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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. Type 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.


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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. Type 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.

30 review for On the Road: the Original Scroll

  1. 5 out of 5

    Alice

    I've been meaning to review this book for a while, but I get sort of emotional reading what other people think about Kerouac, and it has been hard to figure out what I want to say. I feel almost personally insulted by some of the more negative reviews which is totally weird and inappropriate of me. I guess I identify with Kerouac because in his heart he's not really all that unconventional, but he loves the company of wild adventurers and can be talked into almost anything. I reread the original I've been meaning to review this book for a while, but I get sort of emotional reading what other people think about Kerouac, and it has been hard to figure out what I want to say. I feel almost personally insulted by some of the more negative reviews which is totally weird and inappropriate of me. I guess I identify with Kerouac because in his heart he's not really all that unconventional, but he loves the company of wild adventurers and can be talked into almost anything. I reread the original (well I guess the scroll is the real original, but you know what I mean) before I read this, and they are very similar. On the Road is an amazing book & the scroll is the same amazing book minus paragraphs, plus all the sex, drugs and real names. The biggest surprise for me was that Carlo Marx was Alan Ginsberg. How did I not know that? Including the sexual relationship between Carlo Marx/Alan Ginsberg and Dean Moriarty/Neal Cassady changed the dynamic of the book's Denver portion quite a bit. Cassady's bisexuality is hinted at in the edited OTR but spelling it out the way Kerouac does in the scroll makes the whole situation more complex. In OTR as originally published, Marx & Moriarty have a weird dynamic. Marx always seemed a little jealous of Dean's girls, but I never really got why. Now it makes more sense. Another interesting bit cut out of the edited OTR is Kerouac's visit to his ex-wife. All that gossip and trivia aside, the spirit of On the Road feels the same in this version. I read OTR for the first time when I was in high school, and every time I've read it since then I learn something different about the characters and myself. There is so much in this book I never get tired of: the motion, the adventure, the sense of an America of boundless size and possibility... Okay, I'll stop gushing now. I guess I can understand why Kerouac isn't for everyone, but he changed my life for better or worse and helped make me the sort of person who feels compelled to drive aimlessly around the country every few years just to see what's out there. I'll never regret the road trips I've taken, and though there are many writers whose travel narratives have inspired me, Kerouac will always be my first love in that category. I have to admit that with the exception of Dharma Bums I'm not crazy about his other books. I’ve tried to get into them, but I never could. I think Big Sur is the only other one I've managed to finish and it depressed the hell out of me. The exuberance and optimism that made me fall in love with On the Road faded quickly for poor Kerouac.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Chrissie

    Jack Kerouac (1922 – 1969) is the author of this book. He is considered a pioneer of the Beat generation, along with Allan Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs. If you are considering whether to read the book you must decide which edition to read. The book first came out in 1957 with the title On the Road. In 2007, the 50th anniversary edition of the book was published under the title: On the Road: the Original Scroll, which is what I have chosen to read and what I am reviewing. This, the Scroll ve Jack Kerouac (1922 – 1969) is the author of this book. He is considered a pioneer of the Beat generation, along with Allan Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs. If you are considering whether to read the book you must decide which edition to read. The book first came out in 1957 with the title On the Road. In 2007, the 50th anniversary edition of the book was published under the title: On the Road: the Original Scroll, which is what I have chosen to read and what I am reviewing. This, the Scroll version, is a transcription of the original draft typed over twenty days from April 6 through April 26, 1951. It was typed as one long paragraph on sheets of tracing paper which Kerouac taped together to form a 120-foot (37 m) scroll. This "final draft" was not totally new, being based on earlier journal entries. The content is autobiographical and is based on real events and real people in the author's life. Kerouac writes of four road-trip adventures taken with his buddy Neal Cassady (1926 – 1968), three across the United States and one to Mexico City. The first trip was taken in 1947. In the first edition pseudonyms were used, not so in the 50th anniversary edition, which is also said to be more sexually explicit. By today's standards though, the writing cannot be classified as graphic. The spontaneity of the text is said to be more evident in the Scroll. Sex, alcohol, drugs, theft and other immoral behavior do make up a large part of the events described. Don't expect to fall in love with Kerouac or his friends. That is certainly not the point of the book! What this book does draw well is the friendship between Jack and Neal and other friends too. It captures the feel of the Beat movement, which later became the Hippie movement we all know so well. I cannot say I admire Jack, Neal or their friends, but I do understand what they were searching for….even if much of the times things did get totally out of control! I am glad I read the book because it recalled for me some of the dreams I had as a youth, albeit in less dramatic form. Don't you remember that time in your younger days when you thought you would and could pursue freedom and individuality and would get every ounce of enjoyment out of life?! The belief that one could and would live life to the fullest. Then comes reality, not bad, but more down to earth. Kerouac captures well the feel of a road trip across America at the end of the 40s. Of course not in fancy hotels, but instead hitchhiking and totally broke. That is to say really being on-the-road. What might you see? Who might you meet? How does the feel of the land change? Some people say this book has religious undertones. I don't see that in the least. There are portions that could definitely have been tightened. I am glad I read it, but now I am glad it is over. The audiobook is narrated by John Ventimiglia. In his reading he wonderfully captures the spirit of the Beat movement. I have given the narration five stars. He captures well Kerouac's spontaneous prose and its intensity.

  3. 4 out of 5

    P.E.

    Finished in the original. Matching Soundtrack : Jubilee Stomb - Duke Ellington I find Jack Kerouac's spontaneous prose up to the task. On the other hand, the five "books" are really uneven, which can somewhat drag you down, however it bears credit to the extensive use of spontaneous prose throughout : the typescript is alleged to have been written in a week. Here goes a collection of personal observations on the book : - On the Road is reminiscent of French Blablacar, especially in its first third w Finished in the original. Matching Soundtrack : Jubilee Stomb - Duke Ellington I find Jack Kerouac's spontaneous prose up to the task. On the other hand, the five "books" are really uneven, which can somewhat drag you down, however it bears credit to the extensive use of spontaneous prose throughout : the typescript is alleged to have been written in a week. Here goes a collection of personal observations on the book : - On the Road is reminiscent of French Blablacar, especially in its first third with nothing but a mad series of hitchhiking rides with a wide variety of motorists, informing a compact oral history of the United States, complete with a history of underground music. - Spontaneous prose intends to capture change, telling you about fleeting memories as they reel, letting the flow go to IT without hindrance, a technique looking up to E.Hemingway. The narration is sometimes deceivingly blank, as if it was being conveyed by a child, with no logic between events but chronological succession, gathering of memories, digressions. This is in keeping with the child-like presence and attention given to the moment by Jack and Neal. And comes to fruition in passages when Neal behaves like a Herodotus gone mad in his will to dig people. - Curious echoing and reiterations on the road from one travel to the other, making the call of the road feel like an arrant drive to seek answers for yourself and find more confusion and bewilderment instead. - Jack's situation as a narrator makes you associate him with Nick Carraway in TGG or "Fred" in Breakfast at Tiffany.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tosh

    Five stars is not enough for this book: it should be ten stars! This is a very beautiful book and rightfully an American classic. Stunning! "On The Road" is the real deal. I just started reading this and it's just a fantastic read. The energy just pops out of the page. The punk rock of novels. Mr. Jack just had the 'moment' when he wrote this, and it is incredible experience to share that 'moment' with the great man. Great. Five stars is not enough for this book: it should be ten stars! This is a very beautiful book and rightfully an American classic. Stunning! "On The Road" is the real deal. I just started reading this and it's just a fantastic read. The energy just pops out of the page. The punk rock of novels. Mr. Jack just had the 'moment' when he wrote this, and it is incredible experience to share that 'moment' with the great man. Great.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    I felt hungover by the time I was done reading this book. I couldn't wait for it to end and it's not because I wanted to find out what was going to happen. While there are a few great lines like, "My mother once said that the world would never find peace unless men fell at their women's feet and asked for forgiveness...," and the famous, " ...Because the only people who interest me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that I felt hungover by the time I was done reading this book. I couldn't wait for it to end and it's not because I wanted to find out what was going to happen. While there are a few great lines like, "My mother once said that the world would never find peace unless men fell at their women's feet and asked for forgiveness...," and the famous, " ...Because the only people who interest me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing...but burn, burn, burn like roman candles across the night" most of the book is quite banal. The book starts out evoking a sense of adventure, freedom, zest for life, and the allure of an unfettered lifestyle. Some of the depictions - like of the jazz halls and the people who they come across are interesting, but like an addiction - which they all obviously had - it becomes a tiresome, irrational, "senseless nightmare road" and highlights their selfishness, irresponsibility, misogyny, and destructiveness. I thought there would at least be some interesting conversations while on the road about their observations and meaning of life, but for the most part it read like a self-indulgent, maniacal, peter pan on drugs, bromance.

