* Prices may differ from that shown
"On The Road" is an American novel written by Jack Kerouac. I loved this book. I found the storyline fast paced and the language clever yet incredibly readable. The style of writing I really appreciated as it made it easy to dip in and out of the book, I don't have loads of spare time for reading at the moment and this is something which I require in a good read!
The theme of the story is essentially in the title, being "on the road". The protagonist Sal and his crazy friend Dean, travel all over America in search of something missing from their lives staying in one place.
I think the key quote of the book is "We know time." This simply refers to the sensation of realising mortality, realising how little time there is to do everything you want to, how Sal & Dean pack as many sensations into every day as they can, how they go about this by travelling. The book is set in post depression America. I've never been to America and it was fascinating to get a brief snapshot of each city.
Dean ends up having kids and several wives, whereas Sal looks on this with a rather detached viewpoint, and we as the reader have empathy for these women that he leaves scattered across the continent to bring up his children. He never has time for them, and pursues the endless horizon impatiently in search of new things, carelessly ignoring his dependents and instead using all his money on a car.
Jack Kerouac sums up the loneliness of life on the road succinctly in this novel, following the story firsthand from Sal's viewpoint of the ups and downs, the near misses with death, the desperate moments, the excitement, the variety of people, the unpredictability and the adventure. In one sense it makes you want to throw in everything and take off with your dreams, on the other it makes you incredibly apprehensive about all the bad parts!
Human relationships and hedonism are key themes, with "looking out for yourself in desperate situations" trumping friendship in certain cases throughout the book. It makes you think deeply about friendship and travels.
I haven't seen the film but I believe it is also a film now... However, I think the film would have to be brilliant to live up to expectation! A great read even if you have a hectic schedule, you can pick up this book in between things. Five stars.
I was 18 when i read this book, i read it the summer i finished school. My mind was running in directions its never been before and i had no idea what was coming for the rest of my life.
I had ideas of travelling and i loved the ideas. Though i never knew what it entailed or how it would really actually feel.
Then i rea dthis book and everything made sense, jeck kerouac. From his writing style to his descriptions, to his adventures. I wanted to delve in the world i had just read about . His adventures , from all over the usa are incredible. They're exactly what a travelling adventure should be and a complete entertaining book that is so much more than just a good read.
He explains in great detail about the adventures he has , the people he meets and his own thoughts and ideas. All of which in gripping and entertaining. It just makes you want to live his experience and do exactly what he did.
It makes you want to catch the next plane to anywhere and ride life in the same way he did.
Enjoy it, its Inspirational
On the Road is a semiautobiographical account of the travels of author
Jack Kerouac across America in the 1950s. The main character Salvatore "Sal" Paradise is accompanied by his unforgettable friend Dean Moriaty on his adventures across the country, where loose woman, drugs, swinging parties and brushes with the law are the normality, at a time when underground America danced to the bop and rhythm of jazz.
Jack Kerouac was born in Lowell, Massachusetts on March 12th 1922 and graduated from Lowell High School before attending Horace Man prep school and Columbia University. After dropping out he worked as a Merchant Seaman and after the Second World War developed his own style of writing which he called "spontaneous prose".
Within On the Road, journeys are described as frantic smoke filled car rides across the country, down dusty highways, and over mountain tops, with a final trip to Mexico finishing with an expensive time spent at the local whore house drinking and dancing to mambo, ending with Dean leaving Sal sick with dysentery and with time to reflect on their friendship.
Recognised today as a modern classic, On the Road is free flowing and easy to read and in my opinion an epic novel and must have for all those with an interest in later popular culture. Within On the Road, Kerouac records the life of the American traveller and the Beat Generation of the 1950s, in a book that describes the tone of America at that moment in time perfectly.
Jack Kerouac's On the Road could probably considered THE book of the beat generation. All the followers and admirers of that time period just has to read this.
Based on true life experiances by Kerouac himself, this book is largely autobiographical. However, it's focus is not on Kerouac (portrayed as Sal Paradise) but on the energetic, enigmatic, charsmatic Dean Moriarty and his effects on Sal. That is what makes it most interesting.
