Penny's poetry pages Wiki

The Beat Museum, San Francisco, © BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under Creative Commons, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

The Beat Generation is a group of American writers who came to prominence in the 1950s, as well as the cultural phenomena that they both documented and inspired.



Central elements of "Beat" culture included experimentation with drugs and alternative forms of sexuality, an interest in Eastern religion, a rejection of materialism, and the idealizing of exuberant, unexpurgated means of expression and being.

Allen Ginsberg's Howl (1956), William S. Burroughs's Naked Lunch (1959) and Jack Kerouac's On the Road (1957) are among the best known examples of Beat literature.[1] Both Howl and Naked Lunch were the focus of obscenity trials that ultimately helped to liberalize publishing in the United States.[2][3] The members of the Beat Generation developed a reputation as new bohemian hedonists, who celebrated non-conformity and spontaneous creativity.

The original "Beat Generation" writers met in New York. Later, the central figures (with the exception of Burroughs) ended up together in San Francisco in the mid-1950s, where they met and became friends with figures associated with the San Francisco Renaissance.

In the 1960s, elements of the expanding Beat movement were incorporated into the hippie counterculture.

Columbia University[]

The origins of the Beat Generation can be traced to Columbia University and the meeting of Kerouac, Ginsberg, Lucien Carr, Hal Chase and others. Though the beats are usually regarded as anti-academic,[4][5] [6] many of their ideas were formed in response to professors like Lionel Trilling and Mark Van Doren. Classmates Carr and Ginsberg discussed the need for a "New Vision" (a term borrowed from Arthur Rimbaud), to counteract what they perceived as their teachers' conservative, formalistic literary ideals.

Burroughs was introduced to the group by an old friend, David Kammerer, who was enamored with Lucien Carr. Carr had befriended freshman Allen Ginsberg and introduced him to Kammerer and Burroughs. Carr also knew Kerouac's girlfriend Edie Parker, through whom Burroughs met Kerouac in 1944.

On August 13, 1944, Carr killed Kammerer with a Boy Scout knife in Riverside Park in what he claimed later was self-defense.[7] He waited, (Citation needed) then dumped the body in the Hudson River, later seeking advice from Burroughs, who suggested he turn himself in. He then went to Kerouac, who helped him dispose of the weapon. Carr turned himself in the following morning and later pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Kerouac was charged as an accessory, and Burroughs as a material witness, but neither was prosecuted. Kerouac wrote about this incident in his 1st novel, The Town and the City, and again in one of his last, Vanity of Duluoz. As well in a collaboration with Burroughs titled "And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks".

Origin of name[]

Jack Kerouac introduced the phrase "Beat Generation" in 1948 to characterize a perceived underground, anti-conformist youth movement in New York. The name arose in a conversation with writer John Clellon Holmes. The adjective "beat" could colloquially mean "tired" or "beaten down",[8][9] but Kerouac expanded the meaning to include the connotations "upbeat," "beatific," and the musical association of being "on the beat".[10]

The Times Square "Underworld"[]

Burroughs had an interest in criminal behavior and got involved in dealing stolen goods and narcotics. He was soon addicted to opiates. Burroughs' guide to the criminal underworld (centered in particular around Times Square) was small-time criminal and drug-addict Herbert Huncke. The Beats were drawn to Huncke, who later started to write himself, perceiving he possessed a vital worldly knowledge unavailable to them from their largely middle-class upbringings.

Ginsberg was arrested in 1949. The police attempted to pull over Ginsberg while he was driving with Huncke, his car filled with stolen items Huncke planned to fence. Ginsberg crashed the car while trying to flee. He escaped on foot, but left incriminating notebooks behind. Ginsberg was given the option to plead insanity to avoid a jail term, and was committed for 90 days to Bellevue Hospital, where he met Carl Solomon.[11]

Carl Solomon was arguably more eccentric than psychotic. A fan of Antonin Artaud, he indulged in self-consciously "crazy" behavior, like throwing potato salad at a college lecturer on Dadaism. Solomon was given shock treatments at Bellevue; this became one of the main themes of Ginsberg's "Howl", which was dedicated to Solomon. Solomon later became the publishing contact who agreed to publish Burroughs' first novel Junky in 1953.[12]

Neal Cassady[]

Neal Cassady was introduced to the group in 1947, and had a number of significant effects. Cassady became something of a muse to Ginsberg; they had a romantic affair, and Ginsberg became Cassady's personal writing-tutor. Kerouac's road-trips with Cassady in the late 1940s became the focus of his 2nd novel, On the Road. Cassady's verbal style is one of the sources of the spontaneous, jazz-inspired rapping that later became associated with "beatniks". Cassady impressed the group with the free-flowing style of his letters, and Kerouac cited them as a key influence on his spontaneous prose style.

San Francisco and the Six Gallery reading[]

Allen Ginsberg had visited Neal and Carolyn Cassady in San Jose in 1954 and moved on to San Francisco in August. He fell in love with Peter Orlovsky at the end of 1954 and began writing Howl. Lawrence Ferlinghetti, of the new City Lights Bookstore started to publish the City Lights Pocket Poets Series in 1955.

Kenneth Rexroth's apartment became a Friday night literary salon (Ginsberg's mentor William Carlos Williams, an old friend of Rexroth's, had given him an introductory letter). When asked by Wally Hedrick [13] to organize the Six Gallery reading, Ginsberg wanted Rexroth to serve as master of ceremonies, in a sense to bridge generations.

