->''"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, \\
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, \\
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night"''
-->--'''Creator/AllenGinsberg''', "Howl"

->''"The so-called Beat Generation was a whole bunch of people, of all different nationalities, who came to the conclusion that society sucked."''
-->--'''Amiri Baraka'''

The Beat Generation was a group of writers best known for their work in TheFifties. At the core of the beats was a group of three writers: JackKerouac, Creator/AllenGinsberg and Creator/WilliamSBurroughs, best known for ''Literature/OnTheRoad'', ''Literature/{{Howl}}'' and ''Literature/NakedLunch'', respectively. The name "The Beat Generation" was originally coined by Kerouac, who enjoyed the many possible meanings of "beat," both positive and negative, including beat-down, upbeat, beatific and "on-the-beat," in the musical sense. The history of the relationships between the three friends and their periphery is long and complex and is better read elsewhere than summarized here. (To give you an idea, it involves large amounts of [[WatchItStoned alcohol, speed, opiates and psychedelic drugs]], [[IncompatibleOrientation unrequited same-sex love]], the cover-up of a manslaughter, an insanity plea and subsequent mental hospital stay, and a wife killed in a deliberate-but-drunken attempt at WilliamTelling. And these are all separate events.)

The works produced by the Beat Generation had an enormous effect on Western culture. Beyond their effect in literature (which was not small, inspiring the creation of entire genres, from slam poetry to [[CyberPunk cyberpunk]]), they also had a major influence on the rock music of the early 60s (Ginsberg was friends with Music/BobDylan and Music/SteelyDan is of course named after a venerable lineage of strapon dildos in ''Naked Lunch'', to give just a couple of examples). There's a good chance there would be no such thing as [[NewAgeRetroHippie hippies]] without the Beats. Notably, Jack Kerouac did not transition well into TheSixties, as his drug of choice was [[TheAlcoholic alcohol]] rather than psychedelics and he was politically somewhat conservative. Allen Ginsberg, on the other hand, became something of a [[EruditeStoner psychedelic]] [[CoolOldGuy guru]] to the hippie community. Burroughs was a mentor to a significantly younger generation, collaborating with AlternativeRock musicians such as Music/SonicYouth, Music/{{REM}}, and Music/KurtCobain, while Ginsberg makes a vocal appearance on Music/TheClash's album ''Combat Rock''.

The works of the Beat Generation vary wildly in their style, but they do tend to have some unifying features. They challenged the MoralGuardians of the time (both ''Howl'' and ''Naked Lunch'' were the subject of nationally-publicized [[CensorshipBureau obscenity trials]]) and their characters tended to be downtrodden youth trying new things (much like the writers themselves). One of the Beats' most defining features, however, was their willingness to experiment with their writing. Kerouac, influenced by improvisational jazz, called his style "spontaneous prose," where he would write without editing, often on scrolls rather than sheets so that he wouldn't be distracted by page breaks. Ginsberg's poetry combined explosive, rambling free verse with forms of the past, heavily influenced by Creator/WaltWhitman, Creator/WilliamBlake, and William Carlos Williams. William Burroughs, perhaps the [[CrazyAwesome craziest]] of them all, popularized the "cut-up technique," a [[UsefulNotes/{{Dada}} dadaist]] style of composition wherein a piece of writing is literally cut-up and reassembled into a new work (not unlike a collage in literary form).

Progenitors to the {{Beatnik}}, although the writers themselves were not really beatniks. Not to be confused with beets, {{Beat}}s or Music/TheBeatles (although the Fab Four were certainly influenced by the Beat writers and the idiosyncratic spelling of their name is partially a reference to the movement).

!!Primary Beat Writers:
* Amiri Baraka
* Creator/WilliamSBurroughs (''Literature/NakedLunch'', ''Junky'', ''Queer'')
* Neal Cassady[[note]]Dean Moriarty in ''Literature/OnTheRoad'' is based on him.[[/note]]
* Gregory Corso (''Gasoline'')
* Lawrence Ferlinghetti (''A Coney Island of the Mind'', ''Starting from San Francisco'')
* Creator/AllenGinsberg (''Literature/{{Howl}}'', ''America'', ''Kaddish'')
* Creator/JackKerouac (''Literature/OnTheRoad'', ''Desolation Angels'', ''The Dharma Bums'', ''The Subterraneans'')
* Gary Snyder (''Turtle Island'')

!!Creators related to or influenced by the Beats:
* Kathy Acker (''Blood and Guts in High School'')
* Creator/RichardBrautigan (''Trout Fishing in America'', ''The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster'')
* Creator/CharlesBukowski (''Literature/HamOnRye'', ''Post Office'', ''Factotum'')
* Music/KurtCobain
* Music/LeonardCohen
* Aaron Cometbus (Crimpshrine, Pinhead Gunpowder, ''Cometbus'')
* Diane di Prima
* Music/TheDoors
* Music/BobDylan (his first novel ''Tarantula'' in particular has much Beat influence)
* Richard Fariña (''Been Down So Long it Looks Like Up to Me'')
* Music/TheFugs
** ''Music/TheFugsFirstAlbum'' (1965)
** ''Music/TheFugsSecondAlbum'' (1966)
** Tuli Kupferberg
* Music/TheGratefulDead
* Alan Kaufman (''The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry'', ''Jew Boy: A Memoir'')
* Bob Kaufman ("Abomunist Manifesto")
* Creator/KenKesey (''Literature/OneFlewOverTheCuckoosNest'', ''Sometimes a Great Notion'')
* David Lerner
* D.A. Levy
* Jack Micheline
* Creator/ThomasPynchon
* Creator/TomRobbins
* Music/GilScottHeron
** ''Music/TheRevolutionWillNotBeTelevised'' (1974)
* Music/PattiSmith
** ''Music/{{Horses}}'' (1975)
* Creator/HunterSThompson (''Hell's Angels'', ''Literature/FearAndLoathingInLasVegas'')
* Music/TomWaits
* Creator/RobertAntonWilson (especially ''Literature/{{Illuminatus}}'', which uses Burroughs' cut-up method)
* Tom Wolfe (''The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test'', ''Literature/TheBonfireOfTheVanities'')