Jack Kerouac (or Jean-Louis Kérouac) born in 1922 and he was an American novelist and poet. He is considered a literary iconoclast and a pioneer of the Beat Generation. He is recognized for his method of spontaneous prose. Thematically, his work covers topics such as Catholic Spirituality, jazz, promiscuity, Buddhism, drugs, poverty and travel. He became an underground celebrity and a progenitor of the hippie movement.
He born in Lowell, Massachusetts. When Jack’s older brother, Gerard, died at the age of nine, four-year-old Jack deeply affected and would later say that Gerard followed him in life as a guardian angel. Kerouac was a serious child who was devoted to his mother, who played an important role in his life. He would later say that his mother was the only woman he ever loved. After Gerard died, his mother sought solace in her faith, while his father abandoned it, wallowing in drinking, gambling and smoking.
In 1928, when he was six years old, Kerouac had his first Confession. For penance he was told to say a rosary, during which he heard God tell him that he had a good soul, that he would suffer in life and die in pain and horror, but would in the end receive salvation. This experience, along with his dying brother’s vision of the Virgin Mary, combined with a later study of Buddhism and an ongoing commitment to Christ, solidified the worldview which would inform Kerouac’s work.
Upon graduating from high school in 1939, at the age of 17, Kerouac received a football scholarship to Columbia University, but first he had to attend a year of preparatory school at the Horace Mann School for Boys in the Bronx. So, he moved to New York City where he was immediately awed by the limitless new experiences of big city life. One of the most wonderful new things Kerouac discovered in New York, and perhaps the most influential on his life, was jazz. It was also during his year at Horace Mann that Kerouac first began writing seriously. He worked as a reporter for the Horace Mann Record, and published short stories in the school’s literary magazine, the Horace Mann Quarterly.
The following year, in 1940, Kerouac began his freshman year as a football player and aspiring writer at Columbia University. However, he broke his leg and, although his leg healed, Kerouac’s coach refused to let him play the next year. So, Kerouac dropped out of college. He spent the next year working odd jobs and trying to figure out what to make of his life. Eventually Kerouac decided to join the military to fight for his country in World War II.
When he returned to New York City, he made a group of friends that would eventually define a literary movement. He befriended William Burroughs, a college dropout and an aspiring writer. In the late 1940s, Kerouac wrote his first novel, “Town and City“, a highly autobiographical tale about the intersection of small town family values and the excitement of city life. The novel published in 1950 with the help of Ginsberg’s Columbia professors, and although his well-reviewed book earned a modicum of recognition, he didn’t become famous.
Another friend of Kerouac, in the late 1940s, was Neal Cassady. The two took several cross-country road trips to Chicago, Los Angeles, Denver and Mexico City. These trips provided the inspiration for Kerouac’s next and greatest novel “On the Road“, a barely fictionalized account of these road trips packed with sex, drugs and jazz. Kerouac’s writing of “On the Road” is the stuff of legend: He wrote the entire novel over one three-week bender of frenzied composition, on a single scroll of paper that was 120 feet long.
Like most legends, the story of the whirlwind composition of “On the Road” is part fact and part fiction. In fact, Kerouac wrote the novel on a single scroll in three weeks, but he had also spent several years making notes in preparation for this literary outburst. He termed this style of writing “spontaneous prose” and compared it to the improvisation of his beloved jazz musicians. However, publishers dismissed Kerouac’s single-scroll manuscript, and the novel remained unpublished for six years. When it was finally published in 1957, it became an instant classic, bolstered by a review in The New York Times that proclaimed «Just as, more than any other novel of the ’20s, “The Sun Also Rises” came to be regarded as the testament of the “Lost Generation”, so it seems certain that “On the Road” will come to be known as that of the “Beat Generation”».
In the six years that passed, between the composition and publication of “On the Road“, Kerouac traveled extensively. He experimented with Buddhism and he wrote many novels that went unpublished at the time. His next published novel “The Dharma Bums” (1958) described Kerouac’s clumsy steps toward spiritual enlightenment on a mountain climb with friend Gary Snyder, a Zen poet. The same year he wrote the novel “The Subterraneans” and, in 1959, Kerouac published three novels: “Dr. Sax“, “Mexico City Blues” and “Maggie Cassidy“. Kerouac’s most famous later novels include “Book of Dreams” (1961), “Big Sur” (1962) and “Vanity of Duluoz” (1968). He also wrote poetry in his later years.
Despite maintaining a prolific pace of publishing and writing, Kerouac was never able to cope with the fame he achieved after “On the Road“, and his life soon devolved into a blur of drunkenness and drug addiction. After his first marriage, that ended in divorce after only a few months, Kerouac married Joan Haverty, who gave birth to his only daughter, Jan Kerouac. His second marriage also ended in divorce after less than a year. Kerouac married Stella Sampas, who was also from Lowell, in 1966.
In 1969, aged 47, Kerouac died from internal bleeding due to long-term alcohol abuse. Since his death, Kerouac’s literary prestige has grown and several previously unseen works have been published. All of his books are in print today, including “The Town and the City“, “On the Road“, “Doctor Sax“, “The Dharma Bums“, “Mexico City Blues“, “The Subterraneans“, “Desolation Angels“, “The Sea Is My Brother” and “Big Sur“.
So, for anyone who admire his writing style and want to learn more about his writing rules, here are 25 of his most famous advice for aspiring authors:
1. «Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for your own joy!»
2. «Write for the world to read and see your exact pictures of it!»
3. «Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind!»
4. «Write in recollection and amazement for yourself!»
5. «Telling the true story of the world in interior monologue!»
6. «Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea!»
7. «No time for poetry but exactly what is!»
8. «Something that you feel will find its own form!»
9. «Be crazy dumb-saint of the mind!»
10. «Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind!»
11. «Visionary tics shivering in the chest!»
12. «Don’t think of words when you stop but to see picture better!»
13. «Submissive to everything, open, listening!»
14. «Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better!»
15. «No fear or shame in the dignity of your experience, language and knowledge!»
16. «Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition!»
17. «The unspeakable visions of the individual!»
18. «You’re a Genius all the time!»
19. «In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness!»
20. «Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in your morning!»
21. «Try never get drunk outside your own house!»
22. «Accept loss forever!»
23. «Believe in the holy contour of life!»
24. «The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye!»
25. «Be in love with your life!»