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The Beat Generation

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  1. The Beat Generation

  2. 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").

  3. 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…

  4. 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).

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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".