JACK KEROUAC: VITAJack Kerouac, the king of the Beat, as he defined himself, was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1922, of French-Canadian parents. His childhood was typical of a standard American boy. He sought some sort of evasion in day-dreams about becoming a football champion, a writer and so on.
He netered Columbia University, but abandoned the studies after one year and went back to his home. He tried more several manual jobs and was in the Navy for a few months.
In 1943 he went to New York, and joined some young people who, like him, rebelled against the middle class way of life.
In 1944 he met Allen Ginsberg who remained one of his true friends in the corse of his life.
He soon began to live in an apartment with a small group of young people. The group separated in 1945 and Keoruac joined his parents.
In this period he began to write The Town and the City, a novel reflecting his own life experiences.
He met Neal Cassady. Neal’s spontaneity, love for adventure made him a sort of hero in Jack’s eyes; he idealized the new friend and portrayed him in On the Road, his best known novel.
In 1947 Kerouac hitch-hiked around the country.
In 1948 he began to work at On the Road; his restlessness led him to ch’ange his residence continually. First he lived with his family, the with friends in San Francisco and New York.
In 1950 Jack was busy working at On the Road, to which he devoted himself with ardour, trying to convey the spirti of the adventures which make up the book.
Kerouac’s role in the book is that of the narrator, and the rest of the characters, like the adventures described, depict the author’s own friends and experiences.
As soon as the book was finished, in 1951, Kerouac resumed his restless moving from place to place. He had financial difficulties and became more and more dependent on alcohol; during this gloomy period he found comfort in the study of Buddhism. The Dharma Bums reflects the author’s interest in Oriental philosophy. In 1955 Kerouac obtained a contract with a publisher and consented to the piblication of passages from On the Road in magazines. In 1956 Kerouac work as firewatcher. It was an experience of solitude and he abandoned it to go back to his standard life among people, noises, on the road. In 1957 On the Road was published. The book became a best-seller. Kerouac was faced with the difficult side of popularity: newspaper reports, radio and tv interviews were too much for him. He drank more and more and suffered from hallucinations.
He returned to live with his mother. Big Sur contains the account of his despair at the breakdown of all is hopes, and Desolation Angels contains his thoughts. His last novel was Pic.
The writer died in 1969 from abdominal hemorrhaging, a consequence of his alcoholism.
JACK KEROUAC: BEAT GENERATION
The Beat Generation. Kerouac was the outstanding personality of the Beat Generation, a group of writers who rejected the way of life of the Establishement. They marked a revolution in the style of life, advocating freedom, peace, love. The group included writers like Ginsberg, Corso, Holmes, Cassady, Burroughs.
Te Beats did not denunce, they sought for a new reality, in order to give shape and meaning to life.
They were basically a religious generation. They found inspiration in various form of mysticism, in a life of endless travelling always in search of new sensations and in jazz.
They also turned to extreme means, like alcohol, drugs, or speed driving, risking death like James Dean.
JACK KEROUAC: ON THE ROAD
On the Road. A novel about a group of friends travelling across the USA, driving cars from one city to another. They are constantly moving, determined to have any new experience.