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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.
Celebrating 50 Years of On the Road
From the back cover of On the Road: The Original Scroll: Jack Kerouac displaying one of his later scroll manuscripts, most likely The Dharma Bums
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Boring. This was a cult classic when I was young. I didn't read it then, when I probably would have liked it more, thinking my HS friends wouldn't like me if I didn't. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Bargainhunterteacher
For the Book On the Road by Jack Kerouac I describe the character as someone who lives on the road traveling with different people from state to state. Read morePublished 5 days ago by Christian
Always wanted to read but not interested in this stage of life! Off the wall!Published 7 days ago by lorraine
Simply a waste of time. I rarely take the time to review things, but this book was so overwhelmingly pointless that I had to spend just a few more valuable moments of time to do... Read morePublished 12 days ago by Matthew Reason
On the Road is a very entertaining book created by a true literary icon. It had me laughing, scratching my head perplexed at times and reminiscing about my own restless youth. Read morePublished 13 days ago by John Charlillo
I wanted to read this book because it's supposedly a "classic" and Kerouac was supposedly a "voice of a generation". Read morePublished 14 days ago by P. Curry