On the Road

On the Road

Book - 2003
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The classic novel of freedom and the search for authenticity that defined a generation

September 5th, 2017 marks the 60th anniversary of the publication of On the Road

On the Road chronicles Jack Kerouac's years traveling the North American continent with his friend Neal Cassady, "a sideburned hero of the snowy West." As "Sal Paradise" and "Dean Moriarty," the two roam the country in a quest for self-knowledge and experience. Kerouac's love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz combine to make On the Road an inspirational work of lasting importance. Kerouac's classic novel of freedom and longing defined what it meant to be "Beat" and has inspired every generation since its initial publication more than fifty years ago. This Penguin Classics edition contains an introduction by Ann Charters.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Publisher: New York : Penguin Books, 2003, c1955
ISBN: 9780142437254
0142437255
9780140283297
0140283293
Characteristics: xxxiv, 307 pages ; 20 cm
Call Number: KEROUAC, J

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2017 marked the 60th anniversary of this classic novel of freedom and the search for authenticity that defined a generation. Available in book, e-book, audiobook CD, and e-audiobook formats.


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b
BayouJohn
May 21, 2021

In counterpoint to other's reviews of this "classic", I just don't get it. So tedious, repetitive, tiresome, pointless, self centered aimless wandering. Kerouac's bohemian wanderings with his posse of drunken, drug addled, thieving and purposeless lost pals leave me cold. I realize this is the anthem for the beat generation and all, and a sad generation it is. What went around came around, as always. In the cold light of day their freedom, adventure and beat lives left a trail of despair and wreckage for those paying for their fun. This in the form of money borrowed from poor relatives, pregnant frightened girlfriends, broken promises. All paid dearly for their beat lifestyle. Apart from this daytime reality, there are much better tales of life on the road and aimless wandering by better writers looking to find themselves and a purpose in life. With many of these I've felt a kinship, as I have personally spent many days on the road -- hitching, biking, motorcycling, etc, and all that comes with it during the night. With this book I didn't feel that kinship. I felt for those disappointed, worried and shattered that they left behind.

d
dgiard
Apr 05, 2021

In Jack Kerouac's "On the Road", narrator Sal Paradise and his friends crisscross the United States, searching for America, God, and themselves. Along the way, they also search for jazz, booze, drugs, girls, and adventure.

Although Sal narrates, this is really the story of his friend Dean Moriarity. Dean constantly lives in the moment - experiencing life to the fullest and searching for thrills and satisfaction at each turn. He falls in love and marries and fathers children with no sense of responsibility and no thought of the future. Sal follows along, soaking in the energy that Dean exudes.

They live fast and they observe the sights and sounds and smells of all they encounter; they connect with people; they drink in jazz clubs and feel the music flowing through them. It all sounds great, but there are consequences. Dean is self-absorbed and, although charming and fun, feels no responsibility to others. The ex-wives and children he leaves behind suffer the consequences of his abandonment; and the drug use eventually take a heavy toll on Dean's health.

This was the novel that defined the "Beat Generation" - that inspired millions to dream of freedom from social mores. It is entirely impractical, but it is a wonderful ride.

s
Shuken_1989
Mar 06, 2021

"On the Road" is part travel journal and spiritual treatise capturing the listless and curious spirit of America's Beat Generation. Jack Kerouac (referred to as Sal Paradise in the book) is on of the patron saints of the Beat Movement, alongside Allen Ginsburg (referred to as Carlo Marx) and William S. Boroughs (refereed to as Old Bull Lee), characterized by it's rejection of the post World War II values of capitalism, rapid economic expansion, and social conservatism. "On the Road" sees Kerouac roving the United States between the years of 1947-1950, often working odd jobs and hanging out with other Beats. To me the book did not live up to the hype, I found Kerouac's alter ego Sal to be a bit of a "bastard." Part of this I found was Sal's dangerous fascination with Neal Cassady (referred to as Dean Moriarty) a carefree, manipulative, and listless ex-convict who is hinted as struggling with his suppressed homosexuality and untreated mental illness which sublimates itself in Dean's erratic behavior and bigamous/polyamorous relationships. It's not until Sal's third trip to San Francisco that he begins to see how awful of a person Dean really is. There are also nods to Sal's (Jack) extreme alcoholism and untreated mental illness. I found the book to messy rather than spiritual, I found the behavior of the characters to be ludicrous. Ultimately, this book is considered part of the life and spiritual development of Jack Kerouac as he transfers from his Beat lifestyle to one informed by Buddhist teachings and ideas, mostly brought on Ginsberg. I would recommend reading this book simply because of where it sits in the canon of both American Buddhism and classic American literature.

