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Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac by Tom Palumbo circa 1956
Born Jean Louis Kerouac[1]
March 12, 1922(1922-03-12)
Lowell, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died October 21, 1969(1969-10-21) (aged 47)
St. Petersburg, Florida, U.S.
Occupation Novelist, Poet, Painter
Nationality American
Genres Beat Poets
Literary movement Beat
Notable work(s) On the Road
The Dharma Bums
Big Sur

Jean-Louis "Jack" Kerouac (pronounced /ˈkÉruːæk/, /ˈkÉrÉæk/; March 12, 1922 â October 21, 1969) was an Canadian-American novelist and poet. He is considered a literary iconoclast, and alongside William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, a pioneer of the Beat Generation.[2] Kerouac is recognized for his spontaneous method of writing covering topics such as Catholic spirituality, jazz, promiscuity, Buddhism, drugs, poverty, and travel. His writings have inspired other writers, including Ken Kesey, Bob Dylan, Richard Brautigan, Thomas Pynchon, Hunter S. Thompson, Lester Bangs, Tom Robbins, Will Clarke, Haruki Murakami.[citation needed] Unsympathetic critics of his work have labeled it "slapdash", "grossly sentimental",[3] and "immoral".[4] Kerouac became an underground celebrity and, with other beats, a progenitor of the Hippie movement.[5] At age 47 in 1969 Kerouac died from internal bleeding due to long-standing abuse of alcohol. Since his death Kerouac's literary prestige has grown and several previously unseen works have been published. All of his books are in print today, among them: On the Road, The Dharma Bums, Mexico City Blues, The Subterraneans, Desolation Angels, Visions of Cody and Big Sur.


[edit] Biography

[edit] Adolescence

Jack Kerouac was born on 9 Lupine Road in the West Centralville section of Lowell Massachusetts, 2nd floor.

Jack Kerouac was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, to French-Canadian parents, Léo-Alcide Kéroack and Gabrielle-Ange Lévesque, natives of the province of Quebec, Canada. There is some confusion surrounding his original name partly due to variations on the spelling of Kerouac, and partly because of Kerouac's own promotion of his name as Jean-Louis Lebris de Kerouac. His reason for doing so seems to be linked to an old family legend that the Kerouacs had descended from Baron François Louis Alexandre Lebris de Kerouac. Kerouac's baptism certificate lists his name simply as Jean Louis Kirouac, and indeed Kirouac is the most common spelling of the name in Quebec.[6] Kerouac claimed he descended from a Breton nobleman, granted land after the Battle of Quebec, whose sons all married Native Americans.[7] Research has shown that Kerouac's roots were indeed in Brittany, and he was descended from a middle-class merchant colonist, François-Urbain Le Bihan, Sieur de Kervoac, whose sons married French Canadians.[8][9] Kerouac's own father had been born to a family of potato farmers in the village of Saint-Hubert-de-Rivière-du-Loup. He also had various stories on the etymology of his surname, usually tracing it to Irish, Breton, or other Celtic roots. In one interview he claimed it was the name of a dead Celtic language and in another said it was from the Irish for "language of the water" and related to Kerwick.[10] Kerouac, derived from Kervoach, is the name of one hamlet situated in Brittany in Lanmeur, near Morlaix.[11]

His third of several homes growing up in the West Centralville section of Lowell, Jack Kerouac later referred to 34 Beaulieu Street as "sad Beaulieu". The Kirouack family was living there in 1926 when Jack's big brother Gerard died of rheumatic fever at the age of nine. Jack was four at the time, and would later say that Gerard followed him in life as a guardian angel. This is the Gerard of Kerouac's novel Visions of Gerard.

Despite the future elaborations, around the house during his childhood, Kerouac was referred to as Ti Jean or little John.[6] Kerouac spoke the French-Canadian dialect called Joual until he learned English at age six. He was a serious child who was devoted to his mother who played an important role in his life. She was a devout Catholic, instilling this into both her sons; this can be seen throughout his works.[12] Kerouac would later go on to say that his mother was the only woman he ever loved.[13] When he was four, he was profoundly affected by the death of his nine-year-old brother, Gérard, from rheumatic fever, an event later described in his novel Visions of Gerard. His mother sought solace in her faith, while his father abandoned it wallowing in drinking, gambling and smoking.[12] Some of Kerouac's poetry was written in French, and in letters written to friend Allen Ginsberg towards the end of his life, he expressed his desire to speak his parents' native tongue again. Recently, it was discovered that Kerouac first started writing On the Road in French, a language in which he also wrote two unpublished novels.[14] The writings are in dialectal Quebec French.

On May 17, 1928, while six years old, Kerouac had his first Sacrament of Confession.[15] For penance he was told to say a rosary, during the meditation of which he imagined he could hear God tell him that he had a good soul, that he would suffer in his life and die in pain and horror, but would in the end have salvation.[15] This experiance, along with his dying brother's claim that he'd had a vision of the Virgin Mary, and the nuns' fawning over the dying boy, convinced that he was a saint, incorporated with later found Buddhism and ongoing commitment to Christ, solidified into his worldview which informs his work.[15]

There were few African-Americans in Lowell,[16] so the young Kerouac was not raised in an environment of racial hatred as many were at the time, though he was exposed to a great degree of anti-Semitism, a movement that was on the rise in 1930s America.[17] Kerouac once recalled to Ted Berrigan, in an interview with the Paris Review, an incident from the 1940s, in which his mother and father were walking together in a Jewish neighborhood in the Lower East Side of New York, saying "And here comes a whole bunch of rabbis walking arm in arm... teedah- teedah - teedah... and they wouldn't part for this Christian man and his wife. So my father went POOM! and knocked a rabbi right in the gutter."[18][19] His father, after the death of his child and apostacy, had treated a priest with similar contempt, angrily throwing him out of the house after an invitation by Gabrielle.[12]

Kerouac's skills as a running back in American football earned him scholarship offers from Boston College, Notre Dame and Columbia University. He entered Columbia University after spending a year at Horace Mann School, where he earned the requisite grades to matriculate to Columbia. Kerouac cracked a tibia playing football during his freshman season, and he argued constantly with Coach Lou Little who kept him benched. While at Columbia, Kerouac wrote several sports articles for the student newspaper, the Columbia Daily Spectator.[citation needed] He also studied at The New School.

