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The Beat Movement, The Beats, The Beat Generation - what exactly was it? Truth is I don't know and I don't think anybody else does. I mean beat generation was a moniker that Kerouac applied to his close circle of friends - it hardly defines a generation - indeed Corso saw that only three were in it - himself, Ginsberg and Orlovsky.
But then again, what a circle of friends. It often strikes me that the Beats when young were just like any other young group of people, they believe in what they believe, they might compile a half-baked manifesto - but to follow it to the letter, to keep faith in it, to see it to the end - well that's Beat I suppose.
Kerouac, Ginsberg and Burroughs met at Columbia University, envisioning themselves as future literary figures but they were absolutely astonished when they sparked a literary movement. They didn't even know they had, they were living in Europe, whittling away their days in the Beat Hotel, Paris immersing themselves in creative and hedonistic activity. Their circles in New York, San Francisco and Paris included people who were solely hedonists, they would be intricate cogs in the movement, providing distraction, entertainment and inspiration. Poetry by the people for the people.
Indeed, the original beats were Columbian University academics, they needed the influence of the hucksters and hipsters or they may have went the way of the formalists. Well, maybe not, the work that they produced was so fresh, raw and provoking - far from mainstream and it's producers refused to compromise even though it appeared for years that their work would forever remain misunderstood and unpublished.
Russell Shortt is a travel consultant with Exploring Ireland, the leading specialists in customised, private escorted tours, escorted coach tours and independent self drive tours of Ireland. Article source Russell Shortt, http://www.exploringireland.net