The Beats: A Very Short Introduction
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Beat Generation writers revolutionized American literature with their iconoclastic approach to language and their angry assault on the conformity and conservatism of postwar society. They and their followers took aim at the hypocrisy and taboos of their time—particularly those involving sex, race, and class - in such provocative works as Jack Kerouac's On the Road (1957), Allen Ginsberg's Howl (1956), and William S. Burroughs's Naked Lunch (1959). This volume offers a concise overview of the social, cultural, and aesthetic sensibilities of the Beats, bringing out the similarities that connected them and also the many differences that made them a loosely knit collective rather than an organized movement. Principal figures in the saga include Neal Cassady, Gregory Corso, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, John Clellon Holmes, Carolyn Cassady, and Gary Snyder; locations range from Greenwich Village and San Francisco to Mexico, western Europe, and North Africa; topics include Beat approaches to literature, drugs, sexuality, art, music, and religion. Members of the Beat Generation hoped that their radical rejection of materialism, consumerism, and regimentation would inspire others to purify their lives and souls as well; yet they urged the remaking of consciousness on a profoundly inward-looking basis, cultivating "the unspeakable visions of the individual," in Kerouac's phrase. The idea was to revolutionize society by revolutionizing thought, not the other way around. This book explains how the Beats used their drastic visions and radical styles to challenge dominant values, fending off absorption into mainstream culture while preparing ground for the larger, more explosive social upheavals of the 1960s. More than half a century later, the Beats' impact can still be felt in literature, cinema, music, theater, and the visual arts. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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aesthetic alcohol Allen Ginsberg American Ann Charters artists Baraka Beat movement Beat writers beatnik became bohemian Buddhist Burroughs Burroughs’s called Carr character City Lights Books Columbia consciousness culture cut-up David Dean Denver Desolation Angels Dharma Bums Diane di Prima drugs early essay everything fellaheen film friends Gallery Gary Snyder Greenwich Village Gregory Corso Grove Press Gysin hitchhiking homosexuality Howl Huncke ideas improvisation Jack Kerouac jazz John Clellon Holmes Kaddish Kammerer Kenneth Rexroth Kerouac and Ginsberg Kesey later Lawrence Ferlinghetti literary literature living magazine Michael mind modern mother movie musician Naked Lunch Neal Cassady novel Orlovsky Penguin Books Peter Philip Whalen PHILOSOPHY Poems poet poetic poetry political prose psychedelic published Road Robert San Francisco scene sexuality social spiritual spontaneity started story things thought took traveling Trungpa verse Viking Visions of Cody visual art Vollmer Waldman William words writing York young