[edit] Early adulthood

When his football career at Columbia soured, Kerouac dropped out of the university. He continued to live for a period on New York City's Upper West Side with his girlfriend, Edie Parker. It was during this time that he met the peopleânow famousâwith whom he would always be associated, the subjects injected into many of his novels: the so-called Beat Generation, including Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, John Clellon Holmes, Herbert Huncke and William S. Burroughs.

Kerouac joined the United States Merchant Marine in 1942, and in 1943 joined the United States Navy, but he only served eight days of active duty before arriving on the sick list. According to his medical report Jack Kerouac said he âasked for an aspirin for his headaches and they diagnosed me Dementia Praecox and sent me here.â The medical examiner reported Jack Kerouacâs military adjustment was poor, quoting Kerouac: âI just canât stand it; I like to be by myselfâ. Two days later he was honorably discharged on psychiatric grounds (he was of "indifferent character" with a diagnosis of "schizoid personality").[20]

In 1944, Kerouac was arrested as a material witness in the murder of David Kammerer, who had been stalking Kerouac's friend Lucien Carr since Carr was a teenager in St. Louis. William Burroughs was himself a native of St. Louis, and it was through Carr that Kerouac came to know both Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg. According to Carr, Kammerer's obsession with Carr turned aggressive, causing Carr to stab him to death in self-defense. After turning to Kerouac for help, together they disposed of evidence. Afterwards, as advised by Burroughs, they turned themselves in to the police. Kerouac's father, unwilling and unable, refused to pay his bail. Kerouac then agreed to marry Edie Parker if she'd pay the bail. Their marriage was annulled a year later, and Kerouac and Burroughs briefly collaborated on a novel about the Kammerer killing entitled And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks. Though the book was not published during the lifetimes of either Kerouac or Burroughs, an excerpt eventually appeared in Word Virus: A William S. Burroughs Reader (and as noted below, the novel was finally published late 2008). Kerouac also later wrote about the killing in his novel Vanity of Duluoz.

Jack Kerouac lived with his parents for a time above a corner drug store in Ozone Park (now this flower shop), while writing some of his earliest work.

Later, he lived with his parents in the Ozone Park neighborhood of Queens, after they also moved to New York. He wrote his first novel, The Town and the City, and began the famous On the Road around 1949 while living there.[21] His friends jokingly called him "The Wizard of Ozone Park," alluding to Thomas Edison's nickname, "the Wizard of Menlo Park" and to the film The Wizard of Oz.[22]

[edit] Early career: 1950â1957

Kerouac wrote constantly, carrying a notebook with him everywhere. Letters to friends and family members tended to be long and rambling, including great detail about his daily life and thoughts. Prior to becoming a writer, he tried a varied list of careers. He was a sports reporter for The Lowell Sun; a temporary worker in construction and food service; a United States Merchant Marine and he joined the United States Navy twice.

The Town and the City was published in 1950 under the name "John Kerouac" and, though it earned him a few respectable reviews, the book sold poorly. Heavily influenced by Kerouac's reading of Thomas Wolfe, it reflects on the generational epic formula and the contrasts of small town life versus the multi-dimensional, and larger, city. The book was heavily edited by Robert Giroux; some 400 pages were taken out.

For the next six years, Kerouac continued to write regularly. Building upon previous drafts tentatively titled "The Beat Generation" and "Gone on the Road," Kerouac completed what is now known as On the Road in April 1951 while living at 454 West 20th Street in Manhattan with his second wife, Joan Haverty.[23] The book was largely autobiographical and describes Kerouac's road-trip adventures across the United States and Mexico with Neal Cassady in the late-40s, as well as his relationships with other Beat writers and friends. He completed the first version of the novel during a three-week extended session of spontaneous confessional prose. Kerouac wrote the final draft in 20 days, with Joan, his wife, supplying him bowls of pea soup and mugs of coffee to keep him going.[24] Before beginning, Kerouac cut sheets of tracing paper [25] into long strips, wide enough for a type-writer, and taped them together into a 120-foot (37 m) long roll he then fed into the machine. This allowed him to type continuously without the interruption of reloading pages. The resulting manuscript contained no chapter or paragraph breaks and was much more explicit than what would eventually be printed. Though "spontaneous," Kerouac had prepared long in advance before beginning to write.[26] In fact, according to his Columbia professor and mentor Mark Van Doren, he had outlined much of the work in his journals over the several preceding years.

Though the work was completed quickly, Kerouac had a long and difficult time finding a publisher. Publishers rejected the manuscript because of its experimental writing style and its sympathetic tone towards minorities and marginalized social groups of post-War America. Many editors were also uncomfortable with the idea of publishing a book that contained what were, for the era, graphic descriptions of drug-use and homosexual behavior - a move that could result in obscenity charges being filed, a fate that later befell Burroughs' Naked Lunch and Ginsberg's Howl.

According to Kerouac, On the Road "was really a story about two Catholic buddies roaming the country in search of God. And we found him. I found him in the sky, in Market Street San Francisco (those 2 visions), and Dean (Neal) had God sweating out of his forehead all the way. THERE IS NO OTHER WAY OUT FOR THE HOLY MAN: HE MUST SWEAT FOR GOD. And once he has found Him, the Godhood of God is forever Established and really must not be spoken about." [12]

In late 1951, Joan Haverty left and divorced Kerouac while pregnant. In February 1952, she gave birth to Kerouac's only child Jan Kerouac, though he refused to acknowledge her as his own until a blood test confirmed it 9 years later.[27] For the next several years Kerouac continued writing and traveling, taking extensive trips throughout the U.S. and Mexico and often fell into bouts of depression and heavy drug and alcohol use. During this period he finished drafts for what would become 10 more novels, including The Subterraneans, Doctor Sax, Tristessa, and Desolation Angels, which chronicle many of the events of these years.

