visionaries, rebels and hipsters, 1944 - 1960

by Steven Watson

Review by laciefae

Steven Watson’s book brings together the varied histories and personalities which make up the complex narrative of the Beat Generation in an engaging, storyteller-like style. I find the title to be somewhat of a misnomer, as The Birth of the Beat Generation goes far beyond its implied scope of the genesis of the movement, covering the Beat Women, Black Mountain Poets and the San Francisco Renaissance, as well as many of the ancillary figures of the Beat movement.

Watson delves into the background of the key players, offering some insight into the development of the New Vision and the Beat Philosophy, as well as the spiritual basis which informed many of the key developments in both the philosophy and the work.

From the perspective of reading this book as research into one of the key artistic influences of Jim Morrison, I found it invaluable. I was stunned by the many parallels in philosophy and life experience between Morrison and many of the Beats. I garnered quite a bit of new insight into Morrison’s poetry and philosophy through this foray into the Beat Writers, who were such a great inspiration to him.

The book is truly a fascinating account of the lives, loves, beliefs and work of those who created the genre day-by-day. The Birth of the Beat Generation is highly recommended to both newcomer and those with some knowledge of this seminal American art form, and especially to those who wish to gain a greater understanding of the work of Jim Morrison.

Copyright 2002 by laciefae/