The experiances and events described in the book are far from boring though. From whorehouses in Mexico to Jazz clubs in San Francissco, whilst starving on the streets or hitch hiking across the great American continent, Kerouac tells of his story with such perfect honesty, and I think that is the definning feature of the book.
His descriptions of sadness, disappointment, anger are all true and from the heart. Whilst many would shy away from the bad times, Kerouac embraces them with an energy that sends him shooting away On the Road.
Deffinately worth reading. Though I admit that this is not for everyone, I maintain that everyone should still read it, atleast once. It is such an amazing book, and has every potential of changing your life, or atleast changing the way you see life.
On The Road is an exciting and enchanting perpsective on post-war America's cultural enlightenment, denoting a people's social revolution on the backdrop of an American 'halcyon' idealism.
It highlights the desperate yet opportunistic nature of the 'beat' generation as they expand their horizons across the huge stretch of an entire continent.
Outlining the experiences and revelations of a fragmented group of college peers and other random associates, it delves into the fiery-hearted life of drug experimentation and liberal thinking, in a decade where the clasp of the state was becoming ever more relinquished. As a psuedo-biographical work the author loosely basis the narrator, Sal Paradise, on his own turbulent past, and specifically that of the character he befriends and idolises, Dean Moriarty. The scope of the events that develop resolve around Dean's unorthodox beliefs and unique persona, encompassing a broad psychological spectrum of impulse, spontaneity and instabilty. It also touches heavily on the reality of desperation in a world ravaged by war and destitution, inevitably recognising the importance and growing prominence of the quintessesntial 'American Dream'.
This work has, and will continue to honour its credentials as being one of the ultimate life-changing reads. It's adventurous, brave and wholly illuminating.
'On The Road' is Kerouac's best known and most loved novel. Kerouac's popularity has undergone some kind of revival in the last couple of decades. Today he is celebrated worldwide and is the literary hero of hundreds. Just last week I watched a new documentary which showed Lothario comedian Russell Brand hot-footing it across America, recreating Kerouac's epic road trip. His enthusiasm for life, love and for gaining spiritual wisdom is indeed what most people take away from the book.
I discovered Kerouac at the age of 16 - a perfect age to embrace all the free love, anti-conformist, searching-for-meaning messages of the novel. I plunged right into the deep end of Kerouac's work though - devouring 'Lonesome Traveler', 'Desolation Angels','Vanity of Duluoz' and 'Big Sur' before finally getting around to 'On the Road'. By this time I was totally familiar with Kerouac's 'spontaneous prose' style - the stream of consciousness kind of writing, instant words that can never be edited.
When I started reading 'On the Road', I became aware that this novel was a little more cautious and somewhat revised. The writing style is far more controlled than in later works by the author. The style overall is rushed and the honest language of the soul is often overlooked in a first reading.
I can understand why some people read this book and think: "well, nothing happens!". There is no complicated narrative or plot - just friends hanging out in various parts of America, just pure description and observation. The end goal, the aim of the journey, is of course a spiritual one. Kerouac's imagining of the landscape says more about him than in does about the physical reality. At one point he talks of clouds that seem to tell him: "You're on the road to Heaven." His decision to move, to travel is an obvious metaphor and refers to the road one has to travel to find inner peace, happiness and wisdom.
When I studied this novel for my final year dissertation at uni I was astounded by how much more the novel can offer when examined in a close reading situation. There are less obvious themes in the novel, discovered in your second or third readings, which place this firmly in the 1950's as an extremely important part of the literary canon.
What I love about this novel are the moments of pure Kerouacian exuberance and honesty - the mere sparks of the inferno inside himself. I love the fact that it is a novel that inspires so many people, even today.
What I dislike about the novel is the sometimes repetitive structure of the the narrative. I dislike the misogynistic viewpoints of the author too. I dislike the fact that so many wild souls in life, the druggies, the alchies and the sex-crazed are so rampant for this novel that its deeper meaning is often undermined.
"Life is holy and every moment is precious...": catch hold of such lines in 'On the Road' and be inspired.
This is an autobiographical book to a very large extent. It was also the book which gave the beginning to the so called "beat generation".
There are 2 main characters in the book, Sal Paradise, who in real life was Jack Kerouac himself, and Dean Moriarty, who was in real life Neal Cassidy.
