On the Road: The Original Scroll: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

On the Road: The Original Scroll: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

4.2 202
by Jack Kerouac

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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…  See more details below


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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Penguin Publishing Group
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Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition Series
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Penguin Group
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973 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

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On the Road 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 202 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Okay, Kerouac was a talented writer. That is plain to see, and anybody who doesn't see it I feel sorry for. And while On the Road was an enjoyable read, one that I don't regret nor ever will, I still can't help but feel disapointed. This was supposed to be meaningful...where is the meaning? Generally, I'm better than most people at finding allegories within works of fiction, being a nit-picky satirist myself. I can give you symbolism for every event in Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle. I can give you the moral, philosophical points of Burgess' A Clockwork Orange. I can decode the works of Burroughs. But 'On the Road' left me feeling like it was pointless...a good, enjoyable read, but...pointless. So here's my advice: Read the book, don't believe the hype. Enjoy the story, but don't expect it to be life-changing, intellectually charged, and allegorically moral, like so many fans want you to believe.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jack Kerouac sets out to capture the essence of his beat generation in to one book and for the most part is successful. On the Road chronicles Sal Paradise, an archetype of the beat generation, and his aimless ramblings across the continental US. Living penniless and destitute, Sal travels cross-country several times meets many different people and places, including but not limited to, drunken southern californian vineyard adventures, the hustle and bustle of Manhattan and nocturnal guard shifts at a prison in seattle. The story is interesting and captivating, especially with the broadness of it which makes it relatable to almost anyone's own life experience. Sal's search for a home and a lover and beer, is similar to the younger generation of today, perhaps even the origin. Kerouac's reference towards other Beat Generation notables and friends, like his nod toward Neil Cassady under the guise of Dean Moriarty, gives the reader a sense of who these character's really were and most importantly, what the generation stood for. At times, the narrative can be dull and move slow however, possibly On the Road's greatest strength is that it is realistic, showing an un-biased, impartial perspective of the beat's. Kerouac chooses to leave nothing out, showing a brutal honest picture of the beat generation, the good, the bad and the down right weird. In doing this, he best captures the purpose of the beats. The book is not short of powerful, thought provoking moments which humble the reader, as it should. On the Road is one of the 20th centuries greatest literary achievements.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book started off strong for me and I got into it really fast. About halfway through I started to really hate the characters particularly Sal but I still wanted to keep reading and I am glad that I did. While the characters were completely unlikable to me the way this story shows the expanse of America and represents a different side of this generation than what I am used to reading is great. I definitely thing everyone should read this book it might not be the best book you have ever read but you won't regret reading it!
coolworld888 More than 1 year ago
On the Road is written by Jack Kerouac, published by Penguin in 1955. This book is considered to be an authentic representation of the movement in our society called the "Beat Generation." The book tells of Sal Paradise, and his decision to travel from New York to California during the late forties and early fifties, a time when the nation was recovering from the effects of World War II. The music of the time changed from a swing beat to jazz; this was a change from what was known, to something with a beat--jazz was edgy and different. This change in music was indicative of the change in young people, and this is the adventure from which Kerouac writes, because he was part of this beat generation.
Raven_Nevermore2004 More than 1 year ago
On The Road is a simplistic story about a man who wanted to make a drastic change with his life. Most people don't have the guts to do it. Sal Paradise was unhappy living his life as it was so took off for the west coast in search of...meaning. It was something he was skeptical in doing at first, but his buddy Dean Moriarty was sure this is what he needed. Dean is the extreme adventurous type who can never stay in one place for too long. He is the proof that as much as people need to mix it up, everything needs to be done in moderation. This gives hope to those who would like to have the option to escape from it all. It shows that it can be done. Sal experiences what life is like all throughout the country again and again. It's a scenic trip the whole time that I would recommend to any reader with a free spirit.
antimater More than 1 year ago
a classic american read
