Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
On the Road Paperback – Deckle Edge, June 1, 1999
|New from||Used from|
2016 Book Awards
Browse award-winning titles. See all 2016 winners
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
On The Road, the most famous of Jack Kerouac's works, is not only the soul of the Beat movement and literature, but one of the most important novels of the century. Like nearly all of Kerouac's writing, On The Road is thinly fictionalized autobiography, filled with a cast made of Kerouac's real life friends, lovers, and fellow travelers. Narrated by Sal Paradise, one of Kerouac's alter-egos, On the Road is a cross-country bohemian odyssey that not only influenced writing in the years since its 1957 publication but penetrated into the deepest levels of American thought and culture. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Fans of Kerouac get the whole beautiful, groovy deal with this new recording of the radically hip novel that many consider the heart of the Beat movement. Poetic, open and raw, Kerouac's prose lays out a cross-country adventure as experienced by Sal Paradise, an autobiographical character. A writer holed up in a room at his aunt's house, Paradise gets inspired by Dean Moriarty (a character based on Kerouac's friend Neal Cassady) to hit the road and see America. From the moment he gets on the seven train out of New York City, he takes the reader through the highs and lows of hitchhiking, bonding with fellow explorers and opting for beer before food. First published in 1957, Kerouac's perennially hot story continues to express the restless energy and desire for freedom that makes people rush out to see the world. The tale is only improved by Dillon's well-paced, articulate reading as he voices the flow of images and graveled reality of Paradise's search for the edge.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
This is a great way to reconnect with this great classic. If you've never read it, I wouldn't hesitate to read this over the published one. This version makes it easier to reconnect the novel's/memoir's action with history. Highly recommended
Whether this literary blitz will lead to a grand revival of interest in Kerouac's work by both old and new generations has yet to be seen. But it secures his reputation as a major American writer because his voice resonates with the great poignant prose of Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, and John Steinbeck, celebrating the wonders and adventures of youthful travels on the open road. In the book's first major favorable review, Gilbert Millstein of The New York Times praised "On The Road" as being to the Beat Generation what Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises" was to its precedent bohemian Lost Generation.
Millions of readers and generations of authors have been influenced by the "On The Road", typically discovered by readers in their adolescence. Almost everyone who has read the book remembers when and where they first encountered it, the way one indelibly recalls the loss of virginity.
Praise for Kerouac's work is far from universal. Many academics, critics and other writers dismiss him as a primitive and pretender, his writings merely ramblings of a drunken bum, and already are expressing displeasure at his being included as an author worthy of the high-brow Library of America collection. Truman Capote, an early inductee into the series, famously scoffed of Kerouac's prose, "It isn't writing. It's typing." But like his detractor, "On The Road" and Kerouac's other books have withstood the great test of time.
It has been known for decades Road was begun in 1948. Rough draft segments of Road are found in Kerouac's journals he kept since a youngster in his hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts, now collected and edited by Brinkley in the recent book "Windblown World".
Before the long-delayed publication of "On The Road" in 1957, what commonly is referred to as the full "first draft" was typed out at 100 words a minute during three weeks in April 1951 on a 120-foot length of paper often called a "teletype roll". It is one long, single-spaced, unbroken paragraph. Some say Kerouac wrote it on a Benzedrine binge; others point to a letter Kerouac wrote to Cassady saying it was just "coffee" that fueled his mind. While there is plenty of circumstantial evidence that speed really was the driving factor, in the end, this is just more pieces of minutiae and trivia permeating the Kerouac mythology, and really doesn't seem to matter.
In 2001, the original scroll was purchased at a Christies' auction in New York by Indianapolis Colts owner James Irsay for $2.43 million, a world record for a manuscript. After his successful bid, the following day Irsay allegedly was offered twice the price for it, and has said that he was prepared to pay as much as $10 million.
A good friend of Brinkley, Irsay dispatched his private jet to pick him up and accompany him to the auction as an "advisor". Irsay helped organize an extensive tour of the scroll, now encased in a long glass topped and sided table, with the scroll unfurled several feet and connected to two adjacent Torah-like cylinders which curators may occasionally carefully wind to reveal another segment of the text. It has been restored by adding backing and treating the front with a preservative. After a final tour date in 2009, Irsay plans to donate it to Lilly Library at the University of Indiana.
