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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 Twentieth 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 several new drafts, that Viking published, in 1957, the novel known to us today. On the occasion of the fiftieth 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 context.


Published: Penguin Group on
ISBN: 9781101201572
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What a piece of crap! I don't get the hype over this book. A slacker goes across the country and hangs with other slackers and this is a great work. Books must have been REALLY BAD in 1955-1957 if this is a classic. Sal, Dean and the rest of this group needs to get a life, and if this Kerouac best book I don't even want to read his other stuff!A classic that I just don't getmore
My two stars are for the really quite beautiful descriptive prose. Frankly, there are enough self-important, selfish, self-aggrandising arseholes in the world as it is, and I chose not to be around them. I have no desire to spend my reading time with the same kind of people, and so am putting this back on the shelf at the 2/3 mark. I have no problem with dropping out, doing drugs and bollocking on while on said drugs, but I'm not interested in people who believe their happiness and "freedom" are more important than everyone else's happiness and freedom, and that anyone that disagrees with that is a pathetic, petty square.

To my mind, this is basically the documentation of one somewhat pretentious and immature young man's hero worship of a moronic, abusive young man who treats everyone around him like shit. I believe Sal has some kind of realisation about this in the end, but for me that is too little, too late.more
This book's influence on me can't be overstated. I took a class on the Beat Generation in tenth grade, which is right when all the kicks seem most dazzling, and I thought yes! This is the crazy bohemian life! And I spent the next ten years trying to be a Beatnik. I hitchhiked from Atlanta to Philadelphia just because according to this book that's the sort of thing one does. No one really hitchhiked, already, in those days; old hippies would pick me up looking bewildered. Well, and racist truckers, too, so some things never change. I would have given my left nut for some benzedrine, or barring that for someone at least to explain to me what the fuck it was. (I still don't know.) I even replayed Dean Moriarty's shoplifting scene note-for-note. That's how seriously I took this book.

So you can understand that, revisiting this as a 38-year-old dude who says things like "Man, it's 11, I'm beat" and means "tired," I was not at all keen to revisit this. It's a young man's book. Oh God, getting drunk and talking about the snake of the world...remember when that felt dangerous?

But it's not totally silly, actually - I mean, it is, but not all silly things are pointless and there's nothing wrong with a snake of the world, intrinsically.

And to make matters worse, I'd just slogged through nearly half of Tropic of Cancer, which is terrible, and at 38 I'm aware that On The Road is just another in a long tradition of bohemian literature going back at least as far as De Quincey. And I was afraid On The Road would turn out to be as pompous and careless as Tropic of Cancer turns out to be, just a guy masturbating his talent onto the face of the world, which makes a spectacle but does nobody any good.

But the thing with Tropic of Cancer is that Henry Miller is essentially an asshole, and Kerouac isn't. Kerouac is eager to please, to connect, and On The Road turns out to be much less annoying than I was afraid it would be. It's still a young man's book! Don't get me wrong! But it's...it's really kindof sweet. Kerouac doesn't have Miller's raging ego: he lets Dean Moriarty take center stage. (Imagine a world where Miller isn't the lead actor in his own drama!) On The Road is a sputtering grasp at the idea of the Great American Novel, and while it doesn't come anywhere near grabbing the raft, it's worth reading.

I see it, now, as a warning. Kerouac was hitting 30 when he wrote it, and you sense a desperation: "Where is my story?" You sense some manipulation, too. Dean Moriarty (Neal Cassady) is a mentally unstable man, and I think the Beats used him for stories. I was inspired by him when I was young; now I feel a deep sadness for him. I see that filthy-bandaged thumb. Neither Kerouac nor Cassady lived to 50. I had a good time when I was young; I'm glad I've graduated to different kinds of good times now.

I should say, Howl covers basically the same territory and is considerably better. All the things you can feel Kerouac striving for throughout On The Road...Ginsberg is trying just as hard, but he's achieving it in a wonderful, authoritative way. The sense you get from Kerouac is, "Is this good? Am I doing it? Have I got it right?" And your answer is yes, dude, nice work. But here's what Ginsberg says: "HERE IT IS."

But either way. All you beatniks out there, go out and hitchhike and be broke and desperate in the vastness of the world. It's a kick.more
I still love this book, even after I read it in high school. Wee Ashley was so taken by the thought of travel and road trips and really finding yourself and that hasn't really changed. Every time I read this novel, it awakens something dormant inside of me that claws to the surface, makes me want to pack my bags, and live on the road.

Besides all of the usual famous quotes from this novel - the final paragraph never fails to get me right in the gut.

"So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars'll be out, and don't you know that God is Pooh Bear? the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all rivers, cups the leaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what's going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty."

