A report on Beat Generation

Lawrence Ferlinghetti
A section devoted to the beat generation at a bookstore in Stockholm, Sweden

Literary movement started by a group of authors whose work explored and influenced American culture and politics in the post-war era.

- Beat Generation
Lawrence Ferlinghetti

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Blake in a portrait
by Thomas Phillips (1807)

William Blake

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English poet, painter, and printmaker.

English poet, painter, and printmaker.

Blake in a portrait
by Thomas Phillips (1807)
28 Broad Street (now Broadwick Street) in an illustration of 1912. Blake was born here and lived here until he was 25. The house was demolished in 1965.
The archetype of the Creator is a familiar image in Blake's work. Here, the demiurgic figure Urizen prays before the world he has forged. The Song of Los is the third in a series of illuminated books painted by Blake and his wife, collectively known as the Continental Prophecies.
Europe Supported by Africa and America engraving by William Blake
The cottage in Felpham, now Blake’s Cottage, where Blake lived from 1800 until 1803
'Skofeld' wearing "mind forged manacles" in Jerusalem The Emanation of the Giant Albion Plate 51
Sketch of Blake from circa 1804 by John Flaxman
Blake's The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with Sun (1805) is one of a series of illustrations of Revelation 12.
William Blake's image of the Minotaur to illustrate Inferno, Canto XII,12–28, The Minotaur XII
"Head of William Blake" by James De Ville. Life mask taken in plaster cast in September 1823, Fitzwilliam Museum.
Blake's The Lovers' Whirlwind illustrates Hell in Canto V of Dante's Inferno
Headstone in Bunhill Fields, London, erected on Blake's grave in 1927 and moved to its present location in 1964–65
Ledger stone on Blake's grave, unveiled in 2018
A memorial to William Blake in St James's Church, Piccadilly
God blessing the seventh day, 1805 watercolour
Blake's Ancient of Days, 1794. The "Ancient of Days" is described in Chapter 7 of the Book of Daniel. This image depicts Copy D of the illustration currently held at the British Museum.
The Night of Enitharmon's Joy, 1795; Blake's vision of Hecate, Greek goddess of black magic and the underworld
The Body of Abel Found by Adam and Eve, c. 1825. Watercolour on wood.
Blake's Newton (1795) demonstrates his opposition to the "single-vision" of scientific materialism: Newton fixes his eye on a compass (recalling Proverbs 8:27, an important passage for Milton) to write upon a scroll that seems to project from his own head.
Blake's Lot and His Daughters, Huntington Library, c. 1800
Blake's "A Negro Hung Alive by the Ribs to a Gallows", an illustration to J. G. Stedman's Narrative, of a Five Years' Expedition, against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam (1796)
The Ghost of a Flea, 1819–1820. Having informed painter-astrologer John Varley of his visions of apparitions, Blake was subsequently persuaded to paint one of them. Varley's anecdote of Blake and his vision of the flea's ghost became well-known.
William Blake's portrait in profile, by John Linnell. This larger version was painted to be engraved as the frontispiece of Alexander Gilchrist's Life of Blake (1863).
Memorial marking Blake's birthplace in Soho, City of Westminster

Blake had an enormous influence on the beat poets of the 1950s and the counterculture of the 1960s, frequently being cited by such seminal figures as beat poet Allen Ginsberg, songwriters Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, Van Morrison, and English writer Aldous Huxley.

Johnson at the 2007 Brooklyn Book Festival

Joyce Johnson (author)

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American author of fiction and nonfiction.

American author of fiction and nonfiction.

Johnson at the 2007 Brooklyn Book Festival

Living in the heart of the 1950s' Beat Movement, her works are very significant in portraying the life of women during the era where most of the time, women's voices were backgrounded in the stories written by the Beat male authors like Ginsberg, Burroughs, and Kerouac.

Naked Lens: Beat Cinema

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Naked Lens: Beat Cinema is a book by Jack Sargeant about the relationship between Beat culture and underground film.

Theatrical release poster

A Bucket of Blood

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1959 American comedy horror film directed by Roger Corman.

1959 American comedy horror film directed by Roger Corman.

Theatrical release poster
Carla and Leonard admire Walter's "sculpture", Dead Cat.

However, by setting the story in the Beat milieu of 1950s Southern California, Corman creates an entirely different mood from the earlier film.

King Crimson at the Sapporo Culture Arts Theatre in Japan, on December 2, 2018. From left to right: Pat Mastelotto, Tony Levin, Bill Rieflin, Jeremy Stacey, Jakko Jakszyk, Gavin Harrison and Robert Fripp (Mel Collins not shown)

King Crimson

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King Crimson are a progressive rock band formed in 1968 in London, England.

King Crimson are a progressive rock band formed in 1968 in London, England.

