Overview

Beat Movement


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A bohemian rebellion against established society which came to prominence about 1956 and had its centers in San Francisco and New York. The term “Beat” expressed both exhaustion and beatification in that the writers, tired of conventional society, and disgusted by it, believed that thoroughgoing disaffiliation from all aspects of the manners and mores of what they saw as a corrupt, crass, commercial world would bring its own kind of blissful illumination, aided by drink and drugs. Writers of the movement expressed their views in their own “hip” vocabulary, combined with phrases from Buddhism, by which they were influenced, but there is a personal statement and power that goes beyond this jargon in the works of the leading literary figures, who include the poets Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso and their San Francisco publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti and the novelist Jack Kerouac Older writers who related to the movement included Norman Mailer, Henry Miller, and Kenneth Rexroth. Close to them and yet removed in part from the Beat movement because of his greater violence is William Burroughs.


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