  6. 4 out of 5

    K.D. Absolutely

    What I find intriguing about this book was how it was spontaneously written: 3 months on a scroll of papers. Jack Kerouac (1922-1969) did not have formal training on writing and probably he wanted to make a statement by packing up his things and write his experience while on the road with a friend, Neal Cassady (1926-1968). The book was largely autobiographical and describes Kerouac's road-trip adventures across the United States and Mexico with Cassady in the late 40s, as well as his relationsh What I find intriguing about this book was how it was spontaneously written: 3 months on a scroll of papers. Jack Kerouac (1922-1969) did not have formal training on writing and probably he wanted to make a statement by packing up his things and write his experience while on the road with a friend, Neal Cassady (1926-1968). The book was largely autobiographical and describes Kerouac's road-trip adventures across the United States and Mexico with Cassady in the late 40s, as well as his relationships with other Beat (a group of authors whose literature explored and influenced American culture in the 1950's) writers and friends. Compared to William S. Burrough's Naked Lunch (also 5 stars), the book is easier to read and the narrative is more straightforward. Though it deals on the same subject matters, e.g., drugs, religion, counter-materialism, etc., it also deals on relationships. I particularly liked the parts when Sal (Jack) tries to work as cotton picker and he realizes that he is not for that kind of job. Young and able to explore, I wish I was able to do that when I was much younger. In the Philippines, the job that you end up after graduation normally becomes your career path throughout your working years. When you reach 30 and much more 40, it is hard to have a career change because of the bleak economic condition. Central to the story is the strong male friendship between Sal (Jack Kerouac) and Dean (Neal Cassady). They are not homosexuals as they have the furry of women that they lived with and got pregnant. What I am trying to point out is that they are buddies, traveling together, fighting and pissing each other off. But in the closing scene of the book, when looking at the harbour, Sal uttered silently ". . . I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty." I mean it so poignant that you will think of lost beautiful relationships that you had in your life. It's like Jack Keroauc summing up what life is all about: it's about people you loved and lost that make you value those who still remain all through the years.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    The continent "groans" again and again. The night is too often "sad," the cities are "mad" or "wild" and "sad" some more. New York is the "edge of the continent," and San Francisco, too and sometimes they're the "rim of the world," or some similar allusion. Jack Kerouac and his friends, would be considered drunks and losers by the standards of most. The author's muse and messiah, Neal Cassady, is a fellow too easily distracted, undisciplined and, by today's measurements, a candidate for depressi The continent "groans" again and again. The night is too often "sad," the cities are "mad" or "wild" and "sad" some more. New York is the "edge of the continent," and San Francisco, too and sometimes they're the "rim of the world," or some similar allusion. Jack Kerouac and his friends, would be considered drunks and losers by the standards of most. The author's muse and messiah, Neal Cassady, is a fellow too easily distracted, undisciplined and, by today's measurements, a candidate for depression medication. In the recently released "scroll" version of "On the Road," Cassady's criminal bent and disregard for his friends are drawn in much starker contrast than in the toned-down Viking Press 1950s version. But it works and wonderfully so. Whatever the personal flaws of the roadgoers,whatever the prosodic sins of their faithful secretary Jack, The Scroll is blessed with energy and truth and dynamism, a beatific rhythm and sound that hold up, even though we've read it all before. But where what was once novel becomes cliché with the passing of time, The Scroll takes on enhanced value as snapshot of a country long-disappeared. The Scroll is a sweeping panorama of America beaten out on teletype paper by a guy on speed; maybe drug speed, maybe coffee, but probably something else that burned out of Kerouac like heavy kerosene and which caused his death when the last vapors rose from his being and poofed out into the dusty firmament. It has politics without the jeremiads, whole manifestoes in a masterful word-stroke such as "sullen unions," a flavor and entire reality nailed to the mind's wall. It is loving landscape portraiture as in this passage laid down about their departure from New Orleans: "Port Allen -- Poor Allen -- where the river's all rain and roses in a misty pinpoint darkness and where we swung around a circular drive in yellow foglight and suddenly saw the great black body below a bridge and crossed eternity again. What is the Mississippi River -- a washed clod in the rainy night, a soft plopping from drooping Missouri banks, a dissolving, a riding of the tide down the eternal waterbed, a contribution to brown foams, a voyaging past endless vales and trees and levees down, down along, down along, by Memphis, Greenville, Eudora, Vicksburg, Natchez, Port Allen, and Port Orleans and Point of the Deltas, by Venice and the Night's Great Gulf out. So the stars shine warm in the Gulf of Mexico at night. From the soft and thunderous Carib comes electricity, and from the continental Divide where rain and rivers are decided come swirls, and the little raindrop that in Dakota fell and gathered mud and roses rises resurrected from the sea and flies on back to go and bloom again in waving mells of the Mississippi's bed, and lives again." The passage lies at the book's midpoint; a fine spine to all the word swirling around it, like the Mississippi in its marriage with the landscape. Everywhere lively applications, symbols, poetry pulled from the American map, magic in Mizzou and Mississippi, no invention, just the natural ordering of an evident song about the land itself. Early in this passage the prose become unnecessary, but gripped by the author's sweaty hand, we are yanked along, pointed here and there on the keyboard toward ecstatic sites he has taken the time to see for us. Is there such a thing as a mell or does his easy resort to something that sings make it go down so much easier, and isn't that part of the job? Mell is a swell on the Mississippi and we know that, even if we didn't before. It is not easy to sift through all the postmodern swill that has come after and still be awed at the pure audacity of Kerouac; the audacity to make up words, to appear at his New York editor's office sweating and stinking of chemical ooze with a manuscript written on 120 feet of rolled paper demanding respect of The Scroll as if it were plumbed from Dead Sea depths. So goes it with the aspiring philosopher whom, even if he is a bum, still philosophizes, and not just for those of high brow: "death will overtake us before heaven. The one thing that we yearn for in our living days, that makes us sigh and groan and undergo sweet nauseas of all kinds, is the remembrance of some lost bliss that was probably experienced in the womb and can only be reproduced -- tho we hate to admit it -- in death. But who wants to die. More of this later." And The Scroll renders social commentary still relevant today: "On the sidewalk characters swarmed. Everybody was looking at everybody else. It was the end of the continent no more land. Somebody had tipped America like a pinball machine and all the goofballs had come rolling to LA in the southwest corner. I cried for all of us. There was no end to the American sadness and the American madness. Someday we'll all start laughing and roll on the ground when we realize how funny it's been. Until then there is a lugubrious seriousness I love in all of this." There's that "end of the continent" bit while "sadness and madness" appear elsewhere in a vignette of Kerouac's entitled "October In the Railroad Earth," as "end of the land sadness end of the land gladness" not precisely alike, but essentially the same literary trick. Yet if you're hip to all of this, if you can dig it and know time, then it's not lack of imagination so much as your favorite band playing the same songs at a second show. And then there's Neal; stripped of Dean Moriarity's mask and draped in a legend Cassady came to embody for three generations of misspent youths, stealing four cars at a roadhouse party outside Denver, denied entry into the homes of kith and kin alike, boy to his father's bum and disappeared dad, wrangler, brakeman, seducer of everybody else's girlfriends (and boyfriends), absentee father himself. Says "Naked Lunch" author William Burroughs of Cassady when they visit him in the Louisiana swamps, "He seems to be headed for his ideal fate, which is compulsive psychosis dashed with a jigger of psychopathic irresponsibility and violence." Pretty smart fellow Bill Burroughs, as were they all, in spite of their nasty habits. Cassady floats free of all preconceived notions regarding expected behavior, free of the bars other attempt to bind him with through holy judgments...part-time N.Y. hipster and happy pervert to Kerouac's ambiguous French-Catholic curiosities. "He lived with Diane in a coldwater flat in the East Seventies. When he came home at night he took off all his clothes and put on a hiplength Chinese silk jacket and sat in his easy chair to smoke a waterpipe loaded with tea. These were his coming-home pleasures: together with a deck of dirty cars. "Lately I've been concentrating on this deuce of diamonds. Have you noticed where her other hand is? I'll bet you can't tell. Look long and try to see." He wanted to lend me this deuce of diamonds, which depicted a tall mournful fellow and a lascivious sad whore on a bed trying a position. 'Go ahead man, I've used it many times!'" Drunken romantics bound early to your graves. Who should purchase your peddlings?A dank Detroit theater is no palace at 4 a.m. and an alley is an alley is an alley in the crappy part of a marginal Texas town. Or is it? Throwing down your challenge, your example was enjoyment. "Man can you dig the beauty and kicks!" "We wandered out and negotiated several dark mysterious blocks. Innumerable houses hid behind verdant almost jungle-like yards' we saw glimpses of girls in front rooms, girls on porches, girls in the bushes with boys. 'I never knew this mad San Antonio! Think what Mexico'll be like. Lessgo! Lessgo!'" Yet for all its ebullience, "On the Road" is but a marginally successful search for joy that, at bottom, asserts something is not right in these sojourners nor in the America which spawned them. "Looking at snapshots of Cassady's children Kerouac writes, I realized these were all the snapshots which our children would look at someday with wonder, thinking their parents had lived smooth and well-ordered lives and got up in the morning to walk proudly on the sidewalks of life, never dreaming the raggedy madness of the riot, or our actual lives, our actual night, the hell of it, the senseless nightmare road. Juices inform the world, children never know." Nightmare and dream sit on different sides of the same coin and to know one, you must be familiar with the other. The extension of the Mexico trip, trimmed to a classical dénouement in the edited version, renders the American break with an organic world wrought by the big bomb drops on Japan. It is mentioned vaguely, as if to do so more emphatically might conjure another nuclear massacre, but in this passage we hear it and understand that, for all their rebellion and dissociation, the roadgoers are tainted by food from the same poisoned factory farm. The indigenous peoples they saw, knew who was the father and who was the son of antique life on earth, and made no comment. For when destruction comes to the world people will stare with the same eyes from the caves of Mexico as well as from the caves of Bali, where it all began and where Adam was suckled and taught to know. Jack and Neal and the third wheel rolling with them are no heroes. They are car escapees from the psychic slaughter unleashed in their homeland, a sudden clanking folly from America with its three broken bozos inside. And the choice has been the same for half a century now: to be with them or against them. Lead the way you lost and lonely bozos.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sheri