Pure love.more
Sometimes you meet characters that you love, hate, pity, loath and admire allllll at the same time. Dean Moriarty is one of those people for me. I don't know how Sal put up with him and kept forgiving him over and over; I don't know how Sal witnessed and said nothing to the atrocities wrought by Dean to women and families all over America. I love to hate Dean. I hate to love him also. Watching so many people meet him and take to him differently, with adoration, with mistrust, with cynical judgement...

To be fair, Dean spent most of his life motherless and fatherless, born of America herself, he had no home and every home, he knew nothing and everything of family, and therefore couldn't settle anywhere or with anyone.

A sensitive soul, he got excited by everything and loved everyone. Almost nothing put him off, and morality was a general concept that was nice to think about but easy to push aside when his soul led him in a different direction.

I do admire his freedom of spirit, but I also feel like his lack of responsibility (that same responsibility that chains us into respectability and conformity) hurt a lot of people. This is the tarnish on his golden spirit that no amount of love can make up for. While he adores and admires and makes love to women, he knows little of the deeper love of showing up everyday, providing for his children, and saying no to himself so he can say yes to them.

Though Dean has never had this example lived out for him, no one's ever been responsible for him, his America-wide search for his father seemed to leave no imprint on his mind of how important the presence of a father is in the life of a family--of a son.

In Dean Moriarty we see all the primal instincts of man lived out--drinking, pleasure, freedom--little responsibility and the slight guilt at leaving and coming back and leaving and the joy of reuniting. Dean was a giant stomach of life--he devoured everyone and everything he came into contact with. This was particularly shown through him always rubbing and scratching his belly as though he were getting it ready for the next feast.

We see other spectrums of men in this novel as well: Ed Dunkel, the follower, who eventually lays his freedom aside to be with his wife--partly due to her persistence and his 'weakness' of spirit. Sal, on the other hand, holds out for true love and purity of spirit--though he had girls and affairs, he never committed till he found that ideal his heart told him was out there. He's definitely the romantic, even if he's the exception to the rule.

Though I love to hate most of the people in the book, I feel like it's an honest book--fiction can sometimes be more honest than real life. These people represent a generation in America because they really existed. It's not always pretty, but it draws your attention to the moments of beauty in the seemingly mundane and the life available if you just throw off the constraints of society that bind us... this novel shows us the benefits and also the losses to that lifestyle.

Well done Kerouac, we shall meet again.more
Er, yeah, well... mmmm. The whole bum thing, man. It is beyond me that my teenage self managed to read On The Road twice before my seventeenth birthday. It is equally beyond me to think I read Doctor Sax, Dharma Bums, The Subterraneans before eighteen without feeling ill. An awful writer, without humour or insight, and a perfect slob. Writing on the Road on toilet paper was a good idea, if he had then used it for its proper purpose. Witless, just like most of his Beat mates. Don't go there, man.more
I didn't read this at the appropriate age (16?) because . . . well, I don't know. Then in college and graduate school I heard a lot of people sneer at On the Road claiming that it had a lot of badly-written sentences and was a 3rd-rate Thomas Wolfe pastiche with some Hemingway sauce.

Well, while I was traveling around in Wales and England I read it on trains, planes, and automobiles, and I loved it. I think that the crucial insight is that it's about madness in the form of Dean. To be sure, the narrator -- Sal -- is always telling us he's getting back on the road, and there are a lot of adventures and hijinks and so forth. But the true subject is Dean's inability to have any depth of emotion and/or really care about anything, beyond juvenile admiration of his "friends."

It helps a lot that Sal doesn't quite understand this: So he joins a long pantheon of slightly-out-of-it narrators in American fiction, who tell us about a "great character," where, reading between the lines, we readers can see that those great characters are overblown (think Nick Carraway / Jay Gatsby).

