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Writing Nature in Cold War American Literature$
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Sarah Daw

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474430029

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474430029.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 17 April 2021

The Beat Ecologies of Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac

The Beat Ecologies of Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac

Chapter:
(p.129) Chapter 4 The Beat Ecologies of Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac
Source:
Writing Nature in Cold War American Literature
Author(s):

Sarah Daw

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474430029.003.0005

Chapter Four develops the previous chapter’s investigation into the substantial influence of translated Chinese and Japanese philosophical writing on presentations of an ecological Nature in Cold War American literature. However, it differs in its countercultural focus, exploring the influence of Americanised translations of Chinese and Japanese literature and philosophy on the work of the Beat Generation writers Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. Ginsberg and Kerouac’s extensive correspondence reveals the two writers’ developing interest in Taoist and Zen Buddhist thought, and their co-development of their own Americanised and highly inauthentic ‘Beat Zen’, which was heavily influenced by Dwight Goddard’s A Buddhist Bible (1932). Taking these letters as its starting point, the chapter reveals that translated Taoism and Zen Buddhism informed each writer’s ecological depictions of the human relationship to Nature in some of their most famous contributions to Beat literature, including Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums (1958) and Ginsberg’s “Howl” (1956).

Keywords:   Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Beat Zen, Dharma Bums, Zen Buddhism, Taoism

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