Fariña, Richard

(1937–1966)
   Richard Fariña’s death at the age of 29, two days after the publication of his novel Been down so lonG it looks like up to me (1966), curtailed an ambitious and eclectic body of journalism, short fiction, poetry, and song. David Hadju’s Positively Fourth Street (2001) argues the significance of Fariña’s role in the urban folk music revival of the early to mid-1960s. Less clearly defined is Fariña’s literary legacy. The body of his literary work is slender—aside from his novel, his work is represented only by the collection Long Time Coming and a Long Time Gone (1969) and a number of uncollected poems, stories, essays, and an unpublished play, The Shelter. Despite the brevity of his career, Fariña’s work identifies him as a young writer whose depiction of bohemian culture of the late 1950s augured cultural upheaval in the 1960s in much the same manner as better known and earlier work of jack kerouac, allen ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs. With ken kesey and richard brautigan, Fariña’s work stands as a link between Beat literature of the 1950s and the counterculture of the 1960s.
   Born in Brooklyn to an Irish mother and a Cuban father, Fariña attended Catholic elementary school and the competitive Brooklyn Technical High School, from which he matriculated to Cornell on a scholarship as an engineering major in 1955. He left Cornell in 1959 without receiving his degree, having established a strong friendship with fellow undergraduate Thomas Pynchon, who would dedicate Gravity’s Rainbow to Fariña. In 1960 Fariña married popular folksinger Carolyn Hester, and through engagement in Hester’s career, Fariña took up the dulcimer and began to write songs. His poetry meanwhile reached a national audience in 1961 with publications in the Atlantic Monthly and the Transatlantic Review. A story, “The Vision of Brother Francis,” would be published in 1962 in Prairie Schooner. Fariña spent much of 1962 on the road in Europe with and without Hester. According to Hester, he began seriously to draft Been Down So Long So Long It Looks Like Up to Me in London that year. Fariña separated from Hester in 1962 and married Mimi Baez, whom he had met in Paris, the following year.
   Fariña recorded an album of traditional folk songs with Eric von Schmidt and bob dylan in London in January 1963. On the basis of a demo recorded by sister-in-law Joan Baez in November 1963, Fariña was signed to a publishing contract with Vanguard Records. Richard and Mimi Fariña debuted as a duo at the Big Sur Folk Festival in June 1964, mixing guitar and dulcimer instrumentals with allegorical ballads (“The Falcon”) and topical songs of social protest (“Birmingham Sunday”). Their first album Celebrations for a Grey Day was recorded in Manhattan in autumn 1964 and would be followed with the late 1965 release of a second LP, Reflections in a Crystal Wind, which would be noted by the New York Times as one of 10 best folk albums of the year.
   In between recordings and performances with Mimi, Fariña had by early 1965 finished Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me in the cabin the couple shared in Carmel, California. Fariña’s bildungsroman featured his alter ego, Gnossos Pappadopoulis, and was set in a college town very like Cornell’s Ithaca, New York, in the late 1950s. His frank treatment of sexual episodes in the novel caused some concern, and according to Hadju, some of the more ribald episodes were struck from the narrative.
   On April 30, 1966, Fariña attended a booksigning party in Carmel Valley for his novel, which had been released that week. Later that evening, in the midst of a surprise 21st birthday party that he had arranged for Mimi, he departed on the back of an acquaintance’s motorcycle for a brief ride. Returning to the party shortly thereafter, driver Willie Hinds failed to negotiate a turn, and he and Fariña were thrown from the bike. Hinds escaped with minor scrapes. Fariña died instantly of a blow to the head.
   Mimi Fariña was to release an LP of prior recorded songs (Memories), which included Fariña’s send up of Dylan, “Morgan the Pirate.” Aside from the posthumous collection Long Time Coming and a Long Time Gone, Esquire published Fariña’s “Ringing Out the Old Year in Havana” in September 1969. An underdistributed film of Fariña’s novel followed, as did a 1970s New York musical production Richard Fariña: Long Time Coming and a Long Time Gone. Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me, reprinted in 1983 with an introduction by Thomas Pynchon, remains in print in the Penguin Twentieth Century Classics series.
 Bibliography
■ Cooke, Douglas. “The Richard & Mimi Fariña Website.” Available online. URL: http://www.richardandmimi. com. Accessed September 2005.
■ Fariña, Richard. Long Time Coming and a Long Time Gone. New York: Random House, 1969.
■ Hajdu, David. Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Fariña, and Richard Fariña. New York: North Point, 2001.
■ Pynchon, Thomas. Introduction. Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me, by Richard Fariña. New York: Penguin, 1996, v–xiv.
   Tracy Santa

Encyclopedia of Beat Literature. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Fariña, Richard — ▪ American folk singer and novelist born April 30, 1937?, New York, N.Y., U.S. died April 30, 1966, Carmel, Calif.       American folk singer and novelist who, with his wife, Mimi Fariña (Fariña, Mimi), played a significant role in the folk music …   Universalium

  • Fariña — Richard Fariña (* 8. März 1937 in Brooklyn, New York; † 30. April 1966 in Carmel, Kalifornien) war ein amerikanischer Schriftsteller und Musiker. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Leben 2 Werke 2.1 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Richard Farina — Richard Fariña Pour les articles homonymes, voir Farina. Richard George Fariña (8 mars 1937 30 avril 1966) était un auteur et un chanteur de folk américain. Il était une figure de la contre culture et de la scène folk rock du début au milieu des… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Farina, Mimi — ▪ 2002 Mimi Margharita Baez        American folk singer and social activist (b. April 30, 1945, Stanford, Calif. d. July 18, 2001, Mill Valley, Calif.), was the younger sister of folk singer Joan Baez and was also a well known performer in her… …   Universalium

  • Richard Fariña — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Farina. Richard George Fariña (8 mars 1937 à Brooklyn – 30 avril 1966 (à 29 ans) à Carmel by the Sea) était un auteur et un chanteur de folk américain. Il était une figure de la contre culture …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Richard Fariña — Richard George Fariña ( March 8, 1937 ndash; April 30, 1966 ) was an American writer and folksinger. He was a figure in both the counterculture scene of the early to mid sixties as well as the budding folk rock scene of the same era.Early years… …   Wikipedia

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  • Richard Fariña — (* 8. März 1937 in Brooklyn, New York; † 30. April 1966 in Carmel, Kalifornien) war ein amerikanischer Schriftsteller und Musiker. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Leben 2 Werke 2.1 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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