The Beat movement that was formed in the late 1940s in the United States and has gained acknowledgement in the 1950s is one of the most important and well-known literary trends that have been in the 20th century in the United States. Modern literary critics consider the beat generation in various guises and forms: as writers existentialists, immoral persons, romantic, apolitical people and bohemians; the most accurate, according to one of the researchers, is to consider the Beat Generation as a motto or symbol of the revolution of American morals.
This literary trend and the three most famous representative of this trend: William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg had an incredible impact on the development of American literature and culture in the 20th century. However, there is the question of these three writers was the most important figure for the development of Beat Generation? And why this person had a greater impact on the development of a bit of movement than other writers?
In my opinion, such a person is a poet Allen Ginsberg. It was he, and his work such as Howl had the greatest influence on the development of this trend. Also worth noting that Ginsberg was more involved in the political process, and promoted more bits movement in society. It should also be noted that Ginsberg was more socially active than Burroughs and Kerouac and thus also gave more popular new trend by taking part in various processes. As an integral part of promoting the ideas of bit generation became scandalous cases involving Ginsberg and his political position.
So let’s analyze what actions and events have made Ginsberg the most significant person in the history of the Beat Generation. Also, let’s analyze how the Beat movement has appeared and what preconditions were in the biography of Ginsberg that he has become such significant person in the literature.
The Beat Generation is the name of a group of American writers who worked on the prose and poetry. Bit-generation has influenced the cultural consciousness of its contemporaries from the mid-1940s and has gained acknowledgement in the late 1950s. The term "Beat Generation" appeared in 1948 and term was coined by Jack Kerouac, that should characterized the non-conformist youth movement and underground in New York, that grew from virtually disappeared at the time of the "lost generation." Beatniks and The Beats are also stereotype of the media that was used in the 1950s - 1960s to designate representatives of the Beat movement. The term Beatnik was coined by San Francisco journalist Herb Caen said that “I coined the word "beatnik" simply because Russia's Sputnik was aloft at the time and the word popped out.”
The term "Beat" was proposed in 1958 as a journalist, "San Francisco Chronicle" Herb Caen and based on prevailing in American society perceptions of typical mid XX century social formation of young people, is characterized by antisocial behavior and rejection of traditional cultural values of the nation.
Beat generation began to take shape in the early 1940s in student circles at Columbia University, where Lucien Carr introduced Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs that later became the main representatives of the "Beat generation."
Among the principal authors of the flow were already mentioned writers as: Burroughs, Kerouac, poet Ginsberg, and other writers like: Gregory Corso, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, Diane di Prima, Philip Whalen, Philip Lamantia, Leroy Jones, Bob Kaufman, Robert Creeley and Robert Duncan. The most famous examples of literature of the Beat Generation are: poem "Howl," written by Ginsberg in 1956, the novel "On the Road," written by Kerouac in 1957 and "The Naked Lunch" written by Burroughs in 1959. At sunset of the Beat generation in the late 1960s, the majority of this group underwent a transformation in to the hippie movement, although some of its members have joined other political currents of the time.
The first version of "On the Road" by Kerouac was finished in 1951 after three weeks of continuous work, typing on a typewriter for twenty-one days of 125 thousand words. According to the stories of Kerouac, he has frustrated by the need to always insert into the typewriter clean sheets. Then he glued a plurality of sheets of Japanese paper and used to get 147-meter roll for continuous printing. After he ended typing he has begun long negotiations with the publisher.
Ginsberg was born into a Jewish family. Ginsberg's childhood passed in Paterson, New Jersey. Immediately after his birth, his mother began to show signs of schizophrenia, she was tormented by phobia if persecution, she repeatedly committed suicide attempts. However, she only trusted Allen, who had influence on her. Since childhood, he has read a lot. His favorite poets were Walt Whitman, William Blake, Guillaume Apollinaire, Thomas Stearns Eliot, Ezra Pound. He was a shy, troubled teenager, that early realized his homosexual identity.
In 1943 he entered Columbia University in the Faculty of Law, at the insistence of his father and under the influence of mother, to become a lawyer and defend the interests of workers. In the University Ginsberg has studied in a group of Lucien Carr who introduced him to the bohemian environment of the Columbia University, acquainted with William Burroughs on Christmas Day of 1943, and in early 1944 with Jack Kerouac. For a while Ginsberg has lived with Kerouac and Burroughs in a common apartment. In July 1945 Ginsberg went to 4-month course in Commercial and Maritime Academy in Brooklyn (New York), during the 1946-1947 swam for 7 months on the vessel to the coast of Africa.