In 1954, Kerouac discovered Dwight Goddard's A Buddhist Bible at the San Jose Library, which marked the beginning of his immersion into Buddhism. However, Kerouac had taken an interest in Eastern thought in 1946 when he read Heinrich Zimmer's Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization. Kerouac's stance on eastern texts then differed from when he took it up again in the early to mid-1950s. In 1955 Kerouac wrote a biography of Siddhartha Gautama, entitled Wake Up, which was unpublished during his lifetime but eventually serialised in Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, 1993â95. It was published by Viking in September 2008.[28]

House in Orlando, Florida where Kerouac lived and wrote The Dharma Bums

Politically, Kerouac found enemies on both sides of the spectrum, the right disdaining his association with drugs and sexual libertinism and the left contemptuous of his anti-communism and Catholicism; characteristically he watched the 1954 Senate McCarthy hearings smoking pot and rooting for the anti-communist crusader, Senator Joe McCarthy.[12] In Desolation Angels he wrote, "when I went to Columbia all they tried to teach us was Marx, as if I cared" (considering Marxism, like Freudianism, to be an illusory tangent).[29]

In 1957, after being rejected by several other firms, On the Road was finally purchased by Viking Press, which demanded major revisions prior to publication.[26] Many of the more sexually explicit passages were removed and, fearing libel suits, pseudonyms were used for the book's "characters". These revisions have often led to criticisms of the alleged spontaneity of Kerouac's style.[25]

[edit] Later career: 1957â1969

In July 1957, Kerouac moved to a small house at 1418â Clouser Avenue in the College Park section of Orlando, Florida, to await the release of On the Road. Weeks later, a review appeared in the New York Times proclaiming Kerouac the voice of a new generation. Kerouac was hailed as a major American writer. His friendship with Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs and Gregory Corso, among others, became a notorious representation of the Beat Generation. The term âBeat Generationâ was invented by Kerouac during a conversation held with fellow novelist John Clellon Holmes. His fame would come as an unmanageable surge that would ultimately be his undoing. Kerouac's novel is often described as the defining work of the post-World War II Beat Generation and Kerouac came to be called "the king of the beat generation,"[30] a term that he never felt comfortable with. He once observed, "I'm not a beatnik, I'm a Catholic", showing the reporter a painting of Pope Paul VI and saying, "You know who painted that? Me." [31]

The success of On the Road brought Kerouac instant fame. His celebrity status brought publishers desiring unwanted manuscripts which were previously rejected before its publication.[13] After nine months, he no longer felt safe in public. He was badly beaten by three men outside the San Remo Bar in New York one night. Neal Cassady, possibly as a result of his new notoriety as the central character of the book, was set up and arrested for selling marijuana.[32][33]

In response, Kerouac chronicled parts of his own experience with Buddhism, as well as some of his adventures with Gary Snyder and other San Francisco-area poets, in The Dharma Bums, set in California and Washington and published in 1958. It was written in Orlando between November 26[34] and December 7, 1957.[35] To begin writing Dharma Bums, Kerouac typed onto a ten-foot length of teletype paper, to avoid interrupting his flow for paper changes, as he had done six years previously for On the Road.[34]

Kerouac was demoralized by criticism of Dharma Bums from such respected figures in the American field of Buddhism as Zen teacher Ruth Fuller Sasaki and Alan Watts. He wrote to Snyder, referring to a meeting with D. T. Suzuki, that "even Suzuki was looking at me through slitted eyes as tho I was a monstrous imposter." He passed up the opportunity to reunite with Snyder in California, and explained to Whalen, "I'd be ashamed to confront you and Gary now I've become so decadent and drunk and dontgiveashit. I'm not a Buddhist any more."[36]

Kerouac also wrote and narrated a "Beat" movie entitled Pull My Daisy in 1959. Originally to be called "The Beat Generation", the title was changed at the last moment when MGM released a film by the same name which sensationalized "beatnik" culture.

John Antonelli's 1985 documentary Kerouac, the Movie begins and ends with footage of Kerouac reading from On the Road and Visions of Cody on The Tonight Show with Steve Allen in 1957. Kerouac appears intelligent but shy. "Are you nervous?" asks Steve Allen. "Naw," says Kerouac, sweating and fidgeting.

Kerouac developed something of a friendship with the scholar Alan Watts (cryptically named Arthur Wayne in Kerouac's novel Big Sur, and Alex Aums in Desolation Angels). Kerouac moved to Northport, New York in March 1958, six months after releasing On the Road, to care for his aging mother Gabrielle and to hide from his new-found celebrity status.

[edit] Death

Kerouac died on October 21, 1969 at St. Anthony's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, one day after being rushed with severe abdominal pain from his St. Petersburg home by ambulance.

Lowell, Massachusetts Grave site, Lowell Massachusetts

His death, at the age of 47, resulted from an internal hemorrhage (bleeding esophageal varices) caused by cirrhosis, the result of a lifetime of heavy drinking.[37][38] Kerouac is buried in his hometown of Lowell and was honored posthumously with a Doctor of Letters degree from his hometown's University of Massachusetts Lowell on June 2, 2007.

