Jack Kerouac, the man whose 1957 breakout novel On The Road helped popularize the "Beat Generation" literary movement of the 50s and 60s, was born this day, March 12th (as Jean Louis Kerouac), 1922, in Lowell, Massachusetts. The impact of Kerouac's work, from his spontaneous style of writing, his emphasis on lost youth and romance, spirituality, drug use and jazz, and the need to be free from society's rules, still reonate with readers after all these years. In Kerouac's prose, we discover, in various ways, an overwhelming need to express ourselves and not be limited by society's boundaries.
Recently in Beat Literature Category
America had already been made aware of the Beats when John Clellon Holmes' novel Go was published in 1952. (Click here to reserve a copy.) But when Allen Ginsberg's landmark poem "Howl" (read it here) was first unleashed in 1955, the country suddenly realized that the Beats were more than just a group of malcontents, but instead represented a powerful literary force with tremendous social and political influence.
In 1957, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet and owner of the City Lights bookstore in San Francisco and another employee were charged with obscenity for publishing and selling the collection Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg. Specifically, the prosecutors charged that the poem "Howl" itself, due to it's use of vulgar language, was obscene and unfit for the public's consideration. (Judge for yourself if it is by clicking here.)
Starting today, I'm beginning a new, semi-regular, series of reviews on Beat Literature. I'll be covering the various works (novels, poems, essays) of Beat Generation writers and artists like Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs and Gregory Corso, among others, as well as writers who either influenced them (like Edgar Allan Poe and Henry Miller) or were themselves influenced by the Beats (Bob Dylan; Ken Kesey). Various manifestations (critical; artistic) of Beat Culture, like the recent 2010 film Howl, with James Franco as Ginsberg, will also be covered. First up for review is the previously long awaited 2007 release of Jack Kerouac's On The Road: The Original Scroll.