    This might be my only 1 star review on Goodreads out of 300+ I've rated here so far. Why didn't I like it? In short, it's a buddy-travel-memoir by an extremely immature and sexist 30-something written in a single paragraph. That's right. All 300+ pages of this book (and I'm not counting the 100 pages of introductions by the so-called scholars and critics who adore Kerouac and this book) are a single paragraph. About a quarter of the way through this behemoth paragraph, it was all I could do not This might be my only 1 star review on Goodreads out of 300+ I've rated here so far. Why didn't I like it? In short, it's a buddy-travel-memoir by an extremely immature and sexist 30-something written in a single paragraph. That's right. All 300+ pages of this book (and I'm not counting the 100 pages of introductions by the so-called scholars and critics who adore Kerouac and this book) are a single paragraph. About a quarter of the way through this behemoth paragraph, it was all I could do not to put it down and count it in that handful (and I do mean handful) of books that I've started and then decided not to finish. One brilliant sentence on page 206 caught my attention (and I'll quote it here so you don't have to read the whole nightmare paragraph just to stumble onto it yourself): ""Somebody had tipped the American continent like a pinball machine and all the goofballs had come rolling to LA in the southwest corner." As for the writing in the rest of the book? It's pretty Dick-and-Jane-ish. Which isn't surprising given that Kerouac wrote this in about a month after he'd completed all four journeys across the US that are the subject of the book. So why is this book on the list of great and impactful American works that everyone is supposed to read? As near as I can figure, (1) critics were wowed by the entire book-as-one-paragraph concept; (2) Kerouac was cool & hip because he wrote about smoking marijuana (tea, as he called it); and (3) being wild and immature and attempting to screw every female you met was also considered cool and hip. Bottom line: if you like buddy travel memoirs, go back and read Huckleberry Finn again. It's still the best buddy travel memoir in the English language. And if you're looking for idiosyncratic punctuation, read anything by Jose Saramago (but especially Blindness, his best book). Skip "On The Road."

  9. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    I became a fan of the 'original' version around my second year of high school. I remember idolizing these crazy characters - to the point of writing a paper for English class on 'The Beats'. When I heard that this minimally edited version was available, I looked forward to reliving my love of this wild bunch of friends...jumping madly across the continent. Free of conformist society, traditional writing methods, and the mindless responsibilities of the new modern life. At first I was intimidate I became a fan of the 'original' version around my second year of high school. I remember idolizing these crazy characters - to the point of writing a paper for English class on 'The Beats'. When I heard that this minimally edited version was available, I looked forward to reliving my love of this wild bunch of friends...jumping madly across the continent. Free of conformist society, traditional writing methods, and the mindless responsibilities of the new modern life. At first I was intimidated by the visually dense pages of text - unbroken by paragraphs or chapters (except for the BOOK 2, BOOK 3, BOOK 4 titles within the lines of text), but Kerouac's energetic and often humorous storytelling made the book's 400 pages zoom by - like the cows and telephone poles along the Mid-Western highway. Overall, this version wasn't as different as I thought it might be. It was a little raunchier - there were a few more detailed sex scenes and some homosexual moments were left in the manuscript, but it wasn't shocking reading it from the perspective of someone living in 2010. The extra material also didn't change much of the tone or path of the story. Most of the now uncut bits just provided another scene of something crazy. I didn't read it concurrently with the established version, but I felt that the 'scroll' version was more descriptive - especially near the end of the book while the group was driving through Mexico. I enjoyed seeing the 'real' names of the characters like Allen, Neal, and Bill. I also thought that showing Jack as a guy living with his mother in the scroll was much more straightforward than placing him with some mysterious aunt in the mainstream version. It brought one of the less savory aspects of the beat lifestyle into focus. It was harder to be awestruck with the 'king of the beats' when he's a man living with his mother...in her apartment in Queens...constantly bumming money off of her. I don't know if it's because of the decade that's passed since I first read On The Road or if this version of the book just presents the characters in a more dejected light...but I found myself feeling more saddened by the characters' lifestyles than inspired by them. Sure they were free of the daily grind, but they were also free of a way to support themselves (for the most part), free of a stable home, free of solid romantic relationships, and free of self-esteem. The fact that these characters had either failed at their relationships and jobs, or (most of the time) failed to even try at anything other than running away really struck me this time. They even reached a point where they didn't know what they were running from anymore...just go go go road is life... Maybe I've just become a bit of a square, and I'll balance out in the next decade. As a book I still do recommend giving it a try. It's a piece of cultural history, and it's written like a letter from a close friend - who brings me into his inside jokes and trys to enlighten me with societal observations....unfortunately Jack's a friend that I used to look up to more when I was 15.

