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American Beat literature did not reach Polish readers in the 1950s easily due to the restrictive nature of the country’s political system. However, Leopold Tyrmand – a great advocate of jazz – Marek Hłasko – a kind of hobo adventurer – and Edward Stachura – a vagabond singer – can be considered as representing a Polish version of Beat. Labelled as “marginal” or émigrés, they succeeded in renewing Polish literature from the 1950s onwards. This chapter also discusses issues related to the relevant social and cultural context of Poland, such as the reception of the figure of the beatnik and hitchhiking. Ginsberg, who visited Poland several times, was the best known member of the Beat Generation. His poem “Café in Warsaw” and Miron Białoszewski’s short story Bitnik are important literary testimonies to Beat in Poland. The chapter ends with a discussion on post-1989 authors who represent non-conformist literature and a new style of being on “the road.”

In: Beat Literature in a Divided Europe
Beat Literature in Europe offers twelve in-depth analyses of how European authors and intellectuals on both sides of the Iron Curtain read, translated and appropriated American Beat literature. The chapters combine textual analysis with discussions on the role Beat had in popular music, art, and different subcultures.
The book participates in the transnational turn that has gained in importance during the past years in literary studies, looking at transatlantic connections through the eyes of European authors, artists and intellectuals, and showing how Beat became a cluster of texts, images, and discussions with global scope. At the same time, it provides vivid examples of how national literary fields in Europe evolved during the cold war era.

Contributors are: Thomas Antonic, Franca Bellarsi, Frida Forsgren, Santiago Rodriguez Guerrero-Strachan, József Havasréti, Tiit Hennoste, Benedikt Hjartarson, Petra James, Nuno Neves, Maria Nikopoulou, Harri Veivo, Dorota Walczak-Delanois, Gregory Watson.
In: Beat Literature in a Divided Europe