Philip Lamantia, Michael McClure, Philip Whalen, Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder read on October 7, 1955 before 100 people (including Kerouac, up from Mexico City). Lamantia read poems of his late friend John Hoffman. At his first public reading Ginsberg performed the just finished first part of Howl. It was a success and the evening led to many more readings by the now locally famous Six Gallery poets.

It was also a marker of the beginning of the Beat movement, since the 1956 publication of Howl (City Lights Pocket Poets, no. 4) and its obscenity-trial in 1957 brought it to nationwide attention.[14][15]

The Six Gallery reading informs the second chapter of Kerouac's 1958 novel The Dharma Bums, whose chief protagonist is "Japhy Ryder", Kerouac's roman à clef for Gary Snyder. Kerouac was impressed with Snyder and they were close for a number of years. In the spring of 1955 they lived together in Snyder's Mill Valley cabin. Most Beats were urbanites and they found Snyder almost exotic, with his rural background and wilderness experience, as well as his education in cultural anthropology and Oriental languages. Lawrence Ferlinghetti called him "the Thoreau of the Beat Generation."

As documented in the conclusion of the The Dharma Bums, Snyder moved to Japan in 1955, in large measure in order to intensively practice and study Zen Buddhism. He would spend most of the next 10 years there. Buddhism is one of the primary subjects of The Dharma Bums, and the book undoubtedly helped to popularize Buddhism in the West, and remains one of Kerouac's most widely read books.[16]

Women of the Beat Generation[]

The female contemporaries of Kerouac, Ginsberg and Burroughs were intimately involved in the creation of Beat philosophy and literature, and yet remain markedly absent from the mainstream interpretation of the most important aspects and figures of the movement. Further, the Beat writings of Kerouac, Ginsberg and Burroughs often portray female characters in flat, traditional gender roles most typical of an ideal 1950s American housewife. Rather than offering liberation from social norms, Beat culture actually often marginalized and further culturally repressed American women and, more specifically, many of the female writers of the time period. [17]

Although women are less acknowledged in histories of the first Beat Generation, the omission may be due more to the period's sexism than the reality.[18] Joan Vollmer for instance did not write, although she appears as a minor figure in multiple authors' works.[19] She has become legendary as the wife of William S. Burroughs, documented in Kerouac's novels, and killed by Burroughs in a drunken game of William Tell.[20] Corso and Diane Di Prima, among others, insist that there were female Beats, but that it was more difficult for women to get away with a Bohemian existence in that era.[21] [22]

Notable Beat Generation women who have been published include Joyce Johnson; Carolyn Cassady; Hettie Jones; Joanne Kyger; Harriet Sohmers Zwerling; Diane DiPrima; and Ruth Weiss, who also made films. Poet Elise Cowen took her life in 1963. Later, women emerged who claimed to be strongly influenced by the Beats, including Janine Pommy Vega in the 1960s, Patti Smith in the 1970s, and Hedwig Gorski in the 1980s.

Drug use[]

The original members of the Beat Generation used a number of different drugs, often to excess, including alcohol, marijuana, benzedrine, morphine, and later psychedelic drugs including peyote, yage, and LSD. Much of this usage was "experimental," in that they were often initially unfamiliar with the effects of these drugs. They were inspired by intellectual interest, as well as simple hedonism.

The actual results of this "experimentation" can be difficult to determine. Claims that some of these drugs can enhance creativity, insight or productivity were quite common, as is the belief that the drugs in use were a key influence on the social events of the time.[23]


Many of the key Beat Generation figures were homosexual or bisexual, some of them quite openly, including two of the most prominent writers (Ginsberg and Burroughs). Many of them met each other through homosexual social connections, specifically David Kammerer's interest in Lucien Carr.

One of the contentious features of Ginsberg's poem Howl for authorities were lines about homosexual sex. William Burroughs' Naked Lunch focuses on drug use, but also contains sexual content. In addition to references to homosexuality, it included explicit descriptions of alternative sexual practices. Both works were prosecuted for obscenity. Victory by the publishers in both cases in effect marked the end of literary censorship in the United States.[2][3]

In comparison, though considered racy at the time, Kerouac's writings were relatively mild. On the Road mentions Neal Cassady's bisexuality without comment, while Visions of Cody confronts it. However, the first novel does show Cassady as frankly promiscuous. Kerouac's novels feature an interracial love affair (The Subterraneans), and group sex (The Dharma Bums).



Gregory Corso worshiped Percy Bysshe Shelley as a hero and was buried at the foot of Shelley's Grave in the Protestant Cemetery, Rome. Ginsberg mentions Shelley's Adonais at the beginning of Kaddish, and cites it as a major influence on the composition of one of his most important poems. Michael McClure compared Ginsberg's Howl to Shelley's breakthrough poem Queen Mab.[24]

Ginsberg's most important Romantic influence was William Blake.[25] Blake was the subject of Ginsberg's self-defining auditory hallucination and revelation in 1948.[26] Ginsberg would study Blake all his life. The first time Michael McClure met Ginsberg, they talked about Blake: McClure saw him as a revolutionary; Ginsberg saw him as a prophet. (Citation needed)John Keats was also cited as an influence.