  10. 4 out of 5

    AC

    A book I first read nearly half a century ago. Thought I had outgrown it. If you have tried to read the 1957 published version and given up in disgust at its mediocrity, know that what you read was what the publishers did to Kerouac mournful prose. This is the version that quivers with all the beauty I had remembered. What I had forgotten was how utterly sad this book was...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gideon

    The road is long and winding, and so is Jack Kerouac’s writing, but it doesn’t make for a very enjoyable novel. As Truman Capote famously said, “None of these people have anything interesting to say,” he observed, “and none of them can write, not even Mr. Kerouac. [What they do] isn’t writing at all—it’s typing.” I understand what Kerouac is trying to do here: to represent life in the wandering way that life exists, and to present two characters that don’t know quite what they’re looking for and The road is long and winding, and so is Jack Kerouac’s writing, but it doesn’t make for a very enjoyable novel. As Truman Capote famously said, “None of these people have anything interesting to say,” he observed, “and none of them can write, not even Mr. Kerouac. [What they do] isn’t writing at all—it’s typing.” I understand what Kerouac is trying to do here: to represent life in the wandering way that life exists, and to present two characters that don’t know quite what they’re looking for and don’t find it. Does anything exemplify the post-WWII generation more? We’re still living with these consequences. Travel for the pure enjoyment of travel is good, even great. The intention of expanding yourself, and being with friends, and smelling the mountain and sea air, none of these are bad, but without any kind of connective tissue or narrative intention, it doesn’t make for a good book. Partially this may be due to this version being the “original scroll” that Kerouac wrote on a single long piece of paper over three weeks. It’s barely edited, uncensored, and ugly in form. I have to assume the book is helped by the presence of an editor, otherwise I fail to see how this captured the minds and hearts of photo-hippies of the 50s and true hippies of the following decades. The first part of the book, prior to the scroll, consists of introductions by scholars justifying this as a scholarly work. Much time is spent defending Kerouac's rampant racism and sexism - but why is it defended? Anyone who is not white is idolized in the book, yet they're idolized from a superiority point of view while neglecting the downsides of not being white in the 50s or before. Kerouac's tone-deafness leads him to imagine himself as an old Negro, without a care in the world. Sure. White women fare even worse - they're not at all idolized. Women in general are beings to be used sexually by men, and any female characters that appear have no personality (which isn't saying much, not many of Kerouac's characters do). Kerouac seeks humanity, yet fails to realize the enormity of humanity: he sees only the enormity of America. If you’re looking for a road or travel book, I’d recommend The Road by Cormac McCarthy, a fictional, depressing novel set in a nuked America where almost no living thing exists, but hope glimmers at the edges of the waste. For something more in line with On the Road, I much preferred John Steinbeck’s Travels With Charley. It’s funnier, more focused, and gives more of a feel for the United States than Kerouac ever even attempts. If you type enough some poetry will come out, and here are some lines I liked - - And there in the blue air I saw for the first time, in hints and mighty visitation, far off, the great snowy–tops of the Rocky Mountains. I took a deep breath. - ...air you can kiss… - I want to marry a girl so I can rest my soul with her till we both get old. - God exists without qualms. - ...she won't understand how much I love her---she's knitting my doom. - I stood poised on the great western plain and didn't know what to do. - Things are so hard to figure when you live from day to day in this feverish and silly world. - Women can forget what men can't.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jim Cherry

    The plot to “On The Road” wouldn’t really tell you what “On The Road” is about because the travels of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarity are more existential than overt action. Yes, they drive from coast to coast, meet people, go to parties, but it’s not the action that is important but the experience Sal and Dean derive from each adventure. The real story of “On The Road: The Original Scroll” isn’t in the book but in how Kerouac created it. The autobiographical elements that made up “On The Road,” The plot to “On The Road” wouldn’t really tell you what “On The Road” is about because the travels of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarity are more existential than overt action. Yes, they drive from coast to coast, meet people, go to parties, but it’s not the action that is important but the experience Sal and Dean derive from each adventure. The real story of “On The Road: The Original Scroll” isn’t in the book but in how Kerouac created it. The autobiographical elements that made up “On The Road,” Kerouac and Neal Cassady taking three road trips across the United States occurred between 1947-1949. After years of false starts, Kerouac decided to lay out the whole story and write it from beginning to end on one roll of paper so he wouldn’t have to stop his train of thought replacing page after page as he finished it. Inspired by Jazz improvisation and spontaneity, Kerouac undertook to get the novel he had in his head onto the page. He got a roll of teletype paper, and with help from Benzedrine and coffee Kerouac wrote the novel in marathon sessions of writing over the course of 3 weeks. When he was done he took it to his editor, Robert Giroux, who was dumbfounded when Kerouac unfurled it in his office. “On The Road” the version that was released in 1957 was a masterpiece and changed the rules of writing fiction, as well as inspiring a generation of teenagers that would go on the road in the 60’s in search of their own existential adventures and kicks. Reading “On The Road: The Original Scroll” you realize that the story flows much better in Kerouac’s original vision of it. Giroux as editor had with all good intentions made Kerouac’s book salable for the times, without removing Kerouac’s artistic achievements but left a somewhat clunky novel that later readers have found hard to get into. I think if they read “On The Road: The Original Scroll” they’ll find that shortcoming removed. For the avid Kerouac fan and aficinado “On The Road: The Original Scroll” will be a revelatory look at Kerouac’s process of writing in what he had originally intended. And there’s a certain fun in reading the book with all the people’s real names intact, instead of character names that the publisher insisted on to avoid lawsuits. If you’re coming to Kerouac new, I think this original version of Kerouac’s work will highlight the spontaneity of Kerouac’s work and the reader will come away with an appreciation of the freshness of Kerouac’s work.

  13. 5 out of 5

    SamanthaLee

    Perhaps it's because I am a 19-year-old liberal arts college student or perhaps it's because I always have and probably always will yearn for excitement and beauty and adventure, but whatever the reason may be, I absolutely loved Kerouac's On The Road>i>. Every passage drew me in deeper and deeper until I could hardly stand just how much I wanted jump in the car or on a train or bus and make it across the country to the West Coast. Even the frantic tales of endless NYC nights beckoned me to get Perhaps it's because I am a 19-year-old liberal arts college student or perhaps it's because I always have and probably always will yearn for excitement and beauty and adventure, but whatever the reason may be, I absolutely loved Kerouac's On The Road>i>. Every passage drew me in deeper and deeper until I could hardly stand just how much I wanted jump in the car or on a train or bus and make it across the country to the West Coast. Even the frantic tales of endless NYC nights beckoned me to get on the LIRR and see what trouble I could get into in the city. While the continuous block of text this "original scroll" is presented in made it a somewhat daunting task to complete, once immersed in the rhythm and excitement this prose had to offer, I found myself reading huge chunks of the novel at one time. If nothing else, On The Road has inspired me to truly dig life-to not let anything pass me by without making some kind of impression, to take each opportunity as it comes my way.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    It seems like I don't get along well with Mr. Kerouac. Maybe some other time. It seems like I don't get along well with Mr. Kerouac. Maybe some other time.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Yasmin

    Well it is actually hard to say if I enjoyed this book, it wasn't terrible, but this is one of the occasions when a better word should be used. So I think three stars is fair. At first I thought to say straight away that Kerouac was a sort of son to Steinbeck's short stories like Sweet Thursday, Cannery Row, etc. etc. and that his road odyssey was him and some pals escaping death and situations they couldn't handle. But it is much more than that, in fact it was so many things that I wondered at Well it is actually hard to say if I enjoyed this book, it wasn't terrible, but this is one of the occasions when a better word should be used. So I think three stars is fair. At first I thought to say straight away that Kerouac was a sort of son to Steinbeck's short stories like Sweet Thursday, Cannery Row, etc. etc. and that his road odyssey was him and some pals escaping death and situations they couldn't handle. But it is much more than that, in fact it was so many things that I wondered at the end if I was in a deluge! It was as he said some friends went on a journey looking for something, they didn't find it but they found something else instead. Now what they were looking for and ended up by finding I would say is up for each reader to evaluate for themselves. When he writes about the country and the people over all that is when he is most like Steinbeck, unfortunately when he writes the talking points between characters that's when it gets confusing. Some could say it's for a set generation and therefore dated, I didn't find it dated because I think in a lot of ways we are all seeking our odyssey out on the road, literally or figueratively, maybe both, perhaps the methods are different but the purpose is the same. I think what spurred on Kerouac was disalluisonment and a sense of profound loss that he couldn't find a way to deal with. His brother and his father. What a great confusion it was for a great many people at the time, one war was barely ended and yet peace was out of reach. What can you do? Where can you go? When all that fighting and suffering was experienced and was it all to end in a nuclear explosion? And yet it seems to me that we have never stopped living in times of uncertainty, they are continous, but sometimes you have to get out and get away and try and find your place in the world. You may not find that answer but you may find something else. If you can remember what it is you're getting away from. There was a reoccurring theme when Kerouac said he felt like he had forgotten something, but didn't know what. Sometimes when I leave a place, even though I have all my belongings, it has felt as though I had left something behind, something I forgot. Somehow I don't think for Kerouac that feeling ever went away...but perhaps it did. What a surprise to find he was French-Canadian! His family came from Quebec originally, one great land mass to another, one identity to another, or rather attempting to find another identity. There is so much in this book that it may take me awhile to understand, I may never find that time to work it all through. He is well worth the read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jen Knox

