Jack Kerouac Page



Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac, writer

Born March 12, 1922 in Lowell, Massachusetts; Died in  St. Petersburg, Florida on October 21, 1969, at age 47. Buried in Lowell, MA.

Jack Kerouac wrote about life on the road, and off the road. He wrote about friends, places, and people he met in his travels. He wrote in a manner that is described as poetic jazz, just blowing the words onto a sheet of paper like a sax player blowing into the night. The words lingered in the mind after being read.

He grew up in the town of Lowell, MA, moving to New York City to go to college, made his way to San Francisco, and eventually all points in-between. He was caught up in a world that included painters, musicians, and other writers and poets. And he wrote.

Kerouac leaves behind a legacy that scholars and readers are still uncovering. There are new Kerouac books and journals being published. Kerouac, along with the other beats, are still the subject of biographies, movies, and critical reviews.

What is the fascination? Kerouac is still relevant. The mythical On the Road scroll sold for a record breaking 2.2 million dollars on May 22, 2001, and is currently on tour around the United States. The New York City Public library purchased a major portion of the Kerouac archive in 2002.

Readers of Kerouac's books have always recognized the attraction of his writing style, and his capacity to transform everyday events into sacred  moments of beauty. He wrote in a honest manner. He conveyed his stories with a style that employed spontaneity and employed the idea of  'first thought, best thought.'

Kerouac has become, in the past  fifty years, one of the most  talked about creative forces. For the longest time, Kerouac was kept hidden in the subterranean catacombs of the institutions of American Literature. However, they are slowly realizing that Kerouac's creative force was more than 'just typing' (per Truman Capote), and are gradually accepting him into the ranks of "Great American Writers." The New York Times listed "On The Road" among the top 100 notable books. People are flocking to see the near mythical On The Road Scroll (or roll like he sometimes called it) that is touring the country.

He still has his share of critics. And not everything he did in his life was admirable. But what is not debatable is that he was committed to being a writer. We leave it up to the reader to decide what his place in history should be. Take a chance and read his books. You know the classic On The Road. But there are other good reads as well. Recommended are Dharma Bums, The Subterraneans, Tristessa. Of course for some, Dr Sax is his best. Others like his poetry in Mexico City Blues and the more recent, Book Of Blues. You can also listen to him reading his works on various recordings.

Postscript: The trip that Jack and Neal Cassady started hasn't ended for the rest of us. The general public may not be aware of Kerouac, but Kerouac continues to act as a lightening rod for the creative community seeking their own individualistic creative process. Catch your own ride, grab the golden ring, and watch the fireworks. Remember, you can't fall off a mountain. Read a book and enjoy the journey.


Make sure to check out the Kerouac Calendar for an event around you, and if you are having a Kerouac (or beat) event, please let us know. Visit the Links page (above) for other the other related Kerouac websites, courtesy of DHARMA beat.

back to top of page

Books by Jack Kerouac  (Bibliography)

Kerouac managed to publish some 17 books during his lifetime, both poetry and biographical fiction. He recorded three albums, dabbled in art (see Ed Adler's book on Kerouac's art), and helped inspire a new generation of people who wanted to go out and see the world, and experience what it had to offer. And there are still more Kerouac books being published after his death.


The Town and the City [1950]

On the Road [1957]

The Subterraneans [1958]

The Dharma Bums [1958]

Doctor Sax [1959]

Mexico City Blues: 242 Choruses [1959]

Maggie Cassidy [1959]

Tristessa [1960]

Lonesome Traveler [1960]

The Scripture of the Golden Eternity [1960]

Book of Dreams [1961]

Pull My Daisy [1961]

Big Sur [1962]

Visions of Gerard [1963]

Desolation Angels [1965]

Satori in Paris [1966] .

