Jack Kerouac Message Board

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Jack Kerouac Message Board

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1nickcope Første besked:
jul 28, 2006, 5:55am

should we start with on the road, or should we talk about something else?

2Proclus
jul 29, 2006, 6:56pm

On the road sounds fine.

Have you seen the picture of "the scroll" manuscript of OTR (I forget which book it was published in) where you can see the first few lines and they're different?:

"I first met Neal not long after my father died. I had just gotten over a serious illness that I won't bother to talk about except that it really had something to do with my father's death and my awful feeling that everything was dead."

Completely changes the rhythm and tempo and casts a whole difference mood over the whole book. And brings to light a whole dimension of what might be going on here that's almost never noticed: the search for the lost father. There are several references to looking for lost fathers--all the way up to "the father we never found" of the very last line of the book.

Why the opening was changed in the published version, I don't know.

3hippietrail
aug 5, 2006, 9:01am

That's really intriguing. I thought part of the fame of On the Road was that it was supposed to have been published without a single edit. I guess that was an exaggeration...

4Proclus
aug 6, 2006, 7:12pm

Yes, the "published without a single edit" is just not so. Though it seems to be unknown whether most of the changes were made on Kerouac's own initiative or were done at the suggestion/insistence of the publisher.

I've also heard that the original, unedited version is supposed to be published soon, in time for the book's 50th anniversary.

5nickcope
Redigeret: aug 15, 2006, 11:52pm

one of the reasons why the edits were made was that Kerouac's publishers were affraid of libel action if the real names of the characters were used.
This is inspite of the fact that Kerouac's associates and friends could have quite easily worked out who was who.

6Proclus
aug 17, 2006, 6:19pm

Well, I wasn't really referring to the names. There were changes made that were a lot more substantial than just substituting names. Though I guess we'll have to wait for the unedited to version to see exactly how extensive the changes were.

7Schnurretiger Første besked:
okt 10, 2006, 1:41pm

A really unedited version of OTR would be somehting, many, many people are looking for. I've been wondering for quite a while now, why they still didn't publish Kerouac's opus with the "pantheon of uniform names". It's more than 50 years ago now, that he wrote the books, so why not grant him this one big wish?
Apart from that: OTR went through several drafts, so the myth of the three-week writing session is nothing but a myth, anyway. Kerouac might have written it down on a single roll, but I'd just love to have a look at all his notebooks. I'm sure the whole book was written down in his nickle notebooks, before Jack sat down at the typewriter.

8Utamaro Første besked:
nov 9, 2006, 9:04pm

Concerning the composition of OTR, Kerouac planned a book with this title while still writing The Town and the City. After meeting Neal Cassady and receiving the famous "Joan Anderson" letter from Cassady, Kerouac re-conceived OTR both in terms of style and plot.

The three week writing marathon is not a myth. Kerouac's second wife Joan as well as Lucien Carr attest to the fact that Kerouac spent three weeks writing the scroll manuscript. However, he worked from notebooks and letters (a method he also used when writing The Dharma Bums, Maggie Cassidy, part II of Desolation Angels, Big Sur and Visions of Duluoz.) So OTR really was an example of spontaneous bop prosody as Kerouac called the style he created, although the events he wrote about were not drawn from memory but from notebooks and letters. Tim Hunt's Kerouac's Crooked Road describes the process of writing OTR, and the Christie's Auction Catalogue describes the physical scroll itself: sheets of thin paper of approximately 6 ft. in length glued together to form the continuous scroll.

When Kerouac prepared the double spaced codex manuscript he changed the names of the real people upon whom the characters were based and made some additions and cuts. This was the manuscript that he shopped around after Robert Giroux rejected the scroll ms. This was the ms. that Malcolm Cowley saw and accepted for Viking. Cowley insisted on more cuts (as described in Jack's Book by Gifford and Lee,) and broke down long sentences into shorter ones. For a sample of the pre-Cowley version see "Jazz of the Beat Generation" and "The Mexicam Girl" in The Portable JacK Kerouac.

The version of OTR scheduled for publication in September 2007 will be the pre-Cowley edited scroll version.

9finalbroadcast
maj 15, 2007, 3:03pm

I am intrigued by the unedited version, but as Kerouac's clout with his publishers went up, the editors backed off. So some of his later works are a mess. Town and the City is rather underrated, and it is very "traditional" novel. The unedited "On the Road" may be intersting as a historical document, but I feel it may lose something as well.

10MMcM
maj 31, 2007, 7:05pm

People in the Northeast should know that favorite son Kerouac's original scroll will be on display in Lowell starting in a couple weeks until September as part of the 50th anniversary.

11finalbroadcast
jun 13, 2007, 7:53pm

Man I want to find a way to get there for that one.