Jack Kerouac Few novels have had as profound an impact on American culture as
On the Road. Pulsating with the rhythms of 1950s underground America, jazz, sex, illicit drugs, and the mystery and promise of the open road, Kerouac's classic novel of freedom and longing defined what it meant to be "beat" and has inspired generations of writers, musicians, artists, poets, and seekers who cite their discovery of the book as the event that "set them free".
Based on Kerouac's adventures with Neal Cassady, On the Road tells the story of two friends whose four cross-country road trips are a quest for meaning and true experience. Written with a mixture of sad-eyed naïveté and wild abandon, and imbued with Kerouac's love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz, On the Road is the quintessential American vision of freedom and hope, a book that changed American literature and changed anyone who has ever picked it up.
Jack Kerouac "The only people for me are the mad ones," wrote Jack Kerouac, "the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars."
On the Road is the classic story of two such characters: Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty, who set off on an odyssey through mid-century underground America, fueled by jazz, sex, drugs, mystical philosophy, and a limitless passion for experience.
Jack Kerouac Here is the legendary 1951 "scroll" draft of On the Road, word for word as Jack Kerouac originally composed it.
Though Kerouac began thinking about the novel that was to become On the Road as early as 1947, it was not until three weeks in April 1951, in an apartment on West 20th Street in Manhattan, that he wrote the first full draft that was satisfactory to him. Typed out as one long, single-spaced paragraph on eight long sheets of tracing paper that he later taped together to form a 120-foot scroll, this document is among the most significant, celebrated, and provocative artifacts in contemporary American literary history. It represents the first full expression of Kerouac's revolutionary aesthetic, the identifiable point at which his thematic vision and narrative voice came together in a sustained burst of creative energy.
It was not until more than six years later, and after several new drafts, that Viking published, in 1957, the novel known to us today. The differences between the two versions are principally ones of significant detail and altered emphasis. The scroll is slightly longer and has a heightened linguistic virtuosity and a more sexually frenetic tone. It also uses the real names of Kerouac's friends instead of the fictional names he later invented for them.
This audio edition is narrated by actor John Ventimiglia, best known for his portrayal of restaurant owner Artie Bucco in The Sopranos.
Jack Kerouac "Big Sur's a humane, precise account of the extraordinary ravages of alcohol delirium tremens on Kerouac, a superior novelist who had strength to complete his poetic narrative, a task few scribes so afflicted have accomplished...others crack up. Here we meet San Francisco's poets and recognize hero Dean Moriarty 10 years after On the Road. Jack Kerouac was a 'writer,' as his great peer W.S. Burroughs says, and here at the peak of his suffering humorous genius he wrote through his misery to end with 'Sea,' a brilliant poem appended, on the hallucinatory sounds of the Pacific Ocean at Big Sur." - Allen Ginsberg
Jack Kerouac Two friends in 1950s San Francisco Bohemia explore Buddhism Zen - hipster style. On the road to finding Dharma, or truth, the story's narrator, Raymond Smith comes to a spiritual roadblock. Smith, based on Kerouac himself, discovers a role model in his friend Japhy Ryder, modeled after the real poet-Buddhist Gary Snyder. This autobiographical novel is one of Kerouac's most popular, and has served as an inspiration to the beat culture, hippies, and dharma seekers since the 1950s. This program is narrated by legendary poet Allen Ginsberg, a friend of Kerouac's and an early fan of his work.
Jack Kerouac In the mid-1950s, Jack Kerouac, a lifelong Catholic, became fascinated with Buddhism, an interest that had a profound impact on his ideas of spirituality andlater found expression in books such as
Mexico City Blues and
The Dharma Bums.
Originally written in 1955 and now published for the first time in audiobook form, Wake Up is Kerouac's retelling of the life of Prince Siddartha Gotama, who as a young man abandoned his wealthy family and comfortable home for a lifelong searchfor Enlightenment.
Distilled from a wide variety of canonical scriptures, Wake Up serves as both a penetrating account of the Buddha's life and a concise primer on the principal teachings of Buddhism.
