Greenwich Village in New York drew in many Beat artists and writers because of the low rent payments and the “small town element”. It was here that the artists could freely express their creativity and nonconforming standards. Frequent visits to the local bars, involvement in criminal activity and befriending drug addicts were all part of the Village culture. It was the Beatniks who would inspire the hippie movement in the 60s.

 

Ginsburg and Burroughs, like a number of other Beat writers, were openly gay or bisexual and this features in their respective works. Ginsburg’s poem Howl mentions homosexual sex and Burroughs’s Naked Lunch deals with same-sex relationships. Both works were prosecuted unsuccessfully for obscenity, with victory by the publishers helping to prevent the further censoring of literature in the United States. Kerouac’s work was seen as grossly inappropriate at the time as he openly mentions the bisexuality of Neal Cassady, a Beatnik who had a love affair with Ginsburg and became the focus in Kerouac’s novel On the Road, however today the content is seen as mild.

 

The Beat Generation influenced many great musicians of the 20th century including The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed and Jim Morrison of The Doors, who cited Jack Kerouac as one of his biggest influences. William Burroughs worked with Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, rock band R.E.M and Bono of U2 in the 80s as there seemed to be a revival of Beat interest. Surprisingly, very few novelists from later generations can be closely connected with the Beat writers. Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1962) is one of the most notable of these works.

 

The Beat Generation inspired a new way of thinking, speaking and dressing in the youth and so drew a lot of criticism as it gave an excuse for the youth to rebel. However, their influences can still be seen today, as they were some of the most artful revolutionaries of the 20th century.

Website | view posts