Meet the "Partisan Generation" That Gave You LSD, Conan, and Joseph Campbell

Illustration for article titled Meet the "Partisan Generation" That Gave You LSD, Conan, and Joseph Campbell

With the recent death of Albert Hofmann, the inventor of LSD, it's a perfect time to travel back in time and assess how Hofmann's generation helped shape their future — in other words, our present day. Luckily the Boston Globe's Joshua Glenn is here to help you sort it all out. In a recent post on his Brainiac blog, Glenn writes about the "Partisan Generation," which includes Hofmann as well as Joseph "The Hero With A Thousand Faces" Campbell. This generation, born 1904-13, also includes a generation of science fiction writers who made SF mainstream.


Glenn writes:

I just blogged about the generation of Americans (born 1904-13) who I call the Partisans. Not only did they give us the editors of the great intellectual-literary journal Partisan Review, not to mention the inventors of the atom bomb, LSD, Scientology, and Bugs Bunny, as well as most of the actors who played villains on the 1960s "Batman" show. Their cohort also includes Golden Age and pre-Golden Age SF and sword & sorcery pioneers like Robert E. Howard, Robert A. Heinlein, Fritz Lieber, L. Sprague de Camp, L. Ron Hubbard, Fredric Brown, Jack Finney, Nelson S. Bond, Ross Rocklynne, Clifford D. Simak, and Alfred Bester. Plus C.L. Moore, one of the first women science fiction authors, and comic strip artist Alex Raymond, who created Flash Gordon. Plus the influential science fiction journal editor John W. Campbell; Donald A. Wollheim falls just outside this group, though he was no doubt Partisan-oriented. We might also include those authors born in other countries, or whom we don't usually associate with SF: A.E. van Vogt, A. Bertram Chandler, Eric Frank Russell, Ayn Rand ("Atlas Shrugged"), Samuel Beckett ("Endgame"), Hergé ("The Shooting Star"), Pierre Boulle ("Planet of the Apes"), Louis L'Amour ("The Haunted Mesa"), Mervyn Peake ("Gormenghast") and B.F. Skinner ("Walden Two"). Also, I consider Orwell (b. 1903) an honorary Partisan, not only because of his partisan attitude and collaboration with American radical intellectuals born in the 1904-13 generation, but because of "1984." Finally there's Joseph Campbell, without whom no "Star Wars."

You've got to check out Glenn's whole writeup of this generation, without which we would have no Star Wars, no psychedelic 70s trip sequences, and no grokking.

The Partisans [Brainiac]


Chris Braak

@Jeff-Minor: It is generally accepted as an apocryphal story.

Though I believe it's true that he said, "If you really wanted to make a million dollars, you'd start a religion."