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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.
I read this in the early 60's...Life has changed. The book is still good but so very outdated that the message is totally lost on the present generation.Published 2 days ago by cabbge3x
This is an American classic. Required reading. This is my second time through after a great many yearsPublished 8 days ago by Thomas G. Orr lll
A classic that provides context and support to how our world has developed out of the 1950s and 1960s. Read morePublished 13 days ago by Paul Meartz
Fascinating. Dean seems bipolar. He has incredible energy, gets very manic and drives crazy but no one dies. I think now they would. Read morePublished 17 days ago by Rachel S. Jerdin
It's the original manuscript which is weird to read if you never read it before.Published 21 days ago by Karen Thomas
I just don't like Jack's scattered style of writing. Just not my thing. I think he wrote this on a drug-addled trip.Published 24 days ago by JCM
A book about narcissistic people who judge other people, using them without knowing them, but being excused for the sincerity of the prose they do it in.Published 25 days ago by C. Lightoller
Awesome read and thought provoking. Would definitely recommend to others. Will probably try some of the author's other works. Happy reading. Four stars.Published 1 month ago by Andy Fuller