At the time of his death, he was living with his third wife, Stella Sampas Kerouac, and his mother, Gabrielle. Kerouac's mother inherited most of his estate. When she died in 1973, Stella inherited the rights to his works under a purported will. Family members challenged the will and, on July 24, 2009, a judge in Pinellas County, Florida ruled that the will of Gabrielle Kerouac was a forgery.[39]

In 2007, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of On the Road's publishing, Viking issued two new editions: On the Road: The Original Scroll, and On the Road: 50th Anniversary Edition.[40][41] By far the more significant is Scroll, a transcription of the original draft typed as one long paragraph on sheets of tracing paper which Kerouac taped together to form a 120-foot (37 m) scroll. The text is more sexually explicit than Viking allowed to be published in 1957, and also uses the real names of Kerouac's friends rather than the fictional names he later substituted. Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay paid $2.43 million for the original scroll and allowed an exhibition tour that concluded at the end of 2009. The other new issue, 50th Anniversary Edition, is a reissue of the 40th anniversary issue under an updated title.

In March 2008, Penguin Books announced that the Kerouac/Burroughs manuscript, And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks would be published for the first time in November 2008.[42] Previously, a fragment of the manuscript had been published in the Burroughs compendium, Word Virus.[43] Grove Press published the first American edition of the novel on Nov. 1, 2008.

[edit] Works

[edit] Style

Kerouac is generally considered to be the father of the Beat movement, although he actively disliked such labels. Kerouac's method was heavily influenced by the prolific explosion of Jazz, especially the Bebop genre established by Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, and others. Later, Kerouac would include ideas he developed from his Buddhist studies that began with Gary Snyder. He often referred to his style as spontaneous prose[citation needed], a literary technique akin to stream of consciousness. Although Kerouacâs prose was spontaneous and purportedly without edits, he primarily wrote autobiographical novels (or Roman à clef) based upon actual events from his life and the people with whom he interacted.

On the Road excerpt in the center of Jack Kerouac Alley

Many of his books exemplified this approach, including On the Road, Visions of Cody, Visions of Gerard, Big Sur, and The Subterraneans. The central features of this writing method were the ideas of breath (borrowed from Jazz and from Buddhist meditation breathing), improvising words over the inherent structures of mind and language, and not editing a single word (much of his work was edited by Donald Merriam Allen, a major figure in Beat Generation poetry who also edited some of Ginsberg's work as well). Connected with his idea of breath was the elimination of the period, preferring to use a long, connecting dash instead. As such, the phrases occurring between dashes might resemble improvisational jazz licks. When spoken, the words might take on a certain kind of rhythm, though none of it pre-meditated.

Kerouac greatly admired Gary Snyder, many of whose ideas influenced him. The Dharma Bums contains accounts of a mountain climbing trip Kerouac took with Snyder, and also whole paragraphs from letters Snyder had written to Kerouac.[44] While living with Snyder outside Mill Valley, California in 1956, Kerouac was working on a book centering around Snyder, which he was thinking of calling Visions of Gary.[45] (This eventually became Dharma Bums, which Kerouac described as "mostly about [Snyder].")[46] That summer, Kerouac took a job as a fire lookout on Desolation Peak in the North Cascades in Washington, after hearing Snyder's and Philip Whalen's accounts of their own lookout stints. Kerouac described the experience in his novel Desolation Angels.

He would go on for hours, often drunk, to friends and strangers about his method. Allen Ginsberg, initially unimpressed, would later be one of its great proponents, and indeed, he was apparently influenced by Kerouac's free flowing prose method of writing in the composition of his masterpiece "Howl". It was at about the time that Kerouac wrote The Subterraneans that he was approached by Ginsberg and others to formally explicate his style. Among the writings he set down specifically about his Spontaneous Prose method, the most concise would be Belief and Technique for Modern Prose, a list of thirty "essentials".

"The only people for me are the mad ones, 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, and in the middle, you see the blue center-light pop, and everybody goes ahh..."

  1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for your own joy
  2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
  3. Try never get drunk outside your own house
  4. Be in love with your life
  5. Something that you feel will find its own form
  6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
  7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
  8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
  9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
  10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
  11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
  12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
  13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
  14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
  15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
  16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
  17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
  18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
  19. Accept loss forever
  20. Believe in the holy contour of life
  21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
  22. Don't think of words when you stop but to see picture better
  23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
  24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
  25. Write for the world to read and see your exact pictures of it
  26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
  27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
  28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
  29. You're a Genius all the time
  30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven

Some believed that at times Kerouac's writing technique did not produce lively or energetic prose. Truman Capote famously said about Kerouac's work, "That's not writing, it's typing".[47] Despite such criticism, it should be kept in mind that what Kerouac said about writing and how he wrote are sometimes seen to be separate. According to Carolyn Cassady, and other people who knew him, he rewrote and rewrote. However, it should be taken into account that throughout most of the '50s Kerouac was constantly trying to have his work published, and consequently he often revised and re-arranged manuscripts in an often futile attempt to interest publishers, as is clearly documented in his collected letters (which are in themselves wonderful examples of his style). The Subterraneans and Visions of Cody are possibly the best examples of Kerouac's free-flowing spontaneous prose method.

Although Kerouac is known mainly as being a novelist, he was a poet as well and performed his work as spoken word. He âdeveloped a new definition for American haiku in his journal Some of the Dharma which are short three-line confessional poems that served to enlighten.[48] The haiku style he used was not meant to be difficult nor apply to any traditional methods of prose. Some were as quick as a breath and just as witty, honest, abstract and sometimes glum. For example, "Arms folded/ to the moon,/ among the cows", is direct and honest but also draws a picture of a man staring at the moon in the middle of the country side among animals. There is a hint of desolation in the voice of a man who is standing "arms folded" pondering during the night. Kerouac experimented with a variety of methods, including strong jazz influence as can be seen with the dashes. Jack Kerouac performed several spoken word pieces that are still available for listening today.[48] His haiku had a spontaneous sound which described minute everyday occurrences as seen below.

Close your eyes -

Landlord knocking

On the back door.

