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 20th Street in Manhattan, that he wrote the first full draft that was satisfactory to him.
Sal Paradise, a young innocent, joins his hero Dean Moriarty, a traveller and mystic, the living epitome of Beat, on a breathless, exuberant ride back and forth across the United States. Their hedonistic search for release or fulfilment through drink, sex, drugs and jazz becomes an exploration of personal freedom, a test of the limits of the American dream.
Sal Paradise, un giovane newyorkese con ambizioni letterarie, incontra Dean Moriarty, un ragazzo dell'Ovest. Uscito dal riformatorio, Dean comincia a girovagare sfidando le regole della vita borghese, sempre alla ricerca di esperienze intense. Dean decide di ripartire per l'Ovest e Sal lo raggiunge; è il primo di una serie di viaggi che imprimono una dimensione nuova alla vita di Sal.
Driven mad by three years of endless telegrams, phonecalls, mail, reporters and snoopers in the wake of his hugely successful novel On the Road, Jack Kerouac, 'King of the Beats', needs peace, quiet and sobriety: surrounded and outnumbered he has to 'get away to solitude again or die'. Amidst the wild beauty of the Californian landscape, Kerouac struggles to come to terms with his own myth and its malign impact upon his life.
First published in 1958, a year after On the Road put the Beat Generation on the map, The Dharma Bums stands as one of Jack Kerouac's most powerful and influential novels. The story focuses on two ebullient young Americans - mountaineer, poet, and Zen Buddhist Japhy Ryder, and Ray Smith, a zestful, innocent writer - whose quest for Truth leads them on a heroic odyssey, from marathon parties and poetry jam sessions in San Francisco's Bohemia to solitude and mountain climbing in the High Sierras.
On the Road is the classic story of two such characters: Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty, who set off on an odyssey through mid-century underground America, fueled by jazz, sex, drugs, mystical philosophy, and a limitless passion for experience.
More than 60 years ago, William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac, two novice writers at the dawn of their careers, sat down to write a novel about the summer of 1944, when one of their friends killed another in a moment of brutal and tragic bloodshed. Alternating chapters, they pieced together a hard-boiled tale of bohemian New York during World War II, full of drugs and obsession, art and violence.
Arguably his finest post- On the Road novel, Big Sur captures Kerouac (here named Jack Duluoz) trying to escape the clamor of beatnik adulation by retreating to Lawrence Ferlinghetti's peaceful cabin in Big Sur. What begins as a pastoral regeneration descends into a personal hell when Kerouac suffers an alcoholic breakdown.
In this 1962 novel, Kerouac's alter ego, Jack Duluoz, overwhelmed by success and excess, gravitates back and forth between wild binges in San Francisco and an isolated cabin on the California coast where he attempts to renew his spirit and clear his head of madness and alcohol. Only nature seems to restore him to a sense of balance. In the words of Allen Ginsberg, Big Sur "reveals consciousness in all its syntactic elaboration, detailing the luminous emptiness of his own paranoiac confusion".
Few novels have had as profound an impact on American culture as On the Road. Pulsating with the rhythms of 1950s underground America, jazz, sex, illicit drugs, and the mystery and promise of the open road, Kerouac’s classic novel of freedom and longing defined what it meant to be “beat” and has inspired generations of writers, musicians, artists, poets, and seekers who cite their discovery of the book as the event that “set them free”.
Originally written in 1955 and now published for the first time in audiobook form, Wake Up is Kerouac's retelling of the life of Prince Siddartha Gotama, who as a young man abandoned his wealthy family and comfortable home for a lifelong searchfor Enlightenment. Distilled from a wide variety of canonical scriptures, Wake Up serves as both a penetrating account of the Buddha's life and a concise primer on the principal teachings of Buddhism.
Hear Jack Kerouac's most radical experiment in language and storytelling - an "enormous paean" to that singular and influential figure Neal Cassady. A fusion of radical improvisation, bold reportage, and oracular voice, it is Kerouac's ultimate version of his ultimate masterpiece, On the Road.
Following the explosive energy of On the Road, the book that put the Beat Genration on the literary map - and Jack Kerouac on the best-seller list - comes The Dharma Bums, in which Kerouac charts the spiritual quest of a group of friends in search of Dharma, or truth. Ray Smith and his friend, Japhy, along with Morley the yodeller, head off into the high Sierras to seek the lesson of solitude and experience the Zen way of life.
"I vagabondi del Dharma" rappresenta il seguito ideale del romanzo più celebre di Kerouac, quel "Sulla strada" considerato fin dal suo primo apparire una sorta di "Bibbia della Beat Generation". Anche nei "Vagabondi", sempre di forte matrice autobiografica, lo scrittore racconta le avventure dei suoi discepoli e confratelli beatnik impegnati nella ricerca, disordinata ma sincera, di una nuova verità. Verità che, soprattutto grazie all'influsso della scuola Zen di San Francisco, Kerouac e i suoi identificano con gli insegnamenti buddhisti.
Alla radice di questo romanzo, pubblicato nel 1958 e subito processato per oscenità, c'è una vicenda reale, la storia d'amore vissuta da Kerouac con una ragazza di colore, che in queste pagine rivive come in una confessione tanto difficile quanto liberatoria. Al centro, la figura di Mardou, sensuale, fascinosa, attorno alla quale gira, ossessivamente, la vita dell'amante, e la città stessa (New York nella realtà, San Francisco nella finzione letteraria): una città onirica, cupa, frenetica, piena di alcol, di droghe, di sesso, di arte e di vita.
Maggie Cassidy is one of Kerouac's most nostalgic recollections of his past, focusing on his first true love when he was a high school senior and a local star athlete. Filled with the sweet innocence of youth and the daily heartbreak of quarrels and unfulfilled sexual yearnings, Kerouac employs his stylishly Beat observations toward the bygone era of pre-World War II Lowell, Massachusetts, when he was torn between the companionship of his gang of buddies and the sirens' call of the opposite sex.
In 1955, novelist Jack Kerouac detoured from his cross-country American travels to Mexico City, where a group of junkie expatriates he had known from the New York City post-war scene had gone for the cheap and plentiful supply of heroin and morphine. Fellow beat writer William S. Burroughs, who had been a part of the Mexican expatriate community, had introduced Kerouac to Bill Garver (named Old Bull Gaines in the novel), a much-older, long-term addict who had in turn introduced Kerouac to Esperanza Villanueva, whom Kerouac named Tristessa in the novel.