Dean is probably the main character. He sets out to discover USA, just after the second World war. He is a free man, and he may not come across as your hero, because he only thinks about himself.
He enjoys life though, and he has very few limits.
The prose of the book very much mirror this, with very sudden changes of rythm.
On the background you have Jazz, and USA as we do not see it on TV. It is not USA of the large cities, it is USA, of the provincial towns.
Today the book may be a bit old, but I think it still makes a very good reading for the way it is written.
There are few books that I have read more than once. I am not fussy about reading as many books as I can. I think that with books, once you have reached a certain age, it makes sense and re read them. We, the reader, have matured, or at least changed, passed through many experiences, and I find that some of the books I had read more than 10 years ago and I loved, are now giving me different emotions and thoughts.
"On the road" written by Jack Kerouac is a book I have read in full twice, but in fact, I have gone through some parts of it more than twice.
The first time I read it was more than 10 years ago, at secondary school, and I remember that it left me with a huge, burning desire to go on the road and travel USA with any means of transport, stopping here and there and picking up jobs as a waitress.
I have never lived that dream. Sal, the main character of the book, did.
Last year I read On the road again. I am now settled. I have what we call a good job, and even more interestingly, I do travel around Europe in business class and I am not allowed to stay at any Hotel which is not at least 4 stars by the policy of my company! Sal, and his pal Dean, always passed next to people like me. These people are like shadows in the book. The book is alive with "beat" people, hobos, people who travel with the last dollar they have in their pockets.
I will not give too much away of the book, but it is a great book, trust me. However, today I know that that was only a dream, an ideal, and reality is different. But somehow, that ideal, that dream to live that careless life free has remained inside me, and this is why I love so much this book!
I want you to be aware that I am in no way trying to review this book, if indeed it is actually a book. I picked it up from a place where these creatures live and yes, I had to tender cash before I was allowed to leave with it but I cannot claim that it is in any way a book as you or I know a book and think of a book and want a book to behave and be. I am not a good enough writer or critic to write about or review this expression of a time, this explanation of a feeling, this chronicle of a friendship. For that is what I believe this book is. All of those things and many more besides. Read it but be prepared to be challenged and to have your experiences of life called into question. Sal Paradise is actually Jack Kerouac and this novel tells the story of his friendship with Dean Moriarty. Dean is actually Neal Cassidy a real friend of Kerouac's. The novel is really autobiographical fiction. Sal is a struggling young author who decides that he wants to make a trip before settling down and discovers that the trip will change his attitudes and bring him into contact with the strange creature that is Dean. Exposure to Dean will open up new avenues of existence for Sal. The novel tells about how Sal travels across America with and without Dean and their adventures as they travel. Simple really? Not so. Think of what you know or think that you know about post WWII America. Then forget about all that rampant consumerism and the pursuit of the American Dream and meet Dean and Sal! These guys will show you parts of America that you were not supposed to see. They will introduce you to free thinkers, jazz musicians and dope smokers. Come on, hop on board; you know that you want to! Sal decides that he wants to experience everything and in Dean he finds a role model. Dean is the living expression of what came to be called the Beat Generation. He is careless and carefree. A hard drinking womaniser. A drug user and abuser