Now I may need to read Big Sur and the Dharma Bums.
more
Hey boys and girls! How come you swallow all the silliness in this book ? Because Kerouac was so coooooooooool? Because, like, he KNEW, man? OK, if that is true, why do you ignore his own oft-repeated claim that this was his "potboiler"? Far be it from me to deny anybody some positive cash flow, and some publc cattention, for a harmless piece of prose, but really, folks, the only thing sillier than this book (as we first experienced it almost sixty years ago) is what we might fairly call the Kerouac Kult, which goes from strength to strength among aging ex-hippies who were at the time -- in the immortal words of cartoonist Bill Brown -- too old for the Little League and too young for the Beat Generation. I will relent sufficiently to say that the riff about Slim Gaillard is, however, very fine, and thus I give this book one star. Incidentally, what efforts, if any, did Kerouac make to help-out ol' Slim? By the time of this book's notoriety, Slimpretty-well lapsed into obscurity, at one point sinking to managing a motel in San Diego. He was rescued, if that is the right word, by some astute TV producers, a genre of humanity one ordinarily thinks-of as the squarest of the square. Life's little ironies . . .more
Read this in adolescence. THey've finally made a movie out of it.more
Wanted to love this book, but did not. Some of the writing redeemed it - sparkling prose. My unexpected reaction: There is hope for the Millenials / current young generation yet!more
Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty got me fired up with a zest for life that I didn't know was possible, but which I would love to make my new status quo. They are 'on the road' because they can't wait to go out and see, hear, touch, smell, and taste everything that's going on everywhere else. And the book doesn't scrimp on showing the negatives of such a life. Engaging and inspiring.more
Put off at first ... bunch of stupid guys whipping about, drunked and drugged. But by Part IV the men become more sympathetic although their situations were self-induced.more
To think that Jack Kerouac pounded out the first draft of On the Road in three weeks on a single huge roll of paper is sheer testament to his talent and the tumultuous, hi-jinx journey he can call his lifetime. Equally hard to believe is that it was written and published in the stoic 1950s--a decade dripping with conformity, with a repressed undercurrent seething below.Known as "the great novel of the Beat Generation," this book is a modern counterpart to another favorite of mine, Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. Filled with what could be argued as essentially non-fiction prose, this brilliant novel is stripped of affectations, revealing pure rant in a staccato of words that create an addictive sort of rhythm on the page. The book's lack of punctuation makes it seem contemporary and modern, a rebellion to the mass movement of editing.The book takes you on an inspiring ride across the country with the narrator, Sal Paradise, and his mentor, Dean Moriarity, an utterly mad, car thieving aficionado of living life to the fullest. Their cross-country "trips" are peppered with drugs and lots of alcohol, women and events dictated at times by impatience and paranoia, and at others, by pure inspiration. Kerouac's brilliant characters and descriptions take you with him on his wild trip, in every sense of the word.more
Monday, April 16, 2012 1:26 PMIn several ways, it seems this book has been in my consciosness for a long time, although I have just now read it for the first time. The adventures of Sal Paradiso, and Dean Moriarty, in several trips across the United States, and a climactic trip to Mexico, are furious, absurd, and fast-paced. The heros, if that term applies at all, are generally drunk, or stoned, and are obsessed with having sex with any women they meet. Dean would probably be diagnosed now as manic; there are periods in which he is quiet, depressed, and then he revs up to insomnia, careless driving and grandiose ideas. Weaving throughout the tale is the tale of modern jazz and bop, a musical medium that inspires ecstacies of writing. The travels occur in 1947 to 1950, although I had thought the era of the beats was somewhat later. I did not understand the ending; Dean seemed no worse and Sal no more perceptive than in previous episodes, so there was no closure“We were on the roof of America and all we could do was yell, I guess - across the night, eastward over the Plains, were somewhere an old man with white hair was probably walking towards us with the Word, and would arrive any minute and make us silent”“Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together; sophistication demands that they submit to sex immediately without proper preliminary talk.”“I had a book with me I stole from a Hollywood stall, Le Grand Meaulnes by Alain-Fournier…”“Prison is where you promise yourself the right to live.”“Halfway he was an old Negro who stood in line, waiting with everyone else, and said ‘Some’s bastards, some’s ain’t, that’s the score.’”“Old Bull thought his orgone accumulator would be improved it the wood he used was as organic as possible, so he tied bushy bayou leaves and twigs to his mystical outhouse. It stood there in the hot, flat yard, an exfoliate machine clustered and bedecked with maniacal contrivances”“…because here we were dealing with the pit and prunejuice of poor beat life itself in the godawful streets of man, so he said it and sang it, ‘Close - your-‘, and blew it way up to the ceiling and through to the stars and on out - ‘Ey-y-y-y-y-es’ - and staggered off the platform to brood”“All my actions since then have been dictated automatically to my subconscious by this horrible osmotic experience. I heard big Greenstreet sneer a hundred times; I heard Peter Lorre make his sinister come-on; I was with George Raft in his paranoic fears…”more
Audiobook.....the highlight of this book was narration by Will Patton. He does an excellent job with this book and has on others that I have read. What can I say that hasn't already been said about this novel? It is almost anti-climactic to read it after living with its icon status for so long. I enjoyed it, was not wowed by it, yet realize that at the time it was written it was groundbreaking. The writing was excellent, and I think I give it four stars because I know that because of groundbreaking, stream-of-consciousness first person narratives such as this, others have thrived. It was a bucket list read, and worthwhile to boot!more
