Brautigan > The Galilee Hitch-Hiker

This node of the American Dust website (formerly Brautigan Bibliography and Archive) provides comprehensive information about Richard Brautigan's poetry book The Galilee Hitch-Hiker. Published in 1958, this single poem in nine parts was Brautigan's second published poetry book. Publication and background information is provided, along with reviews, many with full text. Use the menu tabs below to learn more.

Publication

Publication information regarding Richard Brautigan's poetry collection The Galilee Hitch-Hiker.

First USA Edition

1958
San Francisco, California: White Rabbit Press
Limited Edition: 200 copies; First printing May 1958
8.5" x 6.75"; 16 pages
Red wrappers with title and illustration printed in black inside an outer parchment wrapper
Sewn binding

Covers

Front cover illustration of a carnival midway by Kenn Davis

Printing Details

Printed by Joe Dunn, founder of White Rabbit Press.
Reportedly, some or all copies were printed using the printing presses at the Greyhound Bus Company in San Francisco where Dunn worked as a printer.
Graham Mackintosh inscribed a copy of the book confirming this printing history. His inscription reads
Printed by
Joe Dunn
at Greyhound
Graham Mackintosh

Reported Variants

Red wrappers with white outer parchment wrapper
Title printed in black on front wrapper
Title and illustration printed in black on front parchment wrapper

White wrappers with no outer parchment wrapper
Kenn Davis drawing and book title printed in black on front wrapper

Reported stapled binding on first edition, possibly for advance or remainder copies.

Promotional Material

Handbills issued by O'ar Books announced their reprint and featured a signed drawing of a fish by Brautigan reproduced in facsimile. Printed in black on pale yellow stock. The publisher's name appeared here as both "Oar" and "O'ar."

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Background

First published May 1958, The Galilee Hitch-Hiker, a single poem with nine separately titled parts each with a common theme of the changing presence of Charles Baudelaire, was Brautigan's second poetry book publication. A notation at end of poem states "San Francisco February 1958."

Reprints

All nine parts of The Galilee Hitch-Hiker were collected and reprinted in The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster. Other reprints include the following.

Richard Price: Hippie Drawings. Germany: Hatje Cantz Velag, 2005, n. p.
A catalog of Price's drawings, published in conjunction with an exhibition at Sadie Coles HQ, London.
First edition 3,000 copies
Includes all nine parts of Brautigan's poem

Cranium Press Edition

1966
San Francisco, California: The Cranium Press/O'ar Books
Limited Edition: 700 copies plus 16 numbered and signed copies
Red printed wrappers without outer parchment wrapper of first edition
Stapled binding
A reprint of the earlier White Rabbit edition

Brautigan signed each of the 16 numbered copies in blue pencil and drew a small picture of a fish. Brautigan gave away remainder unbound sheets on the streets of San Francisco. The publisher's name appeared variously as "O'er," "Oar," "or," and "Awwrrrr." Clifford Burke, publisher, ran his Cranium Press in a garage at 642 Shrader Street, San Francisco, California.

Colophon Statement

The first edition of this book
was printed by Joe Dunn
of the White Rabbit Press
in May 1958. This edition is limited
to 700 copies,
with a small vaguely amusing drawing
of a fish by the author.
The cover is by Kenn Davis.
An or book
published by David Sandberg
in December 1966
Printed at Cranium Press
642 Shrader Street
San Francisco

Although noted as an or book, published by Sandberg, this book was actually the work of Clifford Burke, who ran Cranium Press.

Diving Bell Edition

No date
San Francisco: Diving Bell
Reprinting of Cranium Press edition on gray paper
Printed wrappers
Diving Bell is reported to have been a small press known for its bootleg reprints of Beat era books.

Production and Distribution

The impetus for White Rabbit Press came from a suggestion by Jack Spicer following the Sunday, 9 June 1957 Poetry as Magic Workshop. Spicer suggested to Joe Dunn, one of the original members, that he start a press to publish the writing of workshop members. Soon afterwards, Dunn founded the White Rabbit Press and began publishing chapbooks from author's typescripts. The eighth chapbook published was Brautigan's The Galilee Hitch-Hiker.

White Rabbit Press had no binding capabilities so the printed contents of the book were delivered to Brautigan in boxes. He was to hand sew the bindings for each book. Kenn Davis, the artist who drew the illustration for the front cover helped. "We sat around and needle and threaded the copies together, drinking wine and yakking," said Davis. Next was the problem of distribution." City Lights would take a few," said Davis.