Early American sources[]

Important American inspirations for the Beats included Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Herman Melville, and especially Walt Whitman, who is addressed as the subject of one of Ginsberg's most famous poems ("A Supermarket in Cailfornia"). Edgar Allan Poe is occasionally acknowledged, and Ginsberg claimed Emily Dickinson was an influence on Beat poetry. The novel You Can't Win by Jack Black had a strong influence on Burroughs.[27]

French Surrealism[]

Surrealism was still in many ways a vital movement in the 1950s. Carl Solomon introduced the work of Antonin Artaud to Ginsberg, and the poetry of André Breton had direct influence on the poem Kaddish.(Citation needed) Rexroth, Ferlinghetti, John Ashbery and Ron Padgett translated French poetry. Second-generation Beat Ted Joans was named "the only Afro-American Surrealist" by Breton.[28]

Philip Lamantia introduced surrealist poetry to the original Beats.[29] The poetry of Gregory Corso and Bob Kaufman shows the influence of Surrealist poetry with its dream-like images and its random juxtaposition of dissociated images,(Citation needed) and this influence can also be seen in more subtle ways in Ginsberg's poetry.(Citation needed) As the legend goes, when meeting Marcel Duchamp Ginsberg kissed his shoe and Corso cut off his tie.[30]Template:Page needed Other shared Beat interests were Guillaume Apollinaire, Arthur Rimbaud and Charles Baudelaire.(Citation needed)


Though the Beat aesthetic posited itself against T.S. Eliot's creed of strict objectivity and literary modernism's new classicism, certain modernist poets were major influences on the Beats, including Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams and H.D.. Pound was specifically important to Gary Snyder and Allen Ginsberg.

William Carlos Williams was an influence on many of the Beats, with his encouragement to speak with an American voice instead of imitating the European poetic voice and European forms. When Williams came to Reed College to give a lecture, then students Snyder, Whalen, and Welch were deeply impressed. Williams was a personal mentor to Allen Ginsberg, both being from Patterson, New Jersey.

Williams published several of Ginsberg's letters to him in his epic poem Paterson and wrote an introduction to 2 of Ginsberg's books. And many of the Beats (Ginsberg specifically) helped promote Williams' writing. Ferlinghetti's City Lights published a volume of his poetry.

Gertrude Stein was subject of a book-length study by Lew Welch. Admitted influences for Kerouac include Marcel Proust, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe.[31]

Influence on Western culture[]

File:Beat generation stockholm.jpg

A section devoted to the beat generation at a bookstore in Stockholm, Sweden.

While many authors claim to be directly influenced by the Beats, the Beat Generation phenomenon itself has had a pervasive influence on Western culture more broadly.(Citation needed)

In 1982, Ginsberg published a summary of "the essential effects" of the Beat Generation:[32]

  • Spiritual liberation, sexual "revolution" or "liberation," i.e., gay liberation, somewhat catalyzing women's liberation, black liberation, Gray Panther activism.
  • Liberation of the world from censorship.
  • Demystification and/or decriminalization of cannabis and other drugs.
  • The evolution of rhythm and blues into rock and roll as a high art form, as evidenced by the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and other popular musicians influenced in the later fifties and sixties by Beat generation poets' and writers' works.
  • The spread of ecological consciousness, emphasized early on by Gary Snyder and Michael McClure, the notion of a "Fresh Planet."
  • Opposition to the military-industrial machine civilization, as emphasized in writings of Burroughs, Huncke, Ginsberg, and Kerouac.
  • Attention to what Kerouac called (after Spengler) a "second religiousness" developing within an advanced civilization.
  • Return to an appreciation of idiosyncrasy as against state regimentation.
  • Respect for land and indigenous peoples and creatures, as proclaimed by Kerouac in his slogan from On the Road: "The Earth is an Indian thing."

Counterculture effects[]


Main article: Beatnik

The term "Beatnik" was coined by Herb Caen of the San Francisco Chronicle on 2 April 1958, a portmanteau on the names of the recent Russian satellite Sputnik and the Beat Generation. This suggested that beatniks were (1) "far out of the mainstream of society" and (2) "possibly pro-Communist".[33] Caen's term stuck and became the popular label associated with a new stereotype: the man with a goatee and beret reciting nonsensical poetry and playing bongos, while free-spirited women wearing black leotards dance.

An early example of the "beatnik stereotype" occurred in Vesuvio's (a bar in North Beach) which employed the artist Wally Hedrick to sit in the window dressed in full beard, turtleneck, and sandals, creating improvisational drawings and paintings. By 1958 tourists to San Francisco could take bus tours to view the North Beach Beat scene, prophetically anticipating similar tours of the Haight-Ashbury district 10 years later.[34] A variety of other small businesses also sprang up exploiting (and/or satirizing) the new craze. In 1959, Fred McDarrah started a "Rent-a-Beatnik" service in New York, taking out ads in The Village Voice and sending Ted Joans and friends out on calls to read poetry.[35] "Beatniks" appeared in many cartoons, movies, and TV shows of the time, perhaps the most famous being the character Maynard G. Krebs in The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. (1959–63)

While some of the original Beats embraced the beatniks, or at least found the parodies humorous (Ginsberg, for example, appreciated the parody in Pogo).[36] others criticized the beatniks as inauthentic posers. Kerouac feared that the spiritual aspect of his message had been lost and that many were using the Beat Generation as an excuse to be senselessly wild.[37]


Main article: hippie

During the 1950's, aspects of the Beat movement metamorphosed into The Sixties Counterculture, accompanied by a shift in terminology from "beatnik" to "hippie".[38] Many of the original Beats remained active participants, notably Allen Ginsberg, who became a fixture of the anti-war movement. Notably, however, Jack Kerouac broke with Ginsberg and criticized the 60s protest movements as an excuse to be "spiteful"[39]

There were stylistic differences between beatniks and hippies – somber colors, dark shades, and goatees gave way to colorful psychedelic clothing and long hair. The beats were known for "playing it cool" (keeping a low profile)[40] but the hippies became known for "being cool" (displaying their individuality).(Citation needed)

Beyond style, there were changes in substance: the Beats tended to be essentially apolitical, but the hippies became actively engaged with the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement.[41]

Literary legacy[]

Among the emerging novelists of the 1960s and 1970s, a few were closely connected with Beat writers, most notably Ken Kesey (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest). Though they had no direct connection, other writers considered the Beats to be a major influence, including Thomas Pynchon (Gravity's Rainbow)[42] and Tom Robbins (Even Cowgirls Get the Blues).