Vanity of Duluoz: An Adventurous Education, 1935-46 [1968]

Pic: A Novel [1971]

Scattered Poems [1971]

Visions of Cody [1973]

Trip Trap - Haiku (with Albert Saijo & Lew Welch) [1973]

Heaven and Other Poems [1977]

Pomes All Sizes [1992]

Old Angel Midnight [1993]

Good Blonde & Others [1993]

Selected Letters, Vol 1 [1995]

San Francisco Blues [1995]

Book of Blues [1995]

Some of the Dharma [1997]

Atop an Underwood [1999]

Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters, Vol 2, 1957-1969 [2000]

Book of Dreams, first unabridged edition [2001]

Orpheus Emerged [2002]

Book of Haikus [2003]

The Beat Generation (a play) [2005]

Book of Sketches [2006]

Wake Up: A Life of the Buddha  [2008]

And The Hippos Were Boiled in their Tanks (with William Burroughs)  [2008]

The Sea Is My Brother [2012]


back to top of page

Jack Kerouac Characters

Real names and their aliases, alphabetically

Joan Vollmer Adams

On The Road - Jane Lee

The Subterraneans - Jane

Book of Dreams, Desolation Angels, Vanity of Duluoz - June Evans

Visions of Cody - June Hubbard Joan

The Town and City - Mary Dennison


Alan Ansen

Book of Dreams - Irwin Swenson
On the Road - Rollo Greb
The Subterraneans - Austin Bromberg


William Burroughs

Book of Dreams - Bull Hubbard
Desolation Angels - Bull Hubbard
On the Road - Old Bull Lee
The Subterraneans - Frank Carmody
The Town and the City - Will Dennison
Vanity of Duluoz - Will Hubbard


Bill Cannastra

Visions of Cody - Finistra


Lucien Carr

Big Sur – Julian

Book of Dreams – Julian Love

Desolation Angels - Julian

On The Road – Damion

The Subterraneans – Sam Vedder
The Town and the City - Kenneth Wood

Vanity of Duluoz - Claude de Maubris


Carolyn Cassady

Big Sur – Evelyn Pomeray

Desolation Angel – Evelyn Pomeray

On the Road – Camille

The Dharma Bums - Evelyn (?)
Visions of Cody - Evelyn Pomeray


Cathy Cassady

On the Road - Amy Moriarty
Visions of Cody - Emily Pomeray


Jamie Cassady

On the Road - Joanie Moriarty
Visions of Cody - Gaby Pomeray


John Allen Cassady

Big Sur - Timmy John Pomeray
Visions of Cody - Timmy Pomeray


Neal Cassady

Big Sur - Cody Pomeray
Book of Dreams - Cody Pomeray
Desolation Angels - Cody Pomeray
The Dharma Bums - Cody Pomeray

The Subterraneans - Leroy
On the Road - Dean Moriarty
Visions of Cody - Cody Pomeray


Hal Chase

On the Road - Chad King
Visions of Cody - Val Hayes


Gregory Corso

Book of Dreams - Raphael Urso
Desolation Angels - Raphael Urso
The Subterraneans - Yuri Gligoric


Elise Cowen

Desolation Angels - Barbara Lipp


Henri Cru

Desolation Angels - Deni Bleu
Lonesome Traveler - Deni Bleu
On the Road - Remi Boncoeur
Visions of Cody - Deni Bleu
Vanity of Duluoz - Deni Bleu


Robert Duncan

Desolation Angels - Geoffrey Donald


Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Big Sur - Lorenzo Monsanto


William Gaddis

The Subterraneans - Harold Sand


Bill Garver

Desolation Angels - Old Bull Gaines
Tristessa - Old Bull Gaines
Visions of Cody - Harper


Allen Ginsberg

Big Sur - Irwin Garden
Book of Dreams - Irwin Garden
Desolation Angels - Irwin Garden
The Dharma Bums - Alvah Goldbrook
On the Road - Carlo Marx
The Subterraneans - Adam Moorad
The Town and the City - Leon Levinsky
The Vanity of Duluoz - Irwin Garden
Visions of Cody - Irwin Garden


