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On the Road: The Original Scroll (Penguin Classics)

by Jack Kerouac
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Penguin Audio
  • Publishing date: 18/09/2008
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780143143796
  • ISBN: 0143143794

Synopsis

The legendary 1951 scroll draft of On the Road, published word for word as Kerouac originally composed it

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

A 50th anniversary hardcover edition of Kerouac's classic novel that defined a generation. On the Road is the quintessential American vision of freedom and hope, a book that changed American literature and changed anyone who has ever picked it up.
Why Kerouac Matters: The Lessons of On the Road (They're Not What You Think): John Leland, author of Hip: A History argues that On the Road still matters not for its youthful rebellion but because it is full of lessons about how to grow up.


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


Kerouac's map of his first hitchhiking trip, July-October 1947 (click image to see the full map)

Original New York Times review of On the Road (click image to see the full review)


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  • Far Superior to Edited Version
    From Amazon

    I have read the edited version of On the Road and always thought it very good, but it was not until I picked up the scroll that the full power of the text resonated within me. It's amazing how many beautiful passages were cut! It's electrifying to read the long paragraphs and the long sentences as they originally came forth from his mind. It's also much more satisfying to read the actual names of the characters in the book so that people not well versed with the Dulouz legend don't have to figure out and wonder who the characters are: (eg, instead of "Carlo Marx" you get Allen Ginsberg"). The unedited scroll is really superior in every way. I cannot think of one thing that I prefer in the edited version. Anytime anyone reads On the Road from here on out, they should read this version. Note: It's not drastically different, but the small differences go a long, long way... In this version, you feel that you are there with Kerouac writing it. You can sense when his energy waxes and wanes. This one is definitely more poetic. Instead of a clean novel, it's a mad rush of energy. It's the book that Kerouac intended. It's the manuscript that made everyone excited and now you can better see why...

  • Don't miss this
    From Amazon

    If you are at all interested in the Beat or Hippie generations, this is a good place to get in touch with the heart of the movements. Jack is brilliant with his writing. He will have you sitting next to him during his blazing adventures in the expanding world of america in the mid-1900s. I have read a lot of work in college English courses. This absolutely surpasses everything I have read as far as grasping a piece of America and running with it. It shows some sides of our culture that we can celebrate and some that may make you cringe.

  • Hitting the Road for the first time
    From Amazon

    Amazingly, I picked up the Original Scroll at a used bookstore pretty cheap of all places. At first, I couldn't shake the thought that it might be some sort of mess without the use of paragraphs, chapters, etc. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The use of the real names of the people behind the entire book is also very refreshing as opposed to the names used in the normal "On The Road." Gives it more of a feel like a documentary of sorts to me. Admittedly, it is my first time reading any of Kerouac's work, but definitely a classic due to the language (wild at the time) and the "plot" since it was a radical thing during the 1950's with the subject matter. Definitely give it a shot. You won't be disappointed. As it is, I'm still reading my copy. Hope to read it for many years to come.

  • on the road
    From Amazon

    This is fantastic piece of American literature. Kerouac is a great American treasure. You not only feel like your on his adventure with him, but actually feel like your there as he writes it in that it is in the original scroll form. It should be any ones required reading.

  • Sal and Dean or Jack and Neal?
    From Amazon

    I've read the published (Sal Paradise/Dean Moriarty) version of "On the Road" at least three times since the early 1970s, but I find that this original 1951 scroll transcription with no paragraph breaks, unexpurgated expletives, and the real names of Kerouac and Cassady and Ginsberg and Burroughs hits harder, moves faster, and is much more immediate in its impact than the traditionally-edited novel. But even though it predates the publication of the finished book by six years, most of my favorite, most memorable, lines and events were there in this first draft. It's a revelation. The scroll version also brings up questions about the relative merits of memoirs vs. novels and fiction vs. non-fiction that seem very contemporary -- in the nineteen fifties it was more important to be a Novelist if one were to be taken seriously as a writer; you created a fictional universe, you disguised autobiographical names and events (at least nominally), and you would never be forced to appear on Oprah defending the veracity of every subjective recollection in your book. If you've read the book in its traditional form, read it again in this "new" version (but if you're coming to this indispensible American classic for the first time, then I'd suggest starting with the published version with the well-known noms de route -- everyone should know Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty!)

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