This tale would be unthinkable in the modern world, but is perfectly believable in Kerouac's era and setting. Matt Dillon does a wonderful job at narrating, particularly with the beatnik slang.more
Okay, honestly? Towards around Part 4 of the book I was only reading it mechanically hoping to finish it quickly. My only goal was to complete the damn thing. I didn't register anything new for a bit. I was just cruising, and counting down pages until the end.But then incidents and people started to catch my attention all over again. Sure, Sal Paradise and his gang keep rolling back and forth from New York to San Francisco at dizzying speeds, and more often than not they are stuck in a desert or running p and down the streets of Denver. Sure, after a while you think there's nothing new, they're just doing the same things over again, they are wasting away yet another month of their lives in the same shit, Dean Moriarty is as selfish and self-centered as ever, and Sal is ever-ready to please his quicksilver pal. It all seems predictable and - well, old ! But then something somewhere makes you sit up. A mournful quote of profundity from the drunk Dean. A description of a place that seems spot-on to the mind's eye. "... and California is white like washlines and emptyheaded..." A crazy caneering into Mexico only to find that life below the Tropic of Cancer is really a whole world away from life above it. The people that they meet, and the unsaid lessons they learn from observing them.The last part of the book sped by for me. Yes, there are so many flaws in this piece of writing that it is hard to understand, technically, why it was hailed as great literature at all. But I think the beauty of it lies not in the fact that it is non-linear, unstructured and postmodern, none of that. I think it lies in the fact that it does not provide answers, it just describes and shows by example. For someone who has never visited America and longs to one day, On the Road provides ample fodder to daydream! Any picture I have of the States in my mind is deeply influenced by Kerouac's haze-induced descriptions, and I hope very much that I ill not be disappointed when I do get there one day!more
I loved it at the beginning but got bored with it. I like that the characters are trying to be happy. And it's interesting to see people so different from me. I'd recommend people to start it or skip through it, but give it up when you want to.more
I listened to this famous Kerouac story as an audiobook I borrowed from the library. Although it has poetic descriptions, vivid characters and dialogue, it seems to be mostly pointless debauchery, chasing women, getting drunk and stoned. It was not long after the war, although that was not really explicitly mentioned at all, but he described a poor Japanese American who had to work so hard, an insignificant line that I took disproportionate interest in. I was intrigued by how cheap everything was and his sympathy for Mexicans. Maybe this was profound and I missed it. I don't know.more
Worth reading, mostly because it is educational. It isn't terribly enjoyable; it is hard to empathise with the lead characters, the story rambles and the language is archaic (and alien) in places. As well as being a counter-cultural classic, it is very informative about the development of popular and counter culture from the period from WW2 to the mid fifties. In particular it was fascinating that the wild rebellious behaviour in that period was not in essence different to that of any of the following sixty years. I recall someone wise wrote something along the lines of each generation believes it is the first to rebel.more
I know I'm supposed to like it, but I don't. The Beats just don't do it for me. True, Kerouac said some "shocking" things, but the message wasn't anything new. Women were still on the back burner, as they were in the generations prior. When I first read this book I was in high school and I pretended to like it to impress people. I'm too busy to worry about impressing people now. I think the book and the movement are crap. Wish I hadn't waisted my time on a second reading.more
I really do not understand the hype for this book. I don't mind the stream of consciousness style and a few parts of the author's travel narrative were interesting, but the story has no substance whatsoever. The people depicted in the book have few morals or sense of responsibility. The narrator, Sal, is unhappy with himself and his world and yet he does nothing constructive about it. He just desires a never-ending adventure with his friends. If you want to read a book about restless men who have to be on the move all the time, getting drunk, high and hooking up with women than this is the book for you. It held no redeeming value for this reader.more
Less drugs and more beauty than I expected. Excellent, human.more
I read this book for the first time in the summer before my first year at University and was immediately shaken to my core. Jack Kerouac is a literary godhead whose language and style gave a voice to not only the disheartened and disaffected of his generation, but to those who came after as well.more
I've read this at 16, and I loved it, but somehow I can't really feel anymore sympathetic with the character. I'm growing old, I guess.more
The book contains all the passion which young need. It's really something, excited with life.more
Unusually for me I didn't finish this book. I made it to about 2/3 through & finally gave up. I know it's supposed to be a work of genius, but I found I just didn't care enough what happened next & it was a struggle all the way through. The writing style leaves little room for feeling like you know the people you're reading about which is a problem if, like me, you're more in to psychological exploration than plot lines with one event after another. Even the events which are interesting are kind of skimmed over in a very vague way.Oddly, I probably would recommend it, but only to a certain type of reader ;)more
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Reviews