William Burroughs is considered a forefather of postmodern literature; he also inspired the cyberpunk genre.[43][44][45]

One-time Beat writer LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka helped initiate the Black Arts Movement.[46]

Since there was focus on live performance among the Beats, many Slam poets have claimed to be influenced by the Beats. Saul Williams, for example, cites Allen Ginsberg, Amiri Baraka, and Bob Kaufman as major influences.[47]

The Postbeat Poets are direct descendants of the Beat Generation. Their association with or tutelage under Ginsberg at The Naropa University's Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics[48] and later at Brooklyn College stressed the social-activist legacy of the Beats and created its own body of literature. Known authors are Anne Waldman, Antler, Andy Clausen, David Cope, Eileen Myles, Eliot Katz, Paul Beatty, Sapphire, Lesléa Newman, Jim Cohn, Sharon Mesmer, Randy Roark, Josh Smith, David Evans.(Citation needed)

Rock and pop music[]

The Beats had a pervasive influence on rock and roll and popular music, including the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Jim Morrison: the Beatles spelled their name with an "a" partly as a Beat Generation reference,[49] and Lennon was a fan of Jack Kerouac.[50] Ginsberg later met and became friends with members of the Beatles. Paul McCartney played guitar on Ginsberg's album Ballad of the Skeletons.

Ginsberg was close friends with Bob Dylan[51] and toured with him on the Rolling Thunder Revue in 1975. Dylan cites Ginsberg and Kerouac as major influences.

Jim Morrison cites Kerouac as one of his biggest influences, and fellow Doors member Ray Manzarek has said "We wanted to be beatniks".[52] Michael McClure was also friends with members of The Doors, for a time touring with keyboardist Ray Manzarek.

Ginsberg was friends with Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters, a group of which Cassady was a member, which also included members of the Grateful Dead. In the 1970s, Burroughs was friends with Mick Jagger, Lou Reed, and Patti Smith.

British progressive rock band Soft Machine is named after Burroughs' novel The Soft Machine.

Singer-songwriter Tom Waits, a Beat fan, wrote "Jack and Neal" about Kerouac and Cassady, and recorded "On the Road" (a song written by Kerouac after finishing the novel) with Primus. He later collaborated with Burroughs on the theatrical work The Black Rider.

There was a resurgence of interest in the beats among bands in the 1980s. Ginsberg worked with the Clash. Burroughs worked with Sonic Youth, R.E.M., Kurt Cobain, and Ministry, amongst others. Bono of U2 cites Burroughs as a major influence,[53][54] and Burroughs appeared briefly in a U2 video in 1997.[55] Laurie Anderson featured Burroughs on her 1984 album Mister Heartbreak and in her 1986 concert film, Home of the Brave. King Crimson produced the album Beat inspired by the Beat Generation.


Norman Podhoretz, a student at Columbia with Kerouac and Ginsberg, later became a critic of the Beats. His 1958 Partisan Review article "The Know-Nothing Bohemians," was a vehement critique primarily of Kerouac's On the Road and The Subterraneans, as well as Ginsberg's Howl.[56] His central criticism is that the Beat embrace of spontaneity is bound up in an anti-intellectual worship of the "primitive" that can easily turn toward mindlessness and violence. Podhoretz asserted that there was a link between the Beats and criminal delinquents.

Ginsberg responded in a 1958 interview with The Village Voice,[57] specifically addressing the charge that the Beats destroyed "the distinction between life and literature." "The bit about anti-intellectualism is a piece of vanity, we had the same education, went to the same school, you know there are 'Intellectuals' and there are intellectuals. Podhoretz is just out of touch with twentieth-century literature, he's writing for the eighteenth-century mind. We have a personal literature now—Proust, Wolfe, Faulkner, Joyce."[58]

Internal criticism[]

In a 1974 interview,[59] Gary Snyder comments on the subject of "casualties" of the Beat Generation:[60]

Kerouac was a casualty too. And there were many other casualties that most people have never heard of, but were genuine casualties. Just as, in the 60s, when Allen and I for a period there were almost publicly recommending people to take acid. When I look back on that now I realize there were many casualties, responsibilities to bear.

The Beats comment on the Beat Generation[]

"The so-called Beat Generation was a whole bunch of people, of all different nationalities, who came to the conclusion that society sucked."
- Amiri Baraka
"John Clellon Holmes... and I were sitting around trying to think up the meaning of the Lost Generation and the subsequent existentialism and I said 'You know John, this is really a beat generation'; and he leapt up and said, 'That's it, that's right!'"[61]
- Jack Kerouac
"But yet, but yet, woe, woe unto those who think that the Beat Generation means crime, delinquency, immorality, amorality ... woe unto those who attack it on the grounds that they simply don’t understand history and the yearning of human souls ... woe in fact unto those who make evil movies about the Beat Generation where innocent housewives are raped by beatniks! ... woe unto those who spit on the Beat Generation, the wind’ll blow it back."
- Jack Kerouac
Three writers do not a generation make.
- Gregory Corso[62] (sometimes also attributed to Gary Snyder).
"Nobody knows whether we were catalysts or invented something, or just the froth riding on a wave of its own. We were all three, I suppose."
- Allen Ginsberg[63]