Jack Kerouac In the spring of 1943, during a stint in the merchant marines, 21-year-old Jack Kerouac set out to write his first novel. Working diligently day and night to complete it by hand, he titled it The Sea Is My Brother. Nearly 70 years later, its long-awaited publication provides fascinating details and insight into the early life and development of an American literary icon.
Written seven years before The Town and the City officially launched his writing career, The Sea Is My Brother marks the pivotal point at which Kerouac began laying the foundations for his pioneering method and signature style. The novel chronicles the misadventures of two seamen who at first seem different but are really two sides of the same coin: 27-year-old Wesley Martin, who "loved the sea with a strange, lonely love", and William Everhart, an assistant professor of English at Columbia College who, at 32, impulsively ships out, hoping to "escape society for the sea, but finds the sea a place of terrible loneliness."
A clear precursor to such landmark novels as On the Road, The Dharma Bums, and Visions of Cody, it is an important formative work that bears all the hallmarks of classic Kerouac: the search for spiritual meaning in a materialistic world, spontaneous travel as the true road to freedom, late nights of intense conversation in bars and apartments, the desperate urge to escape from society, and the strange, terrible beauty of loneliness.
Jack Kerouac In 1955, novelist Jack Kerouac detoured from his cross-country American travels to Mexico City, where a group of junkie expatriates he had known from the New York City post-war scene had gone for the cheap and plentiful supply of heroin and morphine. Fellow beat writer William S. Burroughs, who had been a part of the Mexican expatriate community, had introduced Kerouac to Bill Garver (named Old Bull Gaines in the novel), a much-older, long-term addict who had in turn introduced Kerouac to Esperanza Villanueva, whom Kerouac named Tristessa in the novel. Kerouac fell under the spell of Esperanza's dark allure and exotic surroundings, and hoped to re-experience the "fellaheen nights" of his joyous adventures with Mexicans in his past.
Esperanza/Tristessa, however, proved to be a far more troubled and contentious companion than Kerouac had bargained for. Kerouac had entered a particularly contemplative time in his life - he had discovered an inner peace through Zen Buddhism and was practicing an ascetic lifestyle that included celibacy - a choice he later regretted. Although Kerouac managed to control his alcoholic tendencies much of the time in Mexico, Tristessa sank deeper and deeper into the belly of morphine addiction.
Kerouac returned to Mexico City a year later (1956) hoping to resume his platonic friendship with Tristessa and perhaps even pursuing a physical relationship with her only to find a desperately junk-sick, emaciated Tristessa who could barely function. Shocked, disappointed, and largely ignored by his brown-skinned goddess, Kerouac left Tristessa trembling and barely coherent, taking only his notebooks and memories from the unpleasant experience.
Blending his incandescent, highly-evocative, careening prose with alternately blissful and rueful meditations based on his Zen and Catholic teachings, Jack Kerouac in Tristessa documents a painful episode in the "beatest" of his beat style.
Jack Kerouac Jack Kerouac wrote The Haunted Life in 1944 when he was 22 years old and attending Columbia University. Originally intended as a three-part novel, only this first 20,000-word section was ever finished. Upon its completion, Kerouac promptly lost his only hand-written final draft in a New York taxi cab, remaining unknown to the public until its appearance at Christies about ten years ago.
Kerouac’s family has now decided to share this manuscript with the world.
While the entirety of the novel remained unfinished, the surviving manuscript successfully works alone as a novella with a satisfying, if open-ended, conclusion. It features a scaled-down version of the Martin family and is set in Lowell, Massachusetts, as was Kerouac’s first novel The Town and The City. Kerouac had planned on writing a cycle of novels tentatively titled An American Passed Here, which was to be set primarily in the fictional town of Galloway (based on Lowell). That cycle was to contain The Haunted Life and The Sea is My Brother, tracing the story of the Martin family throughout the 1930s and 1940s. Eventually Kerouac’s plans for his Martin cycle materialized into his first novel, The Town and the City, shortly before he moved on to compose his iconic On the Road.
Todd Tietchen, the editor of the project and the Jack Kerouac/Beat Scholar in residence at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, has assembled a number of archival documents to thicken out the context of this lost novella, documents that attest to the level of intention and care that went into Kerouac’s writing projects.