What a piece of crap! I don't get the hype over this book. A slacker goes across the country and hangs with other slackers and this is a great work. Books must have been REALLY BAD in 1955-1957 if this is a classic. Sal, Dean and the rest of this group needs to get a life, and if this Kerouac best book I don't even want to read his other stuff!A classic that I just don't getmore
My two stars are for the really quite beautiful descriptive prose. Frankly, there are enough self-important, selfish, self-aggrandising arseholes in the world as it is, and I chose not to be around them. I have no desire to spend my reading time with the same kind of people, and so am putting this back on the shelf at the 2/3 mark. I have no problem with dropping out, doing drugs and bollocking on while on said drugs, but I'm not interested in people who believe their happiness and "freedom" are more important than everyone else's happiness and freedom, and that anyone that disagrees with that is a pathetic, petty square.

To my mind, this is basically the documentation of one somewhat pretentious and immature young man's hero worship of a moronic, abusive young man who treats everyone around him like shit. I believe Sal has some kind of realisation about this in the end, but for me that is too little, too late.more
This book's influence on me can't be overstated. I took a class on the Beat Generation in tenth grade, which is right when all the kicks seem most dazzling, and I thought yes! This is the crazy bohemian life! And I spent the next ten years trying to be a Beatnik. I hitchhiked from Atlanta to Philadelphia just because according to this book that's the sort of thing one does. No one really hitchhiked, already, in those days; old hippies would pick me up looking bewildered. Well, and racist truckers, too, so some things never change. I would have given my left nut for some benzedrine, or barring that for someone at least to explain to me what the fuck it was. (I still don't know.) I even replayed Dean Moriarty's shoplifting scene note-for-note. That's how seriously I took this book.

So you can understand that, revisiting this as a 38-year-old dude who says things like "Man, it's 11, I'm beat" and means "tired," I was not at all keen to revisit this. It's a young man's book. Oh God, getting drunk and talking about the snake of the world...remember when that felt dangerous?

But it's not totally silly, actually - I mean, it is, but not all silly things are pointless and there's nothing wrong with a snake of the world, intrinsically.

And to make matters worse, I'd just slogged through nearly half of Tropic of Cancer, which is terrible, and at 38 I'm aware that On The Road is just another in a long tradition of bohemian literature going back at least as far as De Quincey. And I was afraid On The Road would turn out to be as pompous and careless as Tropic of Cancer turns out to be, just a guy masturbating his talent onto the face of the world, which makes a spectacle but does nobody any good.

But the thing with Tropic of Cancer is that Henry Miller is essentially an asshole, and Kerouac isn't. Kerouac is eager to please, to connect, and On The Road turns out to be much less annoying than I was afraid it would be. It's still a young man's book! Don't get me wrong! But it's...it's really kindof sweet. Kerouac doesn't have Miller's raging ego: he lets Dean Moriarty take center stage. (Imagine a world where Miller isn't the lead actor in his own drama!) On The Road is a sputtering grasp at the idea of the Great American Novel, and while it doesn't come anywhere near grabbing the raft, it's worth reading.

I see it, now, as a warning. Kerouac was hitting 30 when he wrote it, and you sense a desperation: "Where is my story?" You sense some manipulation, too. Dean Moriarty (Neal Cassady) is a mentally unstable man, and I think the Beats used him for stories. I was inspired by him when I was young; now I feel a deep sadness for him. I see that filthy-bandaged thumb. Neither Kerouac nor Cassady lived to 50. I had a good time when I was young; I'm glad I've graduated to different kinds of good times now.

I should say, Howl covers basically the same territory and is considerably better. All the things you can feel Kerouac striving for throughout On The Road...Ginsberg is trying just as hard, but he's achieving it in a wonderful, authoritative way. The sense you get from Kerouac is, "Is this good? Am I doing it? Have I got it right?" And your answer is yes, dude, nice work. But here's what Ginsberg says: "HERE IT IS."

But either way. All you beatniks out there, go out and hitchhike and be broke and desperate in the vastness of the world. It's a kick.more
I still love this book, even after I read it in high school. Wee Ashley was so taken by the thought of travel and road trips and really finding yourself and that hasn't really changed. Every time I read this novel, it awakens something dormant inside of me that claws to the surface, makes me want to pack my bags, and live on the road.

Besides all of the usual famous quotes from this novel - the final paragraph never fails to get me right in the gut.

"So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars'll be out, and don't you know that God is Pooh Bear? the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all rivers, cups the leaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what's going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty."