Films about the Beat Generation[]

  • Jack Kerouac (wrote), Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie (directed) Pull My Daisy (1958)
  • Heart Beat (1980)
  • Richard Lerner and Lewis MacAdams (directed) Whatever Happened To Kerouac? (1986) Documentary.
  • Chuck Workman (wrote and directed) The Source (1999)
  • Gary Walkow (wrote and directed) Beat (2000)
  • Allen Ginsberg Live in London (1995)
  • Howl (2010)

See also[]


  • Campbell, James. This Is the Beat Generation: New York–San Francisco-Paris. LA: University of California Press, 2001. ISBN 0-520-23033-7
  • Cook, Bruce The Beat Generation: The tumultuous '50s movement and its impact on today. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1971. ISBN 0-684-12371-1.
  • Gifford, Barry and Lawrence LeeJack's Book An Oral Biography Of Jack Kerouac, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1978. ISBN 0-312-43942-3
  • Grace, NancyJack Kerouac and the Literary Imagination, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. ISBN 1-4039-6850-0
  • Hemmer, Kurt ed. Encyclopedia of Beat Literature. Facts on File, 2006. ISBN 0-8160-4297-7
  • Hrebeniak, Michael. Action Writing: Jack Kerouac's Wild Form, Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois UP, 2006.
  • Johnson, Ronna C. and Nancy Grace Girls Who Wore Black: Women Writing the Beat Generation. Rutgers, 2003. ISBN 081353065
  • McDarrah, Fred W. and Gloria S. McDarrah. Beat Generation: Glory Days in Greenwich Village Schirmer Books (September 1996) ISBN 0-8256-7160-4
  • McNally, Dennis. Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, the Beat Generation, and America. NY: DeCapo, 2003. ISBN 0-306-81222-3
  • Miles, Barry. The Beat Hotel: Ginsberg, Burroughs & Corso in Paris, 1957–1963. NY: Grove Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8021-3817-9
  • Sargeant, Jack. "Naked Lens: Beat Cinema". NY: Soft Skull, 2009 (third edition)
  • Sanders, Ed Tales of Beatnik Glory (second edition, 1990) ISBN 0-8065-1172-9
  • Theado, Matt (ed.). The Beats: A Literary Reference. NY: Carrol & Graff, 2002. ISBN 0-7867-1099-3
  • Watson, Steven. The Birth of the Beat Generation: Visionaries, Rebels, and Hipsters, 1944–1960. NY: Pantheon, 1998. ISBN 0-375-70153-2
  • Charters, Ann (ed.) (1992) The Portable Beat Reader. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-670-83885-3 (hc); ISBN 0-14-015102-8 (pbk). The table of contents is online.
  • Charters, Ann (ed.) (2001) Beat Down to Your Soul: What Was the Beat Generation? NY: Penguin, 2001. ISBN 0-14-100151-8
  • Knight, Arthur Winfield. Ed. The Beat Vision (1987) Paragon House. ISBN 0-913729-40-X; ISBN 0-913729-41-8 (pbk)
  • Knight, Brenda. Women of the Beat Generation: The Writers, Artists and Muses at the Heart of a Revolution. ISBN 1-57324-138-5
  • McClure, Michael. Scratching the Beat Surface: Essays on New Vision from Blake to Kerouac. Penguin, 1994. ISBN 0-14-023252-4
  • Miles, Barry. (2001) Ginsberg: A Biography. London: Virgin Publishing Ltd., paperback, 628 pages, ISBN 0-7535-0486-3
  • Morgan, Ted (1983) Literary Outlaw The Life and Times of William S. Burroughs. ISBN 0-380-70882-5, first printing, trade paperback edition Avon, NY, NY
  • Phillips, Lisa Beat Culture and the New America 1950–1965 published by the Whitney Museum of American Art in accordance with an exhibition in 1995/1996 – ISBN 0-87427-098-7 softcover, ISBN 2-08-013613-5 hardcover (Flammarion)
  • Raskin, Jonah American Scream: Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" and the Making of the Beat Generation. University of California Press. (2004) ISBN 0-520-24015-4


