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The Beat Hotel

"plaque indicating which Beatniks stayed in Beat Hotel in Paris"

The Beatniks of the Beat Hotel

The idea of the artist as someone who spends his life in shabby circumstances, outwardly neglected and caring only for the purity of his art, to find fame only much later, preferably after his death, is one of the great Romantic myths. (It is, of course, the story of the ugly duckling in all but name.)

In truth, for every van Gogh, there are at least a dozen Picassos and Matisses whose geniuses are detected at a fairly early stage and who spend nearly all their lives in great material comfort.

Truth, however, is not something that myth has ever been greatly concerned with.

Circumstances do not come much shabbier than the old Beat Hotel on the Parisian Left Bank, and geniuses not much more self-conscious than William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg who lived there for a while in the late 1950s (together with Gregory Corso and some lesser lights of the “Beat” poetry scene).

A new documentary just released (read a review here) retraces their steps, refreshes their legends and restages some of their antics.

is the name of a novel by Harold Norse who joined the . . . → Read More About Hollywood’s Love Affair with Paris: The Beat Hotel