In early 1947 he met Neal Cassady, who came to New York and joined in their environment, which Kerouac in 1948 called «Beat Generation». In 1947, Allen resumed his education at Columbia University, and in 1948 he became a Bachelor of Arts. In the summer of 1948 in his apartment in Harlem, New York, during reading poems of William Blake, Ginsberg had the hallucination he thought that he realized the essence of eternity and hear the voice of God. This time he considered as a key moment in his life. The vision appeared Ginsberg for the next 15 years he lived with a sense of the creative rise. However, he also stated “Nobody knows whether we were catalysts or invented something, or just the froth riding on a wave of its own. We were all three, I suppose.”
After graduating from Columbia University, Allen worked for a time in New York. The events of the time described in Kerouac novels “On the Road” and “Vision of Cody.”
In 1954 Ginsberg moved to California, where has gained strength San Francisco Poetry Renaissance. Poetic bohemian gathering place in San Francisco recently became bookshop «City Lights» Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who in 1954 first time encountered with the environment of the Beat Generation in New York. Ginsberg made one of connected links between poetic environments of New York and San Francisco and ideas of the Beat Generation penetrate the West Coast. In 1954, he met with poets Snyder and Peter Orlovsky in «City Light», the latter has become his partner has lived with him until his death.
First time attention to the Beat generation was caught in the readings in the Six Gallery in San Francisco called North Beach on October, 7 1955. Readings were held in a former auto repair shop. The event was organized by Kenneth Rexroth to promote young artists such as Ginsberg, McClure, Lamantia, Snyder, Kerouac and Whaley. Not all of the speakers were previously familiar, which makes reading in the Six Gallery is also particularly important for the formation of the Beat generation event. In addition, here for the first time in the history of this movement it has included political motive - readings were designed to show the position of the city against the actions of the Commission on Un-American Activities and support the growing movement for Berkeley free speech. According to some modern researchers that reading in the Six Gallery were living proof that policy of McCarthyism has failed to score the final nail in the coffin of the First Amendment to the Constitution.
This event brought together about one hundred and fifty people, but precisely to reconstruct the events of what happened is difficult; McClure version presented in the book «Scratching The Beat Surface», Kerouac - in "The Dharma Bums". The first spoke Rexroth, and presented to the participants of the action guests; further microphone was handed Lamantia, he was the only one who has previously performed in public, who presented the material authored by his friend John Hoffman, recently died from an overdose of peyote.
Penultimate performed the twenty-nine years old Ginsberg, whose works at the time were unpublished and have never taken part in poetry readings. "Howl" was written by him just a few weeks before this reading in the Six Gallery because no one has ever heard of the text of the work and did not read it. Speaking, Ginsberg has read lines of the poem as a Jewish cantor, caught peeping into text and pronouncing each new line in one breath. Visitors that were present in the gallery were dumbfounded. Upon completion of reading of the first part of the poem, (because the rest had not yet been written), Rexroth was in tears, Ginsberg left the stage to loud applause and he made a good start its future poetic career.
Snyder that closed these readings limited reading of excerpts from one of his poems. Kerouac that by that time was already pretty drunk did not read anything. These readings has also approved the format that in the future will be common to all public reading in the beat poetry - performances in the style of bebop representations, often sharing the stage with jazz musicians.
Ferlinghetti, who was present among the guests on the readings, immediately became interested in "Howl" and a year later became his first publisher. After the publication the consignment of books was seized by the police, the poem was declared the "indecent" and Ferlinghetti was arrested. Nine witnesses from the San Francisco literary society testified in favor of the poem, denoting its social significance. During the trial, on October 3, 1957 Judge Clayton R. Horn said that the poem is quite decent and "Howl" was allowed by court order to print and from the publisher were acquitted of all charges. This trial was not only an important event in the struggle for freedom of speech, but also attracted additional public attention to the beat generation.
"Howl" is poem written by Allen Ginsberg, one of the most famous works of Beat Generation. Moreover, in my opinion this poem is the most significant work of the beat generation. Publication of the poem is considered a turning point in the history of modern literature, birthday of the new American poetry with free expression, sexual liberalism and other values that decade later become the cornerstone of the US counterculture.
Kevin O'Sullivan called the emergence of "Howl" revolutionary event for American poetry; Paul Carroll marked "a milestone generation". Mr. Snyder said that the poem is a "heavy list, but Ginsberg reading aloud somehow managed to lift it - so that it hovered over the heads of the audience gracefully, like a kite." Its publication in 1956 bombshell - such reaction it has caused in society. Modern critics have called "Howl" one of the most influential works of Beat Generation.