Pure love.more
Sometimes you meet characters that you love, hate, pity, loath and admire allllll at the same time. Dean Moriarty is one of those people for me. I don't know how Sal put up with him and kept forgiving him over and over; I don't know how Sal witnessed and said nothing to the atrocities wrought by Dean to women and families all over America. I love to hate Dean. I hate to love him also. Watching so many people meet him and take to him differently, with adoration, with mistrust, with cynical judgement...

To be fair, Dean spent most of his life motherless and fatherless, born of America herself, he had no home and every home, he knew nothing and everything of family, and therefore couldn't settle anywhere or with anyone.

A sensitive soul, he got excited by everything and loved everyone. Almost nothing put him off, and morality was a general concept that was nice to think about but easy to push aside when his soul led him in a different direction.

I do admire his freedom of spirit, but I also feel like his lack of responsibility (that same responsibility that chains us into respectability and conformity) hurt a lot of people. This is the tarnish on his golden spirit that no amount of love can make up for. While he adores and admires and makes love to women, he knows little of the deeper love of showing up everyday, providing for his children, and saying no to himself so he can say yes to them.

Though Dean has never had this example lived out for him, no one's ever been responsible for him, his America-wide search for his father seemed to leave no imprint on his mind of how important the presence of a father is in the life of a family--of a son.

In Dean Moriarty we see all the primal instincts of man lived out--drinking, pleasure, freedom--little responsibility and the slight guilt at leaving and coming back and leaving and the joy of reuniting. Dean was a giant stomach of life--he devoured everyone and everything he came into contact with. This was particularly shown through him always rubbing and scratching his belly as though he were getting it ready for the next feast.

We see other spectrums of men in this novel as well: Ed Dunkel, the follower, who eventually lays his freedom aside to be with his wife--partly due to her persistence and his 'weakness' of spirit. Sal, on the other hand, holds out for true love and purity of spirit--though he had girls and affairs, he never committed till he found that ideal his heart told him was out there. He's definitely the romantic, even if he's the exception to the rule.

Though I love to hate most of the people in the book, I feel like it's an honest book--fiction can sometimes be more honest than real life. These people represent a generation in America because they really existed. It's not always pretty, but it draws your attention to the moments of beauty in the seemingly mundane and the life available if you just throw off the constraints of society that bind us... this novel shows us the benefits and also the losses to that lifestyle.

Well done Kerouac, we shall meet again.more
Er, yeah, well... mmmm. The whole bum thing, man. It is beyond me that my teenage self managed to read On The Road twice before my seventeenth birthday. It is equally beyond me to think I read Doctor Sax, Dharma Bums, The Subterraneans before eighteen without feeling ill. An awful writer, without humour or insight, and a perfect slob. Writing on the Road on toilet paper was a good idea, if he had then used it for its proper purpose. Witless, just like most of his Beat mates. Don't go there, man.more
I didn't read this at the appropriate age (16?) because . . . well, I don't know. Then in college and graduate school I heard a lot of people sneer at On the Road claiming that it had a lot of badly-written sentences and was a 3rd-rate Thomas Wolfe pastiche with some Hemingway sauce.

Well, while I was traveling around in Wales and England I read it on trains, planes, and automobiles, and I loved it. I think that the crucial insight is that it's about madness in the form of Dean. To be sure, the narrator -- Sal -- is always telling us he's getting back on the road, and there are a lot of adventures and hijinks and so forth. But the true subject is Dean's inability to have any depth of emotion and/or really care about anything, beyond juvenile admiration of his "friends."

It helps a lot that Sal doesn't quite understand this: So he joins a long pantheon of slightly-out-of-it narrators in American fiction, who tell us about a "great character," where, reading between the lines, we readers can see that those great characters are overblown (think Nick Carraway / Jay Gatsby).