  1. Charters (1992) The Portable Beat Reader
  2. 2.0 2.1 Ann Charters, introduction, to Beat Down to Your Soul, Penguin Books (2001) ISBN 0-14-10.0151-8 p. xix "[...] the conclusion of the obscenity trial in San Francisco against Lawrence Ferlinghetti for publishing Ginsberg's Howl and Other Poerms [...] in which Judge Clayton W. Horn concluded for the defendant that 'Howl' had what he called 'redeeming social content.' ", p. xxxiii "After the successful Howl trial, outspoken and subversive literary magazines sprung up like wild mushrooms throughout the United States."
  3. 3.0 3.1 Ted Morgan, Literary Outlaw, Avon, New York, 1988. p 347, trade paper edition ISBN 0-380-70882-5 "The ruling on Naked Lunch in effect marked the end of literary censorship in the United States."
  4. "In this essay "Beat" includes those American poets considered avant-garde or anti-acadmeic from ca. 1955-1965.", Lee Hudson, "Poetics in Performancs: The Beat Generation" collected in Studies in interpretation, Volume 2, ed Esther M. Doyle, Virginia Hastings Floyd, 1977, Rodopi ISBN 906203070X, 9789062030705, p. 59
  5. "... resistance is bound to occur in bringing into the academy such anti-academic writers as the Beats.", Nancy McCampbell Grace, Ronna Johnson, Breaking the rule of cool: interviewing and reading women beat writers 2004, Univ. Press of Mississippi, ISBN 1578066549, 9781578066544, page x
  6. "The Black Mountain school originated at the sometime Black Mountain College of Asheville, North Carolina, in the 1950s and gave rise to an anti-academic academy that was the center of attraction for many of the disaffiliated writers of the period, including many who were known in other contexts as the Beats or the Beat generation and the San Francisco school." Steven R. Serafin, Alfred Bendixen, The Continuum Encyclopedia of American Literature, 2005, Continuum International Publishing Group, ISBN 0826417779, 9780826417770, p. 901
  7. Knight, Brenda, "Women of the Beat Generation: The Writers, Artists and Muses at the Heart of a Revolution" 978-1573241380 Conari Press, 1998
  8. "The word 'beat' was primarily in use after World War II by jazz musicians and hustlers as a slang term meaning down and out, or poor and exhausted. The jazz musician Mezz Mezzrow combined it with other words, like 'dead beat' ..." Ann Charters, The Portable Beat reader, 1992, ISBN 0670838853, 9780670838851
  9. "Hebert Huncke picked up the word [beat] from his show business friends on of Near North Side of Chicago, and in the fall of 1945 he introduced the word to William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac." Steve Watson, The Birth of the Beat Generation (1995), p.3 ISBN 0-375-70153-2
  10. The exuberance is much stronger in the published On the Road, than in its manuscript (in scroll-form). Luc Sante: "In the scroll the use of the word “holy” must be 80 percent less than in the novel, and psalmodic references to the author’s unique generation are down by at least two-thirds; uses of the word “beat,” for that matter, clearly favor the exhausted over the beatific." New York Times Book Review August 19, 2007. [1]
  11. Ted Morgan, Literary Outlaw, Avon, New York, 1988, 163-164, trade paper edition ISBN 0-380-70882-5
  12. Ted Morgan, Literary Outlaw, Avon, New York, 1988. pp 205-6, trade paper edition ISBN 0-380-70882-5
  13. Jonah Raskin, American Scream: Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" and the Making of the Beat Generation:

    "Wally Hedrick, a painter and veteran of the Korean War, approached Ginsberg in the summer of 1955 and asked him to organize a poetry reading at the Six Gallery...At first, Ginsberg refused. But once he’d written a rough draft of Howl, he changed his "fucking mind," as he put it."

  14. Ginsberg, Allen. Howl. 1986 critical edition edited by Barry Miles, Original Draft Facsimile, Transcript & Variant Versions, Fully Annotated by Author, with Contemporaneous Correspondence, Account of First Public Reading, Legal Skirmishes, Precursor Texts & Bibliography ISBN 0-06-092611-2 (pbk.)
  15. McClure, Michael. Scratching the Beat Surface: Essays on New Vision from Blake to Kerouac. Penguin, 1994. ISBN 0-14-023252-4
  16. Bradley J. Stiles, Emerson's contemporaries and Kerouac's crowd: a problem of self-location Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press, 2003 ISBN 0838639607, 9780838639603, p87 "Although Kerouac did not introduce Eastern religion into American culture, his writings were instrumental in popularizing Buddhism among mainstream intellectuals."
  17. Jennie Skerl, Reconstructing the Beats (New York: Palgrave Macmillian, 2004) pp. 1-3
  18. Wills, David: The Women of the Beat Generation. In: Wills, D. (ed.): Beatdom, Vol. 2, Mauling Press, Dundee 2008, pp. 14–18.
  19. Brenner, Joseph M.: Looking for Joan Vollmer (website), The Doomfiles, March 16, 2004. web page
  20. Grauerholz, James. The Death of Joan Vollmer Burroughs: What Really Happened? American Studies Department, University of Kansas.
  21. "their families put them in institutions, they were given electroshock" Knight, Brenda. ed. Women of the Beat Generation: The Writers, Artists and Muses at the Heart of a Revolution, Conari Press, Berkeley, CA ISBN 1-57324-138-5, p. 141. Quotation attributed to "Stephen Scobie's account of the Naropa Institute's tribute to Ginsberg in July 1994."
  22. Potentially great women writers wound up dead or crazy. I think of the women on the Beat-scene with me in the early '50s, where are they now?... some of them ODed and some of them got nuts, and one woman that I was running around the Village with in '53 was killed by her parents putting her in a shock-treatment-place in Pennsylvania...From a 1978 interview. Knight, Arthur and Kit ed., The Beat Vision, Paragon House, New York, 1987, ISBN 0-913729-41-8, p. 144.

