Jack Kerouac

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Kerouac, Jack

Kerouac, Jack (John Kerouac) (kĕrˈəwăkˌ), 1922–69, American novelist, b. Lowell, Mass., studied at Columbia. One of the leaders of the beat generation, a term he is said to have coined, he was the author of the largely autobiographical novel On the Road (1957), widely considered the testament of the beat movement. Frequently employing idiosyncratically lyrical language, Kerouac's writings reflect a frenetic, restless pursuit of new sensation and experience and a disdain for the conventional measures of economic and social success. Among his other works are the novels The Subterraneans (1958), The Dharma Bums (1958), Big Sur (1962), and Desolation Angels (1965); a volume of poetry, Mexico City Blues (1959); and a volume describing his dreams, Book of Dreams (1961). By the time he died of complications of alcoholism he had written more than 25 books.


See H. Cunnell, ed., On the Road: The Original Scroll (2007) and M. Phipps-Kettlewell, ed., Jack Kerouac: Collected Poems (2012); D. Brinkley, ed., Windblown World: The Journals of Jack Kerouac, 1947–1954 (2004); A. Charters, ed., Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters, 1940–1956 (1995) and Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters, 1957–1969 (1999) and B. Morgan and D. Stanford, ed., Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters (2010); H. Weaver, The Awakener: A Memoir of Kerouac and the Fifties (2009); biographies by A. Charters (1973), B. Gifford and L. Lee (1978, repr. 1994), D. McNally (1980), G. Nicosia (1988), and B. Miles (1998); studies by T. Hunt (1981), R. Weinreich (1986), I. Gewirtz (2007), J. Leland (2007), P. Maher, Jr. (2007), and B. Morgan (2010).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kerouac, Jack


Born Mar. 12, 1922, in Lowell; died Oct. 21, 1969, in St. Petersburg, Fla. American writer.

Kerouac’s novel On the Road (1957) reflects the characteristic features of a certain element of American youth of the 1950’s called beatniks. His novel Big Sur (1962) portrays the crisis of the anarchistic behavior of the beatniks. Kerouac’s novels, such as The Subterraneans (1958) and The Dharma Bums (1958), are loosely composed, characterized by an episodic plot and impressionistic description. Kerouac’s outlook combined irresponsible hedonism with a mixture of Buddhism and Christianity.


Doctor Sax. New York, 1959.
Lonesome Traveler. New York, 1960.
Desolation Angels. New York, 1965.
Satori in Paris. New York, 1966.
Vanity of Duluoz. New York, 1968.
In Russian translation:
Na Doroge. [Excerpts.] In. Lit-ra, 1960, no. 10.


Levidova, I. “Neprikaiannye dushi.” Voprosy literatury, 1960, no. 10.
Morozova, T. L. Obraz molodogo amerikantsa ν literature SShA. Moscow, 1969.
Charters, A. A Bibliography of Works by Jack Kerouac. New York [1967].
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Kerouac, Jack (b. Jean Louis Lebris de Kerouac) (Jean-Louis, Jean Louis Incognito, John Kerouac, pen names)

(1922–69) writer; born in Lowell, Mass. He studied at Columbia University (1940–42), and served in the merchant marine (1942; 1943) and the navy (1943). Later he studied at the New School for Social Research (1948–49). He lived with his mother in Lowell, held a variety of jobs, and traveled throughout the United States and Mexico. The publication of On the Road (1957), a semiautobiographical tale of his wanderings with Neal Cassady, instantly established his reputation as a spokesman for the Beat Generation. His friends, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs Jr., were strongly supportive when conservative critics of the day were upset by the subject matter of the book and by what Kerouac called his "spontaneous prose." Although his new-found fame helped to promote his previously unpublished books, he was profoundly disturbed by his loss of privacy. He lost his gift for high-speed writing, drank heavily, and tried to escape his notoriety by living in California. His last major work, Big Sur (1962), described the price he paid for success, and he lived out his final years back in Lowell with his mother.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
Dharma Bums, The Autobiographical novel by Kerouac, Jack, published in 1958.
Kerouac, Jack. "Essentials of Spontaneous Prose." The Portable Beat Reader.