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"Forest Beatniks" and "Urban Thoreaus"

Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac, Lew Welch, and Michael McClure

Series:

Rod Phillips

The Beat Movement, which first rose to attention in 1955, has often been viewed by critics as an urban phenomenon —the product of a postwar-youth culture with roots in the cities of New York and San Francisco. This study examines another side of the Beat Movement: its strong desire for a reconnection with nature. Although each took a different path in attaining this goal, the writers considered here—Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac, Lew Welch, and Michael McClure—sought a new and closer connection to the natural world. These four writers, along with many of their counterparts in the Beat era, provided a crucial spark that helped to ignite the environmental movement of the 1970s and provided the foundation for the development of the current "Deep Ecology" worldview.