  23. McClure, Scratching the Beat Surface
  24. McClure, Michael. Scratching the Beat Surface
  25. "Throughout these interviews [in Spontaneous Mind] Ginsberg returns to his high praise of William Blake and Walt Whitman. Ginsberg obviously loves Blake the visionary and Whitman the democratic sensualist, and indeed Ginsberg's own literary personality can be construed as a union of these forces." Edmund White, Arts and letters (2004), p.104 ISBN 1573441953, 9781573441957
  26. "Ginsberg's intense relationship to Blake can be traced to a seemingly mystical experience he had during the summer of 1948." ibid, p.104
  27. Ted Morgan, Literary Outlaw (1988), p.36-37 of trade paper edition, ISBN 0 "When Billy [William Burroughs] was thirteen, he came across a book that would have an enormous impact on his life and work. Written by someone calling himself Jack Black, You Can't Win was the memoirs of a professional thief and drug addict."
  28. According to William Lawlor: "André Breton, the founder of surrealism and Joans's [sic] mentor and friend, famously called Joans the 'only Afro-American surrealist' (qtd. by James Miller in _Dictionary of Literary Biography_ 16: 268)." p.159, Beat culture: lifestyles, icons, and impact, ABC-CLIO, 2005, ISBN 1851094008, 9781851094004 Ted Joans himself said: "The late Andre Breton the founder of surrealism said that I was the only Afro-American surrealist and welcomed me to the exclusive surrealist group in Paris." page 102, For Malcolm: poems on the life and the death of Malcolm X, Dudley Randall and Margaret G. Burroughs, eds, Broadside Press, Detroit, 1967 There is some question about how familiar Breton was with Afro-American literature: "If it is true that the late André Breton, a founder of the surrealist movement, considered Ted Joans the only Afro-American surrealist, he apparently had not read Kaufman; at any rate, Breton had much to learn about Afro-American poetry." Bernard W. Bell, "The Debt to Black Music", Black World/Negro Digest March 1973, p. 86
  29. Allen Ginsberg commented: "His interest in techniques of surreal composition notoriously antedates mine and surpasses my practice ... I authoritatively declare Lamantia an American original, soothsayer even as Poe, genius in the language of Whitman, native companion and teacher to myself." Allen Ginsberg, Bill Morgan, Deliberate Prose: Selected Essays 1952-1995, p. 442, "Philip Lamantia, Lamantia As Forerunner", HarperCollins, 2001, ISBN 0060930810, 9780060930813
  30. Miles (2001) Ginsberg
  31. "In 'Author's Introduction,' which is included in Lonesome Traveler (1960), Kerouac ... goes on to mention Jack London, William Saroyan, and Ernest Hemingway as early influences and mentions Thomas Wolfe as a subsequent influence." William Lawlor, Beat culture: lifestyles, icons, and impact, 2005 ISBN 1851094008, 9781851094004 p. 153 "And if one considers The Legend of Dulouz, one must acknowledge the influence of Marcel Proust. Like Proust, Kerouac makes his powerful memory the source of much of his writing and again like Proust, Kerouac envisions his life's literary output as one great book." ibid, p. 154
  32. Ginsberg, Allen A Definition of the Beat Generation, from Friction, 1 (Winter 1982), revised for Beat Culture and the New America: 1950–1965,
  33. Herb Caen (1997-02-06). "Pocketful of Notes". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-01-30.  "...Look magazine, preparing a picture spread on S.F.'s Beat Generation (oh, no, not AGAIN!), hosted a party in a No. Beach house for 50 Beatniks, and by the time word got around the sour grapevine, over 250 bearded cats and kits were on hand, slopping up Mike Cowles' free booze. They're only Beat, y'know, when it comes to work..."
  34. William T. Lawlor ed., Beat Culture: Lifestyles, Icons and Impact, pg. 309.
  35. Arthur and Kit Knight ed., The Beat Vision, Paragon House, New York, 1987, pg. 281
  36. Ginsberg, Howl: Original Draft Facsimile,
  37. "Tracing his personal definition of the term Beat to the fufullments offered by beatitude, Kerouac scorned sensationalistic phrases like "Beat mutiny" and "Beat insurrection," which were being repeated ad nauseam in media accounts. 'Being a Catholic,' he told conservative journalist William F. Buckley Jr in a late-sixties television appearance, 'I believe in order, tenderness, and piety,'" David Sterritt, Screening the Beats: media culture and the Beat sensibility, 2004, p.25, ISBN 0809325632, 9780809325634
  38. Ed Sanders said in an interview in the film The Source (1999) (at the 1hr 17secs point) that he observed the change immediately after the 1967 Human Be-In event: "And right after the Be-In all of a sudden you were no longer a beatnik, you were a hippie." Similar remarks by Sanders: an interview with Jessa Piaia in SQUAWK Magazine, Issue #55, commented: "I've begun Tales of Beatnik Glory, Volume 3. Set in the Hippie era, it defines that delicate time when reporters no longer called us 'Beatnik,' but started to call us 'Hippie.'",; "There was a big article January of 1966, on page one of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, under the heading 'Beatnik Leader Wants Marijuana.' It was just before "h]ippie" replaced 'Beatnik.'" Ed Sanders, Larry Smith, Ingrid Swanberg, D.A. Levy & the mimeograph revolution (2007)
  39. Gore Vidal quotes Ginsberg speaking of Kerouac: "'You know around 1968, when we were all protesting the Vietnam War, Jack wrote me that the war was just an excuse for 'you Jews to be spiteful again.'" Gore Vidal, Palimpsest: a memoir, 1995, ISBN 0679440580
  40. for example, see the meaning of "cool" as explained in the Del Close, John Brant spoken word album How to Speak Hip from 1959
  41. Allen Ginsberg comments on this in the film "The Source" (1999); Gary Snyder discusses the issue in a 1974 interview, collected in The Beat Vision (1987) Paragon House. ISBN 0-913729-40-X; ISBN 0-913729-41-8 (pbk), edited by Arthur Winfield Knight: "... the next key point was Castro taking over Cuba. The apolitical quality of Beat thought changed with that. It sparked quite a discussion and quite a dialogue; many people had been basic pacifists with considerable disillusion with Marxian revolutionary rhetoric. At the time of Castro's victory, it had to be rethought again. Here was a revolution that had used violence and that was apparently a good thing. Many people abandoned the pacifist position at that time or at least began to give more thought to it. In any case, many people began to look to politics again as having possibilities. From that follows, at least on some levels, the beginning of civil rights activism, which leads through our one whole chain of events: the Movement.

