Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters, Vol. 1, 1940-1956

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9780140234442: Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters, Vol. 1, 1940-1956

It was in his letters that Jack Kerouac set down the raw material that he transmuted into his novels, exploring and refining the spontaneous prose style that became his trademark. The letters in this volume, written between 1940, when Kerouac was a freshman at college, and 1956, immediately before his breathless leap into celebrity with the publication of On the Road, offer invaluable insights into Kerouac's family life, his friendships with Neal and Carolyn Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, and William S. Burroughs, his travels, love affairs, and literary apprenticeship. At once fascinating reading and a major addition to Kerouac scholarship, here is a rare portrait of the writer as a young adventurer of immense talent, energy, and ambition in the midst of writing and living an American legend.

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Review:

Jack Kerouac is one of America's most influential literary figures. On the Road begot the Beat Generation, which ushered in the hippie movement, then free love, then drugs and so on and so on. Yet the real Kerouac bore little resemblance to this enduring image as an open-road rebel and spokesman of the Beats. He was a lover of women and wine, all right, but also a sad, confused romantic who longed for acceptance and often viewed life with a child's perspective. By capturing his emotions in his personal writings, Selected Letters helps shed light on a figure who was as troubled as he was rebellious.

About the Author:

Jack Kerouac(1922-1969), the central figure of the Beat Generation, was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1922 and died in St. Petersburg, Florida, in 1969. Among his many novels are On the Road, The Dharma Bums, Big Sur, and Visions of Cody.
Ann Charters is the editor of The Portable Sixties Reader, The Portable Jack Kerouac, two volumes of Jack Kerouac's Selected Letters, and Beat Down to Your Soul. She teaches at the University of Connecticut.

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