m
mikey69
Dec 12, 2020

There's nothing more American than the road trip. People hopping in their cars and taking to the road. It's hard to tell why that is; perhaps our penchant for mobility. Perhaps our gleeful giddiness over anything new. Or maybe it's a throwback to the Great Depression, when millions of Americans took to the road in the last thing they possessed: their automobile. Whatever the case, Kerouac's ON THE ROAD, though anything but typical, embodies the spirit of that cherished tradition. A classic.

a
alecbussott
Aug 10, 2020

Take Hemingway's meandering storytelling and add the Beat generation's stream-of-consciousness writing style, and you will have On the Road.

1
1aa
Aug 05, 2020

This was among my favorite novels... once. Upon re-reading it I found that apart from their trips, we don't really get to know much about the characters. The characters are quite a wild bunch: sex, drunkenness, drugs, and crime are all part of the lifestyle. The descriptions and social commentary are at times arresting, as are some other remarks, such as this one from page 108 "... a band of Arabs coming to blow up New York".

d
dixithanoop
Dec 27, 2019

Obviously, we all know this book is a classic. Reading this was pure bliss! Reading this was meditating via reading. Reading this was a bibliophile orgasming. This is also the first book that I've read this year that I'm going with a five star rating.

The way Jack Kerouac put the Beat generation using his run-on sentences and easy-flowing paragraphs that famously came out of a type-written scroll is legendary. I haven't read a book in a long time that made me stay up an entire night just to continue reading.

The story, essentially a semi-autobiographical travelogue, in this book is simple, yet terrifically profound. While it's hard to explain the plot, It's about Sal Parasise's travel from New York to Denver, to Chicago, to San Francisco and to Mexico. And his interactions with his friends, most notably Dean Moriarty. There are innumerable other strangers who pop-in and pop-out of the story in almost all chapters.

I want to now review this book from a road-tripping fan's perspective. If you're a long distance road tripping fan, this book is the closest thing to actually road-tripping. Reading this book makes you wanna go on a road-trip, meet new people, get fresh air, speak in funny accents, drink new beer, eat different food (and Apple Pie, the food eaten this book most often e), laugh, cry, look at the unending sky, fly off the wild blue yonder. The book made me go on two long road-trips, and also visit the Loneliest Road in the US - US 50 in Nevada.
It also made me wonder about the times before the Interstate Highway System when the hippie road-tripper's primary way of traveling was in fact hitchhiking! How fun.

I wanna read this book again, and go road tripping again. The book is so good there's no way a movie based on this could justify the experience. The only thing that could add to and match the beauty of this book is the reader's own imagination.

m
maiki69
Nov 10, 2019

The road trip is a popular theme in American literature. Ever since Lewis and Clark chronicled their expedition of 1804, America's appetite for the genre has been insatiable. But there's more to a successful story than the mere nuts and bolts of a travelogue; it needs soul, character, and - above all else - tension to keep the pages turning.

Perhaps the most famous chronicle of the road trip genre is Jack Kerouac's enduring classic, ON THE ROAD (New American Library, $3.95). Originally published in 1957, it tosses convention on its ear and through a seemingly endless series of run-on sentences put the Beat Generation firmly on the map. At the time of its writing, the seedy subculture that was to become known as Beat took a backseat to the post-war economic boom enjoyed by mainstream America, shut out - as it were - of the party, and so created their own party out of jazz joints and urban ghettos composed of other disenfranchised souls in search of It: It, being riding the edge of the moment; It, being the freaky booze-addled, drug-induced alt-reality that lent to misfits a sense of belonging, altogether divorced of the post-war apocalyptic military-industrial fever quietly sweeping through "respectable" circles. It, the antithesis of respectability, It, out of this world.