. A freethinker and non-conformist. A friend. All this in the time of ritual conformity within America. Sal wants to be just like Dean but he discovers that he is incapable of this and the two drift apart. Their relationship suffers a terminal blow when Dean abandons Sal at a time when he really needed him. They part amicably but their experiences and time together will live on in Sal’s memory and psyche. The power of this novel comes from the ideals that lie behind it. Kerouac believed in free expression and looked up to characters like Dean. He wanted to experience everything and found the expression of his thoughts and ideas in the jazz of the time. He loved the way that thoughts and feelings could be expressed by the musician and instantly translated to the audience. The music broke down any barriers that existed. This instant transfer is not possible with the written word. I have to think about what I am writing before I write it and you will think about what it is that you are reading before you register the idea. This time delay was something that Kerouac wanted to confront. He does this by writing what he called spontaneous prose. The movement of the ideas to the paper is speeded up and there is little thought to form or structure. In this way you should experience the thoughts of the writer in a manner similar to the music of the jazz player. I tried to do this in the first paragraph of this review. Go back and see if I succeeded? Sometimes it works for Kerouac and sometimes it does not. When he pulls it off you feel like you are there and moving through the night with Sal. It is almost lyrical in its feel. The characters never stand still and they resist anything that might tie them down. This was essential to the beat outlook. Physical and mental movement were essential to the experience of life. They believed that it was not possible to live while sitting still and conforming. My own experience of the book
then? I found that at the start I hated Dean. He is a callous man with no regard for others. Slowly I began to understand the relationship between Sal and Dean and while I still have reservations about aspects of Dean’s character I grew to admire the ideal behind his life if not the execution of it. The book is a rush and while the language and images are outdated now it still has a power that will have you longing to hit the hobo trail and experience life on the road. There is also harshness there. Nothing is sugar coated in this novel and you will see many hard and cruel images. But life is like that. We know what Kerouac is saying because we all have to live. And to live is to experience pain. This book is a snapshot of a time and an ideal that some aspired to, read it and be blown away! Cassidy (Dean) never changed and moved into the sixties with the same intensity of spirit that saw him through the fifties. He died after a heavy night from a heart attack. Kerouac struggled to accept the success of this novel and died an alcohol related death a bitter and twisted man. He realised in the end that to be a force of nature like Dean one has to be born that way. Thank you for reading. ©MurphEE 2002
This is my 50th opinion on Dooyoo and I thought I’d write about something, which is close to my heart. ‘On the Road’ is one of the few books that I have read more than once. I have read it three times and purely by coincidence those occasions have been roughly ten years apart. It is quite interesting to see how your opinion of a book changes as you get older and this is particularly relevant with this book as so many people tend to dismiss it as a youth culture novel whose impact diminishes with age. I don’t think this is true although I would say that on each reading (in my late teens, mid twenties and mid thirties) I found another aspect of the story that I connected with. THE JOURNEY (some spoilers) 'On the Road' can be seen as simple tale of friendship and discovery. The story is told by Sal Paradise a young struggling novelist living with his elderly aunt in New Jersey; this is a thinly disguised autobiographical account of Kerouac's own life, living with his mother rather than his aunt. Sal has friends on the west coast and one of them has invited him to go and live there. On the way he wants to stop in Denver to see his close friend Dean Moriaty. Dean Moriaty is a free spirit, a womaniser, a hard drinking, drug taking wild elemental force of nature and he is based on Kerouac's real life friend Neal Cassidy. The story related real events in Kerouac’s life. ‘On the Road’ is divided in to four distinct parts each describing a journey. The first is Sal’s trip from New Jersey to Denver and on to the west coast. Sal hitches rides and all the while is taking in a view of the mid-western landscape, the heartland of America. Arriving in Denver he finds that Dean has fallen out with Sal’s other friends in the city, they have become tired of Dean wild antics, only Carlo Marx (based on Allan Ginsberg the famous beat poet) is still on good terms with him.