The bottoms of my shoes

are wet

from walking in the rain

In my medicine cabinet,

the winter fly

has died of old age.

Evening comingâthe office girl

Unloosing her scarf.

November - how nasal

the drunken

Conductor's call

Although the body of Kerouac's work has been published in English, recent research has suggested that, aside from already known correspondence and letters written to friends and family, he also wrote unpublished works of fiction in French. A manuscript entitled Sur le Chemin (On the road) completed in five days in Mexico during December 1952 is a telling example of Kerouac's attempts at writing in Joual,[49] a dialect typical of the French-Canadian working class of the time, which can be summarized as a form of expression utilising both old patois and modern French mixed with modern English words (windshield being a modern English expression used casually by some French Canadians even today). Set in 1935, mostly on the American east coast, the short manuscript (50 pages) explores some of the recurring themes of Kerouac's literature by way of a narrative very close to, if not identical to, the spoken word. It tells the story of a group of men who agree to meet in New York, including a young 13-year-old Kerouac whom he refers to as Ti-Jean. Ti-Jean and his father Leo (Kerouac's father's real name) leave Boston by car, traveling to assist friends looking for a place to stay in the city. The story actually follows two cars and their passengers, one driving out of Denver and the other from Boston, until they eventually meet in a dingy bar in New York's Chinatown. In it, Kerouac's "French" is written in a form which has little regard for grammar or spelling, relying often on phonetics in order to render an authentic reproduction of his French-Canadian vernacular. Kerouac does not only use Joual freely, but frequently confuses grammatical word genders and verb tenses; a phenomenon typical to the francophone speech pattern of the assimilated French Canadians of the American east coast at the time.[50] Even though this work shares the same title as one of his best known English novels, it is rather the original French version of a short text that would later become Old bull in the Bowery (also unpublished) once translated to English prose by Kerouac himself. Sur le Chemin is Kerouac's second known French manuscript, the first being La nuit est ma Femme written in early 1951 and completed a few days before he began the original English version of On the Road.

[edit] Influences

Kerouac's early writing, particularly his first novel The Town and the City, was more conventional, and bore the strong influence of Thomas Wolfe. The technique Kerouac developed that later made Kerouac famous was heavily influenced by Jazz, especially Bebop, and later, Buddhism, as well as the famous "Joan Anderson letter" authored by Neal Cassady.[51] The Diamond Sutra was the most important Buddhist text for Kerouac, and "probably one of the three or four most influential things he ever read".[52] In 1955, he began an intensive study of this sutra, in a repeating weekly cycle, devoting one day to each of the six Päramitäs, and the seventh to the concluding passage on Samädhi. This was his sole reading on Desolation Peak, and he hoped by this means to condition his mind to emptiness, and possibly to have a vision.[53]

However, often overlooked[54] but perhaps his greatest literary influence may be that of James Joyce whose work he alludes to, by far, more than any other author.[55] Kerouac had the highest esteem for Joyce, emulated and expanded on his techniques.[56][57] Regarding On the Road, he wrote in a letter to Ginsberg, "I can tell you now as I look back on the flood of language. It is like Ulysses and should be treated with the same gravity.[58] Indeed, Old Angel Midnight has been called "the closest thing to Finnegans Wake in American literature." [59]

[edit] Legacy

Kerouac is considered by some as the "King of the Beats",[30] a title with which Kerouac himself was deeply uncomfortable.[citation needed] Kerouac's plainspeak manner of writing prose, as well as his nearly long-form free verse style of novelistic "neologism", inspired countless beat writers and neo-beat writers and artists, such as painter George Condo, as well as poets and philosophers such as Roger Craton and filmmaker John McNaughton, etc.

In 1974 the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics was opened in his honor by Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman at Naropa University, a private Buddhist University in Boulder, Colorado. The school offers an MFA in Writing & Poetics, a BA in Writing and Literature, a Summer Writing Program, and MFA in Creative Writing.[60] From 1978 to 1992, Joy Walsh published 28 issues of a magazine devoted to Kerouac, Moody Street Irregulars.

In 1997, the house on Clouser Avenue where The Dharma Bums was written was purchased by a newly formed non-profit group entitled The Jack Kerouac Writers in Residence Project of Orlando, Inc. This group continues to this day to provide aspiring writers to live in the same house Kerouac was inspired in, with room and board covered, for three months.

In 2007, Kerouac was awarded a posthumous honorary degree from the University of Massachusetts Lowell.[61]

In 2009, a movie titled One Fast Move or I'm Gone - Kerouac's Big Sur was released. It chronicles the time in Kerouac's life which led to his novel Big Sur. The movie documents various actors, writers, artists, and close friends giving their insight into the book. The movie also sheds light on the real people and places on which Kerouac based his characters and settings, including the cabin in Bixby Canyon. An album was released to accompany the movie, titled "One Fast Move or I'm Gone". It features Benjamin Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie) and Jay Farrar (Son Volt) who perform songs based on Kerouac's Big Sur.

In 2010, during the first weekend of October, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the literary festival "Lowell Celebrates Kerouac" was held in Kerouac's birthplace of Lowell, Massachusetts featuring many walking-tours, literary and musical performances and seminars focused around Kerouac's work and that of the Beat Generation.