Upon completion of the manuscript, Kerouac purportedly delivered it to his publisher on one continuous roll of paper which he'd pounded out on the keys of a typewriter in practically one sitting which in itself is a feat and very Beat approach to writing which you gotta dig if for nothing else the cat's unique style. The story follows Sal Paradise in his pursuit west from New York to Denver, then San Francisco, back the other direction and eventually south to Mexico and back, at times in the presence of Dean Moriarty a practically god-like figure in Sal's eyes for his checkered past and bold present pursuit of self-gratification and his father a seemingly mythical creature always just out of reach, the source of Dean's angst and excuse for his wanderlust: Dad's a hobo. Though Sal uses the senior Moriarty as his reason for much of his travels - he sincerely wishes to see the father and son reunited - there's a bromance going on here that cannot be denied, Sal knows it, Dean knows it and it's the underlying tension of it that makes ON THE ROAD a page turner, the tension of longing, the tension that comes from the difference between the idea of Dean Moriarty and the reality of Dean Moriarty, loser, winner, player, dreamer, conspirator, user, and sadly, liability. When plans are made to see Europe together, despite their enthusiasm we just know it's never going to happen for these cats, the junior Moriarty trapped as it were in his father's legacy, pursued by Sal just as his father is pursued by the son, eternally just out of reach. Europe never does happen for these cats - no surprise to either of them - but how it never happens makes for a great read.

Did I mention Kerouac's penchant for run-on sentences?

w
Waluconis
Aug 04, 2019

Was there ever a novel with a history like this one? When Jack Kerouac brought the manuscript for "On The Road" into the publisher's office, it was on one long, taped-together scroll with no pagination and no paragraph breaks. When he was told that they liked it, but it needed be made more uniform, he said that it could not be changed because it was dictated to him by the Holy Ghost. (Where are these kinds of writers today?) The publishers insisted and eventually wore him down to allow a large edit. The history of all that is contained in this volume, and also other insightful essays. The original publication of the edited "On The Road" exploded into a phenomenon that effected even America life styles. This famous book, read and aught for years, was not the one that Kerouac had written. Ginsberg stated all along that the publishers had ruined the book, and I thought he was just being his rebellious self. But Ginsberg was right. Many passages removed were the most perceptive and salient on America. The Beats have been justifiably criticized for their views on gender - but all the parts of the scroll on women that had strong, effective positions and perspectives were removed. Also more convenient and valuable in the scroll is that all the names of the people are their real names. This says nothing for passages of Kerouac's lyrical style that had been excised. In short, if you have not read the Scroll, then you have not read Jack Kerouac's "On the Road."

l
lendmeyourears2017
Jun 02, 2019

I want to see what he has seen.

I want to know the people he has known.

I want to share these experiences.

Sal Paradise/Jack Kerouac takes you on a truly satisfying trip, told in journal style, down the American back roads in the 50’s, during the Eisenhower post-WWII prosperity the rest of the population was enjoying. You’re experiencing this journey along with the main character as he paints a picture with words… a verbal picture of the America he lives in during those years.

He uses rich descriptive phrases so you feel as if you have met his companions. Sal tells about his friends who “never say a common place thing”. This book is filled with great thought provoking quotes - “East of my youth, West of my future”, which gives the listener an idea of where this story is in time and space for Sal. It underscores the restless searching quality of all the characters throughout this book.

In another anecdote, Sal complains about the troubles he has with hitchhiking but not what you would expect, ie. not being able to get a ride. The problem was having to talk all the time to people who gave you rides.

Matt Dillon, the reader, has great pacing and vocal tone. His delivery goes from matter of fact to high energy as the story dictates. With audio books, the reader is as important as the book he/she reads.