    I enjoyed this book far more a few years ago. I think Kerouac's tale is decent, gloriously rebellious, but over-hyped; this book is marked with a few fantastic insights but my belief is that On The Road is only popular due to timeliness and the oft-consumed glamorization of alcoholism. Kerouac was the face of the movement, not the grit. William Burroughs was able to write about such tales while bringing to life the disease, the twisting of the gut that follows escapades similar to Kerouac's, onl I enjoyed this book far more a few years ago. I think Kerouac's tale is decent, gloriously rebellious, but over-hyped; this book is marked with a few fantastic insights but my belief is that On The Road is only popular due to timeliness and the oft-consumed glamorization of alcoholism. Kerouac was the face of the movement, not the grit. William Burroughs was able to write about such tales while bringing to life the disease, the twisting of the gut that follows escapades similar to Kerouac's, only with less Hollywood-style machismo. His prose was searing and linguistically-interesting. Allen Ginsberg brought the politics, the societal rebellion. I enjoy On The Road a bit more, however, when it is coupled with his daughter's personal essays, which add a touch of reality to the narrative fiction that makes up this book. The thing needs more perspective for me now.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Reid

    I read "The Original Scroll" only, and it was great, deserving of its status... (I haven't really compared the two yet, haven't read a full paragraph in OTR, but check out the difference in GR ratings...they are much higher for the Scroll! Probably means they are very different experiences.) OK, here is my review of The Original Scroll... [Update, I've read both, both 5 stars for me.] My opinion and experience: The only negatives for me in On the Road The Original Scroll were the second 30 pages I read "The Original Scroll" only, and it was great, deserving of its status... (I haven't really compared the two yet, haven't read a full paragraph in OTR, but check out the difference in GR ratings...they are much higher for the Scroll! Probably means they are very different experiences.) OK, here is my review of The Original Scroll... [Update, I've read both, both 5 stars for me.] My opinion and experience: The only negatives for me in On the Road The Original Scroll were the second 30 pages where Kerouac is shown to be generally and temporarily selfish, irresponsible, uncaring and a lawbreaker (but aren’t we all at times). After that, this work builds slowly and somewhat subtly to a significant meaningful work way ahead of its time. There were some great quotes and some poetic writing along the way, but I was surprised by its impact on me. I have to declare now, if you didn’t already know, that I am far from being a nonconformist (although to my tiny bit of credit, I did elope, move 3000 miles from home, own and ride motorcycles, drink, “smoke” and generally do everything my Dad worried about, and preached against. I know, I’m not quite a rebel.) And that’s probably partly why this book landed with impact. It’s inspirational. It shows Kerouac fairly desperate to find meaning in life and break from conformity, and damn it, if he’s not finding it, he’ll keep on going until he does. He admits in his first few travels that they amount to nothing. He’s desperate to meet up with his buddy, Neal Cassady, because Neil is a non-stop dynamo of energy and Life incarnate. Neal is so sexually obsessed (and apparently well hung) that he will travel the world for sex, be it female, or male (the latter conveniently excised in the first published version.) He is compulsive and single-minded in pursuit of it, just as, for this novel, Kerouac is single-minded in his search for meaning and experience of life. Kerouac, although he admits in the book to being somewhat traditional and wanting a home and family, is, simultaneously, desperately wanting something more, something alive, something that makes his body, mind and spirit jump to blessed significance. And this is clear, really, in that we know he is driven to write. Most writers confess to being obsessed - it is apparently a compulsion and, often, almost a surreal divinely-originated experience, where ideas come into the brain, and just have to come out in language and on to the page. Part of the intro of this Scroll version points out that the damn scroll unrolled actually looks like an endless highway. I don’t doubt that Kerouac was in fact inspired, and I felt it by the time I finished this work. So, Kerouac is driven by the same energy as Neal, yet he’s not quite trying to fulfill that energy in the same way. And here, there is actually a contrast between the two characters. It’s easy to equate the two, or even easy to see Neal as the main character, but really Neal is a foil for Jack. Jack is the hero - he is the searcher - he is the everyman not quite satisfied with his life as is - he wants something more. And he’s desperate also because this is just a couple of years after the Atom Bomb - Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the Holocaust, which he refers to at least twice in the Scroll. Kerouac is desperate, not to settle down in the suburbs - he’s desperate for meaning and significance and the Why and How of life and living after the ultimate destruction and desecration. Settling down in the suburbs with the help of the GI BIll is not quite Kerouac’s ideal. He wants to feel. He wants to experience. He wants to live life. He wants answers to the how and why. Neal Cassady is Kerouac’s muse, his creative inspiration and impulse, a symbol of how grand life actually is and can be, but Kerouac recognizes how easily that grandiosity can be taken for granted and become boring and routine. And routine is death for Kerouac, I’m sure, and routine was exactly what began occurring for most Americans in the next several decades. Lovely new gadgets and wealth, and even hope, but also post-war mind-numbing suburbia, settling, and conformity. Kerouac called it. He was probably a visionary. I should also note that the closest relationship is not male-female, male-male, or even sexual at all - the closest relationship in the book is between Kerouac and Neal - Kerouac’s devotion, inspiration and love for Cassady is obvious throughout the book, and it’s because Cassady is fully alive and the furthest thing from routine and conformity. Intimacy is really what I’m speaking of, and really where the significance of life ultimately rests. It’s easy to talk of love and sex between men and women, but Kerouac here is really expressing intimacy between two human beings - love, adoration and, perhaps most importantly, inspiration, and communing between individuals. He shows this with the eyeball session between Ginsberg and Cassady, but it’s really a theme in the book as a whole, with men relating and communing and sharing, and in a simple way beautifully shown in the early scene with multiple random hitchhikers on a flat bed trailer appreciating the night sky, travel tales and shared whiskey, a quaint scene something actually quite like Steinbeck. And the Scroll’s epigraph is of Walt Whitman, which I’ll quote here: Camerado. I give you my hand! I give you my love more precious than money, I give you myself before preaching or law; Will you give me yourself? Will you come travel with me? Shall we stick to each other as long as we live? I must say, there are some major differences between the first published novel and the scroll. Just in the first line of the novel, for God’s sakes, the publishers changed the reason for Kerouac’s alienation, ennui and compulsion to escape, from the death of his father (!) to a sickness of his mother! [Correction - split with his wife and his own "serious illness" - my bad. But, still.] Come on! That’s ridiculous. In literature, psychology, and life, the death of a man’s father is a tad more significant, a tad more of an upheaval than your mom’s sniffles. The last time I had a cold, I didn’t quite start asking the big questions. When my dad dies, um, yeah, I think I might then be looking for some damn answers. (Besides all that, apparently the punctuation (punctuation! oh the humanity) is all wrong! They jammed in commas, semicolons and colons everywhere, apparently, totally disrupting Kerouac’s design and flow. There are no paragraphs in the scroll - I didn’t know where to take a break!) Anyway, I’ll think I’ll cut this short, haha, and just add three emotionally evocative and meaningful quotes, which perhaps exhibit what a good writer Kerouac was: A.) On life’s vibe - what does Neal mean by “IT?”: “... that alto man last night had IT..., well, now you’re asking me imponderables..., (well) here’s a guy and everybody’s there...up to him to put down what’s