A) From the Beat Generation to the Beatniks
The Beat Generation's birth occurred in the 50's, in the USA., with an international context marked by the Second World War and, after it, by the Cold War. The USA was, at this time, engaged in an affirmation of its model, advocating its capitalist system represented, in the country, by a growing bourgeoispopulation and by a conservative society.
It is in this America that begins the literature, social, and cultural movement of the Beat Generation, from a four men's friendship: Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady , and William Burroughs. Their encounter took place between 1944 and 1946, in New York, and more exactly in the city of Greenwich Village, by the intervention of Lucien Carr, acharismatic character taken as a model by the bohemia who haunts the city's bars, and of Hal Chase, a student of Columbia University .
Jack Kerouac, native of Massachusetts, and French-speaking, is, in1944, a young man who, because of an accident, had to stop a sportive career and who devotes himself to writing. Writer too, Allen Ginsberg is the son of a poet and a communist activist, homosexualhe proclaims his marginality and his social exclusion as “poet, Jew, drug-addict, and queer”. Their meeting occurs in 1944, followed rapidly by William Burroughs' one, the principal speaker of Lucien Carr, who will fascinate them by his shady dandyism. In fact, the latter is the son of a manufacturer, who, fascinated by junkies, louts and criminal, gives up his bourgeois life in the Missouri tocome to New York, in order to associate with disreputable individuals. One of them is Herbert Huncke , a junkie, who initiates Burroughs to drug and brings in the future beats' life, the expression” to be beat” meaning for him “ to be damned”. The encounter with the fourth character of what will form the original heart of the Beat Generation, happens in 1994, thanks to Hal Chase who keeps intouch with a young ex-convict, Neal Cassady. The panting style of Cassady, with any punctuation, charmes Kerouac who sees in it the confirmation of his literary creed, according to which the first impulse is always the best. Cassady thus enters in the circle, becoming also Ginsberg's lover, the latter like Kerouac, detecting in his sentences, a natural rhythm close to the jazz's scanning.The term “Beat Generation” appears really in 1948, during a discussion between Clellon Holmes, a journalist and writer, and Jack Kerouac who is one of his friends. Kerouac lets the word get away, trying to define his group of friends. But for him, “beat” doesn't mean “broke”, “demolished” as for Huncke and Burroughs, it has a more religious signification. It means beatific, and we feel it, we fellit in the pounding of a really cool jazz. Clellon keeps the term and formalize it in a New York Time's article, on the 16th of November, and already doesn't talk of a group of writers, but defines an attitude: a movement is born.
Since the early 50's, the Beat Generation has been often out of place in the social and political context of the post-war's USA. The perfect American citizen, whomevery young beat refuses to become, is moulded by conformism, living a dull life, waymarked until the retirement. Every critic of the system is perceived as a dangerous subversion, and sometimes, in the Cold War's context, as an enemy manoeuvre. In 1950, senator McCarthy launched is anti-communism crusade. Every deviant act, every provocative dress, every original thought, is assimilated to antiAmerican activities. What's more, the atomic fear bears upon the society as McCarthy 's paranoia. So many reasons to feel “beat”, to withdraw on literature and explore other territories: if the outside world became unbearable, why doesn't turn inward, like so many poets before them, Shelley, Artaud, Rimbaud, Pound, proclaimed by the Beats as models.
About literature, the Beats have precisely...