The Portable Beat Reader

The Portable Beat Reader

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Beginning in the late 1940's, American literature discovered a four-letter word, and the word was "beat." Beat as in poverty and beatitude, ecstasy and exile. Beat was Jack Kerouac touring the American road in prose as fast and reckless as a V-8 Chevy. It was the junk-sick surrealism of William Burroughs; the wild, Whitmanesque poetry of Allen Ginsberg; and the

Overview

Beginning in the late 1940's, American literature discovered a four-letter word, and the word was "beat." Beat as in poverty and beatitude, ecstasy and exile. Beat was Jack Kerouac touring the American road in prose as fast and reckless as a V-8 Chevy. It was the junk-sick surrealism of William Burroughs; the wild, Whitmanesque poetry of Allen Ginsberg; and the lumberjack Zen of Gary Snyder.

The Portable Beat Reader collects the most significant writing of these and fellow members (and spiritual descendants) of the Beat Generation, including Neal Cassady, Gregory Corso, Diane di Prima, Bob Dylan, Leroi Jones, and Michael McClure. In poetry, fiction, essays, song lyrics, letters, and memoirs, it captures the triumphant rudeness, energy, and exhilaration of a movement that swept through American letters with hurricane force.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A deft and definitive collection. It catches the flavor of playful, serious defiance of the whole generation." —Gary Snyder
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Cutting through bohemian posturing and excess, Charters here reprints much of the most vital, readable and relevant material produced by the Beat generation, primarily in the 1950s and '60s, with some selections from the '70s and '80s. The novels of such leading figures as Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs lend themselves well to excerpting, giving this volume creditable ballast. Representative works of Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Gary Snyder are included along with those of lesser-known Beats (e.g., John Clellon Holmes), fellow travelers like Frank O'Hara and Amiri Baraka, and wives and girlfriends often overlooked at the time, including Hettie Jones, Carolyn Cassady and Joyce Johnson. Charters ( Kerouac ) offers a broad perspective on this seminal literary movement: she links East Coast Beats to the San Francisco Renaissance poets; pays attention to such latter-day Beats as Ed Sanders and Tuli Kupferberg; and explains the position of non-Beat but related writers--Alan Watts, Anne Waldman, Diane DiPrima and the young Norman Mailer--in her helpful introductory essay and notes preceeding each entry. Her energizing, liberating anthology makes it clear that such Beat preoccupations as the bomb, the meaninglessness of modern existence and ecological destruction remain current. ( Jan. )
Library Journal
Charters, a noted critic of the Beat generation and Jack Kerouac's first biographer, has chosen a representative sample of Beat writings for the latest addition to the Viking ``Portables'' series. Arranged chronologically in six sections, it includes excerpts from Kerouac's On the Road , Allen Ginsberg's Howl , and William S. Burroughs's Naked Lunch , as well as work by Herbert Huncke, Ray Bremser, and lesser-known figures. ``Beat'' is used in its broadest sense to cover the San Francisco Renaissance poets and others, including Bob Dylan, who were influenced by or were sympathetic to the Beats. Robert Creeley's work is conspicuously absent. A general introduction as well as introductions to each section attempt to ``situate the writers in their political, social, and literary contexts.'' This is highly recommended.-- William Gargan, Brooklyn Coll. Lib., CUNY
Booknews
Extensive selections from writers such as Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs, Ferlinghetti, and Snyder, and authors influenced by the Beats, are presented with a general introduction and substantial headnotes by the editor. Material from authors not normally associated with the Beat movement is included as well as work from Beat figures' wives and girlfriends who were writers in their own right. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780142437537
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
07/29/2003
Edition description:
Reissue
Pages:
688
Sales rank:
219,841
Product dimensions:
5.05(w) x 7.73(h) x 1.13(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"A deft and definitive collection. It catches the flavor of playful, serious defiance of the whole generation." — Gary Snyder

Meet the Author

Ann Charters, professor of English at the University of Connecticut, has been interested in Beat writers since 1956. After completing her doctorate she worked with Jack Kerouac to compile his bibliography. She has written a literary study of Charles Olson and biographies of black entertainer Bert Williams, and (with her husband) the Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky. She was the general editor of the two-volume encyclopaedia The Beats: Literary Bohemians In Postwar America and has published a collection of her photographic portraits of well-known writers in the book Beats & Company. She has also edited Jack Kerouac's On the Road for Penguin Modern Classics.

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The Portable Beat Reader 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
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