Saturday, 8 September 2012

Beatniks by the river Seine. Paris, 1965

Kerouac introduced the phrase "Beat Generation" in 1948, generalizing from his social circle to characterize the underground, anti-conformist youth gathering in New York at that time. The name came up in conversation with the novelist John Clellon Holmes who published an early Beat Generation novel, Go (1952), along with a manifesto in The New York Times Magazine: "This Is the Beat Generation" In 1954, Nolan Miller published his third novel, Why I Am So Beat (Putnam), detailing the weekend parties of four students.


 The word "beatnik" was coined by Herb Caen in an article in the San Francisco Chronicle on April 2, 1958. Caen coined the term by adding the Russian suffix -nik after Sputnik I to the Beat Generation. Caen's column with the word came six months after the launch of Sputnik. Objecting to Caen's twist on the term, Allen Ginsberg wrote to the New York Times to deplore "the foul word beatnik," commenting, "If beatniks and not illuminated Beat poets overrun this country, they will have been created not by Kerouac but by industries of mass communication which continue to brainwash man."
 (Photographs by Simos Tsapnidis)

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