"But we needed to find other ways to sell the book. One day Dick, Ginny [Brautigan and his first wife, Virginia Alder], and I wanted to see the movie Room at the Top with Lawrence Harvey which was playing at the Larkin Theater. Together we had maybe a buck. So I took a handful of the books and started hawking them to tourists on the streets of North Beach. "Right here," I'd say, "this is the genuine thing. Real Beat poetry. Get it right here." It worked. I sold eight to ten copies including one to a traffic cop who, I think, just wanted to get me off the street. We had enough money for the movie but not transportation. We walked from North Beach, through the North Beach Tunnel, over to Larkin Street and then to the movie theatre. We enjoyed the movie. I mentioned some kind of odd connection between White Rabbit and Harvey the imaginary rabbit of stage and film name; Dick and Ginny liked the surreal idea."
Kenn Davis. Telephone interview, 16 and 17 April 2002 and letter to John F. Barber, 9 June 2004.

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Contents

The Galilee Hitch-Hiker is a single poem, with nine separate parts. The parts were published in the book as indicated below. All nine parts of the poem were collected and reprinted in The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster.

The Galilee Hitch-Hiker, Part 1

Baudelaire was
driving a Model A
across Galilee.
He picked up a
hitch-hiker named
Jesus who had
been standing among
a school of fish.
feeding them
pieces of bread.
"Where are you
going?" asked
Jesus, getting
into the front
seat.
"Anywhere, anywhere
out of this world!"
shouted
Baudelaire.
"I'll go with you
as far as
Golgotha,"
said Jesus.
"I have a
concession
at the carnival
there, and I
must be
late."

Textual References
Baudelaire: Charles Baudelaire (1821-67), French poet.
"Jesus. . .fish . . . bread": cf. Matthew 14:13-21.
"Anywhere, anywhere out of this world!": the concluding lines of Baudelaire's prose poem "Anywhere Out of the World" in Paris Spleen (1869).
Golgatha: the site of Jesus' crucifixion. See Matthew 27:33.

Selected Reprints
Seven Watermelon Suns: Selected Poems of Richard Brautigan. University of California at Santa Cruz, 1974.
Limited Edition of 10 copies
Printed by The Crowell Press
Seven works by Brautigan, each printed as a separate 6" x 8.5" broadside with embossed color etchings by Ellen Meske. Contents included
Title page
A passage from In Watermelon Sugar (pp. 38-39)
"The Fever Monument"
"Cyclops"
"The Nature Poem"
"The Symbol"
"The Harbor"
"The Galilee Hitch-Hiker"

The American Hotel, Part 2

Baudelaire was sitting
in a doorway with a wino
on San Francisco's skidrow.
The wino was a million
years old and could remember
    dinosaurs.
Baudelaire and the wino
were drinking Petri Muscatel
"One must always be drunk,"
    said Baudelaire.
"I live in the American Hotel,"
said the wino. "And I can
    remember dinosaurs."
"Be you drunken ceaselessly,"
   said Baudelaire.

Textual References
"One must always be drunk . . . Be you drunken ceaselessly": from Baudealire's prose poem "Get Drunk" in Paris Spleen (1869).

1939, Part 3

Baudelaire used to come
to our house and watch
me grind coffee.
That was in 1939
and we lived in the slums
of Tacoma,
My mother would put
the coffee beans in the grinder.
I was a child
and would turn the handle,
pretending that it was
    a hurdy-gurdy,
and Baudelaire would pretend
that he was a monkey,
hopping up and down
and holding out
a tin cup.

The Flowerburgers, Part 4

Baudelaire opened
up a hamburger stand
in San Francisco,
but he put flowers
between the buns.
People would come in
and say, "Give me a
hamburger with plenty
of onions on it."
Baudelaire would give
them a flowerburger
instead and the people
would say, "What kind
of a hamburger stand
is this?"

Selected Reprints
San Francisco Express Times, vol. 1, no. 49, December 24, 1968, pp. 8-9.
Published weekly from 24 January 1968 (vol. 1, no. 1) to 24 December 1968 (vol. 1, no. 49) as San Francisco Express Times. Continued after as Good Times. Published at 15 Lafayette Street, San Francisco by the Trystero Company. Printed by Waller Press. Included eleven poems by Brautigan: "The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster," "The Day they Busted the Grateful Dead," "All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace," "Discovery," "At the California Institute of Technology," "Boo, Forever," "The Sidney Greenstreet Blues," "The Flowerburgers Part 4," "A Baseball Game Part 7," "December 24," and "The Garlic Meat Lady."

The Hour of Eternity, Part 5

"The Chinese
read the time
in the eyes
of cats,"
said Baudelaire
and went into
a jewelry store
on Market Street.
He came out
a few moments
later carrying
a twenty-one
jewel Siamese
cat that he
wore on the
end of a
golden chain.

Textual References
"The Chinese read the time in the eyes of cats": the opening sentence of Baudelaire's prose poem "The Clock" in Paris Spleen (1869).

