On the Road: The Original Scroll

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9780670063550: On the Road: The Original Scroll
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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)

About the Author:

Jack Kerouac was born in 1922 in Lowell, Massachusetts. He attended local Catholic and public schools and won a scholarship to Columbia University in New York, where he met Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs. His first novel, The Town and the City, appeared in 1950, but it was On the Road, published by Viking in 1957, that made him one of the best known authors of his time. Kerouac died in St. Petersburg, Florida, in 1969, at the age of forty-seven.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780143105466: On the Road: The Original Scroll (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0143105469 ISBN 13:  9780143105466
Publisher: Penguin Classics, 2008
Softcover

9780241951538: On the Road: The Original Scroll (Penguin Essentials)

Viking, 2011
Softcover

9780670063260: On the Road: 50th Anniversary Edition

Viking..., 2007
Hardcover

9780141189215: On the Road: The Original Scroll (Penguin Modern Classics)

Pengui..., 2008
Softcover

9781846140204: On the Road

The Vi..., 1957
Hardcover

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