As a writer, I’m always interested in those famous, and sometimes infamous, authors who paved the way for all those ambitious writers who would follow. The Beat Generation is best described as a movement in the late 1950s that went against the grain in terms of mainstream values and traditions and led by such authors as William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. Many believe it’s not as iconic as the next decade with its rallies and movements. Still, what few realize is the Beat Generation paved the way for freedom of speech rights that were, in many times during the 1950s and 60s, debated and possibly even jeopardized.
The Beat Generation is also known for its rebels and those who chose to experiment not only with illegal drugs, but with alternative sexual preferences as well. But this brief time in history is so much more. Because of this group of authors who were determined to ensure freedom of speech rights were applicable for the written word, we’re now free to write whatever we please with no fear or concerns over being sued. Of course, slanderous or libel content as well as plagiarism are off limits, as they should be, but we don’t have to live in fear over what we choose to include on our bookshelves, even it’s not someone else’s cup of tea.
Saturday marked the 52nd anniversary of Jack Kerouac’s release of “On the Road”. Its main character, Sal Paradise, crosses the country and discovers drugs, sex and other underground activities. This was certainly risque for the 1950s and even more surprising is Kerouac wrote this novel in just three short weeks.