Listening to this book is like catching up with a comfortable old friend…that wild eyed wacky guy that your mother warned you about. But you love this rascal friend and want to keep up with his latest escapades. You chuckle and smile to yourself later at the recollection of the time spent together. Go on the road with Jack Kerouac, even if it is only in your mind!

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m
mikey69
Dec 12, 2020

Upon completion of the manuscript for ON THE ROAD, Kerouac delivered it to his publisher on one continuous roll of paper which he'd pounded out on the keys of a typewriter in practically one sitting which in itself is a feat and very Beat approach to writing which you just gotta dig if for nothing else the cat's unique style. The story follows Sal Paradise west from New York to Denver, San Francisco, and eventually south to Mexico, at times in the presence of Dean Moriarty an exalted figure in Sal's eyes with a sketchy past, in pursuit of his father, a seemingly mythical creature always just out of reach, the source of Dean's angst and excuse for his wanderlust: dad's a hobo. Though Sal uses the senior Moriarty as his reason for much of his travels - he sincerely wishes to see the father and son reunited - there's a bromance going on here that cannot be denied, Sal knows it, Dean knows it and it's the underlying tension of it that makes ON THE ROAD a page turner, the tension of longing, the tension that comes from the difference between the idea of Dean Moriarty and the reality of Dean Moriarty, loser, winner, player, dreamer, conspirator, user, and sadly, liability. When plans are made to see Europe together, despite their enthusiasm we just know it's never going to happen for these cats, Dean Moriarty, trapped in his father's legacy is pursued by Sal just as the father is pursued by Dean, wistfully in sight, never within reach. Europe never happens for these cats - no surprise to either of them - how it never happens makes for a great read, but be prepared for run-on sentences.

m
maiki69
Nov 10, 2019

Perhaps the most famous chronicle of the road trip genre is Jack Kerouac's enduring classic, ON THE ROAD (New American Library, $3.95). Originally published in 1957, it tosses convention on its ear and through a seemingly endless series of run-on sentences put the Beat Generation firmly on the map. Composed of other disenfranchised souls in search of It, Beats reveled in a freaky booze-addled, drug-induced alt-reality that lent to misfits a sense of belonging, altogether divorced of the post-war apocalyptic military-industrial fever quietly sweeping through "respectable" circles of society.

The story follows Sal Paradise in his pursuit west from New York to Denver, then San Francisco, back the other direction and eventually south to Mexico and back, often in the presence of Dean Moriarty a practically god-like figure in Sal's eyes for his checkered past and bold pursuit of self-gratification. Although Dean comes across as a cool cat, by story's end we realize it's a false persona, a band-aid for the father issues he's plagued with.

Maybe more than any other book in American Literature, ON THE ROAD created a subculture movement by exposing and celebrating it. With Woodstock, sixties counterculture was brought mainstream. Kerouac, with ON THE ROAD, did the same for the Beats.

PimaLib_WilliamB May 06, 2015

A decent but not outstanding adaptation of Kerouac's novel. This one always seemed too hard to film, and indeed, the end result isn't the best result, but seeing the characters come off the pages and alive is enjoyable and Viggo Mortensen as William S. Burroughs is a scene stealer.

PimaLib_WilliamB May 06, 2015

Kerouac wrote most of his famous book on a scroll through his typewriter so he would keep a continuous train of thought. The resulting manuscript is now available here (though, not in scroll form!) to be read as Kerouac originally wrote it, with the names of his fellow "Beat" friends and authors named. It's an exhaustive read but worth it for the fans.

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m
mikey69
Dec 12, 2020

The ideal bar doesn't exist in America."
-Old Bull, ON THE ROAD, by Jack Kerouac

m
maiki69
Nov 10, 2019

. . . the junior Moriarty trapped as it were in his father's legacy, [is] pursued by Sal just as his father is pursued by the son, eternally just out of reach.
http://www.penhead.org/

s
sawing85
Jun 12, 2014

You boys going to get somewhere or just going?

j
justpooki
Mar 23, 2013

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones 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 roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars…”

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rUngrich
Feb 28, 2011

rUngrich thinks this title is suitable for 35 years and under

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