in 98.7; others are reprinted in full in 13.1. See 65.2.


Apocalypse or debauch is upon us. And we are close to dead. There are faces and bodies like gorged maggots on the dance floor, on the highway, in the city, in the stadium; they are a host of chemical machines who swallow the product of chemical factories, aspirin, preservatives, stimulant, relaxant, and breathe out their chemical wastes into a polluted air. The sense of a long last night over civilization is back again; it has perhaps not been here so intensely in thirty years, not since the Nazis were prospering, but it is coming back. (66.11)