On the Road: (Penguin Orange Collection)

On the Road: (Penguin Orange Collection)

by Jack Kerouac


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143129509
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/18/2016
Series: Penguin Orange Collection Series
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 390,781
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Jack Kerouac (1922–1969), the central figure of the Beat Generation, was born in Lowell, Massachusetts. He published his first novel, The Town in the Country, in 1950, but success and fame came in 1957 with On the Road. Among his many novels are The Dharma Bums, Big Sur, and Visions of Cody.

Read an Excerpt

part one
I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up. I had just gotten over a serious illness that I won’t bother to talk about, except that it had something to do with the miserably weary split-up and my feeling that everything was dead. With the coming of Dean Moriarty began the part of my life you could call my life on the road. Before that I’d often dreamed of going West to see the country, always vaguely planning and never taking off. Dean is the perfect guy for the road because he actually was born on the road, when his parents were passing through Salt Lake City in 1926, in a jalopy, on their way to Los Angeles. First reports of him came to me through Chad King, who’d shown me a few letters from him written in a New Mexico reform school. I was tremendously interested in the letters because they so naively and sweetly asked Chad to teach him all about Nietzsche and all the wonderful intellectual things that Chad knew. At one point Carlo and I talked about the letters and wondered if we would ever meet the strange Dean Moriarty. This is all far back, when Dean was not the way he is today, when he was a young jailkid shrouded in mystery. Then news came that Dean was out of reform school and was coming to New York for the first time; also there was talk that he had just married a girl called Marylou.

Excerpted from "On the Road"
by .
Copyright © 2016 Jack Kerouac.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
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On the Road 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 375 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.
DStan58 More than 1 year ago
To anyone with a wildly out of control friend, that one who makes you crazy but you just can't quit, the story of Sal and Dean will send echos through your head. To anyone who wants to intimately know the post-WWII wanderlust that struck so many Americans, to anyone who wants to know how the Beats and the hippies came to be, this is the bible. Genius.
GeorgyPorgy More than 1 year ago
The most useful purpose On the Road serves is not as a great character exploration - which it is - or as a wild adventure story - which it isn't - but as for better understanding a generation of people inspired by it. In some ways, it's a book about nothing, a book about drifting... which sometimes makes for an aimless narrative, but does capture the way so many have wandered after. The most appropriate thing about this nook version is that you can take Kerouac's classic on the road with you:)
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book and it made me a Kerouac fan for life. I can't wait to see the new movie adaptation and read Big Sur. A lot of people either love or hate the "Beat" generation and writings, I'm firmly in the LOVE camp.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have seen life differently since I have finished this book. Its a great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story based on free spirit and free love just before the hippie era
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.
mhgatti on LibraryThing 7 months ago
It's been a long while since I read this, but I found it annoying.
jvalka on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I'm pretty sure that I first read this back in high school, but it may have been in college.  I remember being blown away by the conclusion, where Dean abandons Sal in Mexico as he is infected with dysentery.  He's spent the whole book idolizing and emulating Dean, only to be betrayed.  Mary Lou hints at this ending in San Francisco and Sal doesn't deny it, but rather seems resigned.  Really this book is about him, "the holy goof."  He makes life on the road look like such a romantic, adventurous proposition, but in the end it's rootless and empty: unsatisfying in the end.
hemlokgang on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Audiobook.....the highlight of this book was narration by Will Patton. He does an excellent job with this book and has on others that I have read. What can I say that hasn't already been said about this novel? It is almost anti-climactic to read it after living with its icon status for so long. I enjoyed it, was not wowed by it, yet realize that at the time it was written it was groundbreaking. The writing was excellent, and I think I give it four stars because I know that because of groundbreaking, stream-of-consciousness first person narratives such as this, others have thrived. It was a bucket list read, and worthwhile to boot!
addictivelotus on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This book is essentially what I would call a rite of passage. And yet, ironically (and I fully realize that using that word puts me right with the people I'm against in this), it has also come to represent a variety of clichés throughout the "creative" world. It's mocked by literary snobs and hipsters alike, especially when yet another young creative soul finds inspiration in that often quoted passage, "the only ones for me are the mad ones."I find such judgements to be harsh. Kerouac's writing has inspired several generations since On the Road's initial publication. It's subtly in it's message that life is in the living and the creating alongside it's subversive stream of consciousness style and honesty, makes this classic an essential read during adolescence and then again in your twenties, thirties, fourties, all throughout your life. Each time a different perspective on the work and it's meaning to you will surely be gained.A classic.
phebj on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I read this for a book club meeting at the same time I was doing a LT group read on Wallace Stegner's "When the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs." It worked out well because Stegner talks about western literature and specifically comments on "On the Road" several times. In one of those references, Stegner says "Look at any book that is western in its feel . . . and you will find that it is a book not about place but about motion, not about fullfillment but about desire. There is always a seeking, generally unsatisfied." (Bluebird, p. 138) "On the Road" takes place in the late 1940s and tells the story of the relationship and travels of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty, two unsettled 20-something young men. It is based on Jack Kerouac's ("Sal") travels with Neal Cassady ("Dean") and their circle of friends, including prominent Beat Generation writers like Allen Ginsberg ("Carlo Marx") and William Burroughs ("Bull Lee"). Most of the road trips seem aimless, although Dean is always hopeful of finding his drifter of a father. The writing style is often stream of conciousness and works well in conveying a sense of restlessness. (I especially loved the writing when it described the jazz music they listened to.) Below are some quotes I underlined in the book: On one of the road trips, Sal is on a bus "zooming across the Arizona desert" at dawn. He has a book with him but he prefers "reading the American landscape." (p. 103) On another trip, Sal describes the contrast between the "soft sweet East" and the "great dry West" (p. 236) and the "enormous loneliness . . . as you move across the Mississippi." (p. 267) To Sal and Dean "the road is life." (p. 212) The destination is not that important. At one point, this exchange takes place between Sal and Dean: Dean--"Sal, we gotta go and never stop going till we get there." Sal--"Where are we going, man?" Dean--"I don't know but we gotta go." (p. 240) Dean seems to live just on the edge (and sometimes over it) of sanity. On p. 232, Sal comments that "It was remarkable how Dean could go mad and then suddenly continue with his soul--which I think is wrapped up in a fast car, a coast to reach, and a woman at the end of the road--calmly and sanely as though nothing had happened." Sal and Dean part many times in the book and at one of those leave-takings, Sal says "Dean walked off in the long red dusk. . . . He made one last signal. I waved back. Suddenly, he bent to his life and walked quickly out of sight. I gaped into the bleakness of my own days. I had an awful long way to go too." (p. 254) When Sal finally settles down in New York at the end of the book, he reflects on his time travelling with Dean. "So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, . . ., and nobody, nobody knows what's going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty." (p. 307) I ended up giving this book 4 stars. I generally loved the writing and the feel of the book but it did bog down a bit in the middle. As a result of reading "On the Road", I'm now planning to re-read the "Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" by Tom Wolfe, to see if Neal Cassady is really as crazy as he seems to be, and "Off the Road" by Carolyn Cassady, to find out why she put up with him.
TheBentley on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This is the book that "turned on" a generation? Seriously?!? I suppose you have to give it credit for paving the way for other writers--like Kesey and Mailer, for instance--who were actually able to write well about beat and hippie culture. If I could give credit to Kerouac for a little more post-modern sensibility--which I don't think I can--I would say it's a clever joke on the reader. These characters could never muster the sheer commitment and grim determination that it took me to get through this book....
eesti23 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
On The Road tells the story of Jack Kerouac's adventures on the road, often with Neal Cassady. Meant to be one of the best examples of the 'beat' generation, On The Road focuses on the open road, detail, jazz and the quest for meaning and experience.Personally, I found the book quite interesting although there were times when I found the excessive detail a bit boring (e.g. the descriptions of jazz). However, the journeys and even the life in the different towns and cities was interesting. There is a range of characters in the book, which can at times be difficult to keep track of especially as they are mentioned in one chapter then completely forgotten about and then mentioned again.An interesting read...
miriamparker on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I loved this book when I read it in high school, but I realize when I hear people talking about it that I have absolutely no memory of it whatsoever.
duck2ducks on LibraryThing 8 months ago
What I liked about this book: the rhythm of the language.