The three hang out together until Sal decides to leave for San Francisco to meet up with is friend Remi Bencoeur. Dean promises to follow when he can. After getting to San Francisco Sal realises that he has made a mistake and quickly leaves for Southern California where he meets and befriends a young Mexican girl on the way. He stays a while then returns to New York alone. The second trip starts when Dean drops in on Sal while he is staying with some relatives in Virginia. Dean is not alone, waiting in the car are Ed Dunkel who is on his way to pick up is wife in New Orleans and a girlfriend Marylou. Dean’s ‘other’ girlfriend Camille is in San Francisco having his baby. Dean’ s plan is to return to Camille and get rid of Marylou by setting her up with Sal. The trip goes ahead but in the end Sal annoyed with Dean decides to return home once again. The third journey is from New York to Denver to San Francisco and back. Sal travels to Denver and then on to San Francisco to see Dean but when he arrives he soon realises that he and Camille are having problems. Dean is having a hard time from all, over his irresponsible treatment of his family, typically he decides to go off with Sal back to the east coast with a mad plan to then travel on to Italy. Part hitching and part driving they arrive in Chicago and take in some jazz; eventually they make it back to New York. The last trip is from New York to Denver to Mexico. Sal even though he has had his novel published, is not yet ready to settle down. He goes off to Denver to meet up once again with Dean and from there they both drive down to Mexico where the famous events in the Mexican brothel take place. When Sal falls ill Dean abandons him in Mexico travelling back to New York on the spur of the moment to marry another girlfriend. Eventually the two meet up in New York, Sal forgives Dean but their relationship has forever changed. TALKING ‘BOU
T MY GENERATION On one level ‘On the Road’ is a journey to discover the real 'America' on another level it is a journey of self-discovery. Kerouac introduces us to his friends, a motley collection of young, free thinking, free spirited individuals all searching for something more out of their lives in post-war America. Essentially this book is exploring the innocence of a whole post WW2 generation. Youth culture had found it's voice but in a spirit of celebration rather than (intentional) confrontation. It exemplified a naivety, which was lost in later years when a more cynical attitude prevailed among writers (including Kerouac). 'On The Road' still has freshness about it but it can also seem dated in its sentiments. You cannot look at the characters in a modern context and feel the same way about them. Yet despite this it remains a snapshot of a particular time, which was very important in the underlying culture of the late 20th century. Underlying these themes is a deeper philosophy about the nature of perception and expression, which is evident by the style of writing and nature of the story that is being told. DRUGS and JAZZ Kerouac is famous for creating spontaneous prose and ‘On the Road’ is the first of his novels that uses this technique. It is said that in order not to break the flow of the text his manuscripts were written on a huge roll of paper. Where did the idea of spontaneous prose come from and what was the idea behind it? To answer these question we have to look closely at two factors that play an important part in the story, drugs and music (specifically Bebop Jazz). Kerouac was frustrated with his attempts at writing, he believed traditional literature to be a flawed medium which was unable to express ideas and feelings directly. Writing has to be learnt and the process of reading and understanding the meaning is not immediate. The d
elay invariably allows the brain to subtly taint the message with it’s own experiences and pre-conceptions. Music is different it can connect with an individual directly across cultural, racial or intellectual barriers. It can be a purer form of communication between human beings. In some ways understanding music is instinctive, the reasoning part of the brain is not involved. To Keroauc the new spontaneous Bebop jazz was the ultimate expression of this idea. Kerouac envied the ability of the great jazz musicians of the time, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie to directly connect with their audience by spontaneously expressing feelings through playing their instruments. There are some wonderful passages in the book where Kerouac describes his emotions as he listens to jazz in a Chicago club. Keroauc wanted to achieve the same effect in his writing, to connect directly with the reader, cutting out the middle-man (the reasoning part of the brain), in order to do this, the time that it takes for an idea to be thought and expressed in either speech or writing has to be reduced to a minimum. Keroauc and the rest of the ‘beats’ believed one way to achieve this was through the use of drugs like amphetamines that enabled your thought processes to speed up. The novel is filled with passages were the characters act and speak in this fashion as spontaneously as possible, this Keroauc believed was the only way that he could deliver to his readers not what he thought but what he felt. The notion of speed and movement, driving in a fast car, constantly travelling never stopping for long is also central to this idea, and the book is written representation of this philosophy. The Beat writers believed that this movement both physical and of the soul was essential in order to ‘live’ and be true to yourself. The importance of being free is emphasised. Emotional relationships, settling down, having a steady job, all work to remove this f
