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On the Road by Jack Kerouac

On the Road (1957)

by Jack Kerouac

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
20,34825773 (3.69)803
  1. 111
    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream by Hunter S. Thompson (MyriadBooks)
  2. 73
    Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (thiagobomfim)
  3. 52
    Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values by Robert M. Pirsig (hippietrail)
  4. 52
    On the Road The Original Scroll by Jack Kerouac (rickyrickyricky)
    rickyrickyricky: If you still have the choice, do not pick up the originally-published edition and instead go for the Original Scroll. This should be on its way to replacing just plain ol' On the Road as the primo Kerouac (and even Beat) text for the adventurous romantics to become enamored with. More rhythm, more life, more of that depressing truth that filled Kerouac's subsequent work. It's a much stronger book.… (more)
  5. 30
    Off the Road: My Years With Cassady, Kerouac, and Ginsberg by Carolyn Cassady (Jannes)
    Jannes: Interesting behind-the-scenes look, and also something of an counterpoint to the tendency of over-romanticizing Jack and the gang that we, or at least I, are sometimes guiltily of. If you're a Beat-geek you can't really ignore this one.
  6. 20
    The Town and the City by Jack Kerouac (soulster)
  7. 10
    Tredje stenen från solen : roman by Claes Holmström (Sawengo)
  8. 10
    Cigarett : roman by Per Hagman (Sawengo)
  9. 21
    The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño (hippietrail)
  10. 10
    Théorie du voyage : Poétique de la géographie by Michel Onfray (askthedust)
  11. 00
    Big Sur by Jack Kerouac (John_Vaughan)
  12. 00
    One and Only: The Untold Story of On the Road by Gerald Nicosia (mrkay)
  13. 12
    Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar (caflores)
    caflores: Gente que busca y no sabe qué.
  14. 13
    The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West (hippietrail)
  15. 010
    Ye Ole Fiendly Towne and Other Whittier Zombie Haikus: Whittier is suddenly scoured with zombies! And just where is Doobie McDonald during these mayhaps...BAY-beh!? by Doobie McDonald (privycouncilpress)
    privycouncilpress: A road trip film symbolizing the mindtrip your soul will have while reading 'Ye Ole Fiendly Towne and Other Whittier Zombie Haikus"
1950s (18)
Read (91)
1960s (248)

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English (234)  French (6)  Italian (4)  Spanish (4)  Dutch (3)  German (3)  Danish (2)  Swedish (1)  All languages (257)
Showing 1-5 of 234 (next | show all)
"On the Road" was written in the 50's. The story takes place in the late 40s. I understand from other writeups on this over-rated book that it is somewhat autobiographical - protagonist Sal is Kerouac who died in the 60s at the age of 47 from alcohol related problems, and his sidekick Dean is Neal Cassady, who died in the 60s at 41++ apparently from drug problems. Our heroes. There is one brief passage toward the end of this book that pretty much summarizes the whole plot. Dean says to Sal - "we gotta go and never stop till we get there."
"Where we going, man?"
"I don't know but we gotta go"

Actually this has been going on since page 1, as they criss-cross the country multiple times, sometimes, solo, other times together. Only to turn around and go back to wherever. They never have money. They work cotton fields, they pan-handle, they write aunties to wire money to them. Most of the money seems to get spent on bus tickets, booze, and gas; hygiene is not a major worry.. They and their buddies seem to have trouble with marriage. They have an eye out for girls, sometimes rather young girls. They seem to constantly be high on life, or other things, but there are relatively few references to drugs - I suspect that has more to do with publication concerns than it does with what was happening. They are into music and often talk in extremes. Everything they experience seems to be the best, the greatest, the biggest, the highest. Here's a scene in a Frisco nightclub.....a bongo player, shirtless, slows down the beat and barely taps as everyone breathlessly leans forward. This goes on for sometime, and then he slowly takes the mike and for the next 15 minutes chants......Great-orooni.....fine-ovauti.....hello-orooni.....bourbon-orooni.....oroonirooni.

Want to see what these characters were like in real life? Check them out on YouTube.

