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Beat Generation

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The term Beat Generation refers primarily to a group of American writers of the 1950s whose work strongly influenced the cultural transformations of the 1960s. The principal works of the movement are considered to be Jack Kerouac's On the Road (1957), Allen Ginsberg's 'Howl' (1956), and William S. Burroughs's Naked Lunch (1959).

The phrase was introduced by Jack Kerouac in approximately 1948 to describe his social circle to the novelist John Clellon Holmes (who published an early novel about the Beat Generation, titled Go, in 1952, along with a manifesto of sorts in the New York Times Magazine: "This is the beat generation"). The adjective "beat" (introduced to the group by Herbert Huncke) had the connotations of "tired" or "down and out", but Kerouac added the paradoxical connotations of "upbeat", "beatific", and the musical association of being "on the beat".


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