The Beat Generation on the Web

Posted by Speakeasy News > Friday 02 September 2016 > Webpicks

The Beat Generation exhibition at the Paris Pompidou Centre looks at the legacy of these anti-conformist writers from the 1940s-1960s. It fits well into a lycée theme on Mythes et héros or L'idée de progrès. Or in LELE, the themes Voyage, parcours initiatique, exil or L'écrivain dans son siècle.

See our article about the exhibition.

It is worth bearing in mind that the Beat Generation was certainly influential, and to some extent has now been absorbed into the mainstream (there is Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University in Colorado), its main proponents were very self-destructive. William Burroughs accidentally shot his wife dead while (as usual) on drugs. Jack Kerouac died aged 47, of liver failure due to alcoholism, in 1969. We would suggest pointing students to specific contents rather than ask them to do general research.

The Academy of American Poets has an informative brief guide to the Beat poets, and more detailed entries on the different members.

The website of the American Beat Museum in California isn't regularly updated but has biographies of all the major members of the movement.

This site is run by Allen Ginsberg's estate since his death in 1997.

Jack Kerouac was born in Lowell, Massachusetts to French-Canadian parents, and this site is dedicated to him by the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. The audio section has a number of extracts of Burroughs and Ginsburg discussing Kerouac's work, and short snippet of Kerouac himself. And the links section has links to various interesting videos.

The 2013 film Kill Your Darlings, starring Daniel Radcliffe as Ginsberg, gives an interesting glimpse of the genesis of the movement, when William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg met at New York's Columbia University.

On the Road was adapted as a film in 2012.