Jack Kerouac, whose major writings are loosely organized and autobiographical, was a celebrity of the beat movement. Pictured here are Kerouac (left) and Neal Cassady (right).
Jack Kerouac, (1922-1969), was an American author and a leader of the beat movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Most of the beats were young people who reacted against what they felt were the commercialism and conventional quality of American life. Kerouac's major writings are loosely organized and autobiographical. Many describe his wanderings throughout the United States, Mexico, and Europe. Like the works of other beat writers, Kerouac's novels emphasized spiritual liberation through sex, drugs, and the Asian religion called Zen. Kerouac's most famous novel is ON THE ROAD (1957), an account of several beat characters who travel across the United States seeking personal fulfillment.
Kerouac was born on March 12, 1922, in Lowell, Massachusetts. His real name was Jean-Louis Lebris de Kerouac. He entered Columbia University in 1940 but left a year later. He served in the merchant marine and worked as a laborer. His first book was the novel THE TOWN AND THE CITY(1950). By the mid-1950s, Kerouac had become a celebrity as a spokesman for the beat movement. He died on Oct. 21, 1969. WINDBLOWN WORLD: THE JOURNALS OF JACK KEROUAC, 1947-1954 was published in 2004.
Arthur M. Saltzman, Ph.D., Professor of English, Missouri Southern State College.
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