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Beat Generation facts for kids

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The Beat Generation was a movement of writers, poets, and artists during the 1950s and 1960s, who liked the beat of jazz and bebop music, which became a kind of soundtrack to much of their lives and work. People associated with the movement were called "Beats", or sometimes "Beatniks", a reference to Communism. (A few Beats supported Communism, but most did not.) The term came from novelist Jack Kerouac, who was sometimes called "The King of the Beats". Other Beat writers were William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg.

Significant places

Columbia University

The origins of the Beat Generation can be traced to Columbia University and the meeting of Kerouac, Ginsberg, Carr, Hal Chase and others. Kerouac attended Columbia on a football scholarship. Though the beats are usually regarded as anti-academic, many of their ideas were formed in response to professors like Lionel Trilling and Mark Van Doren. Classmates Carr and Ginsberg discussed the need for a "New Vision" (a term borrowed from W. B. Yeats), to counteract what they perceived as their teachers' conservative, formalistic literary ideals.

Greenwich Village

Beat writers and artists flocked to Greenwich Village in New York City in the late 1950s because of low rent and the "small town" element of the scene. Folksongs, readings and discussions often took place in Washington Square Park. Allen Ginsberg was a big part of the scene in the Village, as was Burroughs, who lived at 69 Bedford Street.

Literary legacy

Among the emerging novelists of the 1960s and 1970s, a few were closely connected with Beat writers, most notably Ken Kesey (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest). Though they had no direct connection, other writers considered the Beats to be a major influence, including Thomas Pynchon (Gravity's Rainbow) and Tom Robbins (Even Cowgirls Get the Blues).

Rock and pop music

The Beats had a pervasive influence on rock and roll and popular music, including the Beatles, Bob Dylan and Jim Morrison. The Beatles spelled their name with an "a" partly as a Beat Generation reference, and John Lennon was a fan of Jack Kerouac. The Beatles even put Beat writer William S. Burroughs on the cover of their album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Ginsberg later met and became friends of members of the Beatles, and Paul McCartney played the drums, guitar, Hammond organ, and maracas on Ginsberg's album Ballad of the Skeletons.

Ginsberg was a close friend of Bob Dylan and toured with him on the Rolling Thunder Revue in 1975. Dylan cites Ginsberg and Kerouac as major influences.

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Generación beat para niños

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