on everybody’s mind... (he’s playing alto sax) and all of a sudden somewhere in the middle of the chorus he GETS IT - everybody looks up and knows; they listen; he picks it up and carries. Time stops. He’s filling empty space with the substance of our lives... with such infinite feeling for the tune of the moment that everybody knows it’s not the tune that counts but IT...” (p. 304) [I mean, I, for one, have certainly experienced deep emotion at live jazz events, and it’s incredibly moving. And this quote, for me, quite describes the experience.] B.) Neal and Jack taking a bus trip; on fear and unconscious caged souls: “Now you just dig them in front...They have worries, they’re counting the miles, they’re thinking about where to sleep tonight, how much money for gas, the weather, how they’ll get there...and all the time they’ll get there anyway you see. But they need to worry, their souls really won’t be at peace unless they can latch on to an established and proven worry and having once found it they assume facial expressions to fit and go with it, which is, you see, unhappiness, a false really false expression of concern and even dignity and all the time it all flies by them and they know it and that TOO worries them NO End. Listen! listen! Well now, he mimicked, I don’t know - maybe we shouldn’t get gas in that station, I read recently in a Petroleum magazine that this kind of gas has a great deal of GOOK in it and someone once told me it even had LOON in it and I don’t know, well I just don’t feel like it anyway...” (p. 306) C.) Unthinking conformity and living death: “...a pretty country girl” [on a bus, whom Jack saddled up next to, for company, flirtation and relations] “... She was dull. She spoke of evenings in the country making popcorn on the porch. Once this would have gladdened my heart but because her heart was not glad when she said it I knew there was nothing in it but the idea of what one should do... I tried to bring up boyfriends and sex. Her great dark eyes surveyed me with emptiness and a kind of chagrin that reached back generations and generations in her blood from not having done what was crying to be done...What do you want out of life?... She didn’t have the slightest idea what she wanted...What are we all aching to do? What do we want? She didn’t know. She yawned. She was sleepy. It was too much. Nobody could tell. Nobody would ever tell. It was all over. She was eighteen and most lovely, and lost.” (p. 340-341) Do these quotes not make you feel and breathe something deep and heavy? Ginsberg considers Kerouac one of the century's best poet/writer, and Kerouac considers his Duluoz Legend akin to Proust’s remembrances. I can’t comment on that, but I can definitely recommend reading The Original Scroll as a piece of literature, even if you’ve not cared so much about On the Road.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    On the Road – Jack Kerouac’s autobiographical novel of the exhilarating and exhausting cross-country road trips of 20-somethings Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty – was such an enormous watershed in American culture that it seems quite fitting that its 50th anniversary should be noted by Viking with no less than three newly published books: "On the Road: The 50th Anniversary Edition," "On the Road: The Original Scroll," and "Why Kerouac Matters: The Lessons of ‘On the Road." While the 50th anniversa On the Road – Jack Kerouac’s autobiographical novel of the exhilarating and exhausting cross-country road trips of 20-somethings Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty – was such an enormous watershed in American culture that it seems quite fitting that its 50th anniversary should be noted by Viking with no less than three newly published books: "On the Road: The 50th Anniversary Edition," "On the Road: The Original Scroll," and "Why Kerouac Matters: The Lessons of ‘On the Road." While the 50th anniversary edition may be a bit of a disappointment to those already familiar with the quintessential chronicle of the “Beat” generation (it is identical to book’s 40th anniversary edition and contains no extras whatsoever), The Original Scroll is an absolute revelation, both for previous fans of Kerouac and also for those experiencing On the Road for the first time. Typed in three furious weeks in 1951 on one continuous sheet of paper, The Scroll -- that is, the initial draft of On the Road – was revised three times before the final edition was published in 1957. While The Scroll and the final version are very similar, the differences that remain are quite striking. Besides containing scenes and narratives which were eventually cut, The Scroll also includes the real names of the people on whom the book’s characters were based. Realizing that Carlo Marx (what a pseudonym!) is a fictionalized Allen Ginsberg gives one the startling sense of viewing a home movie of the ultimate Beat poet. Watching Dean Moriarty’s wildly self-destructive behavior within the pages of On the Road is to have a close encounter with Neal Cassady, the quintessential Beatnik who, although he didn’t do much writing himself, inspired a myriad of other writers to do so. The Scroll contains no chapter or paragraph breaks whatsoever, and it is this element – combined with the understanding that it was Kerouac’s first and freshest attempt at chronicling his cross-country peregrinations – that gives the reader a more startling sense of urgency than can be provided even in the ultimately galvanizing final edition of On the Road. Although those with only a passing knowledge of Kerouac may believe "On the Road" to be a tale of unbridled lust (wander- and otherwise), it is actually quite tame by 21st century standards. There is a plethora of casual sex and substance abuse found within its pages, but nothing patently explicit. And squeezed into the frantic narrative are descriptions of such poignancy as to make one aware of Kerouac’s keen sensitivity to poetic images. For instance, while attempting to depict the laugh of a gregarious Nebraska farmer, Kerouac writes: ". . . you could hear his raspy cries clear across the plains, across the whole gray world of them that day. . . I said to myself, Wham, listen to that man laugh. That’s the West . . . It was the spirit of the West sitting right next to me . . ." If Kerouac could see poetry in the commonplace, he also read humor into the sublime. Yes, he was one of the “Beats” but that didn’t mean he couldn’t see through the occasional absurdity of their hyper-seriousness. For instance, after listening to an all-night conversation between Carlo Marx (Allen Ginsberg) and Dean Moriarty (Neal Cassady) in which they were “trying to communicate with absolute honesty and absolute completeness everything on [their:] minds,” Sal Paradise (Kerouac) tells them: “If you keep this up, you’ll both go crazy, but let me know what happens as you go along.” Sal Paradise’s pronounced yearnings to get somewhere, to find something, is what gives the book its intense urgency and Kerouac often couches these longings in beautiful and raw poetic descriptions of the American countryside: "In the whole eastern dark wall of the Divide this night there was silence and the whisper of the wind, except in the ravine where we roared; and on the other side of the Divide was the great Western Slope, and the big plateau that went to Steamboat Springs, and dropped, and led you to the western Colorado desert and the Utah desert; all in darkness now as we fumed and screamed in our mountain nook, mad drunken Americans in the mighty land. We were on the roof of America and all we could do was yell, I guess– across the night, eastward over the Plains . . . Several illustrative essays are included as a preface to The Scroll as a means to elucidate the layered meanings found in On the Road. The newly published, "Why Kerouac Matters: Lessons from On the Road" is exceptionally enlightening in this regard. Author John Leland relates, in a very accessible manner, Kerouac’s deliberate themes in the book and also how Kerouac’s own personality – surprisingly – did not fit into the quintessential “Beat” mold. Leland bases his sometimes unexpected but entirely believable suppositions in Kerouac’s own letters and he interweaves significant portions of the text to support his arguments. Although "Why Kerouac Matters" is extremely elucidative, it should only be read after first encountering "On the Road." Although Kerouac was trying to communicate a very specific message, what matters in the end is what is personally gleaned from the book. For many readers, the freedom and infinite possibilities whispered throughout the exciting and pathos-filled pages of "On the Road" have inspired them to initiate their own odyssey. Which is precisely the point. (This review also appeared at BookPleasures.com).