Louis Ginsberg

Desolation Angels - Harry Garden


Joyce Glassman

Desolation Angels - Alyce Newman


Diana Hansen

On the Road - Inez
Visions of Cody - Diane


Joan Haverty

On the Road - Laura


Luanne Henderson (Cassady)


On the Road - Mary Lou
The Subterraneans - Annie
Visions of Cody - Joanna Dawson


Al Hinkle

Book of Dreams - Ed Buckle
On the Road - Ed Dunkel
Visions of Cody - Slim Buckle


Helen Hinkle

On the Road - Galatea Dunkel
Visions of Cody - Helen Buckle


John Clellon Holmes

Book of Dreams - James Watson
On the Road - Tom Saybrook
The Subterraneans - Balliol MacJones
Visions of Cody -


Herbert Huncke

Book of Dreams - Huck
On the Road - Elmer Hassel
The Town and the City - Junky


Natalie Jackson

Book of Dreams - Rosemarie
The Dharma Bums - Rosie Buchanan


Randall Jarrell

Desolation Angels - Varnum Random


Frank Jeffries

On the Road - Stan Shepard
Visions of Cody - Dave Sherman


David Kammerer

The Town and the City - Waldo Meister


Lenore Kandel

Big Sur - Romana Swartz


Caroline Kerouac

The Dharma Bums - Nin
Doctor Sax - Catherine "Nin" Duluoz
Maggie Cassidy - Nin


Gerard Kerouac

Doctor Sax - Gerard Duluoz
The Town and the City - Julian Martin
Visions of Gerard - Gerard Duluoz


Gabrielle Kerouac

Doctor Sax - Ange
On the Road - Sal's Aunt
The Town and the City - Marguerite Martin
Vanity of Duluoz - Ange


Jack Kerouac

Big Sur - Jack Duluoz
Book of Dreams - Jack Duluoz
Desolation Angels - Jack Duluoz
The Dharma Bums - Ray Smith
Maggie Cassidy - Jack Duluoz
On the Road - Sal Paradise
Satori in Paris - Jack Duluoz
The Subterraneans - Leo Percepied
The Town and the City - Peter Martin
Tristessa - Jack Duluoz
The Vanity of Duluoz - Jack Duluoz

Visions of Cody - Jack Duluoz

Visions of Gerard - Jack Duluoz


Leo Kerouac

Doctor Sax - Emil "Pop" Duluoz
Maggie Cassidy - Emil "Pop" Duluoz
The Town and the City - George Martin
Vanity of Duluoz - Emil "Pop" Duluoz
Visions of Gerard - Emil "Pop" Duluoz


Philip Lamantia

Desolation Angels - David D'Angeli
The Dharma Bums - Francis DaPavia
Tristessa - Francis DaPavia


Robert LaVigne

Big Sur - Robert Browning
Desolation Angels - Levesque


Norman Mailer

Desolation Angels - Harvey Marker


Michael McClure

Big Sur - Pat McLear
Desolation Angels - Patrick McLear
The Dharma Bums - Ike O'Shay


Locke McCorkle

Desolation Angels - Kevin McLoch
The Dharma Bums - Sean Monahan


James Merrill

Desolation Angels - Merrill Randall


John Montgomery

Desolation Angels - Alex Fairbrother
The Dharma Bums - Henry Morley


Jerry Newman

Book of Dreams - Danny Richman
The Subterraneans - Larry O'Hara
Visions of Cody - Danny Richman


Peter Orlovsky

Book of Dreams - Simon Darlovsky
Desolation Angels - Simon Darlovsky
The Dharma Bums - George


Edie Parker

The Town and the City - Judie Smith
Visions of Cody - Elly
Vanity of Duluoz - Edna "Johnnie" Palmer