The "scroll" has hundreds of hand-written edits by Kerouac and many sections of lines deleted by cross-outs. John Sampas, Kerouac's literary executor, told MSNBC these would not be included in Viking's "uncensored" release. The original famous opening line of "On The Road" stating Kerouac first met Moriarty soon after Kerouac separated from his wife appears in Scroll recounting he first met Cassady after the death of Kerouac's father. The actual scroll ends abruptly, without the long, haunting Wolfeian paragraph closing the novel, pertaining to unsuccessful searches for Neal Cassady's father in Denver. The scroll was entrusted to his friend Lucien Carr for safekeeping, and Carr's dog chewed up the end. "Original Scroll" appendages a supposition of several pages in an effort to complete the manuscript and show its last words were close to the 1957 first edition. This was written by editor Howard Cunnell and is somewhat a leap of faith.
Sampas has claimed Viking's 1957 "censorship" was due to explicit references to sex and drugs. The "F" word was scratched out by Kerouac on the first page of the scroll text but interestingly does appear in The Original Scroll, although Sampas averred scratch-outs would not be included. The scroll was published despite potential libel problems involving characters' real names. Cassady and Ginsberg signed releases for their pseudonymous inclusion in Road. Neal Cassady's wife, Carolyn, who did not, lives in Great Britain, where libel verdicts are easier to obtain, and angrily denounced as a "travesty" plans to publish the scroll.
Four Kerouac scholars put Original Scroll together. Cunnell filled gaps and made calls on original deletions, corrected spelling, inserted paragraph breaks, and edited it for a more cohesive read. Cunnell, Joshua Kupetz, Penny Vlagopoulus and George Mouratidis wrote superbly insightful introductory background material and analysis, the book's first 97 pages.
An enduring question about the scroll concerns whether it actually was typed onto teletype paper. There are arguments for and against this. Carr, a news editor at New York's United Press International bureau, supplied Kerouac with teletype paper in the early 1950s. Some say the "scroll" was taped together in 12-foot segments.
Scroll examiners including Cunnell say portions of it have a scored line down one side, suggesting it may have been hand-ruled and cut to fit the platen of Kerouac's typewriter, indicating it was not teletype paper. However, Cunnell in Original Scroll also makes some errors, not the least of which is that the Burroughs house in Algiers was located next to a bayou. In fact it is about two blocks from the river and miles from the nearest bayou.
Brinkley in "Windblown World" acknowledges Carr gave Kerouac teletype paper, but refers to the scroll as "Japanese art tracing paper". In a 1979 New York Times article, Cassady biogarhper ("Holy Goof") William Plummer wrote that Kerouac "fed into his typewriter a bulky roll of Chinese art paper". The paper used also has been referred to variously as onion-skin, "nearly translucent", and as architectural drafting paper. Kerouac told fellow beat writer John Clellon Holmes that he planned to write the manuscript on "a roll of shelf paper."
In her bitter "Nobody's Wife", (2000), Kerouac's second wife Joan Haverty quotes him saying "'See what I found in that cabinet over there? This whole big roll of paper the same width as typing paper.'"
Gerald Nicosia's critical biography "Memory Babe" states Kerouac found "20-foot sheets of Japanese art paper" in the same apartment Kerouac shared with Haverty - whose previous tenant was her friend Bill Cannastra, beheaded in a subway accident. The apartment was in the same building as that of Carr. This may be Brinkley's "Japanese art paper" postulation source. Cunnell maintains the roll was taped together from eight pieces of very thin sheets owned by Cannastra.
After Kerouac presented the scroll to publisher Robert Giroux in 1951, unfurled it in his office and exclaimed "Here's my novel!" Giroux was shocked by the one long unbroken single-spaced paragraph and rejected it outright. Startled by the format and complaining printers would not be able to compose from it, Giroux said it "felt rubbery, like Thermo-fax paper."
The back dust jacket photo of "Scroll" shows Kerouac holding long, unfurled footage of a paper roll, connected to a large roll of paper, clearly not taped together. The book speculates that Kerouac used this particular roll for his second novel, The Dharma Bums.
The Road scroll now is yellowed with age the way foolscap or newsprint-type teletype paper degrades quickly due to acid content. While this continuing literary mystery deserves proper forensic examination, in the end, it too, really doesn't matter.
