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Quote and Person of the day- Jack Kerouac

“I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.”

- Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac was an American novelist, poet, and leader of the Beat movement and best known for his book, ‘On the Road’ based on the travels of Kerouac and his friends across the United States in the 1950’s against a backdrop of jazz, poetry and drug use. ⠀

Kerouac, along with his friends Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs were the seminal figures of the literary movement known as Beat, a term introduced to Kerouac by Herbert Huncke, a Times Square junkie, petty thief, hustler, and writer. It meant “down-and-out” as well as “beatific” and therefore signified the bottom of existence (from a financial and an emotional point of view) as well as the highest, most spiritual high.⠀

Kerouac’s childhood and early adulthood were marked by loss: his brother Gerard died in 1926, at age nine. Kerouac’s boyhood friend Sebastian Sampas died in 1944 and his father, Leo, in 1946. ⠀

In an attempt to replicate the experience of Han Shan, a reclusive Chinese poet of the Tang dynasty, Kerouac spent 63 days atop Desolation Peak in Washington state. ⠀

The original manuscript for ‘On The Road’ was written on a scroll in a three-week blast in 1951. Composed of approximately 37 metres of paper taped together and fed into a manual typewriter, the scroll allowed Kerouac the fast pace he was hoping to achieve. He also hoped to publish the novel as a scroll so that the reader would not be encumbered by having to turn the pages of a book. Rejected for publication at first, it finally was printed as a book in 1957. ⠀⠀

In 1969 Kerouac was broke, and many of his books were out of print. An alcoholic, he was living with his third wife and his mother in Florida. A week after he was beaten by fellow drinkers whom he had antagonized at the Cactus Bar in St. Petersburg, he died of internal hemorrhaging in front of his television.⠀

Kerouac’s insistence upon “First thought, best thought” and his refusal to revise was controversial. He felt that revision was a form of literary lying, imposing a form farther away from the truth of the moment, counter to his intentions for his “true-life” novels.

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