beat generation

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beat generation,

term applied to certain American artists and writers who were popular during the 1950s. Essentially anarchic, members of the beat generation rejected traditional social and artistic forms. The beats sought immediate expression in multiple, intense experiences and beatific illumination like that of some Eastern religions (e.g., Zen BuddhismZen Buddhism,
Buddhist sect of China and Japan. The name of the sect (Chin. Ch'an, Jap. Zen) derives from the Sanskrit dhyana [meditation]. In China the school early became known for making its central tenet the practice of meditation, rather than adherence
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). In literature they adopted rhythms of simple American speech and of bop and progressive jazz. Among those associated with the movement were the novelists Jack KerouacKerouac, Jack
(John Kerouac) , 1922–69, American novelist, b. Lowell, Mass., studied at Columbia. One of the leaders of the beat generation, a term he is said to have coined, he was the author of the largely autobiographical novel On the Road
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 and Chandler Brossard, numerous poets (e.g., Kenneth RexrothRexroth, Kenneth,
1905–82, American poet, critic, and translator, b. South Bend, Ind. A resident of San Francisco, he was briefly associated with the beat generation, although he disdained their lack of discipline.
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, Allen GinsbergGinsberg, Allen
, 1926–97, American poet, b. Paterson, N.J., grad. Columbia, 1949. An outspoken member of the beat generation, Ginsberg is best known for Howl (1956), a long poem attacking American values in the 1950s.
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, Lawrence FerlinghettiFerlinghetti, Lawrence
, 1919–, American author and publisher, b. Yonkers, N.Y. In 1951 he moved to San Francisco and helped found the City Lights Bookshop, which became a center for writers of the beat generation.
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, and Gregory Corso), and others, many of whom worked in and around San Francisco. Perhaps the only true nihilist of the group was William S. BurroughsBurroughs, William Seward,
1914–97, American novelist, b. St. Louis, grad. Harvard, 1936, moved to New York City, 1943. He was an elder member of the beat generation.
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. During the 1960s "beat" ideas and attitudes were absorbed by other cultural movements, and those who practiced something akin to the "beat" lifestyle were called "hippies."


See A. Ginsburg, The Best Minds of My Generation: A Literary History of the Beats (2017, compiled and ed. by B. Morgan); B. Cook, The Beat Generation (1971, repr. 1982), J. Tytell, Naked Angels (1976, repr. 1991), E. H. Foster, Understanding the Beats (1992), D. Sterritt, Mad to Be Saved: The Beats, the 50s, and Film (1998), and J. Campbell, This Is the Beat Generation (2001); documentary, The Source (1999).

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References in periodicals archive ?
"Jazz and the Beat Generation." The Cambridge Companion to the Beats, edited by Steven Belletto, Cambridge UP, 2017.
In terms of literary censorship, those wishing for a play of the Beat Generation to place alongside the outlawed works of Ginsberg and Burroughs may be enthused by Michael McClure's The Beard (1965).
For five years beginning in the fall of 1958, Kesey was enrolled in the non-degree program at Stanford University's Creative Writing Center, less than 35 miles away from the West Coast epicenter of the Beat Generation happenings in San Francisco.
Although cursorily conceding that "restless, rebellious, confused youth living it up" appealed to some adherents--not Podhoretz's audience, of course--he stressed that the Beat Generation "is hostile to civilization; it worships primitivism, instinct, energy, 'blood.'" Podhoretz concluded, "The hipsters and hipster-lovers of the Beat Generation are rebels, all right, but not against anything so sociological and historical as the middle class or capitalism or even respectability.
THE SCENE Given its past as a Beat Generation hangout, the clientele and staff remain relatively bohemian.
THE TOPIC: Even among the Beat Generation of which he formed an integral part, William S.
Cast in a different light, however, Beat Generation's theatrical shortcomings strangely reveal the impressive if understated theatricality of Kerouac's novels.
KILL YOUR DARLINGS (15) DANIEL RADCLIFFE, pictured, has said this Beat Generation drama features his greatest ever performance.
Opens Friday THE STARS Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan THE VERDICT Daniel Radcliffe continues to tread a shrewd and often daring career path post-Harry Potter, and is excellent here as the young Beat Generation poet Allen Ginsberg.
The movie is about the early days of the Beat Generation.
of Leeds) presents a cultural history of the Beat generation's enduring influence on rock music and creative culture in the latter third of the century.
Cassady was married to Neal Cassady - a central character in the Beat generation and the basis of the character Dean Moriarty in Kerouac's "On the Road" - for around 20 years.