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Chapter 14 - The Beats

from Part III - Cultural Contexts

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 April 2021

Sean Latham
Affiliation:
University of Tulsa
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Summary

In 1983, pioneering scholar Ann Charters oversaw the publication of The Beats: Literary Bohemians in Postwar America, a two-volume collection of entries on more than sixty figures associated with the movement. Released roughly a quarter century after groundbreaking work like Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems (1956) and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (1957), this project staked a claim for the ongoing relevance of the Beats by presenting them not as a small clique of writer-friends, but as a more far-reaching literary movement and cultural phenomenon. In the spirit of such capaciousness, Charters brought Bob Dylan into the Beat fold, and contributing scholar Joseph Wenke argued that the songwriter merited inclusion because he shared Beat “attitudes toward social authority, politics, and drugs, emphasizing the primacy of the self and rejecting institutionally prescribed norms. … the style of Dylan’s most characteristic lyrics unmistakably reveals that Beat poetry was a strong influence on him as he developed into the most provocative and imaginative lyricist of his generation.”1 This two-pronged notion, that Dylan shared both social “attitudes” with the Beats and that his work bears the marks of their formal techniques and thematic preoccupations, has been a starting point for those who have thought about him in a Beat context.2

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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  • The Beats
  • Edited by Sean Latham, University of Tulsa
  • Book: The World of Bob Dylan
  • Online publication: 21 April 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108583398.015
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  • The Beats
  • Edited by Sean Latham, University of Tulsa
  • Book: The World of Bob Dylan
  • Online publication: 21 April 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108583398.015
Available formats
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To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • The Beats
  • Edited by Sean Latham, University of Tulsa
  • Book: The World of Bob Dylan
  • Online publication: 21 April 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108583398.015
Available formats
×