Wednesday, July 18, 2007

50 Years of Kerouac's 'On the Road'

We were reminded the other day that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Jack Kerouac's famous Bohemian novel, On the Road.

Kerouac, as some readers will recall, is usually identified with the "Beat Generation" of the 1950s, a loosely organized group of poets, writers, and artists who thumbed their noses at middle class America in the post-WWII era.

Legend has it that Kerouac wrote the novel in three weeks, locking himself in a hotel room and typing (yes, on an actual typewriter) non-stop on a long roll of paper. The "roll," as it came to be known, does exist but the truth is that Kerouac had written sections of the book earlier and also revised the manuscript after the roll was typed.

Whatever the truth of its composition, On the Road has inspired wanderlust in several generations of road warriors seeking the wide open spaces of the American highway.
We recall some long summer evenings a few years ago when we worked our way through Kerouac's pages and across the country with Jack.

Fifty years after it was published, it might be time to check out Kerouac's classic road novel.

P.S.—We understand that Kerouac's "roll" was purchased a few years ago by Jim Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts, for $2.4 million. It's currently on a national tour of major libraries and will be displayed at UT Austin in 2008.

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