Walcott More than 1 year ago
A beautiful novel by a beautiful author, Jack Kerouac has blessed us all with this esoteric, truly original piece of art. The way Kerouac writes should be seen as abstract, for it's by no means technical nor should it be treated as such. With that notion, this novel could use a bit more structure, but I think the sporadic writing is what makes this novel work. All in all, the characters are believable and dastardly charming while the mildly philosophical statements are perfection and not at all over the top. Thank you, Mr. Kerouac, for providing such wonderful escapism.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't get how people don't get this book! It's brilliant. Believe the hype. Having said that, for me, it's not as good as The Dharma Bums, Desolation Angels or Big Sur. But each to their own. Lest us not forget that Kerouac single handedly changed our limits of what could be written and how, just as Naked Lunch did.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
“On The Road” is a largely autobiographical account written by Jack Kerouac in the 1950s of his trans-American road trips in the years preceding the completion of the novel. This novel has long been accredited with awakening a sense of wanderlust in the American public largely dormant since the migrations accompanying the Great Depression as well as largely influencing both the Beat generation and the subsequent hippies. It was apparent to me almost immediately upon beginning to read the novel how this might have been possible. In the beginning, Kerouac, written as the character Sal Paradise, puts his life on hold in order to travel across the country. In this alone the reader can see the difference in values and pace of life at that time as opposed to in today’s world. This facet alone instills in the reader a sense of restlessness that stays with you throughout the story as Kerouac and Neal Cassady (as Dean Moriarty) travel across the United States with a slew of other characters, many of them famous Beat poets such as Allan Ginsberg. This enchanting trip not only sends the reader on an unparalleled journey through all aspects of life on the road but also acquaints him with a sense of history and purpose found nowhere but on the American highway. In the novel the reader is introduced to a version of the American Dream that is both new as well as as old as the country itself—a love of travel and of adventure. At this time the journey seemed to be the new destination, and one of the greatest revelations of life was that it should be enjoyed to the point of madness. Kerouac creates an image of nationalism and love of America similar to much of the Beat literature. For the reader the American highway is transformed into a world delicately structured in a balance of give and take, a world where people took care of each other and responsibility could either be avoided with reckless abandon or sought out eternally with the turn of a thumb. Kerouac presents post WWII America in a midst of a generational detachment from the former moral and social norms; at this time Jazz was king, God took the form of George Shearing, and time was measured according to the speedometer. For the characters of the story, a four course meal consisted of apple pie, whiskey, cigarettes and amphetamines, escape was a six letter word, and the road was gateway to the world. Kerouac captures the reader in a tailwind of endless hours and limitless possibilities that he proves time and time again is impossible anywhere but out on the road.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kerouac is astounding with the unrolling and sometimes lengthy prose in this book. His journey enlivens the spirit of what it would be like to take this journey, especially with friends. I would recommend this product along with Eighteen In Cross-country Odyssey by Benjamin Anderson, a tale about an eighteen-year-old’s journey across the United States between his high school and college careers, fraught with quirky encounters and beautiful scenery. Make sure not to miss either book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
(Contains Spoilers) On the Road was a great book. Not the best I've ever read, but I enjoyed it very much. This book appeals to a crowd that can identify, or that likes imagining they are living life on the fringe, with no responsibilities. I did like this idea in the book, but after all that was said in the book, I couldn't tell if there was too much of an overall meaning behind it, or if it was just simply a story. The major topics and ideas that will mostly likely define whether or not you will like this book (I will delve into each) are: the lack of a plot line, new characters being continually introduced, new settings being continually introduced, the beatnik generation, and the lack of romance. The main part of the storyline consists of Sal, the main character, traveling around the U.S. If you enjoy story-lines that take random twists and turns, but aren’t actually leading to much of an end-product, then you may like this story. While the book itself may be trying to say something, the storyline itself seems to lack an end goal. Sal isn’t trying to accomplish anything in his travels. About half the time he is traveling, he doesn’t even choose to travel (his personality is relatively passive), it is usually his friends that decide to go across the country. Personally this is one of the aspects I loved about the book. When a plot is evident, it’s easy to guess how the story may progress. When there isn’t much a plot however, anything is possible in the story. This kept me interested, wondering what may happen next to the characters. For the first half