Entertainment On the Road, The beat generation from books to film
“The beat generation is one of the founding fathers of the counter culture revolution in the US. Built on the back of Jazz music and spearheaded by a selection of writers, the beat generation aimed to break with social conformity and focus instead on uninhibited forms of creative expression.”
The beat generation is one of the founding fathers of the counter culture revolution in the US. Built on the back of Jazz music and spearheaded by a selection of writers, the beat generation aimed to break with social conformity and focus instead on uninhibited forms of creative expression. Writers like Jack Kerouac in his continuous prose style On the Road (1957), Allen Ginsburg in Howl (1956), and William Burroughs' Naked Lunch (1959) were all instrumental in the beatnik lifestyle. However, there were many more that were at the forefront of the generation divide, including Neal Cassidy and Lucien Carr.
Formed in the heart of New York at Columbia University, the group came together in their dislike of formal and antiquated modes of creative expression and posited the invention of the American counter culture revolution.
The beatniks at Columbia had a number of key trials and tribulations, but the tumultuous lifestyle of the beat generation is not necessarily their ultimate legacy. Their true legacy lies in their words, and it was the words of Jack Kerouac that coined the term "beat" as a reworking of the negative inflections associated with being beat, which was in common usage at the time, to the more positive.
Allen Ginsburg's Howl is one of the first published works by the beat generation. A poem of short and simple sentences, Howl is considered to be one of the great beats generation literatures, including The Naked Lunch and On the Road. It was published alongside other poems entitled Howl and Other Poems as a part of San Francisco's City Lights Bookstore's Pocket Poets series. Though it was subject to obscenity trials in 1957, Judge Clayton Horn went on to fin the poem without obscenity, leaving the prosecution with a negative sum result of both losing the trial and granting news and notoriety to Ginsburg, Howl and the City Lights Bookstore. Howl, alongside the story of the obscenity trials, has recently been adapted as a film starring Spider-Man's James Franco.
The next great beat work to be published was Jack Kerouac's On the Road. It's a perfect encapsulation of the ideas behind the beat movement. It brings together an absorbing continuous pros style, an insight into the burgeoning racial non-conformity with a mixed race relationship and the roman a clef characterization of the other members of the beats generation. Documenting the wild journeys across America, it highlights Kerouac's fascination with larger than life characters, roving adventures and the freedom to explore. The On the Road film will be released later in 2011, continuing the legacy left by Kerouac.
The final of the three great beat publications is William Burroughs' Naked Lunch. A series of short stories with loosely interlinking plot and characters, Naked Lunch was an alter ego release for Burroughs' own experiences in the US, Mexico and Tangiers and his addiction to drugs. Once again, a film adaptation was released called Naked Lunch, taking in the vignette based novel, as well as other writing by Burroughs.
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Author - Tuppence Maranovna
Tags - the beats generation, the beat generation, film, on the road
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