Kenneth Rexroth

The Dharma Bums - Rheinhold Cacoethes


Gary Snyder

Big Sur - Jarry Wagner
The Dharma Bums - Japhy Ryder


Allen Temko

Book of Dreams - Irving Minko
On the Road - Roland Major
Visions of Cody - Allen Minko


Gore Vidal

The Subterraneans - Arial Lavalina


Esperanza Villanueva

Tristessa - Tristessa


Joan Vollmer (Adams)

On the Road – Jane Lee
The Subterraneans - Jane
The Town and the City - Mary Dennison
Vanity of Duluoz - June


Ed Uhl

On the Road - Ed Wall
Visions of Cody - Ed Wehle


Alan Watts

Dharma Bums - Arthur Whane
Desolation Angels - Alex Aums


Lew Welch

Big Sur - David Wain


Philip Whalen

Big Sur - Ben Fagan
The Dharma Bums - Warren Coughlin


Ed White

Book of Dreams - Guy Green

On the Road - Tim Grey

Visions of Cody - Ed Gray


William Carlos Williams

Desolation Angels - Dr. Williams

For an excellent and comprehensive character key with pictures, see Dave Moore's Character List.

This was drawn from several sources. Please email any corrections to:kerouaczin@aol.com

back to top of page


 Jack Kerouac Quotes

The road is life.   [On the Road]

Somewhere along the line I knew there'd be girls, visions, everything; somewhere along the line the pearl would be handed to me. [On the Road]

“Now you understand the Oriental passion for tea," said Japhy. "Remember that book I told you about the first sip is joy, the second is gladness, the third is serenity, the fourth is madness, the fifth is ecstasy.” [The Dharma Bums]

Pretty girls make graves. [The Dharma Bums]

But then they danced down the streets like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes 'Awww!' [On the Road]

As early pioneers in the knowing, that when you lose your reason, you attain highest perfect knowing. [Book of Blues]

...and everything is going to the beat - It's the beat generation, it be-at, it's the beat to keep, it's the beat of the heart, it's being beat and down in the world and like oldtime lowdown and like in ancient civilizations the slave boatmen rowing galleys to a beat and servants spinning pottery to a beat...

But why think about that when all the golden land's ahead of you and all kinds of unforeseen events wait lurking to surprise you and make you glad you're alive to see?

What is the feeling when you're driving away from people, and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing?  -it's the too huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye.  But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.

Write in recollection and amazement for yourself.

I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up. - Opening sentence from On the Road

Maybe that's what life is...a wink of the eye and winking stars.

My witness is the empty sky.

No man should go through life without once experiencing healthy, even bored solitude in the wilderness, finding himself depending solely on himself and thereby learning his true and hidden strength.

Offer them what they secretly want and they of course immediately become panic-stricken.

There's your Karma ripe as peaches.

...colleges being nothing but grooming schools for the middleclass non-identity which usually finds its perfect expression on the outskirts of the campus in rows of well-to-do houses with lawns and television sets is each living room with everybody looking at the same thing and thinking the same thing at the same time while the Japhies of the world go prowling in the wilderness...

Mankind is like dogs, not gods--as long as you dont get mad they'll bite you--but stay mad and you'll never be bitten. Dogs dont respect humility & sorrow.

You never die enough to cry.

The charging restless mute unvoiced road keening in a seizure of tarpaulin power.

We turned at a dozen paces, for love is a duel, and looked up at each other for the last time.

I loved the way she said "LA"; I love the way everybody says "LA" on the Coast; it's their one and only golden town when all is said and done.

I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another till I drop. This is the night, what it does to you. I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.

All is well, practice kindness, heaven is nigh.

I felt like lying down by the side of the trail and remembering it all.  The woods do that to you, they always look familiar, long lost, like the face of a long-dead relative, like an old dream, like a piece of forgotten song drifting across the water, most of all like golden eternities of past childhood or past manhood and all the living and the dying and the heartbreak that went on a million years ago and the clouds as they pass overhead seem to testify (by their own lonesome familiarity) to this feeling.  Ecstasy, even, I felt, with flashes of sudden remembrance, and feeling sweaty and drowsy I felt like sleeping and dreaming in the grass.