of the book this is the fashion it went in and I loved it. However, after the halfway point, happenings in Sal’s life repeated themselves many times. I felt a great redundancy by the latter part of the book. While this makes sense, since this is based on actual events, which aren’t always super-entertaining, I was reading for enjoyment, and the story slowly lost my attention. Another part of the book I liked was the amount of characters that were introduced in it. If you would rather read about a main character who is independent and strong, this may not be the story for you. Many different characters influence Sal, he isn’t very definitive in comparison to the other characters, and he is quite passive in his personality compared to the other characters. But if you do enjoy these types of characters, Kerouac does a good job of introducing characters that are interesting and who give the story motion (more so than Sal). At the times where Sal is hitchhiking across the country alone, Kerouac uses parallel structure that kept me captivated. Each new person that picked Sal up has a new personality, which was fun to read about. Kerouac did a good job of diversifying the characters in the story, but within limits, which made it engrossing and realistic. This kept me wondering what the next person Sal meets would be like. Not all the characters Sal met would stay in the story: some characters would randomly resurface, some stayed prevalent throughout the story, while others made a big impact on the story, yet appeared once. Going along with the idea of the characters in the story, there are a multitude of different settings introduced in the story. If you prefer a story that takes place in one or few settings, where you can really become familiar with the setting over the entire story, you shouldn’t buy this. However I liked the continually changing setting. As Sal travels around, I got to constantly take in the new settings. It was also interesting to see how the characters adapted to the new settings. This kept the story fresh, in a way, new possibilities arose as new settings (and characters) were presented. Another part of the book that may attract certain readers is the fact that this book is formed around the beatnik generation. If you have a strong connection to that generation, this may be a good book for you. While reading a story in which the setting is exactly how you lived when you were younger, you could make numerous connections with the book. This would make the story much more interesting. I myself couldn’t make those connections, but I did like reading the story because the idea of rejecting traditional living was prominent. As I live a fairly structured life in comparison, it was gripping to be immersed in a story where the characters lived day-to-day and were never anchored down in one location. The characters would not know how they were going to pay for food or room most nights, and they would constantly change jobs, which made the story involving. The last part of the book that may or may not draw in readers is the romantic ideas (or lack thereof) in the book. This may have to do more with the idea of beatniks, but since romance and relationships are major parts of books in general, it can stand alone. Most of the characters in the book have broken relationships that involve cheating, or just leaving their partner while they travel across the country. Even Sal gets in a relationship with a woman whom he leaves without much reason, after living with her and becoming involved in her life. I don’t mind this type of romance in the novel, it seems realistic with the kind of people most of the characters are. But if you’re against this type of relationship, you might not like the book, seeing as most of the male characters seem to objectify woman a lot. Again this seems realistic with their mindset and being in their mid-20s (sorry for the stereotype). Overall I think this book is great and that if you like most of the characteristics named above, then you’ll enjoy the book. It does get relatively redundant towards the second half of the book (it’s realistic, so that makes sense). Bear in mind this is just my opinion on the book, so don’t be afraid to get even if you don’t think you’ll like it. But if you don’t mind the mild redundancy and are interested in the ideas presented, you’ll love it and you may even wish you yourself were On the Road.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ebook version of this does not work! I spent coupla hours online and can't be fixed, got refunded. Great book though (I've read it before)
Bookworm026 More than 1 year ago
GOOD BUT NOT GREAT ! Though On the Road is now a classic and embodies the spirit of the Beat generation, it is not a mind-boggling novel. There is no denying that Kerouac is a great writer but I was a little disappointed when I read the book because I expected it to be more meaningful, a more life-changing experience. I watched the movie just for comparison and I think that it is neither bad nor great and sometimes verges on the bad road movie. Some basic and fundamental elements and some parts of the novel have been altered or completely deleted. It is too bad because the actors are great!!!
GuillermoPaxton More than 1 year ago
A tale of true friendship, forgiveness and freedom, written in the rambling prose of a genius.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was looking forward to reading On the Road, by Jack Kerouac. Unfortunately, with this copy, the actual book doesn't start until page 97. Unfortunately, I was only able to read the first page. My nook has been locked up beyond that point. Save your $14.00
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago