The Beat Generation of America Essay

2258 Words10 Pages
The Beat Generation of America

"But then they danced down the street like dingledoolies, and I shambled after as I’ve been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles, exploding like spiders across the starts, and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’" (Kerouac 9)

"Burn, burn, burn," says Kerouac, and that is what the Beats were all about. From the all-night, smoke-filled jazz clubs of the Lower East Side of Manhattan, to the trendy bars of
…show more content…
Starting as a group of friends from Columbia University, they eventually came to be known as the Beats. Led by Jack Kerouac, this group included such artists as Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Bill Burroughs, Neal Cassady, and many others. They came from all walks of life. Kerouac was the only surviving son of a French-Canadian family who moved to America in the 1920's. His father ran a print shop, but they often found themselves moving from house to house in Lowell, Massachusetts where they lived. Where they moved depended on whether they were prospering at the time, or suffering due to Leo Kerouac’s (Jack’s father) gambling problems. Burroughs came from a well to do family in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, to whom he would often turn throughout his years to bail him out of tough times financially, or legally. They came from all parts of America. Neal Cassady was himself an import coming to New York from Colorado. But they had one thing in common: their desire to live. They expressed this in various ways, some of which were positive, and some of which were negative.

These men and women were far from being the angels that some in history make them out to be. Various aspects of their lives demonstrate this. First, the use of drugs among the members of this group was rampant. Benzedrine (speed), morphine, marijuana, and alcohol were the most widely used. Bill Burroughs, author of And the Hippos Were Boiled in their Tanks, was

More about The Beat Generation of America Essay

Get Access