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Women of the Beat Generation
The Beatnik Stereotype
Influences on Western Culture
Some essential effects of Beat Generation artistic movement can be characterized in the following terms: Spiritual liberation, sexual “revolution” or “liberation,” i.e., gay liberation, somewhat catalyzing women’s liberation, black liberation, Gray Panther activism. Liberation of the word from censorship. Demystification and/or decriminalization of some laws against marijuana and other drugs. The evolution of rhythm and blues into rock and roll as a high art form, as evidenced by the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and other popular musicians influenced in the later fifties and sixties by Beat generation poets’ and writers’ works. The spread of ecological consciousness, emphasized early on by Gary Snyder and Michael McClure, the notion of a “Fresh Planet.” Opposition to the military-industrial machine civilization, as emphasized in writings of Burroughs, Huncke, Ginsberg, and Kerouac. Attention to what Kerouac called (after Spengler) a “second religiousness” developing within an advanced civilization. Return to an appreciation of idiosyncrasy as against state regimentation. Respect for land and indigenous peoples and creatures, as proclaimed by Kerouac in his slogan from _On the Road_: “The Earth is an Indian thing.” The essence of the phrase “beat generation” may be found in _On the Road_ with the celebrated phrase: “Everything belongs to me because I am poor.”
- Gary Snyder read Pound early and was encouraged in his interests in Japan and China by Pound’s work.
- William Carlos Williams encouraged a number of beats and wrote a preface for Howl and other poems.
- Pound was also important to Allen Ginsberg and to most of the San Francisco Rennaissance group (Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, etc).
- H.D. was crucial to Robert Duncan.
- Rexroth published with the Objectivists.
- the Angries a group of post-war British writers with which the Beats are sometimes compared
- The Black Mountain poets (which John Cage was also associated with)
- The San Francisco Renaissance can be regarded as a separate movement of it’s own, with origins preceeding the beats.
Principal writings of the Beat Generation
- On the Road by Jack Kerouac (1957)
- Junky by William S. Burroughs(1953)
- Howl and other Poems by Allen Ginsberg (1956)
- Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs (1959)
- The First Third by Neal Cassady (1970)
- Minor Characters by Joyce Johnson (1983)
Some proto-beat writings
- The Town and the City* by Jack Kerouac (1950)
- Go by John Clellon Holmes (1952)
- Who Walk in Darkness by Chandler Brossard (1952)
- Flee the Angry Strangers by George Mandel (1952)