    We had little confidence in our power to make any long range or significant changes. That was the 50s, you see. It seemed that bleak. So that our choices seemed entirely personal existential lifetime choices that there was no guarantee that we would have any audience, or anybody would listen to us; but it was a moral decision, a moral poetic decision. Then Castro changed things, then Martin Luther King changed things ..."
  42. Pynchon, Thomas. Slow Learner. Vintage Classics, 2007. ISBN 0-09-953251-4
  43. "Sterling also identifies [in Mirroshades (1986)] postmodernist authors Thomas Pynchon and William S. Burroughs as forerunners of cyberpunk." Keith Booker, Anne-Marie Thomas, The science fiction handbook 2009, Page 111, ISBN 1405162058, 9781405162050
  44. "... it should hardly be surprising that to discover that the work of William S Burroughs had a profound impact on both punk music and cyberpunk science fiction." Larry McCaffery, Storming the reality studio: a casebook of cyberpunk and postmodern science fiction, 1991, p. 305
  45. "Cyberpunk writers acknowledge their literary debt to Burroughs and Pynchon, as well as to New Wave writers from the 1960s and 1970s such as J.G. Ballard and Samuel Delany.", Jenny Wolmark, Aliens and others: science fiction, feminism and postmodernism 1994, ISBN 0877454477, 9780877454472
  46. "(LeRoi Jones) ... is best known as a major cultural leader, one of the African American writers who galvanized a second Black Renaissande, the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s ..." -- page xi, "Preface", Komozi Woodard, A nation within a nation: Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) and Black power politics (1999, UNC Press) ISBN 0807847615, 9780807847619
  47. Williams, Saul. Said the Shotgun to the Head. MTV, 2003, p.184, ISBN 0-7434-7079-6
  48. "During the eighties, Ginsberg used his position as director of the writing department at Naropa, introduced his classes to the wide range of literature of the Beat Generation. Many of his students became poets and educators and are grouped together under an entirely new category that has been labeled Postbeat Poets." Bill Morgan, William Morgan, The Typewriter Is Holy: The Complete, Uncensored History of the Beat Generation 2010, p. 245, ISBN 1416592423, 9781416592426
  49. "... the name Beatles comes from 'Beat' ..." Regina Weinreich, "Books: The Birth of the Beat Generation", The Sunday New York Times Book Review, January 11, 1996, a review of Steven Watson's THE BIRTH OF THE BEAT GENERATION: Visionaries, Rebels, and Hipsters 1944-1960
  50. Ellis Amburn describes a telephone conversation with Jack Kerouac: "John Lennon subsequently contacted Kerouac, revealing that the band's name was derived from 'Beat.' 'He was sorry he hadn't come to see me when they played Queens,' Kerouac said, referring to the Beatles Shea Stadium concert in 1965." Amburn, Ellis Subterranean Kerouac: the hidden life of Jack Kerouac, p. 342, ISBN 0-312-20677-1
  51. Wills, D. "Father & Son: Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan," in Wills, D. (ed.) Beatdom Vol. 1 (Mauling Press: Dundee, 2007) p. 90-93
  52. "As Ray Manzarek recalls when Morrison was studying at UCLA: 'He certainly had a substantial investment in books. They filled an entire wall of his apartment. His reading was very eclectic. It was typical of the early- to mid-sixties hipster student. [...] And lots of Beatniks. We wanted to _be_ beatniks. But we were too young. We came a little too late, but we were worshippers of the Beat Generation. All the Beat writers filled Morrison's shelves [...]' (Manzarek 1999, 77)" Sheila Whiteley, Too much too young: popular music, age and gender (2005, Routledge)
  53. Bono comments approvingly on the Burroughs cut up method: "That's what the Burroughs cut up method is all about. You cut up the past to find the future." As quoted by John Geiger in Nothing is true -- everything is permitted: the life of Brion Gysin p. 273, Attributed to John Waters Race of the Angels: The Genesis of U2 (London, Fourth Estate, 1994) ISBN 1857022106 ISBN 978-1857022100
  54. "... author WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS, 84, whose nihilistic novels have influenced U2 front man BONO ... ", Martha Pickerill Time, June 2, 1997,,9171,986451,00.html
  55. "The next video, Last Night on Earth was shot in Kansas City, with beat author William S. Burroughs making a cameo." p. 96 David Kootnikoff, U2: A Musical Biography (2010) ISBN 0313365237, 9780313365232
  56. Collected in The Norman Podhoretz Reader by Norman Podhoretz, Thomas L. Jeffers, Paul Johnson. Free Press, 2007. ISBN 978-1-4165-6830-8
  57. In: Spontaneous Mind
  58. Ginsberg, Allen, Spontaneous Mind: Selected Interviews, 1958–1996, p. 5 ISBN 0-06-093082-9
  59. Knight, Arthur Winfield. Ed. The Beat Vision (1987) Paragon House. ISBN 0-913729-40-X; ISBN 0-913729-41-8 (pbk)
  60. Charters (2001) Beat Down to Your Soul
  61. Rees, Nigel. Sterling: Brewer's Famous Quotations: 5000 Quotations and the Stories Behind Them, 2006.
  62. Lerner, Richard and Lewis MacAdams, directors "What Ever Happened to Kerouac?" (1985)
  63. Burns, Glen Great Poets Howl: A Study of Allen Ginsberg's Poetry, 1943–1955 ISBN 3-8204-7761-6

External links[]

Beat tourism pages
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. (view article). (view authors).
This page uses content from Wikinfo . The original article was at Wikinfo:Beat Generation.
The list of authors can be seen in the (view authors). page history. The text of this Wikinfo article is available under the GNU Free Documentation License and the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.