The Beats’ Defining Poetry

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The Beat generation of the fifties and sixties were a unique and strictly American group of writers who began a distinct movement in the world of literature. What is so unique about the Beats begins simply with the fact that they defined themselves as the Beat generation, and touted their own literary style every chance they had, promoting each other’s work, shamelessly and pretentiously. This is opposed to the normal sequence of events in literary chronology, as specific literary movements and styles are often recognized and defined retrospectively, often posthumously, rather than recognized by the author (or authors) involved. The original, core group of Beat writers were close friends with mutual respect for each of their peer’s writing, and writers like Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, and others all shared common themes within their writing, themes that united them under a common interest, purpose, and mainly; themes that defined these writers as Beats. The more popular works of the Beat generation are, for the most part, novels (Allen Ginsberg’s Howl is an exceptionally popular poetic work), and their popularity projects a specific image of what it means to be ‘Beat’ to the general public: Jack Kerouac’s On The Road follows a protagonist who embodies freedom and adventurousness, The Subterraneans displays interracial love and an affinity for jazz music, and William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch glorifies drugs. Of course, there are a great deal many more common interests and shared sentiments within these novels that binds all of these core writers together as the Beat Generation, but I feel that the poetry is far more effective in providing evidence if one is interested in answering the question of just what ... ... middle of paper ... ...e Beats are established as educated, aware, rebellious, self-destructive, and most importantly, free. Works Cited Ginsberg, Allen. Howl And Other Poems. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1959. Ginsberg, Allen. Journals Mid-Fifties: 1954-1958. Ed. Gordon Ball. HarperCollins, 1995. 0060167718. Ginsberg, Allen. "Notes Written on Finally Recording 'Howl.'" Deliberate Prose: Selected Essays 1952-1995. Ed. Bill Morgan. NY: Harper Collins, 2000. "Howl." Poetry Criticism. Ed. David M. Galens. Vol. 47. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Literature Resource Center. Web. 28 July 2010. Merrill, Thomas F. "Howl and Other Poems." Allen Ginsberg, Revised Edition. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1988. 50-69. Rpt. in Poetry Criticism. Ed. David M. Galens. Vol. 47. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Literature Resource Center. Web. 28 July 2010.
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