Jack Kerouac (1922-1969)
Kerouac was born in 1922 in Massachusetts from a family of French-Canadian immigrants. He soon decided to become a writer and developed his character as a “spiritual seeker”. He travelled back and forth the United States and founded what will soon be called the Beat Generation, a movement that wanted to react against middle-class values and express the holiness of the oppressed. He thus became a Beatnik, constantly pushing his limits and expanding his world with drugs; in the company of Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs and Neal Cassady, who will become a very important figure in Kerouac’s life. The Beats wanted freedom of expression and used to meet in a bookstore founded by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, where they read publicly their works. With Cassady, he will hitchhike across America, describing his trip in his most famous book “On the Road”. In his last years, they will separate, and Kerouac will end his life in fame and alcoholism.
On the Road (1957)
“On the Road” is about Sal Paradise, Kerouac’s alter ego, who travels around the U.S. with his friend Dean Moriarty, who stands for Neal Cassady, whom Sal idolizes for his style and his way of approaching life. The book is written in episodes and describes their hitchhiking without a destination, trying to live every moment to the fullest, indulging in excess and overcoming the sense of loss and fear, characteristic of the post-war generations. This work is spontaneous since Kerouac wrote the book without censures, both for the content and style.