Salvador Dali, Part 6

"Are you
or aren't you
going to eat
your soup,
you bloody old
cloud merchant?"
Jeanne Duval
shouted,
hitting Baudelaire
on the back
as he sat
daydreaming
out the window.
Baudelaire was
startled.
Then he laughed
like hell,
waving his spoon
in the air
like a wand
changing the room
into a painting
by Salvador
Dali, changing
the room
into a painting
by Van Gogh.

Textual References
"Dali": Spanish surrealist painter (1904-1989).
"cloud merchant": see the fourty-fourth prose poem in Baudelaire's Le Spleen de Paris [Paris Spleen], "La Soupe et Les Nuages [The Soup and The Clouds]."
"Jeanne Duval": Baudelaire's mulatto mistress and the subject of many of his poems.
"Van Gogh": Vincent van Vogh (1853-90), Dutch painter.

A Baseball Game, Part 7

Baudelaire went
to a baseball game
and bought a hot dog
and lit up a pipe
of opium.
The New York Yankees
were playing
the Detroit Tigers.
In the fourth inning
and angel committed
suicide by jumping
off a low cloud.
The angel landed
on second base,
causing the whole infield
to crack like
a huge mirror.
The game was
called on
account of
fear.

Selected Reprints
San Francisco Express Times, vol. 1, no. 49, December 24, 1968, pp. 8-9.
Published weekly from 24 January 1968 (Vol. 1, no. 1) to 24 December 1968 (Vol. 1, no. 49) as San Francisco Express Times. Continued after as Good Times. Published at 15 Lafayette Street, San Francisco by the Trystero Company. Printed by Waller Press.

Included eleven poems by Brautigan: "The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster," "The Day they Busted the Grateful Dead," "All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace," "Discovery," "At the California Institute of Technology," "Boo, Forever," "The Sidney Greenstreet Blues," "The Flowerburgers Part 4," "A Baseball Game Part 7," "December 24," and "The Garlic Meat Lady."

Insane Asylum, Part 8

Baudelaire went
to the insane asylum
disguised as a
psychiatrist.
He stayed there
for two months
and when he left,
the insane asylum
loved him so much
that it followed
him all over
California,
and Baudelaire
laughed when the
insane asylum
rubbed itself
up against his
leg like a
strange cat.

My Insect Funeral, Part 9

When I was a child
I had a graveyard
where I buried insects
and dead birds under
a rose tree.
I would bury the insects
in tin foil and match boxes.
I would bury the birds
in pieces of red cloth.
It was all very sad
and I would cry
as I scooped the dirt
into their small graves
with a spoon.
Baudelaire would come
and join in
my insect funerals,
saying little prayers
the size of
dead birds.

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Reviews

Reviews for The Galilee Hitch-Hiker are detailed below. See also reviews of Brautigan's collected works, and General Reviews for commentary about Brautigan's work and his place in American literature.

Bokinsky, Caroline J. "Richard Brautigan." Dictionary of Literary Biography. Vol. 5: American Poets Since World War II. Edited by Donald J. Greiner. Gale Research Company, 1980, pp. 96-99.

Critical comments on The Return of the Rivers, The Galilee Hitch-Hiker, Lay the Marble Tea, The Octopus Frontier, All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster, Rommel Drives on Deep into Egypt, Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork, and June 30th, June 30th. Also provides some biographical and bibliographical information. Says The Return of the Rivers "is an observation of the external world as a surreal, romanticized setting in which the cycle of life is exemplified in the river, sea, rain, and ocean." READ this review.

Sorrentino, Gilbert. "Ten Pamphlets." Poetry, Apr. 1968, pp. 56-61.

Reviews ten small publications, including The Galilee Hitch-Hiker. Of Brautigan, he says, "Richard Brautigan, the remarkable comic novelist, who is the author of A Confederate General from Big Sur and Trout Fishing in America has here a book reprinted from the original White Rabbit edition of 1958. It has nine short poems which take their shape from quotations from Baudelaire, and from the kind of residue in the reader's mind concerning his recollection of Baudelaire's life—or what we take his life to have been, relying on his poems. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. The perfect poem is the second one, The American Hotel.

"Baudelaire and the wino
were drinking Petri Muscatel.
'One must always be drunk,'
said Baudelaire.
'I live in the American Hotel,'
said the wino. 'And I can
remember dinosaurs.'
'Be you drunken ceaselessly,'
said Baudelaire."

"which is really a kind of comic genius. It might be useful to note that these poems have a sense of "camp" about them, clearly manifested, and much more intriguing than what is now going down as wit. (I saw some offal the other day, Pop Poems or the like, which must have been written by a plumber.) But they are very subtle and literary, and function dryly." (59)

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