Well, if this is "beat" then it's just one more extreme art form that seems incredibly over-rated, with minimal contribution and a lot of bs. ( )
  maneekuhi | Nov 27, 2015 |
Honestly, eh. ( )
  arpentec | Nov 27, 2015 |
My 14 year old self is giving this five stars. That's how old I was when I first read On the Road and it changed my life. I tried reading it again when I was 19 and found it pretty juvenile. When I think back on it now, aged 34, I think what a poor deal the women in it get and what a bunch of selfish, shallow swines the men are. So I don't think back on it. I think back to reading it aged 14 and deciding there and then that I was going to spend the rest of my life travelling round America. ( )
  JohnPhelan | Nov 9, 2015 |
novel, classic literature, american literature, 20th century literature, banned books
  sailordanae | Oct 9, 2015 |
This is one of those books I've been hearing about for decades, but finally got the gumption to read. Unlike many classics, it lives up to its billing. Of course, there's no plot, and it doesn't read like fiction at all. Just travels back and forth across the country - in cars on the verge of falling apart or as hitchhikers down to their last few dollars. What makes the book so good is how real it is. The leading characters and all the folks they meet on the road. There's humor, there's pain, and most of all, there's truth. A reviewer on the back cover compares it to Huckleberry Finn. I liked this a lot better. ( )
1 vote datrappert | Sep 28, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 234 (next | show all)
El Sal Paradise de todas las ediciones conocidas de esta novela mítica es aquí, al fin, Kerouac. Y también Cassady, Ginsberg y Burroughs aparecen con sus verdaderos nombres. Con la publicación del rollo original, la gesta viajera y existencial de En la carretera se vuelve autobiográfica de pleno derecho y a plena luz del día, sin censura alguna. Y el relato adquiere toda su potencia narrativa. El lector tiene en sus manos una suerte de manifiesto de la beat generation. Seguimos a Kerouac y a toda la cáfila que desfila por estas páginas en toda su desnudez y penuria. Precursores del movimiento hippy y la contracultura de finales de los años sesenta, los personajes de esta novela pululan sin rumbo por Norteamérica. La sed vital insatisfecha, la búsqueda de horizontes de sentido, de dicha y de conocimiento y los atisbos místicos se estrellan contra una realidad inhóspita y desesperanzada. Un vívido compendio de los grandes temas, y al tiempo una apasionante aventura humana y una metáfora de la existencia. «El rollo original de On the Road es una de las más veneradas y enigmáticas reliquias de la literatura moderna... Un texto fascinante» (James Campbell, The Times Literary Supplement).
added by Pakoniet | editLecturalia
With his barbaric yawp of a book. Kerouac commands attention as a kind of literary James Dean.
added by Shortride | editTime (Sep 16, 1957)

» Add other authors (85 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kerouac, Jackprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Charters, AnnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Golüke, GuidoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holmes, AndrewCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pivano, FernandaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sauter, PeeterTÕlkija.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vandenbergh, JohnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up.
". . . and I shambled after as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes 'Awww!'"
In the window I smelled all the food of San Francisco.   There were seafood places out there where the buns were hot, and the baskets were good enough to eat too; where the menus themselves were soft with foody esculence as though dipped in hot broths roasted dry and good enough to eat too.  Just show me the bluefish spangle on a seafood menu, and I'd eat it; let me smell the butter and lobster claws.  There were places where hamburgers sizzled on grills and the coffee was only a nickel.  And oh, that pan fried chow mein flavored air that blew into my room from Chinatown, vying with the spaghetti sauces of North Beach, the soft-shell crab of Fisherman's Wharf- nay, the ribs of Fillmore turning on spits! Throw in the Market street chili beans, red-hot, and french-fried potatoes of the Embarcadero wino night, and steamed clams from Sausalito across the bay, and that's ah-dream of San Francisco.  Add fog, hunger making, raw fog, and the throb of neons in the soft night, the clack of high heeled beauties, white doves in a Chinese grocery window.
Great beautiful clouds floated overhead, valley clouds that made you feel the vastness of old tumbledown holy America from mouth to mouth and tip to tip.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Do not combine with On the Road: The Original Scroll
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Book description
A penniless writer named Sal Paradise becomes inspired to hitchhike across America, taking the listener on a freewheeling journey through the 1950s youth counterculture. Joining up with other fellow vagabonds who are in love with life and open to adventure, they explore jazz, sex, drugs, and mysticism on the fringes of society.

Credited as the book that launched Jack Kerouac's career, On the Road epitomized to the world the generation that Kerouac himself named as "beat." It created a sensation by chronicling a spontaneous and wandering way of life in a style that seemed founded both on jazz and on drug-induced visions.

Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0140283293, Paperback)

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)

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:31 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Story of two restless young men in the late 1940s who cross and recross America, encountering parties, girls, drugs, loneliness and their own dreams along the way.

» see all 21 descriptions

Legacy Library: Jack Kerouac

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5 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

5 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141182679, 0140265007, 0141037482, 0241951534, 0141198206

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An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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