Leaders of the Beat Movement, like Ginsberg and Kerouac, among others, moved to San Francisco in mid-1950s. Only fourteen miles from San Francisco lay University of California at Berkeley, allowing the growing Beat population to mingle with the youth of the area. The Six Gallery reading held in the city allowed five Beat writers, including Snyder and Ginsberg, to present their recent work on October 7, 1955. The event, considered the first public manifestation of the Beat Generation, allowed for the media to acknowledge the rising movement. By mid-1960, The New York Times wrote, “To university students all over the world today, Allen Ginsberg is a kind of culture hero.” The topics of the Beats had fascinated the youth culture in America.
World War Ⅱ impacted American society in many and varied ways. However, there was one shining light in the forest of darkness and depression, The Beat Generation. No one could ever have guessed that a group of men could have created one of the most iconic cultural rebellion in American history for decades to come. The Beat Generation started out with only four people the iconic Jack Kerouac, his best friend and novel inspiration Neal Cassady, the older but wise William S. Burroughs, and Kerouac’s other close friend and writer of Howl a piece of poetry that first shaped the culture of the U.S. in the late 1950s and early 1960s Allen Ginsberg. No one had more recognition with The Beat Generation than Jack Kerouac who wrote On the Road which was the single most important novel that made the epitome of the Beat Generation, and even though the Beat Generation did face criticism toward the way they saw America they never even thought about giving up, and nothing helped shape the Beats
There is not an accurate way to describe this time period because of the many changes that happened every few years. Most of these changes occurred during the Beat Generation. The Beat Generation was a movement where people put their own views of literature and culture into their own works (“The Beat Generation” 1). One example of a major change that happened in this time period is how literature was written, and how people reacted to it. Before the Beat Generation, most books were written for entertainment or education and were not through provoking.
Literature is an interesting way of viewing American society. After WWII the new American Poetry emerged, and one of the poetic movements was the Beat Generation. The Beat Generation, of which Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso were prominent members, was a group of students from Colombia University in New York City. They rejected materialism, followed Eastern spirituality like Buddhism, they were often homosexual so they stood for alternative forms of sexuality, and freedom from societal constraints. These poets went against mainstream culture, their drive was counterculture, and they believed that if there is conformity people have to be against it.
The name was coined by writer Jack Kerouac in 1948 to characterize a perceived underground, anti-conformist youth movement that originated in New York (Morgan, 2003:32). This new movement stressed about the importance of spirituality and spontaneity as well as asserting intuition of reason and Eastern mysticism over conventional Western institutionalized religion (Barbour, 1996). The “Beats” as they referred to themselves as, intentionally went out their way to question and challenge the patterns of respectability as well as shock the rest of the American culture. The writers of the beat generation displayed a sense of freedom as they often lacked traditional structure and form. A famous piece of literature from the beat generations was the novel written by author Jack Kerouac called On the Road.
In many aspects, the era from 1940 to 1960 were the United States' golden age, and the American dream pictured at this time is still very present in the way we see America today. It is also a time were young people, as embodied by James Dean in Rebel without a cause, are lost, a bit rebellious, and looking for a meaning to life. In literature, this mindset is at the core of the Beat Generation. As a response to the expanding consuming society of the time and its materialism, the authors of, lead by Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs or Jack Kerouac reject the traditional way of writing and their narative, and instead portray the raw reality of humanity, explore America and look for a spiritual answer to life. Kerouac's On the road, published in 1957, was written in the span of three weeks in april 1951.
The Beat Generation of the 1950’s and early 1960’s encouraged a new lifestyle for young Americans striving for individualism and freedom, which included rock and roll music, long hair, relaxed style attire, vegetarianism, and experimenting with drugs (“Beat Movement”). Many young Americans of this era wanted to experiment with new social and cultural concepts, rebelling against “normal” American life. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, written by Ken Kesey, portrays the gruesomeness of conformity through the lives of patients in one of the asylum’s wards. The novel shows how the patients are confined to strict rules and limited freedom because of Nurse Ratched’s power. The Beat Generation wanted change because of this conformity, by rebelling against the rules and structure of society.
In their works it is shown that the practice of homosexuality was common and not frowened upon in their circle. Allen Ginsberg was one of the most well known Beat writers and the most known homosexual in the Beat Generation. In his poem “ Howl” , he destroyed some of the gay sterotypes and made it a celebration of this sexual oriention. The poem proved his homoerotic imaginary and it dealt with a lot of censorship battles. „..who howled on their knees in the subway and were dragged off the roof waving genitals and manuscripts, / who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists, and screamed with joy .
Poet Allen Ginsburg was born in New Jersey to an English teacher. This fact likely influenced him as did Walt Whitman, jazz music and drugs. Ginsburg attended college at Columbia University. Here he created a team of writers that later contributed to the beat movement. This movement was characterized by freedom and breaking away from mainstream life, influences include: drugs, jazz, sexuality and eastern religion.