[edit] Bibliography

[edit] Discography

Studio albums
Compilation albums

[edit] References

  1. ^ McGrath, Charles. "Another Side of Kerouac: The Dharma Bum as Sports Nut," New York Times (May 15, 2009). Accessed May 16, 2009.
  2. ^ The view from On the road: the ... - Google Books. Books.google.com. http://books.google.com/books?id=PNRHQ96szrsC&pg=PA4&lpg=PA4&dq=kerouac+iconoclast+literary&source=bl&ots=vAaUkb3MRu&sig=jTp_7Y-Ty25vUwdoXe-ChfGNZ2U&hl=en&ei=g7wbS57gNpT0sQOjkYX6Bw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10&ved=0CCgQ6AEwCTgo#v=onepage&q=&f=false. Retrieved 2010-01-29. 
  3. ^ "Jack Kerouac's Visions of Gerard". Beatdom.com. http://www.beatdom.com/?p=685. Retrieved 2010-01-29. 
  4. ^ "On the Road (Criticism): Information from". Answers.com. 2010-01-14. http://www.answers.com/topic/on-the-road-novel-7. Retrieved 2010-01-29. 
  5. ^ Countering the counterculture ... - Google Books. Books.google.com. http://books.google.com/books?id=F5QXB-1D8kgC&pg=PA110&lpg=PA110&dq=kerouac+progenitor+hippie&source=bl&ots=GYCnOk1IGI&sig=5HXeMT3EqOvycT_0w2pT010ai9Y&hl=en&ei=w7gbS7jGJ5L-sgPDtOj8BA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CBUQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=kerouac%20progenitor%20hippie&f=false. Retrieved 2010-01-29. 
  6. ^ a b Nicosia, Gerald- Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac, 1983.
  7. ^ D., 'The Breton Traveller', in Wills, D. (ed.) Beatdom Vol. 4 (Mauling Press: Dundee, 2009)
  8. ^ Patricia Dagier, Jack Kerouac, Breton d'Amérique (Editions Le Télégramme, 2009)
  9. ^ Commemorative Plaques Kirouac at genealogie.org
  10. ^ Berrigan, Ted (1968). "The Art of Fiction No. 43: Jack Kerouac, pg. 49" (PDF). The Paris Review. Archived from the original on 2008-05-28. http://web.archive.org/web/20080528025958/http://www.parisreview.com/media/4260_KEROUAC.pdf. Retrieved 2008-05-14. 
  11. ^ Dagier, Patricia (2009). Jack Kerouac, Breton d'Amérique. Editions Le Télégramme. 
  12. ^ a b c d e Fellows, Mark The Apocalypse of Jack Kerouac: Meditations on the 30th Anniversary of his Death, Culture Wars Magazine, November 1999
  13. ^ a b http://www.beatmuseum.org/kerouac/jackkerouac.html
  14. ^ Anctil, Gabriel (September 5, 2007). "Les 50 ans d'On the Road - Kerouac voulait écrire en français". Le Devoir. http://www.ledevoir.com/2007/09/05/155613.html. Retrieved 2008-04-29. 
  15. ^ a b c Amburn, Ellis, Subterranean Kerouac: The Hidden Life of Jack Kerouac, p. 13-14 , MacMillan 1999
  16. ^ Patrick J. Mogan Cultural Center, University of Massachusetts Lowell. "1930 Black History Census Study, from: A Higher Home: An Exhibit on African-Americans in the Lowell Area during the 20th Century". http://ecommunity.uml.edu/blackhistory/pdf/cen_stu_1930.pdf. Retrieved 2008-05-14. 
  17. ^ Sarna, Jonathan D. & Golden, Jonathan (October 2000). "The American Jewish Experience in the Twentieth Century: Antisemitism and Assimilation". National Humanities Center. http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/tserve/twenty/tkeyinfo/jewishexp.htm. Retrieved 2008-05-15. 
  18. ^ Miles 1998, pg. 8
  19. ^ Berrigan 1968, pg. 14
  20. ^ "Hit The Road, Jack". The Smoking Gun. September 5, 2005. http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/0906052_jack_kerouac_1.html. Retrieved 2008-04-29. 
  21. ^ Fenton, Patrick (1997). "THE WIZARD OF OZONE PARK". Dharma Beat. Archived from the original on 2008-02-25. http://web.archive.org/web/20080225101624/http://www.wordsareimportant.com/ozonepark.htm. Retrieved 2008-05-27. 
  22. ^ Kilgannon, Corey (November 10, 2005). "On the Road, the One Called Cross Bay Boulevard". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/10/nyregion/10ink.html. Retrieved 2008-04-29. 
  23. ^ Wolf, Stephen (November 21â27, 2007). "An epic journey through the life of Jack Kerouac". The Villager. http://www.thevillager.com/villager_238/anepic.html. Retrieved 2008-05-14. 
  24. ^ Amburn, Ellis (October 5, 1999). Subterranean Kerouac: the hidden life of Jack Kerouac. http://books.google.com/books?id=bN0PJn6VCNIC&pg=PA164. Retrieved 2010-09-28. 
  25. ^ a b Sante, Luc (August 19, 2007). "On the Road Again". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/19/books/review/Sante2-t-1.html. Retrieved 2008-05-10. 
  26. ^ a b Shea, Andrea (July 5, 2007). "Jack Kerouac's Famous Scroll, 'On the Road' Again". NPR. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=14112461. Retrieved 2008-04-29. 
