Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Jack Kerouac's On the Road published 50 years ago today

First posted 6/11/2020; updated 7/5/2020.

On the Road

Jack Kerouac

First Publication: September 5, 1957

Category: Beat Generation semi-autobiographical novel

Sales: 3 million

Accolades (click on badges to see full lists):

About the Book:

This is “the defining novel” LC “of the postwar Beat and Counterculture generations, with its protagonists living life against a backdrop of jazz, poetry, and drug use.” WK It features “many key figures in the Beat movement, such as William S. Burroughs (Old Bull Lee), Allen Ginsberg (Carlo Marx) and Neal Cassady (Dean Moriarty) represented by characters in the book, including Kerouac himself as the narrator Sal Paradise.” WK

On the Road has achieved a mythic status in part because it portrays the restless energy and desire for freedom that makes people take off to see the world.” LCThis “is a semiautobiographical tale of a bohemian cross-country adventure” LC between two friends on “a quest for meaning and true experience. Written with a mixture of sad-eyed naiveté and wild ambition and imbued with Kerouac’s love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz, On the Road is the quintessential American vision of freedom and hope, a book that changed American literature and changed anyone who has ever picked it up.” AZ It “has influenced artists such as Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, and Hunter S. Thompson and films such as Easy Rider.” LC

“The idea for On the Road…was formed during the late 1940s in a series of notebooks, and then typed out on a continuous reel of paper during three weeks in April 1951.” WK “When the book was originally released, The New York Times hailed it as ‘the most beautifully executed, the clearest and the most important utterance yet made by the generation Kerouac himself named years ago as ‘beat,’ and whose principal avatar he is.” WK

Resources and Related Links:

In July 2018, I became the organizer of the Classic Novels Book Club. Check out the Book Club tab here or Meetup for more information. This is our April 2020 book.

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