Cover image for The Beat Hotel : Ginsberg, Burroughs, and Corso in Paris, 1958-1963
The Beat Hotel : Ginsberg, Burroughs, and Corso in Paris, 1958-1963
Miles, Barry, 1943-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Grove Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
294 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS228.B6 M55 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PS228.B6 M55 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Called "a vivid picture of literary life along the Left Bank in the late 1950s and early 1960s . . . and fun reading" by Library Journal, The Beat Hotel is a delightful chronicle of a remarkable moment in American literary history. From the Howl obscenity trial to the invention of the cut-up technique, Barry Miles's extraordinary narrative chronicles the feast of ideas that was Paris, where the Beats took awestruck audiences with Duchamp and Celine, and where some of their most important work came to fruition -- Ginsberg's "Kaddish" and "To Aunt Rose"; Corso's The Happy Birthday of Death; and Burroughs's Naked Lunch. Based on firsthand accounts from diaries, letters, and many original interviews, The Beat Hotel is an intimate look at a place that, the San Francisco Chronicle has written, "gave the spirit of Dean Moriarty and the genius of Genet and Duchamp a place to dream together of new worlds over a glass of vin ordinaire".

Author Notes

Barry Miles is the author of William Burroughs: El Hombre Invisible, Allen Ginsberg: A Biography, and Jack Kerouac: King of the Beats, as well as Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now. He lives in London and France

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

"The Beat Hotel is no more," begins this engrossing and enlightening tale of the years three important Beat writers--Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, and Gregory Corso--spent living at 9 rue Git-le-Coeur on the Left Bank of Paris. The Beat Hotel, as it was called, was "one of those legendary addresses . . . of international bohemia" in the late 1950s and the early 1960s. Beat writers, not simply these three but also many others, went to Paris because they felt they could live freer lives, in terms of sexual expression and use of drugs, than they could in the U.S. Miles follows what Ginsberg, Burroughs, and Corso did while living at the Beat Hotel, in particular how the experience affected them by providing a productive context for creativity. The author doesn't shy away from sexual explicitness as he documents the lives of these three individuals as they took advantage of the hotel's "cheap rent and permissive atmosphere." --Brad Hooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

Miles (Jack Kerouac: King of the Beats, etc.), who has been intimately involved in the documentation of the Beat scene, focuses here on an international aspect of Beat work: Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs and Gregory Corso's escape from "the conformism and Puritanism of fifties America" during the six years (1957-1963) they lived at a cheap hotel on Paris's Left Bank. During this period, the three pursued such now-famous creative endeavors as "Kaddish," Naked Lunch and "Bomb." Their important work during this time, particularly the "cut-up" method pioneered by Burroughs, had an important formative influence on the next generation of artists, according to Miles. Part scholarly study and part gossip-fest, this account traces the aesthetic, sexual and social goings-on in Paris: "Within the shelter of the Beat Hotel," Miles writes, "they had mapped out many of the paths that the `sixties generation' was to actually follow: the recreational use of drugs and experiments with psychedelics..., investigations into magic and mysticism..., gay rights and sexual freedom, the legalization of `pornography' and challenges to obscenity laws." The hotel on rue Git-le-Coeur, closed for nearly four decades now, still symbolizes the fruitful ground of collaborative creation among the Beats. The significance of this period in Paris for the Beats may be slightly exaggerated by Miles to justify this book-length study, but those interested in the lives of these cult figures will most likely forgive such overdetermination in the interests of learning in an entertaining narrative about important writers now considered American literary heroes. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The cheap rooming house at nine rue Git-Le-Coeur became known as the Beat Hotel after several Beat writers made it their home in Paris. In this interesting blend of sexual gossip and literary scholarship, Miles, author of full-length biographies of Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, and Jack Kerouac, paints a vivid picture of literary life along the Left Bank in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He recounts not only the Beat writers' creative interactions with one other but their relations with such Frenchmen as Maurice Girodias, publisher of the Olympia Press, and Henri Michaux, an author who shared their fascination with the use of drugs to heighten consciousness. Miles also documents the influences of a number of European writers on the Beats, including Andr Breton, Louis-Ferdinand Cline, and Sergei Esenin. Finally, he is particularly good at exploring the collaboration between Brion Gysin and Burroughs that led to their famous cut-up method. This is fun reading, especially for those steeped in the Beats. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/00.]DWilliam Gargan, Brooklyn Coll. Lib., NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Miles has written extensively about the Beat Generation, including the biographies Ginsberg (1989) and Jack Kerouac, King of the Beats (1998). Here he chronicles the Beat Hotel, a rundown rooming house in Paris that was an on-again-off-again home from 1957 to 1963 for Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Gregory Corso, and Brion Gysin. Miles has become the Liz Smith of Beat historians, long on gossipy stories, short on sources or verification. He knows, or says he knows, who slept with whom, who punched whom, and who managed to write an occasional poem in the middle of the whole thing. While Jack Kerouac ruled the Bohemian scene in the US, other Beats escaped the media glare to fine-tune their own experimentation and protest. Ginsberg wrote much of Kaddish in Paris, while Burroughs became a published novelist and plunged deeply into the drug experience and his patented "Cutup" technique, randomly splicing snippets of unrelated prose. Corso wrote almost all of his mature work in a garret room at the top of the hotel, when he was not pursuing kicks, girls, and money. Informative, interesting, and fun, this is a book for the general reader and for large academic collections supporting the study of the Beats at any level. M. H. Begnal; Pennsylvania State University, University Park Campus

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
1 9, rue Git-le-Coeurp. 8
2 Kaddishp. 25
3 Expatriatesp. 55
4 Bombp. 78
5 Fellow Writersp. 110
6 Ports of Entryp. 142
7 Through the Magic Mirrorp. 160
8 Cut-upsp. 192
9 Soft Machinep. 226
10 Fade Out in Gray Roomp. 259
Acknowledgmentsp. 275
Selected Bibliographyp. 277
Notesp. 283