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 ?
(7) In one sense, Beat Generation adds another line to Kerouac's growing resume.
The characters rant and revel and ramble, as they do in Beat Generation and elsewhere, but On the Road takes more time to design the space, refine the details, and rehearse heartbreak across three years of fieldwork and three furious weeks of typing.
Sal interrupts for a moment with the explanatory stage direction, "And he talked all night." In the relayed all-night talk there are the same abstractions, the same potentially pretentious effusions as in Beat Generation, but here Kerouac more artfully performs theatrical sleights-of-hand, directing the eye and the ear to the constructed spaces that fall between the words and hold them up.
Closer to Beat Generation, of course, Estragon and Vladimir continue to wait by a road that might be in 1950s Florida; they may be the hitchhikers that Dean is going too fast to stop for.
Beat Generation strangely illuminates the dramaturgy that informs Kerouac's novelistic discourse, underscoring the way in which his work's distinctiveness and its persistent appeal do not reside strictly in its literary qualities.
'"Beat Generation' to be Staged in Literary Icon's Hometown." U of Massachusetts Lowell, 12 Mar.