reedom. The irony is that Keroauc himself although considered by many to be the embodiment of these idea never really achieved this ideal, he was all his life trapped by his upbringing, as a catholic and by his family He had a tempestuous relationship with his alcoholic mother whom he lived with on and off up until his early death from alcohol abuse. The true embodiment of the Beat ideal was Neal Cassidy and Keroauc realised this and makes it obvious in the way he represents the characters in the book. Dean not Sal is the pure expression of freedom and restlessness, Sal tries to follow his lead but in the end all he can do (like Keroauc in real life) is to record his attempts in his writings. On the road is written with a great enthusiasm and a lust for life, it would naturally appeal to a younger generation. The popularity of the book in the late 50’s and early 60’s signalled the creation of youth culture after the end of the Second World War. It was influential in giving a voice to a previously unheard section of American society and served as a blueprint for the attitudes developed by liberal thinkers in the sixties. By many it was taken to be as a sort of revolutionary statement attacking America and it institutions. Keroauc never intended this in fact he believed it to be celebration of the new post war America his vision was not political. AND SO… ‘On The Road’ still remains one of my favourite books; it is at times funny, moving, exciting and sad. The spontaneous prose doesn’t always work some passages are little more than gibberish but when it does work then it is truly poetic and gives us some of the most beautiful passages of modern literature. The book was published when Keroauc had already written most of his novels and sadly Kerouac became haunted by the success of the book and the legions of fans that it attracted. In the end he died a very sad bitter man destro
yed by his addiction to alcohol. In contrast Neal Cassidy fully embraced the sixties and the liberal atmosphere of the period. He famously drove the ‘Magic Bus’ as part of Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters as they journeyed across America, and event chronicled in Tom Wolfe’s ‘The Electric Kool-aid Acid Test’. Cassidy too died at an early age suffering a massive heart attack, while walking home by a railway track after a night’s heavy partying. More than anything else ‘On the Road’ is a lasting testament to their long friendship and to a more innocent time. Thank you for reading and rating this opinion. © Mauri 2002
Written in 1957, On The Road takes us into the mind of Jack Kerouac. This is a piece of literature that has received acclaim and recognition for its pioneering aspects. It through its release classified, and categorised a whole region of writers and their style as the Beat Generation. Thrilling and beautifully written, the American novel launches us strait into the plot and the essence of the literature. Reminiscent of his other work On The Road is very much autobiographical fiction. Sal Paradise is Jack Kerouac's invention. A carefree youth. Clouded by his own misjudgement on the situation of life, Sal Paradise has no direction in his life. He believes himself to be very much a very spirit. Sal invariably doesn't confine to the rules and regulations that American society has burdened him with. Inevitably, Sal meets and befriends the notorious Dean Moriarty, a parallel to Kerouac's friend Neal Cassady; essentially they are two of the same being. They share the same views and aspirations and so form a relationship that will change their lives forever. The potholes in the American Dream are the basis for this classic novel of self-realization. How many times has the term The American Dream been used so lightly and freely in literature almost as if to imply it is something that everyone in America has or can experience. Whenever mentioned, I instantly conjure up various connotations that are associated with it. A big car, nice house, a wife and three point four children. Kerouac wants more than this simple cliché, he realises that no everyone can live the American Dream and sets out to expose the injustices and lack of equality in America in an adventurous tale of these two young explorers. Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty set off for regions of America that they were no supposed to be exposed to. Things and events that their eyes should never have witnessed. Drugs, death and the inner cities brought about the revela
tion that not everyone was living the American Dream in the 1950's. For me, it was fascinating to see how the sheltered boys were suddenly exposed to the reality of the lives of people, they never even knew existed. Remember the days of the Cold War and McCarthyism, the fear and disapproval of Jazz musician and the desperate necessity for parents to keep their children in order. Sal and Dean are the rebels to convention and this just invigorates the reader and makes the novel even more interesting. Witness Sal and Dean closely relate themselves with 'Jazz' musicians, smoke 'Tea' and generally go against the grain of society. Sal and Dean find a job working on the crop fields alongside the crop labourers. Their laid back attitude keeps them mentally weak and their "Can't Someone Else Do It" makes for hilarious reading. Jack Kerouac questions the phrase that hard work can get you where you want to get in life. The interesting thing about the author Jack Kerouac is that he is so blatant and fresh in his literature. He coats nothing and leaves things raw such is the drug scenes and Sal and Deans interactions with other characters. For this reason I don't recommend On The Road to young children, especially if they live in America, this is because On The Road is so harsh. One must remember that Sal and Dean are undirected youth, very influential and the constitutions and morals that they stand for are against the traditional family values. On The Road is sheer brilliance, it is literature that edges at your mind and inspires thoughts. Jack Kerouac language and characters force you to question the structure of the world. You find yourself realising how we are so controlled by the boundaries that we allow ourselves to be placed within, the Prime Minister, The Tax Collector even the aged man across the road, the one you sense is constantly watching you; what if we were to go agains
t the grain like Sal and Dean. I'm not saying we should, I'm just saying what if, I just questioning the thought of others. Jack Kerouac proves the mind is a powerful thing.
