Jack Kerouacby Alison M. Behnke
Jack Kerouac, "King of the Beats," never intended to lead a cultural movement-he just wanted to write. As a young New Yorker in the late 1940s, Kerouac spent his days and nights discussing new ideas with other founders of the "Beat Generation," a term Kerouac reportedly coined. The phrase expressed the weariness of the postwar generation, who wanted to break free of restrictive societal standards. Inspired by friends, Kerouac decided to hitchhike west to San Francisco. The notes from this journey became On the Road, the famous novel that gave a voice to the Beats. But fame didn't suit Kerouac well. Although he continued to write, he spent the rest of his life traveling restlessly, abusing drugs and alcohol until his death in 1969 at age forty-seven. Still an important influence for many artists, Kerouac helped define this era in American literature.
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