New York gets god-awful cold in the winter but there's a feeling of wacky comradeship somewhere in some streets.

We should be wondering tonight, "Is there a world?" But I could go and talk on 5, 10, 20 minutes about is there a world, because there is really no world, cause sometimes I'm walkin’ on the ground and I see right through the ground.  And there is no world.  And you'll find out.

Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.

My manners, abominable at times, can be sweet. As I grew older I became a drunk. Why? Because I like ecstasy of the mind. I'm a wretch. But I love, love.  [Satori in Paris]

This is the story of America. Everybody's doing what they think they're supposed to do. [On the Road]

Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together; sophistication demands that the submit to sex immediately without proper preliminary talk. Not courting talk -- real straight talk about souls, for life is holy and every moment is precious. [On the Road]

It is not my fault that certain so-called bohemian elements have found in my writings something to hang their peculiar beatnik theories on. [New York Journal-American, Dec. 8, 1960]

All of life is a foreign country.  [letter, June 24, 1949]

So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars’ll be out, and don’t you know that God is Pooh Bear? the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what’s going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty. [the last paragraph from On the Road]

back to top of page

For more quotes, a good site is:


Fellow Travelers:

May the universe smile down upon you and offer you blessings on this journey called life.


Attila Gyenis




Jack Kerouac Bibliography

Kerouac Character Aliases

Kerouac Quotes

On The Road movie info

On The Road Publication info

Hitch hiked a thousand miles and brought you wine. [JK, Book of Haikus]

 Jack Kerouac passport photo

Jack Kerouac's first published book was The Town and the City published in 1950 under the name John Kerouac. On the Road wouldn't be published for another 7 years.

photo by Allen Ginsberg

Kerouac was a star football player for his high school team. As a result he got accepted into Columbia University, only to get injured at the beginning of the season.

March 12, 2005 was the first official celebration of Jack Kerouac Day throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Jack Kerouac is buried in Lowell, Massachusetts in the Edson Cemetery located off Gorham Street [you can find his gravesite at the intersection of Seventh and Lincoln.]

Kerouac never actually hitchhiked across America.

Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady

Kerouac's On The Road Scroll was publicly displayed in Lowell, MA, during the summer of 2007 for the first time.

There is a Kerouac Commemorative in his hometown of Lowell, MA.


 Jack was born in a house on 9 Lupine Road, Lowell, MA.


A short Jack Kerouac Bio

(courtesy of Wikipedia)

Jack Kerouac

While enjoying popular but little critical success during his own lifetime, Kerouac is now considered one of America's most important authors. Kerouac's spontaneous, confessional language style inspired other writers, including Tom Robbins, Richard Brautigan, Hunter S. Thompson, Ken Kesey, and Bob Dylan.

Kerouac's life was spent alternately in the vast landscapes of America and the apartment of his mother, with whom he lived for most of his life. Faced with a changing country, Kerouac sought to find his place, eventually bringing him to reject the values of the fifties. His writing often reflects a desire to break free from society's mold and to find meaning in life. This search may have led him to experiment with drugs (e.g. he once tried psilocybin with Timothy Leary), to study spiritual teachings such as Buddhism, and to embark on trips around the world. His books are sometimes credited as the catalyst for the 1960s counterculture. Kerouac's best known work is On the Road.

His Life

Kerouac was born Jean-Louis Lebris de Kerouac, in Lowell, Massachusetts, to a family of Franco-Americans. His parents, Leo-Alcide Kerouac and Gabrielle-Ange Lévesque, were natives of the province of Quebec in Canada. Like many other Quebecers of their generation, the Lévesques and Kerouacs were part of the Quebec emigration to New England to find employment. Jack didn't start to learn English until the age of six. At home, he and his family spoke Quebec French. At an early age, he was profoundly marked by the death of his elder brother Gérard, later prompting him to write the book Visions of Gerard.

