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Unspeakable Visions:
The Beat Generation and The Bohemian Dialectic

by Michael Hayward
© August 1991

An essay for CMNS 850: History of Publishing
as part of Simon Fraser University's
Master of Publishing degree program

This paper was written in 1991 as partial requirement for the History of Publishing course, which I took as a directed reading course under Professor Paul Heyer of the Communications Department at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, B.C. I have put it on-line in Hypertext format, partially as an experiment in Hypertext publishing, and so that I can have something to link to from my home page.

Basically the paper traces the history of the Beat writers in print, from their early stirrings in the underground press, through to their publication by mainstream publishers. I use the term "bohemian dialectic" to refer to the process which seems to apply to almost all avant-garde movements: an initial emergence in opposition to the social and cultural norms of their time, followed eventually by popularization and absorption into the mainstream.

If you're interested in the Beats, I suggest that you check out this WWW home page on Kerouac, Ginsberg and the Beats, created by Levi Asher: he's gathered together a lot of good stuff. There is a recently created newsgroup on the Beat writers: alt.books.beatgeneration - not sure how much activity it gets, but why not check it out!

In the meantime, have a browse through this paper and let me know what you think (too late for changes though: I've already been graded on it!) It is a bit wordy for on-line reading but it's supposed to be wordy: this was a graduate course, after all! In the true spirit of the World Wide Web, I have seasoned the text with some hypertext links to the home pages which Levi Asher has put together on the various Beat figures. And perhaps, as time permits, I will "graphic" things up a bit further with some scans of book covers and such from my collection of Beat material.

So if you're interested enough to read further, check out the Table of Contents for the paper, which begins with a few relevant passages from some Beat writers.

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Unspeakable Visions: The Beat Generation and The Bohemian Dialectic. © August, 1991 Michael Hayward