The Beat Generation • The Beat Generation is a term used to describe both: • a group of American writers who came to prominence in the late 1950s and early 1960s. • the cultural phenomena that they wrote about and inspired (later sometimes called "beatniks").
Origins… • Author Jack Kerouac introduced the phrase "Beat Generation" in 1948. • Kerouac was generalizing from his social circle to characterize the underground, anti-conformist youth gathering in New York at that time. • The press often used the term "Beat Generation" in reference to a small group of writers…
Jack Kerouac • Amongst the best known of the writers known as the Beat Generation. • Kerouac's work was popular, but received little critical acclaim during his lifetime. Today, he is considered an important and influential writer who inspired others. • Best known for On the Road (1958).
On the Road • Based on the spontaneous road trips of Kerouac and his friends across mid-century America. • It is often considered a defining work of the postwar Beat Generation that was inspired by jazz, poetry, and drug experiences. • When the book was originally released, the New York Times hailed it as "the most beautifully executed, the clearest and most important utterance" of Kerouac's generation.
Allen Ginsberg • Another well known writer in the Beat Generation. • Best known for Howl (1956), a long poem celebrating his friends of the Beat Generation and attacking what he saw as the destructive forces of materialism and conformity in the United States at the time.
Howl • Written in 1955; it consisted of 3 parts. • Famous line from: • I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix;Angel-headed hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connectionto the starry dynamo in the machinery of night.
William S. Burroughs • Primary member of the Beat Generation, he was an avant-garde author who affected popular culture as well as literature. • Much of his work is semi-autobiographical, drawn from his experiences as an opiate addict.
Naked Lunch • Time magazine included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005. • Drawn from Burroughs own experience in and his addiction to drugs. • The way that the novel is written is interesting, with many sub-stories all feeding into the plot.
Gregory Corso • American poet, youngest of the inner circle of Beat Generation writers. • Spent several of this youth in jail where he read constantly. • Met Ginsberg (who recognized Corso’s talent) when he got out jail. • 1st Beat writer to actual be published.
Importance… • The Beats represented a part of American society that rebelled against the status quo of the 1950s. • Echoes of the Beat Generation can be seen throughout many other modern subcultures, such as "hippies" and "punks".