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THE HOLY BARBARIANS by Lawrence Lipton



Pub Date: May 25th, 1959
ISBN: 1578987512
Publisher: Messner

Lawrence Lipton is a poet and critic whose work has appeared in The Nation, Chicago Review, Atlantic Monthly and who now conducts a poetry and jazz workshop in Venice, Calif. This book is the story of the ""beat generation"". It is a far-reaching, inclusive, discerning and compelling piece of social history which does much to illuminate the milieu of the new bohemians. The author's bias is decidedly toward the ""beat"" whom he sees as the heirs of the Expatriates, the Secessionists, the Leftists of the 30's, but with a difference. Whereas the ancestry of the ""beat"" was an expression of revolt it implied a social protest. The ""beatniks"" are not protesting at all. At least not in the same way. Theirs is a protest of dis-affiliation, not from Society but from the State. In one of the more persuasive sections of his book Lipton distinguishes the ""beat"" from a group they are usually linked with -- the juvenile delinquents: the values of the j.d. are the ""same as conventional American values -- success, the worship of things, obsession with speed and a devil-take-the-hindmost attitude in everything; the j.d. are not the victims of society, they are its fruit and flower"". Nor are the ""beat"" to be confused with what Lipton calls the ""hip squares"" whose tastes and lives are hipsterish but whose values are caricatures of bourgeois values. At length and often with repetition he considers the loveways of the ""beat generation"" wherein sex is no longer an experience or even a relationship but a mystique; their Gospel -- according to anthropology and pre-history; their women; their ""pads"" (living quarters); their parties; the art, music, and probably most controversial -- even as a term, the ""literature"" of Beatland. He includes biographies of some well-knowns- Kenneth Rexroth, Kenneth Patchen, Allen Ginsberg, Kerouac, and lesser known Beatniks, and conversations recorded at parties and jazz Canto readings. An interesting and significant record, inevitably controversial.