In these critical essays Gregory Stephenson takes the reader on a journey through the literature of the Beat Generation: a journey encompassing that common ethos of Beat literature—the passage from darkness to light, from fragmented being toward wholeness, from Beat to Beatific. He travels through Jack Kerouac’s Duluoz Legend,following Kerouac’s quests for identity, community, and spiritual knowledge. He examines Allen Ginsberg’s use of transcendence in “Howl,” discovers the Gnostic vision in William S. Burroughs’s fiction, and studies the mythic, visionary power of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poetry. Stephenson also provides detailed examinations of the writing of lesser-known Beat authors: John Clellon Holmes, Gregory Corso, Richard Fariña, and Michael McClure. He explores the myth and the mystery of the literary legend of Neal Cassady. The book concludes with a look at the common traits of the Beat writers—their use of primitivism, shamanism, myth and magic, spontaneity, and improvisation, all of which led them to a new idiom of consciousness and to the expansion of the parameters of American literature.