Dont' read this if you liked 'On the Road'. Because I am not telling you where I live and its not even worth trying to kill me. Still here? Oh, well. I warned you. I didn't like 'On the Road'. Now, the reason I went through all that was because everyone I have ever met who has read this book - a modern classic by all rights - has raved about it. I thought I would love it. And I began by loving it. It is biographical, Kerouac in the persona of Sal Paradise, and his friends clothed similaraly in loose disguises. He and they were something of an intellectual circle - a sort of bohemian literary club, exploring style and phrase, trying the push back the boundaries of expression. Wow, thought I. This is great. But then they decide to go and travel round the country. And have lots of fun. And they realise that life is for living, and that everything is beautiful. Which is a great revelation. Well done to them. And thats what most people seem to see in this book. HOWEVER! There are a few things that everyone seems to miss. I am going to put on an extra 50 years now, and sound like your grandmother, and I'm sorry, but it has to be done. They are so irresponsible! And you're going to say, 'Well, that's the point! That's the whole essence of the Beat Generation!' Great. What's so good about glorifying stealing from people who can barely scratch a living themselves? What's so good about ruining someone's favourite car that they have paid you to drive across America? What's so good about invading someone's home, eating all their food, eyeing up their daughters and messing up their homes and their lives? What's so good about begetting fourteen children all over the country to almost as many mothers, and then leaving them all as soon as another girl catches your eye? It made me physically angry to read this. Partly because I didn't agree with
it, and partly because so many people loved this book enough to pass over this kind of thing. But enough of sounding like a grandmother. Now I am going to put on a guise that I hate wearing even more than my teacosy granny hat - the feminist hat! I hate feminism. Just because I don't feel that (for me, and other girls in developed and liberal countries anyway) there is any need for us to be any more liberated. All we need is time now, to smooth out the wrinkles left from an unequal world. There isn't really a problem as I see it. But 'On the Road' has to be one of the most misogynistic books I have ever read. Kerouac and his friends flit around the country picking up women whenever they feel like it. Fine. I'm ok with that. What I object to is how they view women, and love, and marriage. At the slightest hint of attraction they declare themselves deeply in love. What a load of crap, for a start. But it gets worse. Dean Moriarty, in particular. He will get one girl, sleep with her for maybe a day straight, get married to her, get her pregnant, all within the space of a month or so. Then he will leave, and find another girl in another city and immediately apply for a divorce so he can symbolise his next meaningless love. So there's that. Then there's their attitude to women generally. There is a scene where Dean and Sal meet an old jazz man, who takes them back to his tumbledown house. There is only one light bulb, which is above the wife's bed. The boys come home early in the morning and lean over the bed to unscrew the lightbulb, and the women just lies there, smiling at them. She doesn't say a word. When they get out the room one of the two says to the other something along the lines of, 'That's how a woman should be. Never complaining, never moaning. Just lying there and smiling. That man is a king. He is the king in his own home.' I had to read this twice just to
certify to my shocked senses that I had understood the meaning correctly. What a way to look at a woman! Kerouac glorifies women in that they are beautiful, and useful for sex. His love sounds imaginary - idealistic, like everything else. But really they treat their women like toys - using them then throwing them away. They patronise them. Not once in the book is a woman treated like a normal human being. They are always rather irritating, irrational, unable to understand things. The enormity of having innumerable children by several different women doesn't seem to hit Dean, nor the wrongness of it. Sal and Dean rush in, have their fun, and ruin peoples' lives. I can see nothing glorious in that. Through my black tinted spectacles I could actually see that this is a fantastic book. It is well written, exciting, enthusiastic and contagious. The jazz scenes are particularly emotive and energetically described. I am going to read it again to appreciate these things more. But I just wanted to speak my mind on what I consider horrible indignities in the general spirit of the text. They blotted out the rest for me. I could not bring myself to like either Dean or Sal because I could not agree with their morals. I just saw them breaking everything in their way, and I found this very sad, and not in the least inspirational.
Published by Penguin Books