William S. Burroughs
Diane di Prima
John Clellon Holmes
William Carlos Williams
More to come...
Choose from the links at the
left to read brief biographies and included works from several
writers of the Beat Generation.
The Beats' identity
has as much to do with literary aesthetics as with their collective
biography. Their intertwining lives provided a basis for Beat
literature, and this can be seen in the work of William
S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg
and Jack Kerouac. They transformed
the details of every-day life, snatches of remembered conversations,
and personal friends into highly idiosyncratic narratives that
sometimes seemed to have been dictated from an uncensored consciousness.
Burroughs narrated his first years
of heroin addiction using a dry, spare "Factualist"
voice in Junky and a nightmarish black comic voice in
Naked Lunch. In a series of sometimes Benzedrine-driven
or marijuana-inspired writing bouts, Kerouac
set down in "spontaneous bop prosody" the picaresque
narrative of his life. His writing marathons resulted not only
in his most famous novel, On The Road, but in the continuing
epic of his life that he called "the Legend of Duluoz."
In his notable and notorious poem "Howl", Ginsberg
created the epic apologia of his generation. The lives, the legend,
and the literature begin to fuse.
The Beat fraternity, forged a decade before the world began to
glamourize it, provided their entry into the world of writing.
The intimate circle was both subject matter and audience - and,
because autobiography was transformed into art, the fictional
characters have lived on long after their prototypes died. This
collective of characters, both fictional and real, exemplifies
a pivotal paradigm in twentieth-century American literature:
finding the highest spirituality among the marginal and the dispossessed,
establishing the links between art and pathology, and seeking
truth in visions, dreams, and other non-rational states.
The Beats were not the first Americans to revolt against literary
tradition, nor were they the first to entwine their lives and
their art. Like their avant-garde forebears, who experimented
in every arena from dress to drugs to politics to sex, the Beats
conducted their lives in a state of countercultural experiment.*
be adding many more writers
from this period as I gather their information and examples of
their work. If there is a writer you'd like to see included on
the Beat Page, just e-mail your request.
Some of the material in these pages has been gathered from a
variety of sources, including the Internet. If something here
is inaccurate, please let me know. If anything on these pages
is in violation of any copyright or trademark laws, please let
me know and it will be removed or amended immediately. The material
is offered here as a show of appreciation for a generation of
great writers and to enlighten others to their work. This page
is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only.
Note: If you're interested in linking to The Beat Page go here.
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*From "The Birth of the
Beat Generation: Visionaries, Rebels, and Hipsters, 1944-1960"
by Steven Watson. Copyright 1995