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date: 14 June 2024

Kerouac, Jacklocked

Kerouac, Jacklocked

  • Ian Bickford

Extract

Jack Kerouac, along with Allen Ginsberg (1926–1997) and William S. Burroughs (1914–1997), was an inaugural figure in the group of writers and artists known as the Beat Generation. In fact, it was Kerouac who appropriated the term “Beat” from the down-and-out New York underworld and used it to define the simultaneous exhilaration and despair of American youth coming to adulthood during World War II. Early on, the Beats were defined more by an attitude than an artistic movement, a hip and usually masculine posture; eventually, though, as Kerouac and his friends began to join in a coherent set of literary ideas, to be Beat was to display an intellectual genius and spiritual radiance stemming from the difficulty of living in a volatile era. Kerouac's prose and poetry were vital in shaping the urgently experimental style that came to define the Beat writers. He was also important as a major personality in the mid-century social revolution and has often been called “King of the Beats” for his role in prompting a revision of his generation's cultural priorities.

Subjects

  • North American Literatures

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