Later, his athletic prowess led him to become a star on his local football team, and this achievement earned him scholarships to Boston College and Columbia University in New York. He entered Columbia University after spending the scholarship's required year at Horace Mann School. It was in New York that Kerouac met the people with whom he was to journey around the world, and the subjects of many of his novels: the so-called Beat Generation, which included people such as Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady and William S. Burroughs. Kerouac broke his leg playing football, and he argued with his coach; his football scholarship did not pan out. He joined the Merchant Marine in 1942. In 1943, he joined the United States Navy, but was discharged during World War II on psychiatric grounds---he was of "indifferent disposition."

During Kerouac's time at Columbia University, Burroughs and Kerouac got into trouble with the law for failing to report a murder; this incident formed the basis of a mystery novel the two collaborated on in 1945 entitled And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks (the novel was finally published in 2008), and an excerpt from the manuscript was included in the Burroughs compilation Word Virus). In between his sea voyages, Kerouac stayed in New York with friends from Fordham. He started writing his first novel, called The Town and the City. It was published in 1950 and earned him some respect as a writer.

Kerouac wrote constantly, but did not publish his next novel, On the Road, until 1957. It was published by Viking Press. Narrated from the point of view of the character Sal Paradise, this mostly autobiographical work of fiction described his roadtrip adventures across the United States and into Mexico with Neal Cassady, the model for Dean Moriarty in the book. In a way, the story is an offspring of Mark Twain's classic Huckleberry Finn, though in On the Road the narrator (Sal Paradise) is twice Huck's age, and Kerouac's story is set in the America of about a hundred years after. The novel is often described as the defining work of the post-World War II jazz-, poetry-, and drug-affected Beat Generation; it made Kerouac "the king of the beat generation." Using Benzedrine and coffee, Kerouac wrote the entire novel in only three weeks in an extended session of spontaneous prose, his original writing style, heavily influenced by Jazz (especially BeBop), and later Buddhism. Kerouac was hailed as a major American writer, and reluctantly as the voice of the Beat Generation. His fame would come as an unmanagable surge that would ultimately be his undoing.

His friendship with Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs and George Whitman, among others, defined a generation. Kerouac also wrote and narrated a "Beat" movie titled Pull My Daisy in 1958. In 1954, Kerouac discovered Dwight Goddard's A Buddhist Bible at the San Jose Library, which then marked the beginning of his studies of Buddhism and his own personal quest for enlightenment. He chronicled parts of this, as well as some of his adventures with Gary Snyder, in the book The Dharma Bums, set in Northern California and published in 1958. Kerouac developed something of a friendship with the scholar Alan Watts (cryptically named Arthur Wayne in Kerouac's novel Big Sur, and Alex Aums in Desolation Angels). He also met and had discussions with the famous Japanese Zen Buddhist authority D.T. Suzuki. At some point in his life Kerouac wrote Wake Up, a biography of Siddhartha Gautama (better known as the Buddha) that remains unpublished. Shortly prior to his death Kerouac told interviewer Joseph Lelyveld of the New York Times, "I'm not a beatnik. I'm a Catholic." After pointing to a painting of Pope Paul VI, Kerouac noted, "You know who painted that? Me."

He died on October 21, 1969 at St. Anthony's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, from an internal hemorrhage at the age of 47, the unfortunate result of a life of heavy drinking. He was living at the time with his third wife Stella, and his mother Gabrielle. He is buried in his home town of Lowell.


Kerouac realized his desire to be a writer when he was in his teens, probably influenced by his father, a linotypist with a command of words. His unique style of writing wouldn't emerge until after his college years, after he wrote his first novel, "The Town and the City". He would often write while intoxicated with some substance, usually Benzedrine strips he would purge from over-the-counter inhalers, marijuana, and alcohol. He claimed that they---particularly "Bennies"---enhanced his writing by giving him the tremendous energy that this kind of writing required. Kerouac is considered by some as the "King of the Beatniks" as well as the "Father of the Hippies".

