Jean-Louis "Jack" Kerouac (March 12, 1922 – October 21, 1969) was an American novelist and poet. He is considered a literary iconoclast and, alongside William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, a pioneer of the Beat Generation.Kerouac is recognized for his spontaneous method of writing, covering topics such as Catholic spirituality, jazz, etc.
"[On The Road] is in the back of everyone's imagination, seeing it before it was edited makes concrete what he put into it," Kupetz says. It also shows how innovative Kerouac was in 1951. "He was a detailed literary craftsman," Kupetz said.
Jean Louis Lebris de Kerouac, better known as Jack Kerouac, was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, on March 12, 1922. His parents, Leo and Gabrielle, were French Canadian and devoutly Roman Catholic. Leo developed a printing business in Lowell, which provided a modestly comfortable life for the Kerouacs during the 1920s.
After leaving the Navy, [Kerouac] shipped out again several times with the merchant marine [sic], but he spent much of the remainder of the war in New York City, where he gravitated toward a group of friends living in the area around Columbia University.
Jack Kerouac is hardly an unfamiliar literary figure. In his lifetime he published seventeen books; several others have been published since his death. His best-known book, On the Road, has been translated into a score of languages. Kerouac has also been the subject of a number of biographies.
Kerouac himself [died], at forty-seven, of complications resulting from alcoholism. In the aftermath of the publication of On the Road, and the onslaught of fame, Kerouac had written to Cassady to report, "Everything exploded."
[Kerouac's] writing style, drawing inspiration from bebop jazz, modern poetry, and heavy doses of Benzedrine, captured the frenetic, beat-driven lifestyle of the urban socially displaced. Inspired by a letter from Neal Cassady and the in-progress manuscript of William Burroughs' Junkie, Kerouac taped together rolls of tracing paper, lined up a supply of Benzedrine, cigarettes and coffee, and began a marathon nonstop writing session that lasted three weeks and produced 186,000 words.
Now heralded as the beat bible, Jack Kerouac’s magnum opus On the Road was finally published by Viking Press in 1957, six years after it was written. But in 1951, given its provocative content and nontraditional style, publishing houses wouldn’t touch it.
Kerouac turned to Buddhist study and practice from 1953 to 1956, after his “road” period and in the lull between composing On the Road in 1951 and its publication in 1957... He immersed himself in the study of Zen, beginning his genre-defying Some of the Dharma in 1953 as reader’s notes on Dwight Goddard’s A Buddhist Bible (1932); the work grew into a massive compilation of spiritual material, meditations, prayers, haiku, and musings on the teaching of Buddha.
Almost all his life Jack Kerouac had a hobby that even close friends and fellow Beats like Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs never knew about. He obsessively played a fantasy baseball game of his own invention, charting the exploits of made-up players like Wino Love, Warby Pepper, Heinie Twiett, Phegus Cody and Zagg Parker, who toiled on imaginary teams named either for cars (the Pittsburgh Plymouths and New York Chevvies, for example) or for colors (the Boston Grays and Cincinnati Blacks).
"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, desirous of everything at the same time," he wrote in "On the Road," a novel he completed in only three weeks but had to wait seven years to see published. When it finally appeared in 1957, it immediately became a basic text for youth who found their country claustrophobic and oppressive. At the same time, it was a spontaneous and passionate celebration of the country itself, of "the great raw bulge and bulk of my American continent."
The original flower children, he explains, wanted to swap the conformism of the 1950s for spiritual enlightenment. Inspired by the music of the Beatles and Bob Dylan, the works of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, and the social revolutions of the time, they flocked east aboard a patchouli-scented convoy of psychedelic buses, Bedford trucks and VW campervans.
Kerouac and Ginsberg sparked a new kind of American romanticism: Instead of settling down and keeping their bellies full, they would stay hungry and keep looking. They didn’t just wish to be read by America; they wanted to create a new country, a place for the madmen, drug fiends and sex addicts. “I want to write about the crazy generation,” Kerouac wrote.