  19. 4 out of 5

    William Lawrence

    The intro material is 4-5 star and worth the hardcover alone, but the manuscript is just grueling. 400 pages with no paragraphs. That's just torture. The intro material is 4-5 star and worth the hardcover alone, but the manuscript is just grueling. 400 pages with no paragraphs. That's just torture.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Roberto

    I first read On The Road (the non-original-scroll) when I was 15 years old and it changed my life. I was off school for the summer holidays and I read The Catcher In The Rye too, and despite not much else happening that summer, it remains vivid in my memory. It was the first book that spoke to me, or for me, and I guess it either altered my way of thinking or else it validated what was already becoming a way of looking at the world for me. For that reason I've always been reluctant to revisit On I first read On The Road (the non-original-scroll) when I was 15 years old and it changed my life. I was off school for the summer holidays and I read The Catcher In The Rye too, and despite not much else happening that summer, it remains vivid in my memory. It was the first book that spoke to me, or for me, and I guess it either altered my way of thinking or else it validated what was already becoming a way of looking at the world for me. For that reason I've always been reluctant to revisit On The Road, though I did go on to read most of Kerouac's work and I rate Visions Of Cody and The Subterraneans as right up there too. I was worried I'd misjudged it, or maybe that I'd changed. You see footage of Kerouac in his later days with those broken capillaries, all flabby, right-wing and mean and you worry that if even he could change, or if that was his true nature, then maybe I had too, and maybe that's just the way it goes. But that's really and truly not the case, and reading it again nearly 20 years later, in its original form, has only confirmed to me that On The Road is a magnificent piece of writing. What I didn't pick up on the first time round was just how much it is a pure and a sincere hymn to America, a Whitman-ey celebration of the variety and beauty of the American landscape and its people, tinged with sadness because it is a land that even then was changing from the great country of the frontier and railroad and cotton fields. What it also does better than anything is it captures that great youthful yearning for life, that pent-up desire to just experience everything, the idea that life is somewhere right out there happening and you want to swallow it whole or just lose yourself in its chaos - that every experience is full of meaning or that maybe none of it has any meaning at all, and the great sadness of that too. Kerouac was an incredible natural and nervy writer, he writes with a relentless energy to GET IT ALL DOWN, like the act of recording events is in itself a holy act. He writes about Neal Cassidy as a kind of flawed saint, his lost brother, selfish, irresponsible speedfreak with so much charisma, energy and soul that you want to be there with him too anyway, though clearly he was a maniac who could've done with a good nights sleep. Through Cassidy, and because of Cassidy, Kerouac really found a way in to the heart of America, an America whose true nature might then have been glimpsed through the windshield of a car, or in the faces of its hungry and homeless, also in jazz and benzedrine, but for the rest of us (especially those of us living elsewhere) it can be found in this book, and always will be.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Arcadia

    The impact and influence this book has had on my life is indescribable. I decided to read the original scroll some 3 years after having read the novel version, book which changed my life forever. I wanted to remind myself of why I had named Jack and On the Road as pivotal in my life, why I'd named them as the explanation of my career choice, my interests, and I was promptly reminded indeed. Kerouac's way of perceiving life is one that equates life to art. The point of life is art. The point of a The impact and influence this book has had on my life is indescribable. I decided to read the original scroll some 3 years after having read the novel version, book which changed my life forever. I wanted to remind myself of why I had named Jack and On the Road as pivotal in my life, why I'd named them as the explanation of my career choice, my interests, and I was promptly reminded indeed. Kerouac's way of perceiving life is one that equates life to art. The point of life is art. The point of art is Truth. And my heart very much beats to this mantra. His heavily Romanticized way of writing, is Hollywood. It's Tarantino's 'True Romance'. Although you may not always find the credibility in the characters because of this way of describing, the talent is un doubtful, he knows his characters inside out, and he knows exactly what he wants to say about them. Kerouac is thus bestowed with Vision and a Voice, very defined and cool. Cool. Cool... I think that's another thing that attracts about the book. The language he employs, the one he uses with his gang, beat, crazy cat, let's dig this city, hipsters, mad blowing sad saxophone man all night it never STOPS! is -repetitive- but yet again, defining, and it makes you accomplice to their adventures, as if by learning the language they speak, you were part of the gang, you can understand what they mean. Although the scroll lost steam by the end, which is understandable if you've been up for the past 3 days writing this mad book, it is a groundbreaking exercise in style and form, which has given me a foot lift so I could peek over and witness just what I'd like to do in the future. I'm going to get On that Road Jack, you just wait. <3

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nicky

    My first experience of On the Road was this quotation: “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 who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” It was actually quoted in a fanfiction, as Axel's favourite book (Kingdom Hearts AU). It's stuck with me, ever since: not the fanfiction itself, but the q My first experience of On the Road was this quotation: “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 who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” It was actually quoted in a fanfiction, as Axel's favourite book (Kingdom Hearts AU). It's stuck with me, ever since: not the fanfiction itself, but the quotation. For that, I've loved Kerouac from afar, not daring to try reading it because that quote told me all I needed to know. Actually, I kind of wish I was still in that state of not having read On the Road. Because it's not really my kind of book, and I think I've always known that. There are bits of it that are, well, like fabulous roman candles, but I don't have the patience with the narration to get to them before I'm annoyed. It's not an atmosphere that appeals to me, not a mindset I can really get behind, so... But On the Road is still deservedly a classic, and the book has travelled with me for long enough -- for a few years, in physical form, between various student houses; for longer than that, with the quotation in my head -- that I feel quite affectionate toward it, and it's going to keep travelling with me.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Justin Groot

    This thing is a straight shunt into the mind of a terrifyingly good writer. The prose jitters with energy. Reading this is an amazing experience, and you should definitely do it. Will note that the book's portrayal of women and minorities sometimes descends into stereotypes and casual prejudice that made me squirm. Sure it's from the fifties and people had different sensibilities back then yadda yadda but the fact that every female character exists only as an accessory to a man - each female char This thing is a straight shunt into the mind of a terrifyingly good writer. The prose jitters with energy. Reading this is an amazing experience, and you should definitely do it. Will note that the book's portrayal of women and minorities sometimes descends into stereotypes and casual prejudice that made me squirm. Sure it's from the fifties and people had different sensibilities back then yadda yadda but the fact that every female character exists only as an accessory to a man - each female character is defined by the man to which she is attached - feels deeply wrong. I still want to give ON THE ROAD five stars because the writing itself is superb and mind-widening, but a perfect score would feel like an endorsement of the fifties worldview the book embodies, and that means I will be somewhat guiltily dropping my score to a 4... Sorry Jack

  24. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This review should be from the backlog, as this book has been sitting on my shelf for approximately 5 years, waiting to be read. However, I just finished it at the beginning of May, mostly motivated by trying to fill challenge prompts from my TBR pile. Spoilers (can you really spoil something that’s 50+ years old?) below! It’s a long one. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ---————————- Let me start by saying that I don’t know if I’m qualified to properly and critically review this book in 2020. I don’t have a nuanced enoug This review should be from the backlog, as this book has been sitting on my shelf for approximately 5 years, waiting to be read. However, I just finished it at the beginning of May, mostly motivated by trying to fill challenge prompts from my TBR pile. Spoilers (can you really spoil something that’s 50+ years old?) below! It’s a long one. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ---————————- Let me start by saying that I don’t know if I’m qualified to properly and critically review this book in 2020. I don’t have a nuanced enough understanding of the time period to review it through the correct historical lens. Reading it today, there are a lot of -isms peppered throughout the book that are distracting and disappointing. I’d be lost in a scene, and then come to a screeching halt up against something that if said today would be racist or sexist or homophobic, and occasionally a combination of all three. It was challenging and exhausting to read at times. • That being said, this book was written by a privileged alcoholic white man in the late 1950s, and after acknowledging that I powered through some of the terrible bits. Kerouac has a skill for capturing manic excitement and forward movement, and the man can describe a gorgeous vista with only a few well-chosen words. The version I read was the “original scroll,” which meant 300 pages of uninterrupted text, peppered with typos and mashed together words. I found myself putting it down a few times over the course of the last week, torn between wanting to put it down forever and pick it back up. In an endearing twist, the manuscript cuts off 10 pages before the end of the book, with a note from the editors that the last few feet of the original scroll were torn off, and a note “DOG ATE [Potchky-a-dog]” was scribbled at the bottom of the page. They go on to explain that historians have confirmed the end of Kerouac’s manuscript was indeed eaten by his friend’s dog. They include a version of the ending extrapolated from other early drafts, but nothing in it is nearly as hilarious as concluding with “DOG ATE” would have been. • A few other miscellaneous thoughts include: this man consumed a LOT of ice cream, apple pie, and nondescript meat sandwiches in his travels; I didn’t know folks were saying “yasss” before 2015, let alone in the 1940s & 50s; and I should check all future book purchases for paragraphs before buying. I think I bought this for the craggly page edges, which earned the book a star on their own merit. • I have no idea what to rate this book. I genuinely don’t know if I liked it or hated it. On one hand, it was challenging to read for reasons listed above. On the other, even though the main characters spend most of the book either drugged, drunk, or both, Kerouac successfully captures the spirit of momentum and anticipation in prose. Some scenes left me feeling truly excited about life, which is impressive in this time of quarantine. I think I give this four stars out of 5, one of which should be attributed to the dog who ate the manuscript, half a star each to the repeated mentions of ice cream & craggly pages, and the other two to the manuscript itself for making me wrestle with some big questions as I wrote this review. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jeremiah Lloyd

    a favorite

  26. 5 out of 5

    Breinholt Dorrough

    I cannot say the original scroll is any more enjoyable or meaningful than the published novel. All I can say is the format here is slightly cooler. After seeing what was censored by Kerouac's editors in the 6 years between his first draft and publication, which material I find relatively mild, it really is astounding to see how far literary censorship has come in the past several decades. I cannot say the original scroll is any more enjoyable or meaningful than the published novel. All I can say is the format here is slightly cooler. After seeing what was censored by Kerouac's editors in the 6 years between his first draft and publication, which material I find relatively mild, it really is astounding to see how far literary censorship has come in the past several decades.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kyle van Oosterum