On October 30, 1956 at the poetry evening in Los Angeles Ginsberg first made male striptease that shocked the public and caused a scandal in the press. Thanks to his aggressive self-promotion is largely made possible further phenomenon popular writers «Beat Generation». In the spring of 1957 Allen Ginsberg traveled with Peter Orlovsky to Tangier, where he was William Burroughs, who worked on the novel «Naked Lunch» («Naked Lunch"), and Jack Kerouac. Later «Howl» was recognized as the best work of Allen Ginsberg and the most popular poetic works of American literature of the XX century; it has been translated into many languages.
Involuntarily Allen Ginsberg, through his numerous contacts with beatniks, began to consider leader of the movement, although he has not made such ambitions. In 1959, he and Bob Kaufman took part in organizing the magazine Beatitude, which was planned as the main mouthpiece of beatniks. Journal has proceeded until 1961, then was the 8-year break, after which he resumed in 1969-1987 years.
In 1961 published a collection «Kaddish and Other Poems», which was the second important book Ginsberg and collection “Empty Mirror: Early Poems.” His creative method followed Walt Whitman and Jewish sacred texts and was based on the principle of "directory" re-count, in order to capture elusive emotions and anticipation. In 1963 he published his book “Reality Sandwiches”.
Unlike Kerouac, Ginsberg has supported start of a new wave of the hippie counterculture that arose in San Francisco. Soon Ginsberg became the idol of young people and a counterculture guru proclaiming the slogan “Flower Power”.
Burroughs' novel "Naked Lunch" also caused a storm of criticism and two trials. The second one started on January 12, 1965 in Boston. Among the defenders were invited Ginsberg and Norman Mailer. The long trial ended on July, 7 1966 Ginsberg spoke for over an hour at court. As a result, the novel was recognized artistic and that had social value.
In 1967 Ginsberg was arrested during anti-war demonstrations in New York. In October of the same year he was again arrested for participating in the march of pacifists and hippies in Washington. Next year Ginsberg among 35 writers opposed the arrest of dissidents in the Soviet Union. Their letter was published on March 14, 1968, and then in the Soviet Union his works were banned. In August 1968 Ginsberg was re-arrested during the riots in Chicago during the election of the national Democratic Convention. Later he spoke in defense of the organizers of the riots in the trial (trial "Chicago Seven").
For the collection «The Fall of America», published in 1972 Ginsberg was awarded the National Book Award. In the early 1980s, Ginsberg became interested in the new counterculture movement punks, acting jointly with the punk band The Clash. In 1994, Stanford University bought for $ 1 million personal archive of Ginsberg. About half the amount he commanded to Peter Orlovsky and the rest given to the needs of beatniks- poets.
The film, the main topics of which were read in the Six Gallery and trial of "Howl", was released in the US on 21, January, 2010. Directors of the movie were Americans R. Epstein and D. Friedman. The role of the young Ginsberg performed the actor James Franco. The film entered the competition program of the 60th Berlin Film Festival and "opened" Sundance Film Festival. The film received mostly positive reviews. Paintings directors praised by critics New York Magazine, The New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle.
Thus, summarizing all the mentioned above it should be stated that Ginsberg was the most significant person among the writers of the Beat generation. He was most significant because of his contribution into the development of the Beat movement. There are several facts that can prove this statement. As there were mentioned above Ginsberg was involved in political life of the country.
The first readings in the Gallery Six were made as the literature reaction of the progressive-minded society to the policy of McCarthyism and in support of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. Moreover, despite of Kerouac Ginsberg has supported the movement of hippies, and their slogans against the War in Vietnam.
These examples show to us that Ginsberg has an integral part of the progressive-minded society and that he really was the adept of the ideals of the Beat movement. Also, it should be stated that his works has impacted not only the Brat movement, but also the whole American literature. The fact that he was awarded for National Book Award and acknowledgements of the critics of his works such as acknowledgement of his poem “Howl” on trial is also the proof of his significance. Also, one of the key roles in the development of the Beat Movement has played scandals with his participation that captured attention in society and has helped to promote the Beat movement.
Thus, after analyzing all the facts that were mentioned above it can be stated that Ginsberg has made a significant impact on the Beat generation and the whole American literature. This is why the Ginsberg is most prominent person among the other representatives of the Beat of movement.
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