Now I may need to read Big Sur and the Dharma Bums.
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Hey boys and girls! How come you swallow all the silliness in this book ? Because Kerouac was so coooooooooool? Because, like, he KNEW, man? OK, if that is true, why do you ignore his own oft-repeated claim that this was his "potboiler"? Far be it from me to deny anybody some positive cash flow, and some publc cattention, for a harmless piece of prose, but really, folks, the only thing sillier than this book (as we first experienced it almost sixty years ago) is what we might fairly call the Kerouac Kult, which goes from strength to strength among aging ex-hippies who were at the time -- in the immortal words of cartoonist Bill Brown -- too old for the Little League and too young for the Beat Generation. I will relent sufficiently to say that the riff about Slim Gaillard is, however, very fine, and thus I give this book one star. Incidentally, what efforts, if any, did Kerouac make to help-out ol' Slim? By the time of this book's notoriety, Slimpretty-well lapsed into obscurity, at one point sinking to managing a motel in San Diego. He was rescued, if that is the right word, by some astute TV producers, a genre of humanity one ordinarily thinks-of as the squarest of the square. Life's little ironies . . .more
Read this in adolescence. THey've finally made a movie out of it.more
Wanted to love this book, but did not. Some of the writing redeemed it - sparkling prose. My unexpected reaction: There is hope for the Millenials / current young generation yet!more
Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty got me fired up with a zest for life that I didn't know was possible, but which I would love to make my new status quo. They are 'on the road' because they can't wait to go out and see, hear, touch, smell, and taste everything that's going on everywhere else. And the book doesn't scrimp on showing the negatives of such a life. Engaging and inspiring.more
Put off at first ... bunch of stupid guys whipping about, drunked and drugged. But by Part IV the men become more sympathetic although their situations were self-induced.more
To think that Jack Kerouac pounded out the first draft of On the Road in three weeks on a single huge roll of paper is sheer testament to his talent and the tumultuous, hi-jinx journey he can call his lifetime. Equally hard to believe is that it was written and published in the stoic 1950s--a decade dripping with conformity, with a repressed undercurrent seething below.Known as "the great novel of the Beat Generation," this book is a modern counterpart to another favorite of mine, Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. Filled with what could be argued as essentially non-fiction prose, this brilliant novel is stripped of affectations, revealing pure rant in a staccato of words that create an addictive sort of rhythm on the page. The book's lack of punctuation makes it seem contemporary and modern, a rebellion to the mass movement of editing.The book takes you on an inspiring ride across the country with the narrator, Sal Paradise, and his mentor, Dean Moriarity, an utterly mad, car thieving aficionado of living life to the fullest. Their cross-country "trips" are peppered with drugs and lots of alcohol, women and events dictated at times by impatience and paranoia, and at others, by pure inspiration. Kerouac's brilliant characters and descriptions take you with him on his wild trip, in every sense of the word.more
Monday, April 16, 2012 1:26 PMIn several ways, it seems this book has been in my consciosness for a long time, although I have just now read it for the first time. The adventures of Sal Paradiso, and Dean Moriarty, in several trips across the United States, and a climactic trip to Mexico, are furious, absurd, and fast-paced. The heros, if that term applies at all, are generally drunk, or stoned, and are obsessed with having sex with any women they meet. Dean would probably be diagnosed now as manic; there are periods in which he is quiet, depressed, and then he revs up to insomnia, careless driving and grandiose ideas. Weaving throughout the tale is the tale of modern jazz and bop, a musical medium that inspires ecstacies of writing. The travels occur in 1947 to 1950, although I had thought the era of the beats was somewhat later. I did not understand the ending; Dean seemed no worse and Sal no more perceptive than in previous episodes, so there was no closure“We were on the roof of America and all we could do was yell, I guess - across the night, eastward over the Plains, were somewhere an old man with white hair was probably walking towards us with the Word, and would arrive any minute and make us silent”“Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together; sophistication demands that they submit to sex immediately without proper preliminary talk.”“I had a book with me I stole from a Hollywood stall, Le Grand Meaulnes by Alain-Fournier…”“Prison is where you promise yourself the right to live.”“Halfway he was an old Negro who stood in line, waiting with everyone else, and said ‘Some’s bastards, some’s ain’t, that’s the score.’”“Old Bull thought his orgone accumulator would be improved it the wood he used was as organic as possible, so he tied bushy bayou leaves and twigs to his mystical outhouse. It stood there in the hot, flat yard, an exfoliate machine clustered and bedecked with maniacal contrivances”“…because here we were dealing with the pit and prunejuice of poor beat life itself in the godawful streets of man, so he said it and sang it, ‘Close - your-‘, and blew it way up to the ceiling and through to the stars and on out - ‘Ey-y-y-y-y-es’ - and staggered off the platform to brood”“All my actions since then have been dictated automatically to my subconscious by this horrible osmotic experience. I heard big Greenstreet sneer a hundred times; I heard Peter Lorre make his sinister come-on; I was with George Raft in his paranoic fears…”more
Audiobook.....the highlight of this book was narration by Will Patton. He does an excellent job with this book and has on others that I have read. What can I say that hasn't already been said about this novel? It is almost anti-climactic to read it after living with its icon status for so long. I enjoyed it, was not wowed by it, yet realize that at the time it was written it was groundbreaking. The writing was excellent, and I think I give it four stars because I know that because of groundbreaking, stream-of-consciousness first person narratives such as this, others have thrived. It was a bucket list read, and worthwhile to boot!more