    I don’t know where to start. Perhaps on the first page. In this heavily unedited, raw manuscript, there appears a remarkable misprint: “I first met met Neal Cassady not long after my father had died.” It suggests a car misfiring right before it takes on a soulful and epiphanic odyssey, which is pretty much what this novel is. There has probably never been a bigger fan of the continental United States than Jack Kerouac. He’s intoxicated by the landscape, gets high off of the Jazz and has a profou I don’t know where to start. Perhaps on the first page. In this heavily unedited, raw manuscript, there appears a remarkable misprint: “I first met met Neal Cassady not long after my father had died.” It suggests a car misfiring right before it takes on a soulful and epiphanic odyssey, which is pretty much what this novel is. There has probably never been a bigger fan of the continental United States than Jack Kerouac. He’s intoxicated by the landscape, gets high off of the Jazz and has a profound obsession for the road, as well as Neal Cassady. Neal is a car-jacking, possibly schizophrenic, sex-fuelled, voraciously energetic poet, who is able to convert the subtlest conversations into his own sustenance; he effectively sucks the marrow out of life. It is no surprise that Kerouac positively worships him and the way that life appears to provide him an eternal climax; a drug that keeps on giving. These two iconic characters traverse the North American continent meeting wild and rambunctious characters; leeches, poets, policemen, hoboes, musicians and many, many women. However much physical travelling went on in this novel (and I’m probably not overshooting when I say something like 10,000 miles in 3 years), the characters received equally visceral journeys into the depths of their psyches. It is hilarious at times, sentimental even and overall there appears to be some sort of bittersweet cloud hanging over the characters, which they all deliberately ignore, which is probably for the best. All this vibrant jumping around and hitch hiking can't last forever and with each journey that Kerouac and Cassady take, this fact becomes painfully more obvious. It’s not to say that at some point you can’t just pause and try to stop life trying to bulldoze its way through you. I blasted through this novel and as much as I regret finishing it so quickly, I felt more aligned to the characters who recognised that most of life is ephemeral and short-lived, which is why they too charged on into life in the vein of that famous Dylan Thomas poem. Halfway through the novel, Kerouac mentally sucker-punched me with this one: “And for just a moment I had reached the point of ecstasy that I always wanted to reach and which was the complete step across chronological time into timeless shadows, and wonderment in the bleakness of the mortal realm, and the sensation of death kicking at my heels to move on, with a phantom dogging its own heels, and myself hurrying to a plank where all the Angels dove off and flew into infinity.”

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jason Ernst

    After intending to read "On the Road" for a good five years, I finally put it on my wish list and received a copy that contained two versions: "The Original Scroll" and one of the more punctuated, commonly published versions. While I didn't enjoy either, my impression of what I read should be taken with a thick grain of salt. I am a wanderer at heart who has spend the last few years traipsing around the globe while writing copy to fund my budget travel experiences, which have included plenty of h After intending to read "On the Road" for a good five years, I finally put it on my wish list and received a copy that contained two versions: "The Original Scroll" and one of the more punctuated, commonly published versions. While I didn't enjoy either, my impression of what I read should be taken with a thick grain of salt. I am a wanderer at heart who has spend the last few years traipsing around the globe while writing copy to fund my budget travel experiences, which have included plenty of hitch-hiking, sleeping on couches, etc. I would like to think that, were I growing up a couple of generations ago, I would be living the sort of life Jack Kerouac did for several years. Granted, there are significant personality differences between us, and perhaps that is where we clash--as reader and author. The other reason why I found both versions of "On the Road" I read to be as unenjoyable as I did is that I had allowed hype to build up around the idea of "On the Road" and reading "On the Road" for years. I was fully expecting to eat the work for which Kerouac is most known for right up, and I even saved it for what has proven to be one of my greatest journeys (both inward and outward) a one-month trek through the Annapurnan Himalaya Mountain Range in Nepal. Clearly, a great deal of readers have devoured this work. Clearly, Kerouac was a talented artist with much to offer his followers. Clearly, I am not one of them. Enjoy this book or despise it, but please read a more punctuated version of "On the Road" before you give "The Original Scroll" a long-winded gander.

  29. 5 out of 5

    selis şen

    it was a really good book about self-exploration and a very unique point of view to the beat generation. kerouac's narration never bored me once (actually the only thing that bored me was that there was no paragraph indentation since it's the original scroll). i have just finished the book, so naturally my mind is a mess and i don't think i can write a proper review. maybe i'll right later, after thinking about everything about the book thoroughly. (or maybe i won't BC I'M SUCH A LAZY PERSON \m/ it was a really good book about self-exploration and a very unique point of view to the beat generation. kerouac's narration never bored me once (actually the only thing that bored me was that there was no paragraph indentation since it's the original scroll). i have just finished the book, so naturally my mind is a mess and i don't think i can write a proper review. maybe i'll right later, after thinking about everything about the book thoroughly. (or maybe i won't BC I'M SUCH A LAZY PERSON \m/) BUT. i really liked the book and i'm planning to read more from the beat generation and from kerouac. and my personal thought and belief: we all need our own neal cassidys in our lives, no matter how destructive (and constructive also) this "neal cassidy experience", i personally think that we need that kind of a person. to find ourselves and to see the world like we've never seen before and will never see again. the reason why i gave 4 stars to the book is again, my fault i think, the fact that it's the original scroll. AND the fact that while reading the book, at times, i found myself depressed and sad for some reason. neal cassidy, who almost all the time acted as a leader and a guiding figure and helped almost everyone to find themselves and some things; he himself was lost. and no one even tried to help him, no one even tried it except for jack but even he gave up after a while. i don't know. it's just my opinion based on my connection with the story and characters. anyways, it is a good book guys, read it and be patient and... READ IT!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Stop

    Read the STOP SMILING review of the British edition of On the Road: The Original Scroll: We’ve been waiting a long time for a definitive (textual) edition of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. But, alas, On the Road: The Original Scroll (Howard Cunnell, editor: Viking-Penguin, 2007) isn’t it. Yes, we have the original unexpurgated transcript with the real names reinstated and an informative if at times ill-organized introduction on the writing of the novel by Cunnell that corrects some misconceptions on Read the STOP SMILING review of the British edition of On the Road: The Original Scroll: We’ve been waiting a long time for a definitive (textual) edition of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. But, alas, On the Road: The Original Scroll (Howard Cunnell, editor: Viking-Penguin, 2007) isn’t it. Yes, we have the original unexpurgated transcript with the real names reinstated and an informative if at times ill-organized introduction on the writing of the novel by Cunnell that corrects some misconceptions on how and when it was written. But that’s all. What I was hoping for was an edition of On the Road comparable with, say, a Norton Critical Edition or a Melville novel from Hershel Parker. Something like that. You know, fully annotated with fulsome notes, variant readings, contemporary responses and all the critical apparatus one associates with literary scholarship. You'll find none of that here. Not even a Kerouac chronology. Is this too much to ask for when the volume sells at £20.00, about $40.00? Read the review...

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