The Beat generation
- The Beat generation was a current in America which grew up slowly in the late 40’s and exploded in the 50’s and 60’s.
- The movement began among a group of young people in the NY area centred on the novelist Jack Kerouac and the poets Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs.
- Other leading figures were Gary Sinder, Gregory Corso and Lawerence Ferlinghetti.
- The writers were rebelling against the dominant ethos of American life.
- They chose an alternative way of life and transgressed the accepted codes of morality of the time by various forms of deviant behaviour like hallucinogen drugs.
- The BEATS were wearing their hair long, growing beards, becoming trasgressively homosexual or bisexual.
- They were influenced by eastern religions and philosophy such as Zen, Buddhism and lived a simple life, in favour of a non-puritan, non conformist view of the family of love and friendship
- The movement is regarded as “an experiment in living and consciousness”.
- In 1964 the whole student protest movement began in California with the occupation of The University of Berkeley.
On the road
• Published in 1957, the autobiographical novel by Jack Kerouac, “On the Road” captured the spirit that was fermenting underneath the conformity of the 1950s. it is Kerouac’s best book ant the most influential of the BEAT GENERATION.
- The book was a overnight sensation:
Jack Kerouac was high on benzedrine and set down line after line without altering a word on a continuous roll of paper (nearly 35 meters long), so that his “trance“ would not be interrupted by inserting new pages in the typewriter.
- It is based on the lives of Jack Kerouac & his friends
At its centre there is:
─ Images of the road
─ The sense of America’s bigness
─ A way to escape from the cities and one’s own past.
• The book is a sort of travelogue
• Elements present in this book are:
─ The theme of travel itself
─ The group of people and the friends who shared the same purposes and values Jack Kerouac/Sal Paradise himself, who provides us whit a running commentary on people, places, and so on.
On the road: summary
The novel has not a real plot. There are a lot of elements that give story coherence.
It tells the story of the friendship between Sal Paradise, a young writer, and Dean Moriarty based on the real-life friend Neal Cassady.
Sal is the narrator and a self-portrait of the author. He likes Dean for his cowboy style, his ease with women and his exuberant joy in living Their friendship begins three years of restless journeys back and forth across the country either with each other or to reach each other, with a combination of bus rides and adventurous hitchhiking escapades.
Through all of this constant movement, there is a collection of colourful characters, shifting landscapes, dramas, and personal development.
Free rides, meeting and leaving friends, wild parties, picking up odd jobs and women, fleeting affairs, live jazz, these are some of the ingredients in the book.
The novel was written in a new form that the author called “spontaneous writing” which consisted in describing event exactly as they happened . he used to call his book “Vast novel” because it is based in autobiographical events.
I clearly saw
This poem has a particular layout; in fact, as we can see, it doesn’t follow the normal conventions of poetry, but it’s similar to Apollinaire’ s poems.
It can be divided into three parts, which have different length; there are some asterisks, which are useful, in order to highlight the different parts of this poem.
The last “stanza” of this poem is characterized by brevity, because each sentence consists of a subject and a verb (e.g. Dogs cough, men die, books lie)
This poem deals with a particular feeling, that’s to say the sense of futility of human beings’ lives, but, even if the poet doesn’t accept this situation, he knows that it is necessary: people should become aware of this.