Friday, May 3

Hitchhiking with Kerouac: The Original Scroll

I have just bought an original scroll edition of Jack Kerouc's On the Road.  After looking at his experimental style in my creative writing class, I decided that it was 100% essential that I owned a copy.  However, it has been since I started reading that I have come to realise just how special this book is.  

Have a read of the blurb:

Jack Kerouac began thinking about the novel that was to become On the Road as early as 1947, and over the following three years he, along with Neal Cassady and a few other friends, made the cross-country journeys that were to become the raw material for the book.  During this time Kerouac filled his journals with notes and drafts in which he tested out different possible main characters and situations.  After coming under the spell of some wildly exuberant letters that Cassady sent to him in late 1950 and early 1951, Kerouac finally decided that the best way to do the novel would be to write the story of his life, to "write it as it happened".  In three weeks in April Manhattan, he composed a version that was satisfactory to him.  It was typed out as one long single-spaced paragraph on eight sheets of tracing paper that he later taped together to form a 120-foot scroll.  It was not until more than six years later, and several new drafts, that Viking, on September 5, 1957, published the book that is known to us today.  
Here, on the occasion of its fiftieth anniversary, is the never-before-published original scroll edition of On the Road.  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.  The original version of On the Road is rougher, wilder, and more sexually explicit than the published novel.  Kerouac also uses the real names of his friends... 
On the Road: The Original Scroll is undoubtably one of the most significant, celebrated, and provocative documents in contemporary American literary history.   

Kerouac unrolling the original scroll
Reading that blurb is so exciting for me.  Everything about the creation of this novel is amazing, and it feels like such an honour to be allowed to read it in its rawest, freshest, most naked and uncensored form.  It is also a great gift to be able to see into a writer's thought process like this.  It is completely unedited.  This is how he thought and felt!  


This original scroll still exists, would you believe it?  Thank goodness too!  The story behind it is so momentous and wonderful, it definitely deserves the celebration and reverence that it has received.  

In 2001, the original scroll was bought by Jim Irsay for $2.43 million.  Every now and then, the first 30 feet (9 metres) are unrolled for public viewing.  It has been on display in the United States, United Kingdom, and Ireland.  

The original scroll on display


Director Walter Salles has produced a fresh film adaptation of On the Road.  I am waiting to finish reading before I watch it, but the trailer is a window into the energy, vibrance, and atmosphere of the novel.  One concern that I have is that the names of the characters will be different, because in the original scroll, Kerouac used the actual names of the people he met.  These were changed in the editing process.  Hopefully this won't be too confusing!  Have a watch of the trailer.

Are you hooked yet?  Grab a copy and share your favourite bits!  I've already compiled a little list of amazing lines that I look forward to sharing with you.  It did take me a while to get into it, but now I am definitely a part of this story, and I'm not getting off this wild ride until the very end.  

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment to respond to my post or start a new conversation about whatever it is that you're passionate about.

If you don't have a Blogger or Google account, you can always leave an anonymous comment. Thankyou for taking the time!