absolute garbage. a time in which an author's personal reputation counted for far more than their work, even by today's standards. check out Ken Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion, and that's pretty much the only good book it ever produced.
It's pretty cool - I greatly enjoyed Ginsberg's Howl when I was younger, around eighteen, and Burroughs is still one of my favourite writers and I'd easily recommend anything he wrote. Haven't read much by the others, Corso's Bomb was interesting and wild and Kerouac I always felt disconnected to.
Mostly self-indulgent garbage that won't stand the test of time into the 21st century. Kerouac seemed like he was honestly a very nice person but almost all of his books are trash. I remember thinking Visions of Gerard was a sweet little book but it would pass better as children's literature.
Allen Ginsberg was a total fraud, though I think he knew that and didn't give a shit. Howl is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get poem. There's not much, if any, depth to it. Unlike Whitman who was a very well read man and whose Song of Myself is a fruitful read both for novices and experts up to Harold Bloom's level, Howl doesn't lend itself to rereads. None of Ginsberg's stuff does.
Burroughs had nothing really to say, but I do think the whole cutup thing with Gysin, while really dumb, was kind of cool. I would never admit that in real life of course.
That said, those who were influenced by the beats, but aren't grouped with them, are usually pretty good. Thomas Pynchon is one. William Gaddis was certainly a beat, though nobody considers him one because he actually took literature seriously. Brion Gysin was really only affiliated with Burroughs but I read his book The Process a while ago and was surprised at how decent it was. Reads like a Beat book without the self-indulgence, and well-written.
But overall it's good that literature got it out of its system. Beat culture was a shallow phenomenon. A logical progression from the optimistic modernist influence of Auden and co. but nothing that will really survive.
>>7619790 Care to explain why you think that? What in Dharma Bums, for instance, gives you the impression that Kerouac thought he was writing something profound, that would be remembered down the ages?
>>7619850 >Burroughs had nothing really to say He was more of a mentor and compiler more than anything. Plus there's a plethora of musicians and artists influenced by both him and Gysin. Without Burroughs there would be no Throbbing Gristle, arguably one of the most influential groups of that time.
kerouac's reputation and fame greatly detracts from his credentials, it sucks and is so unfair
proust aside, there is simply not a stretch of works in manyy other writers' bibliographies as good as on the road, the subterranneans, the dharma bums, desolation angels, and big sur. read together, they are the american masterpiece of the 20th century
if you want the abbreviated kerouac experience, find the original scroll of on the road, where he is younger and full of vitality, and then big sur, where he's an old doomgazing broken down alcoholic and it's almost amazing under the circumstances that he even finished
>>7620241 I love it and have read it frequently in the past six years, but i have to say that you can't read the edited version. That's where everyone goes wrong with him, they read the edited novel version, which is simply not what he wrote. You need the original scroll for anything close to the real experience.
It's probably my favorite of his, but I'm never out of Kerouac. He has a great posthumous volume of papers, poetry, sketches, and early stories from when he was like 15-24 called Atop an Underwood. I feel that the reader of that gets the best picture of Kerouac the living, striving human, and I love it for that as much as I like his real work. And there's a lot to read. Hard to play favorites but OTR is in its own category
i read on the road and found it lacking in both substance and style. it felt shallow and obtuse; the kind of book that attracts only teenagers and young adults who have a rather slim view of the world, ie. the yolo-generation. it's essentially YA for boomers.
It's a shame their reputation precedes them. Different books fulfil different purposes - Kerouac's books are simply written but are designed to inspire a sense of awe for the simplicity of life. It doesn't make it good literature in the same way we worship Whitman or Pynchon as good literature - but it is good in its own way; in the way that playing fetch with your dog is can be an inherently rewarding experience despite being ordinarily mundane.
Dharma Bums is my favourite because it is so genuine and sincere - I find it hard to describe such an earnest, innocent book as 'self-indulgent'; and if it is, not to a problematic extent. The problem is that there is such a cult around the Beat Generation that people expect way too much from them - they've become immortalised in a way that does a disservice to their intentions; like >>7619771 says.
on the road inspired me to go road-tripping when i was 21 on whatever money had, doing what i could to scrape by in the meantime. it kind of changed my life, even if it wasn't the best book ever, it opened up an avenue of experience for me i never had before. the beats are kind of where i learned about shit like mushrooms and acid too
I read On The Road in highschool and thought it was childish I picked it up again post-grad and thought it was fantastic
Not sure why ... I might have been too pretentious in highschool to enjoy such a scrappy book or maybe all the sex was just triggering my virginity ... either way it's a pretty good book and actually pretty self aware of how stupid the whole life on the road is.
>>7623719 >>7620968 he wasn't a manlet for his era autists. On the literary merit of On the Road and Dharma Bums, the books I've by him, I wasn't impressed. Maybe I'm wrong but the work felt almost completely autobiographical, I'm not that interested in some drunk hippy's wanderings with his fruity friends with wannabe-philosophical inner monologues injected randomly. Then again I could have forgiven all of this if the prose had been good, like many anons have pointed out its not. It's workmanlike as fuck.
still very much enjoy On The Road, years after my first read no other book gives away such a powerful feeling that whatever you're doing right now, you're still wasting time and could be out on something great. started appreciating the book much more, oddly, after reading Kazcynski's "Industrial Society and its Future" and his idea of the power process. from that perspective, the kids travelling cross country are in search of that autonomy to put their physical strength into. that desperation and search for meaning he intended to portray is still relevant, even more so as government and international institutions have just kept growing and growing in the years since
>>7623834 big sur is written the same way as the original scroll
kerouac and myself would both argue that that was his best mode of writing, even though it is antagonistic to the entire tradition of english
big sur he was limping through because he was legitimately just an alcoholic then, but on the road he had actual ideas behind why he wrote that way, besides the fact that he did so in only like three weeks.
Seconding the Kesey rec. Western Lands by Burroughs is great too actually. It's his only real pensive work imo. It also works as a synthesis of all of his previous works into coherence.
The only other name that sticks out to me is Richard Brautigan. He was City Lights author that didn't really fit in with the beats and was the only one that could match Burroughs' surreal fiction and had a more interesting zen/buddhist influence done than Kerouac.
For what it's worth check him out because Ginsberg hated him.
>>7623972 basically, he sacrificed immediate syntax control and broke with the conventional method of paragraphing so he could expound his story basically as his conscience can tell it, not unlike how joseph conrad uses spoken storytelling in heart of darkness and lord jim
plus when he wrote it, he was literally fresh off of the events in the story and the book had been cooking inside of him up until the moment he got to his typewriter.
his bet worked out and he told the fuck out of the story in a way that the literati are still upset about
also, he revised the scroll version a small amount, so it isn't completely just what he wrote as he wrote it. it did get a proof edit and some additions and subtractions
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