Kerouac's method was heavily influenced by the prolific explosion of Jazz, especially the Bebop genre established by Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, and others. Later, Kerouac would include ideas he developed in his Buddhist studies. He called this style Spontaneous Prose, a literary technique akin to stream of consciousness. Kerouac's motto was "first-thought=best thought", and many of his books exemplified this approach including On the Road, Visions of Cody, Visions of Gerard, Big Sur, and The Subterraneans. The central features of this writing method was the idea of breath (borrowed from Jazz), improvising words over the inherent structures of mind and language, and not editing a single word. Connected with his idea of breath was the elimination of the period, preferring to use a long, connecting dash instead. As such, the phrases occurring between dashes might resemble improvisational jazz licks. When spoken, the words might take on a certain kind of rhythm, though none of it pre-meditated.

He would go on for hours to friends and strangers about his method, often drunk, which wasn't well received by Ginsberg, who had an acute awareness of the need to sell literature (to publishers) as much as write it; though he'd later be one of its great proponents. It was at about the time that Kerouac wrote The Subterraneans that he was approached by Ginsberg and others to formally explicate exactly how he wrote it, how he did Spontaneous Prose. Among the writings he set down specifically about his Spontaneous Prose method, the most concise would be Belief and Technique for Modern Prose, a list of thirty "essentials".

1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy

2. Submissive to everything, open, listening

3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house

4. Be in love with yr life

5. Something that you feel will find its own form

6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind

7. Blow as deep as you want to blow

8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind

9. The unspeakable visions of the individual

10. No time for poetry but exactly what is

11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest

12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you

13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition

14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time

15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog

16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye

17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself

18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea

19. Accept loss forever

20. Believe in the holy contour of life

21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind

22. Dont think of words when you stop but to see picture better

23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning

24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge

25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it

26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form

27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness

28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better

29. You're a Genius all the time

30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven

A DVD entitled "Kerouac: King of the Beats" features several minutes of his appearance on Firing Line, William F. Buckley's television show, during Kerouac's later years when alcoholism had taken control. He is seen often incoherent and very drunk. Books also continue to be published that were written by Kerouac, many unfinished by him. A book of his haikus and dreams also were published, giving interesting insight into how his mind worked. In August 2001, most of his letters, journals, notebooks and manuscripts were sold to the New York Public Library for an undisclosed sum. Presently, Douglas Brinkley has exclusive access to parts of this archive until 2005. The first collection of edited journals, Wind Blown World, was published in 2004.


"I want to work in revelations, not just spin silly tales for money. I want to fish as deep down as possible into my own subconscious in the belief that once that far down, everyone will understand because they are the same that far down." — Jack Kerouac

"If you're working with words, it's got to be poetry. I grew up with [the books of Jack] Kerouac. If he hadn't wrote On The Road, the Doors would have never existed. Morrison read On The Road down in Florida, and I read it in Chicago. That sense of freedom, spirituality, and intellectuality in On The Road — that's what I wanted in my own work." — Ray Manzarek, The Doors' keyboard player

"I read On the Road in maybe 1959. It changed my life like it changed everyone else's." — Bob Dylan

"Once when Kerouac was high on psychedelics with Timothy Leary, he looked out the window and said, 'Walking on water wasn't built in a day.' Our goal was to save the planet and alter human consciousness. That will take a long time, if it happens at all." — Allen Ginsberg

Jack Kerouac - (March 12, 1922October 21, 1969) was an American novelist, writer, poet, artist, and an unofficial member and founding father of the Beat Generation.

* courtesy of Wikipedia

back to top of page

send comments/corrections to:kerouaczin@aol.com