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Jack Kerouac Essay

1706 words - 7 pages

Metzger PAGE 5
Mark MetzgerMr. RemyEnglish 11 AP Language and Composition5 November 2012Jack KerouacThere have been many great American writers, but one of the most notable is Jack Kerouac. Not only did he develop a unique and interesting way of writing, he defined a culture. Jack Kerouac helped develop the Beat Generation, which originated from a group of American writers in 1950's New York City. The Beat Generation writers, also known as "The Beats," had very liberal views, creating a culture involving non-materialistic ideals, sexuality and drugs, interests in Eastern religions, and, most-notably, the ecstatic expressionism of living. These ideas from the Beats eventually expanded into the hippie movement during the 60's, creating a new cultural movement in America. The Beats spread these ideas through their writing, such as William S. Burroughs' The Naked Lunch and Allen Ginsberg's Howl. But the most important novel was Jack Kerouac's On the Road. On the Road was a semi-autobiographical story documenting Jack Kerouac's adventures across the country with Neal Cassidy. This novel grew popular amongst the youth, expanding the culture that Jack Kerouac had created with his friends. Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac, by Gerald Nicosia, focuses on Kerouac's entire life, showing how he developed as a person and why he chose to live the way he did. Nicosia avoids bias in his writing and creates a factual-based biography telling the story of Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation. This is proven in the following examples, comparing Nicosia's writing to those of other sources.An important part of Kerouac's life was his adventures with Neal Cassidy from 1949 to 1954. He and Neal, and sometimes with Luanne Henderson, would travel across the country in a '49 Hudson named "Slow Boat to China." They traveled from New York to New Orleans to Texas to Denver to California, even to Mexico. Their main purpose of these journeys was to explore life to the fullest and take in everything around them, for better or for worse. These adventures inspired Jack Kerouac to write the novel On the Road, which documents his own journey by replacing the real names of people with fictional names and editing some material. Gerald Nicosia does an excellent job of telling these events in the biography, staying very true and accurate to the words of Kerouac. Nicosia talks about everything from Jack's life in Denver, to the trip to New Orleans, to visit William "Bill" Burroughs. Even Nicosia's description of Burroughs' house is spot-on. "The house was rickety, the grass high as a fence, and the actual fence and outbuildings already collapsed. Bill wasn't there, and Joan greeted them spiritlessly" (Nicosia 257-258). Similar to Nicosia's description, Jack Kerouac wrote down the event in his journal, describing the situation. "And then Burroughs' tragic old house in the field, and Joan Adams in the back kitchen door 'looking for a fire'" (Kerouac Windblown World 288)....

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