What I disliked: Most everything else. The lack of direction, plot, or ambition (in both the novel and the characters). The pointless wanderings. Dean's near-constant verbal diarrhea, and Sal's inexplicable fervor for him. The almost total lack of women as anything other than disposable sex objects.

Words I am sick of reading in the same paragraph, again and again, for page after page: "Sad", "sorrow", "lonely", and especially "mournful".

Yeesh. Haven't been this underwhelmed by a book in a long long time.
balzigore on LibraryThing 8 months ago
3/2/07 - I've been reading this since late last month. What a chore. Drudgery, tediosity, sloggery. At this point, I've decided I don't like it. My purpose now is in finishing the book so I can hate it more intelligently. Due to its influence, I can relate this book now to Dylan and Springsteen's work; I don't GET them, either. I sure hope there's a payoff before too long. I just got into Part 2 and have lowered my expectations a great deal.
JosephJ on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Good book. Dragged on a little in the middle, but I enjoy reading about those who pick up and travel. It also helped to know that this was based on Kerouac's real-life experiences, otherwise I probably would have been annoyed at the young, naive protagonist. Probably best read when in your early twenties.
BAP1012 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Not what I expected and I'm glad that gang never met my daughter. I found beautiful phrases and wonderful imagery nestled in amongst nastiness. I can only imagine the uproar this book caused when published in the 50's.
manda87 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I know I'm supposed to like it, but I don't. The Beats just don't do it for me. True, Kerouac said some "shocking" things, but the message wasn't anything new. Women were still on the back burner, as they were in the generations prior. When I first read this book I was in high school and I pretended to like it to impress people. I'm too busy to worry about impressing people now. I think the book and the movement are crap. Wish I hadn't waisted my time on a second reading.