  27. ^ Dictionary of Literary Biography. "Jan Kerouac Biography". Dictionary of Literary Biography. http://www.bookrags.com/biography/jan-kerouac-dlb/. Retrieved 2008-05-10. 
  28. ^ "Wake Up! on Amazon.com". http://www.amazon.com/Wake-Up-Buddha-Jack-Kerouac/dp/0670019577/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1228158449&sr=1-1. Retrieved 2008-12-01. 
  29. ^ Fisher, James Terence The Catholic Counterculture in America, 1933-1962, p. 216, 237, UNC Press 2001
  30. ^ a b "Beat Generation Elders Meet to Praise Kerouac". New York Times. http://partners.nytimes.com/books/97/09/07/home/kerouac-conference.html. Retrieved 2008-12-16. 
  31. ^ The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/09/07/home/kerouac-obit.html. Retrieved May 5, 2010. 
  32. ^ Suiter 2002, pg. 237
  33. ^ Berrigan 1968, pg. 19â20
  34. ^ a b Suiter, John (2002). Poets on the Peaks Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, and Jack Kerouac in the North Cascades. Counterpoint. p. 229. ISBN 1582431485. 
  35. ^ Suiter 2002, pg. 233
  36. ^ Suiter 2002, pp. 242â243
  37. ^ "Author Kerouac Dies; Led 'Beat Generation'". Daily Collegian. October 22, 1969. http://digitalnewspapers.libraries.psu.edu/Default/Skins/BasicArch/Client.asp?Skin=BasicArch&&AppName=2&enter=true&BaseHref=DCG/1969/10/22&EntityId=Ar00402. Retrieved 2008-04-29. 
  38. ^ Kilgannon, Corey (December 31, 2006). "For Kerouac, Off the Road and Deep Into the Bottle, a Rest Stop on the Long Island Shore". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/31/nyregion/31kerouac.html. Retrieved 2008-12-23. 
  39. ^ "Judge Rules Kerouac Will a Forgery" Associated Press (July 28, 2009)
  40. ^ "Uncensored 'On the Road' to be published". MSNBC. July 26, 2006. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14045410/. Retrieved 2008-04-29. 
  41. ^ Bignell, Paul & Johnson, Andrew (July 29, 2007). "On the Road (uncensored). Discovered: Kerouac 'cuts'". The Independent (London). http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/news/on-the-road-uncensored-discovered-kerouac-cuts-459446.html. Retrieved 2008-04-29. 
  42. ^ "New Kerouac-Burroughs book due out". United Press International. March 2, 2008. http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/Entertainment/2008/03/02/new_kerouac-burroughs_book_due_out/2264/. Retrieved 2008-04-29. 
  43. ^ Burroughs, William (1998). Word virus. Grove Press. p. 576. ISBN 0802116299. 
  44. ^ Suiter 2002, pg. 186
  45. ^ Suiter 2002, pg. 189
  46. ^ Suiter 2002, pg. 228
  47. ^ Grobel, Lawrence (2000). Conversations with Capote. Da Capo Press. p. 32. ISBN 0306809443. 
  48. ^ a b http://www.fyreflyjar.net/jkhaiku.html
  49. ^ He refers to it in a letter addressed to Neil Cassady (who is commonly known as his inspiration for the character of Dean Moriarty) written on January 10, 1953
  50. ^ The novel starts: Dans l'mois d'Octobre 1935, y'arriva une machine du West, de Denver, sur le chemin pour New York. Dans la machine était Dean Pomeray, un so»lon; Dean Pomeray Jr., son ti fils de 9 ans et Rolfe Glendiver, son step son, 24. C'était un vieille Model T Ford, toutes les trois avaient leux yeux attachez sur le chemin dans la nuit à travers la windshield.
  51. ^ Cassady, Neal (1964). The First Third. Underground Press. p. 387. OCLC 42789161. 
  52. ^ Suiter 2002, pg. 191
  53. ^ Suiter 2002, pg. 210
  54. ^ To Be An Irishman Too: Kerouac's Irish Connection, p. 371, Studies: an Irish quarterly review, Volume 92, Talbot Press., 2003
  55. ^ Begnal, Michael, "I Dig Joyce": Jack Kerouac and Finnegans Wake, Philological Quarterly, Spring 1998
  56. ^ Begnal, Michael, "I Dig Joyce": Jack Kerouac and Finnegans Wake, Philological Quarterly, Spring 1998
  57. ^ Hemmer, Kurt, Encyclopedia of Beat Literature, p. 244, Infobase Publishing, 2007
  58. ^ Kerouac, Jack and Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters, Penguin, 2010
  59. ^ Hemmer, Kurt, Encyclopedia of Beat Literature, p. 244, Infobase Publishing, 2007
  60. ^ "The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics". Naropa University. http://www.naropa.edu/academics/graduate/writingpoetics/index.cfm. Retrieved 2008-05-10. 
  61. ^ "UMass Lowell Honors Jack Kerouac, U.S. Rep. John Lewis". University of Massachusetts. May 23, 2007. http://www.uml.edu/Media/PressReleases/Commencement_2007.html. Retrieved 2008-04-29. 

