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A Kind of Beatness

A Kind of Beatness

(p.83) Chapter 6 A Kind of Beatness
Ann ChartersSamuel Charters
University Press of Mississippi

After meeting Jay Landesman, Gershon Legman, Jack Kerouac, and Allen Ginsberg—all of whom would profoundly change his life—on the Fourth of July weekend in 1948, John Clellon Holmes admitted that he felt like a different person. In August of that year he encountered Kerouac a second time at Alan Harrington’s home, along with Edward Stringham. Kerouac and Holmes became close friends almost immediately. Kerouac let Holmes read the manuscript of the novel he was writing, The Town and the City. Meanwhile, Holmes again found himself in trouble with his novel. He also found himself disillusioned with Communism as a political system, and supported the campaign of Henry Wallace and his Progressive Party in the presidential election against Harry Truman. However, Wallace lost the support of the labor unions, leading to his defeat in the polls. Throughout the fall of 1948 Holmes persisted with the writing of his almost-finished novel and his poetry. One night, he cajoled Kerouac into finding some term that would define their group. Kerouac replied, half seriously, that they were a “Beat Generation.”

Keywords:   poetry, Jack Kerouac, John Clellon Holmes, Alan Harrington, Communism, Henry Wallace, Progressive Party, presidential election, Harry Truman, Beat Generation

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