Jack Kerouac In 1959, Avon Books published Jack Kerouac's tender look back at his high school years in Lowell, Massachusetts, Maggie Cassidy. One particular passage in the book, written in the form of a letter, contained certain thermo-uclear profanities that weren't widely accepted in literature, even Beat literature, of that time period. As soon as Maggie Cassidy hit the shelves, it upset bookstore owners and book distributors enough that the book was pulled, the passages rewritten, and a new, more politely correct version was issued and republished over the decades to come. The original manuscript has not been republished until Devault-Graves learned of the original version that Kerouac is said to have fought for before the decision was made to excise and rewrite those passages. Devault-Graves now proudly restores the original novel, complete and uncensored.
In Jack Kerouac's teenage years, his friends gave him a nickname that was prescient and stuck with him throughout his life - Memory Babe. Kerouac was able to conjure up scenes from his childhood and adolescence that astounded his friends with their precision and detail. This talent was to serve him well as a novelist, enabling him to recall long segments of conversation that he could instantly pound out on his typewriter.
Maggie Cassidy is one of Kerouac's most nostalgic recollections of his past, focusing on his first true love when he was a high school senior and a local star athlete. Filled with the sweet innocence of youth and the daily heartbreak of quarrels and unfulfilled sexual yearnings, Kerouac employs his stylishly Beat observations toward the bygone era of pre-World War II Lowell, Massachusetts, when he was torn between the companionship of his gang of buddies and the sirens' call of the opposite sex.
Jack Kerouac The legendary 1951 scroll draft of On the Road, published word for word as Kerouac originally composed it.
Though Jack Kerouac began thinking about the novel that was to become On the Road as early as 1947, it was not until three weeks in April 1951, in an apartment on West 20th Street in Manhattan, that he wrote the first full draft that was satisfactory to him. Typed out as one long, single-spaced paragraph on eight long sheets of tracing paper that he later taped together to form a 120-foot scroll, this document is among the most significant, celebrated, and provocative artifacts in contemporary American literary history. It represents the first full expression of Kerouac's revolutionary aesthetic, the identifiable point at which his thematic vision and narrative voice came together in a sustained burst of creative energy. It was also part of a wider vital experimentation in the American literary, musical, and visual arts in the post-World War II period.
It was not until more than six years later, and after several new drafts, that Viking published, in 1957, the novel known to us today. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of On the Road, Viking will publish the 1951 scroll in a standard book format. The differences between the two versions are principally ones of significant detail and altered emphasis. The scroll is slightly longer and has a heightened linguistic virtuosity and a more sexually frenetic tone. It also uses the real names of Kerouac's friends instead of the fictional names he later invented for them. The transcription of the scroll was done by Howard Cunnell who, along with Joshua Kupetz, George Mouratidis, and Penny Vlagopoulos, provides a critical introduction that explains the fascinating compositional and publication history of On the Road and anchors the text in its historical, political, and social contexts.
Jack Kerouac Jack Kerouac shot to literary fame in 1957 with the publication of his iconic book of the Beat Generation, On the Road. Kerouac was termed "King of the Beats", a mantle he was entirely uncomfortable with. Along with Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, and several others forged a new literary voice and attitude - it was a movement that often mocked and challenged the American status quo. Prior to the publication of On the Road, Kerouac had written several novels and poems. With the almost overnight success of On the Road, publishers clamored for his other books and a Kerouac industry was born. Within only a few years of being heralded as the voice of a new generation, however, Kerouac was aging, severely alcoholic, and suffering from a death of the spirit. Arguably his finest post-On the Road novel, Big Sur captures Kerouac (here named Jack Duluoz) trying to escape the clamor of beatnik adulation by retreating to Lawrence Ferlinghetti's peaceful cabin in Big Sur. What begins as a pastoral regeneration descends into a personal hell when Kerouac suffers an alcoholic breakdown. Written in Kerouac's elegantly poetic and rapid-fire prose, Big Sur is both beautiful and horrific, a clear-eyed recollection of facing down his many demons and willing himself to survive them.