[edit] Further reading

  • Amburm, Ellis. Subterranean Kerouac: The Hidden Life of Jack Kerouac. St. Martin's Press, 1999. ISBN 0-312-20677-1
  • Amram, David. Offbeat: Collaborating with Kerouac. Thunder's Mouth Press, 2002.ISBN 1-56025-362-2
  • Bartlett, Lee (ed.) The Beats: Essays in Criticism. London: McFarland, 1981.
  • Beaulieu, Victor-Lévy. Jack Kerouac: A Chicken Essay. Coach House Press, 1975.
  • Brooks, Ken. The Jack Kerouac Digest. Agenda, 2001.
  • Cassady, Carolyn. Neal Cassady Collected Letters, 1944-1967. Penguin, 2004. ISBN 0-14-200217-8
  • Cassady, Carolyn. Off the Road: Twenty Years with Cassady, Kerouac and Ginsberg. Black Spring Press, 2007.
  • Challis, Chris. Quest for Kerouac. Faber & Faber, 1984.
  • Charters, Ann. Kerouac. San Francisco: Straight Arrow Books, 1973.
  • Charters, Ann (ed.) The Portable Beat Reader. New York: Penguin, 1992.
  • Charters, Ann (ed.) The Portable Jack Kerouac. New York: Penguin, 1995.
  • Christy, Jim. The Long Slow Death of Jack Kerouac. ECW Press, 1998.
  • Clark, Tom. Jack Kerouac. Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1984.
  • Coolidge, Clark. Now It's Jazz: Writings on Kerouac & the Sounds. Living Batch, 1999.
  • Cook, Bruce. The Beat Generation. Charles Scribner's Sons, 1971. ISBN 0-684-12371-1
  • Dagier, Patricia; Quéméner, Hervé. Jack Kerouac: Au Bout de la Route ... La Bretagne. An Here, 1999.
  • Dagier, Patricia ; Quéméner Hervé. Jack Kerouac, Breton d'Amérique. Editions Le Télégramme, 2009.
  • Edington, Stephen. Kerouac's Nashua Roots. Transition, 1999.
  • Ellis, R.J., Liar! Liar! Jack Kerouac - Novelist. Greenwich Exchange, 1999.
  • French, Warren. Jack Kerouac. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1986.
  • Gaffié, Luc. Jack Kerouac: The New Picaroon. Postillion Press, 1975.
  • Giamo, Ben. "Kerouac, The Word and The Way". Southern Illinois University Press, 2000.
  • Gifford, Barry. "Kerouac's Town". Creative Arts, 1977.
  • Gifford, Barry; Lee, Lawrence. "Jack's Book: An Oral Biography of Jack Kerouac". St. Martin's Press, 1978. ISBN 0-14-005269-0
  • Goldstein, N.W., "Kerouac's On the Road." Explicator 50.1. 1991.
  • Haynes, Sarah, "An Exploration of Jack Kerouac's Buddhism:Text and Life"
  • Heller, Christine Jack Kerouac and Gary Snyder: Chasing Zen Clouds
  • Hemmer, Kurt. "Encyclopedia of Beat Literature: The Essential Guide to the Lives and Works of the Beat Writers". Facts on File, Inc., 2007.
  • Hipkiss, Robert A., "Jack Kerouac: Prophet of the New Romanticism". Regents Press, 1976.
  • Holmes, John Clellon. "Visitor: Jack Kerouac in Old Saybrook". tuvoti, 1981.
  • Holmes, John Clellon. "Gone In October: Last Reflections on Jack Kerouac". Limberlost, 1985.
  • Holton, Robert. "On the Road: Kerouac's Ragged American Journey". Twayne, 1999.
  • Hrebeniak, Michael. "Action Writing: Jack Kerouac"s Wild Form," Carbondale IL., Southern Illinois UP, 2006.
  • Huebel, Harry Russell. "Jack Kerouac". Boise State University, 1979. available online
  • Hunt, Tim. "Kerouac's Crooked Road". Hamden: Archon Books, 1981.
  • Jarvis, Charles. "Visions of Kerouac". Ithaca Press, 1973.
  • Johnson, Joyce. "Minor Characters: A Young Woman's Coming-Of-Age in the Beat Orbit of Jack Kerouac". Penguin Books, 1999.
  • Johnson, Joyce. "Door Wide Open: A Beat Love Affair in Letters, 1957-1958". Viking, 2000.
  • Johnson, Ronna C., "You're Putting Me On: Jack Kerouac and the Postmodern Emergence". College Literature. 27.1 2000.
  • Jones, James T., "A Map of Mexico City Blues: Jack Kerouac as Poet". Southern Illinois University Press, 1992.
  • Jones, James T., "Jack Kerouac's Duluoz Legend". Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1999.
  • Jones, Jim. "Use My Name: Kerouac's Forgotten Families". ECW Press, 1999.
  • Jones, Jim. "Jack Kerouac's Nine Lives". Elbow/Cityful Press, 2001.
  • Kealing, Bob. "Kerouac in Florida: Where the Road Ends". Arbiter Press, 2004.
  • Kerouac, Joan Haverty. "Nobody's Wife: The Smart Aleck and the King of the Beats". Creative Arts, 2000.
  • Leland, John. Why Kerouac Matters: The Lessons of On the Road (They're Not What You Think). New York: Viking Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-670-06325-3
  • Maher Jr., Paul. "Kerouac: The Definitive Biography". Lanham: Taylor Trade P, July 2004 ISBN 0-87833-305-3
  • Maher, Paul, Jr. We Know Time: The Literary Cosmos of Jack Kerouac (unpublished work-in-progress)
  • McNally, Dennis. "Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, the Beat Generation, and America". Da Capo Press, 2003. ISBN 0-306-81222-3
  • Miles, Barry. "Jack Kerouac: King of the Beats". Virgin, 1998.
  • Montgomery, John. "Jack Kerouac: A Memoir ...". Giligia Press, 1970.
  • Montgomery, John. "Kerouac West Coast". Fels & Firn Press, 1976.
  • Montgomery, John. "The Kerouac We Knew". Fels & Firn Press, 1982.
  • Montgomery, John. "Kerouac at the Wild Boar". Fels & Firn Press, 1986.
  • Mortenson, Erik R., "Beating Time: Configurations of Temporality in Jack Kerouac's On the Road". College Literature 28.3. 2001.
  • Motier, Donald. "Gerard: The Influence of Jack Kerouac's Brother on his Life and Writing". Beaulieu Street Press, 1991.
  • Nicosia, Gerald. "Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac". Berkeley: U of Cal P, 1994. ISBN 0-520-08569-8
  • Parker, Brad. "Jack Kerouac: An Introduction". Lowell Corporation for the Humanities, 1989.
  • Sandison, David. "Jack Kerouac". Hamlyn, 1999.
  • Swartz, Omar. "The View From On the Road: The Rhetorical Vision of Jack Kerouac". Southern Illinois University Press, 1999.
  • Swick, Thomas. "South Florida Sun Sentinel". February 22, 2004. Article: "Jack Kerouac in Orlando".
  • Theado, Matt. "Understanding Jack Kerouac". Columbia: University of South Carolina, 2000.
  • Turner, Steve. "Angelheaded Hipster: A Life of Jack Kerouac". Viking Books, 1996. ISBN 0-670-87038-2
  • Walsh, Joy, editor. Moody Street Irregulars: A Jack Kerouac Newsletter
  • Weinreich, Regina. "The Spontaneous Prose of Jack Kerouac". Southern Illinois University Press, 1987.
  • Wills, David, editor. "Beatdom Magazine". Mauling Press, 2007.

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