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Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg And The Beat Generati

2601 words - 10 pages

Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and the Beat Generation Jean-Louis Lebris de Kerouac (Jack Kerouac) and Irwin Allen Ginsberg (Allen Ginsberg) were the chief literary figures of the 1950?s. Using a revolutionary approach to writing, Kerouac and Ginsberg formed a literary movement, called the Beat Generation, that continues to influence readers, writers, and movie-makers today (Waxman 8).The word ?beat? would typically be defined as weary or exhausted. However, Kerouac and Ginsberg brought new meaning to the word. To them, Beat symbolized ?their rejection of the rigid intellectualism of literature,? and the seemingly endless political conflicts of the time. They were writing at the tail end of crisis WWII and the Cold War. They saw literature as something that could heal our society. They wrote with a truly avant-garde attitude (Waxman 8).Kerouac and Ginsberg believed in a ?spiritual search for a new vision?, which they sought through Buddhism, drugs, and jazz. They wrote of their experiences, influenced by such authors as Thomas Wolfe, William Carlos Williams, Kenneth Rexworth, William Blake, and Walt Whitman (Waxman 8). As Allen Ginsberg explains, ?we were able to be candid at a time when candor was not a feature of American life? (qtd. in Waxman).(2) Kerouac and Ginsberg met in 1944 in New York at Kerouac?s girlfriend?s apartment. Ginsberg, a seventeen year old attending Columbia University, referred to Kerouac as a ?big jock who was sensitive and intelligent about poetry? (qtd. in Amburn 82). However, Kerouac reacted to Ginsberg very differently saying he ?wanted to punch him in the mouth? (qtd. in Amburn 82). By both being part of an intimate circle of friends, however, their relationship grew through reading, drinking, intellectual discussion. Ginsberg and Kerouac became close friends?little did they know they would later become literary icons of the Beat Generation. As biographer Barry Miles states, Kerouac was the ?King of the Beats?, while Ginsberg could be referred to as the leading apostle (Kerouac ix).A mutual friend, Neal Cassady, was a strong influence on both Kerouac and Ginsberg. Kerouac met Cassady in 1946 through Hal Chase, another Beat friend from Columbia University. After reading letters from Cassady to Chase, Kerouac and Ginsberg were excited to meet the soon-to-be Beat legend. (Clark 73). Immediately, Kerouac fell in love with Cassady. As biographer Dennis McNally said ?he was the embodiment of Jack?s American dream? (89). He even used Cassady as a character in his second and fourth novels, On the Road and Visions of Cody. Kerouac quickly introduced Cassady to Ginsberg. They hit it off so well that (Ginsberg being a homosexual and Cassady being bisexual) they became lovers (Tytell 86).Another important character in relation to Kerouac and Ginsberg?s success and partnership was William Burroughs. He served as a mentor and father figure to Kerouac and Ginsberg, introducing them to the works of Spengler, Nietzsche, and Celine. In...

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