King Crimson at the Sapporo Culture Arts Theatre in Japan, on December 2, 2018. From left to right: Pat Mastelotto, Tony Levin, Bill Rieflin, Jeremy Stacey, Jakko Jakszyk, Gavin Harrison and Robert Fripp (Mel Collins not shown)
Band logo
Fripp performing in 1974
Later versions of Discipline featured this knotwork design by Steve Ball.
The band performing in 2003Left to right: Trey Gunn, Adrian Belew, and Robert Fripp (Pat Mastelotto is hidden)
Belew performing in 2006

The album had a linked theme of the Beat Generation and its writings, reflected in song titles such as "Neal and Jack and Me" (inspired by Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac), "Heartbeat" (inspired by Carolyn Cassady's "Heart Beat: My Life with Jack and Neal"), "The Howler" (inspired by Allen Ginsberg's "Howl") and "Waiting Man" (inspired by William Burroughs).

Vesuvio Cafe

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Historic bar in San Francisco, California, United States.

Historic bar in San Francisco, California, United States.

The bar was founded in 1948 by Henri Lenoir, and was frequented by a number of Beat Generation celebrities including Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Neal Cassady.

The Treachery of Images, by René Magritte (1929), featuring the declaration, "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" ("This is not a pipe")

Surrealism

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Cultural movement that developed in Europe in the aftermath of World War I in which artists depicted unnerving, illogical scenes and developed techniques to allow the unconscious mind to express itself.

Cultural movement that developed in Europe in the aftermath of World War I in which artists depicted unnerving, illogical scenes and developed techniques to allow the unconscious mind to express itself.

The Treachery of Images, by René Magritte (1929), featuring the declaration, "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" ("This is not a pipe")
Max Ernst, The Elephant Celebes, 1921
Cover of the first issue of La Révolution surréaliste, December 1924.
Yvan Goll, Surréalisme, Manifeste du surréalisme, Volume 1, Number 1, October 1, 1924, cover by Robert Delaunay
Giacometti's Woman with Her Throat Cut, 1932 (cast 1949), Museum of Modern Art, New York City
André Masson. Automatic Drawing. 1924. Ink on paper, 23.5 x 20.6 cm. Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Giorgio de Chirico, The Red Tower (La Tour Rouge), 1913, Guggenheim Museum
Max Ernst, L'Ange du Foyer ou le Triomphe du Surréalisme (1937), private collection.
Yves Tanguy Indefinite Divisibility 1942, Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York

Many writers from and associated with the Beat Generation were influenced greatly by Surrealists.

Most of the few known photos of Pynchon date from the mid-1950s, like this yearbook image of 1953.

Thomas Pynchon

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American novelist noted for his dense and complex novels.

American novelist noted for his dense and complex novels.

Most of the few known photos of Pynchon date from the mid-1950s, like this yearbook image of 1953.
Pynchon, age 16, in his high school senior portrait
Pynchon c. undefined1955
During his time as a US Navy sailor, Pynchon is believed to have served aboard the USS Hank during the Suez Crisis.
V. (1963)
Pynchon created the "muted post horn" as a symbol for the secret "Trystero" society in The Crying of Lot 49.
Gravity's Rainbow (1973)
Slow Learner (1984)
Pynchon depicted in The Simpsons episode "Diatribe of a Mad Housewife". His Simpsons appearances are some of the few occasions that Pynchon's voice has been broadcast in the media.

Pynchon explicitly acknowledges his debt to Beat Generation writers, and expresses his admiration for Jack Kerouac's On the Road in particular.

Sandman in 1997 at Mississippi Nights, St Louis, MO

Mark Sandman

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American singer, songwriter, musical instrument inventor, multi-instrumentalist and comic writer.

American singer, songwriter, musical instrument inventor, multi-instrumentalist and comic writer.

Sandman in 1997 at Mississippi Nights, St Louis, MO
Mark Sandman Square in Cambridge, MA (2008)

As a lyricist, Sandman was influenced by pulp fiction writer Jim Thompson, crime writer James Ellroy, and Beat poet/novelist Jack Kerouac.

Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, and Paul Simonon in concert with the Clash in 1980

The Clash

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English rock band formed in London in 1976 who were key players in the original wave of British punk rock.

English rock band formed in London in 1976 who were key players in the original wave of British punk rock.

Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, and Paul Simonon in concert with the Clash in 1980
The cover of London Calling.
Paul Simonon of the Clash performs at the Palladium, 20 September 1979. (Photo: S. Sherman)
Graffiti in Rijeka, Croatia commemorating Joe Strummer.

Though filled with offbeat songs, experiments with sound collage, and a spoken word vocal by Beat poet Allen Ginsberg, it contained two "radio friendly" tracks.