Jack Kerouac

Big Sur
  • Big Sur

  • Jack Kerouac

    'Kerouac's grittiest novel ... sensual and uninhibited' The New York Times

    Driven mad by three years of endless telegrams, phonecalls, mail, reporters and snoopers in the wake of his hugely successful novel On the Road, Jack Kerouac, 'King of the Beats', needs peace, quiet and sobriety: surrounded and outnumbered he has to 'get away to solitude again or die'. Amidst the wild beauty of the Californian landscape, Kerouac struggles to come to terms with his own myth and its malign impact upon his life. The result is a moving account of a man struggling with inner demons: blessed by great talent and cursed with an urge towards self-destruction - a path lined with double bourbons, Manhattans and scotch ...

Jack Kerouac was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, where, he said, he 'roamed fields and riverbanks by day and night, wrote little novels in my room, first novel written at age eleven, also kept extensive diaries and "newspapers" covering my own-invented horse-racing and baseball and football worlds' (as recorded in the novel Doctor Sax). He was educated by Jesuit brothers in Lowell. He said that he 'decided to become a writer at age seventeen under influence of Sebastian Sampas, local young poet, who later died on Anzio beach head; read the life of Jack London at eighteen and decided to also be a lonesome traveler; early literary influences Saroyan and Hemingway; later Wolfe (after I had broken leg in Freshman football at Columbia read Tom Wolfe and roamed his New York on crutches).' Kerouac wished, however, to develop his own new prose style, which he called 'spontaneous prose.' He used this technique to record the life of the American 'traveler' and the experiences of the Beat generation of the 1950s. This may clearly be seen in his most famous novel On the Road, and also in The Subterraneans and The Dharma Bums. His first more orthodox published novel was The Town and the City. Jack Kerouac, who described himself as a 'strange solitary crazy Catholic mystic,' was working on his longest novel, a surrealistic study of the last ten years of his life when he died in 1969, aged forty-seven. Other works by Jack Kerouac include Big Sur, Desolation Angels, Lonesome Traveler, Visions of Gerard, Tristessa, and a book of poetry called Mexico City Blues. On the Road: The Original Scroll, the full uncensored transcription of the original manuscript of On the Road, is published by Penguin Modern Classics.