"On The Road: The Original Scroll" is well worth buying and reading, and ultimately, may appear to some (as initially it did to me) to be a better, more contextually significant book than "On The Road" as published that fateful day of September 5, 1957. The astute introductions alone are worth the price of admission and provide a rich history of the several drafts of the book ultimately published as Road. Reading the actual scroll text is a revelation worthy of the long wait and lends great insight into the factual material of the evolution of the subsequent drafts.
But after reading "Scroll", more than 35 years after I first encountered "Road", in re-reading the text of the common edition as we know it today, my feelings remain quite mixed. True died-in-the wool fans will undoubtedly at some point place both books next to each other so they can plainly see the differences. In some ways, the 1957 version is more easily readable, with its paragraph breaks, tighter more grammatical sentences, and the indisputable polish of a much-revised text more likely at that time to have garnered the public acclaim (and disdain) for its content. My penultimate feeling is the two books should not be compared for quality, and that each can stand on their own feet for what they are: Writings of a genius who is less significant for his description of "kicks" compared to the deep themes of the loss of his father and brother he sought to find in Neal Cassady, and, in later books, his pantheistic interwining of Catholic and Buddhist spirituality. The works of Jack Kerouac, like a grand old cypress tree refusing to break in a hurricane, have withstood ravages of the ages, and placed him amongst the immortals.
I wanted to like this book. I really, really did. I was prepared to be blown away and taken on a literary adventure of meaning and wonder, excitement and energy. I read, and waited, to no avail. I read some more, but it soon became apparent that this would not be the book for me. Despite this, I grudgingly soldiered on and completed it a few days later than I had anticipated to (I usually breeze through fiction without struggle), as I continuously put it back on my shelf only to talk myself into trying again. I'm glad I did, but found that the book's legend is far more interesting than the actually story.
Split into four sections, each consecutive one involving a different road trip with more details and a shorter time-span, I found myself also becoming consecutively more involved as the book went on. The first section I found, unfortunately, tedious and little more than a listing of things he did and places he went. The following section was not as eye-rolling, and the third was tolerable. The fourth was actually interesting. There was throughout, of course, the occasional poetic and insightful passage, but they were few and far between and not really worth the effort to find. The most unfortunate flaw of the novel is that it is actually quite uninteresting. It would have made an intriguing (and bearable) novella, but its length feels frustratingly unjustified.
Furthermore, and this is no fault of Kerouac, the book is hardly what popular culture has touted it to be. The text is not rebellious, but actually quite conservative. It is not forward-looking, but nostalgic. The roads that the men travel upon are by the 1950s (the book was published in 1957) of little significance as Eisenhower was quickly building up interstate freeways. Kerouac's memoirs are really a sort of nostalgia for a disappearing era. And the characters, really, are hardly rebels. Instead they drift from place to place seeking excitement, only to find the same dull existence in each setting. In the second half of the book Sal begins to grow tired of the road, and of Dean, as he sees more and more of the same. Also, Sal often feels content to be a spectator rather than a participant, watching the antics of others from a safe distance. Truly, the men are misfits. In an age when men were expected to be unemotional, solitary bread-winners, Sal is thoughtful and sensitive, indeed, tenderness between men (not sexual, as that was omitted from the original draft) is an important aspect of the novel, and he is continuously asking his aunt (mother, in life), whom he still lives with, to send him money. In this way they were unique, disenfranchised maybe, but they were not rebelling against anything. Mostly they get drunk and try to get laid in a familiar fraternity style. The characters are lonely and insecure, not hipsters or nonconformists. Their journey is about a search for stability, not spontaneity. These are not criticisms of the novel, but merely observations, and are actually the elements that make story vaguely readable.
For all these reasons and more it is an important piece of Americana, and it is an interesting commentary for its time, about its time. However, great literature it is not. In fact, I can't bring myself to recommend that people spend their time going through Kerouac's thoughts, which usually amount to things being "mad," or his journal-like passages of events that tend to feel more like the notes he took about an account to be later revised into a yet-to-be-finished version. For another road story of the same period, published around the same time, take a detour and check out Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, which is phenomenal literature, rather than a literary phenomenon. Some may say it is a victim of its own hype, which nothing can ever live up to, but I've read some classics where that hype has been more than appropriate. Kerouac, the man and his book, is one that people tend to have very strong feelings about, either positive or negative, and perhaps he does speak to the heart of some readers. This reader, however, was unimpressed and unmoved. On the Road's importance today is more in what it symbolizes, rather than what it is.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The Kindle version I received was full of typos.