This tale would be unthinkable in the modern world, but is perfectly believable in Kerouac's era and setting. Matt Dillon does a wonderful job at narrating, particularly with the beatnik slang.more
Okay, honestly? Towards around Part 4 of the book I was only reading it mechanically hoping to finish it quickly. My only goal was to complete the damn thing. I didn't register anything new for a bit. I was just cruising, and counting down pages until the end.But then incidents and people started to catch my attention all over again. Sure, Sal Paradise and his gang keep rolling back and forth from New York to San Francisco at dizzying speeds, and more often than not they are stuck in a desert or running p and down the streets of Denver. Sure, after a while you think there's nothing new, they're just doing the same things over again, they are wasting away yet another month of their lives in the same shit, Dean Moriarty is as selfish and self-centered as ever, and Sal is ever-ready to please his quicksilver pal. It all seems predictable and - well, old ! But then something somewhere makes you sit up. A mournful quote of profundity from the drunk Dean. A description of a place that seems spot-on to the mind's eye. "... and California is white like washlines and emptyheaded..." A crazy caneering into Mexico only to find that life below the Tropic of Cancer is really a whole world away from life above it. The people that they meet, and the unsaid lessons they learn from observing them.The last part of the book sped by for me. Yes, there are so many flaws in this piece of writing that it is hard to understand, technically, why it was hailed as great literature at all. But I think the beauty of it lies not in the fact that it is non-linear, unstructured and postmodern, none of that. I think it lies in the fact that it does not provide answers, it just describes and shows by example. For someone who has never visited America and longs to one day, On the Road provides ample fodder to daydream! Any picture I have of the States in my mind is deeply influenced by Kerouac's haze-induced descriptions, and I hope very much that I ill not be disappointed when I do get there one day!more
I loved it at the beginning but got bored with it. I like that the characters are trying to be happy. And it's interesting to see people so different from me. I'd recommend people to start it or skip through it, but give it up when you want to.more
I listened to this famous Kerouac story as an audiobook I borrowed from the library. Although it has poetic descriptions, vivid characters and dialogue, it seems to be mostly pointless debauchery, chasing women, getting drunk and stoned. It was not long after the war, although that was not really explicitly mentioned at all, but he described a poor Japanese American who had to work so hard, an insignificant line that I took disproportionate interest in. I was intrigued by how cheap everything was and his sympathy for Mexicans. Maybe this was profound and I missed it. I don't know.more
Worth reading, mostly because it is educational. It isn't terribly enjoyable; it is hard to empathise with the lead characters, the story rambles and the language is archaic (and alien) in places. As well as being a counter-cultural classic, it is very informative about the development of popular and counter culture from the period from WW2 to the mid fifties. In particular it was fascinating that the wild rebellious behaviour in that period was not in essence different to that of any of the following sixty years. I recall someone wise wrote something along the lines of each generation believes it is the first to rebel.more
I know I'm supposed to like it, but I don't. The Beats just don't do it for me. True, Kerouac said some "shocking" things, but the message wasn't anything new. Women were still on the back burner, as they were in the generations prior. When I first read this book I was in high school and I pretended to like it to impress people. I'm too busy to worry about impressing people now. I think the book and the movement are crap. Wish I hadn't waisted my time on a second reading.more
I really do not understand the hype for this book. I don't mind the stream of consciousness style and a few parts of the author's travel narrative were interesting, but the story has no substance whatsoever. The people depicted in the book have few morals or sense of responsibility. The narrator, Sal, is unhappy with himself and his world and yet he does nothing constructive about it. He just desires a never-ending adventure with his friends. If you want to read a book about restless men who have to be on the move all the time, getting drunk, high and hooking up with women than this is the book for you. It held no redeeming value for this reader.more
Less drugs and more beauty than I expected. Excellent, human.more
I read this book for the first time in the summer before my first year at University and was immediately shaken to my core. Jack Kerouac is a literary godhead whose language and style gave a voice to not only the disheartened and disaffected of his generation, but to those who came after as well.more
I've read this at 16, and I loved it, but somehow I can't really feel anymore sympathetic with the character. I'm growing old, I guess.more
The book contains all the passion which young need. It's really something, excited with life.more
Unusually for me I didn't finish this book. I made it to about 2/3 through & finally gave up. I know it's supposed to be a work of genius, but I found I just didn't care enough what happened next & it was a struggle all the way through. The writing style leaves little room for feeling like you know the people you're reading about which is a problem if, like me, you're more in to psychological exploration than plot lines with one event after another. Even the events which are interesting are kind of skimmed over in a very vague way.Oddly, I probably would recommend it, but only to a certain type of reader ;)more
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