Jack Kerouac and The Beat Generation

I have decided to create a blog about Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation for my MIT 026b term project. Although Kerouac lived a short life, his novels helped change modern literature and spawned new views on life, and what it meant to be alive. Along with famous poets Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs, Kerouac gave a voice and an identity to the post-WWII generation, and helped shape American literature.
Monday, March 24, 2003
The Beats Page

I've come across another website that has more excerpts from some of Kerouac's later works, including "Dharma Bums" and "Mexico City Blues". You'll also find information on almost all of the best-known writers from the Beat era (Ginsberg, Burroughs, Snyder, Kaufman, Ferlinghetti, Orlovsky, Rexroth). This site has all the usual biographical information on Kerouac, but it's really helpful for finding out how others contributed to the scene.

"The fact was I had the vision...I think everyone has...what we lack is the method."
- Jack Kerouac

Sunday, March 23, 2003
The whole idea of The Beats, the vision itself, was not confined to only a few authors or a single geographical location, but was a widespread phenomenon that burst across the maps of America and parts of Europe. Kerouac is credited with bringing popularity to the literary genre while he was in New York, but the most impressive growth happened on the other coast, in San Francisco, when Allen Ginsberg (a friend of Kerouac's from Columbia University in NY) arrived and inspired dozens of other poets towards new forms of expression.

I've found a website run by the University of Virginia. It's called "Psychedelic 60s: The Beats: San Francisco", and it provides info about other writers who were instrumental in the rise of Beat culture, namely Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gary Snyder, Alan Watts, Michael McClure, Bob Kaufman, Richard Brautigan, and Philip Whalen. I think this site is really interesting because it discusses how this group of poets managed to overcome economic despair, and how it came to create a sense of unity amongst not only themselves, but an entire city. It also covers the aspect of Zen Buddhism that slowly crept into the writing of these young men, and how it came to shape their views on spirituality and the importance of being.

This site looks good and has more links than you can shake a stick at, so check it out! Psychedelic 60s

The Official Web Site of Jack Kerouac

This is the best site I've found so far, and to be honest, I'm a little embarassed that it took me so long to find it. It's called The Official Web Site of Jack Kerouac. This site has all the basic elements (biography, photos, list of works published, etc.), but more importantly, it really gives the user an idea of Kerouac's personality, of his energetic lust for life and the pursuit of answers about life. There is a section full of quotes that I really enjoyed, and some excerpts from his novels.

This is an excerpt I found on the page from Kerouac's most popular novel, "On The Road":

"Great Chicago glowed red before our eyes. We were suddenly on Madison Street among hordes of hobos, some of them sprawled out on the street with their feet on the curb, hundreds of others milling in the doorways of saloons and alleys...

...We let out the hobos on this street and proceeded to downtown Chicago. Screeching trolleys, newsboys, gals cutting by, the smell of fried food and beer in the air, neons winking--'We're in the big town, Sal! Whooee!'

First thing to do was park the Cadillac in a good dark spot and wash up and dress for the night. Across the street from the YMCA we found a redbrick alley between buildings, where we stashed the Cadillac with her snout pointed to the street and ready to go, then followed the college boys up to the Y, where they got a room and allowed us to use their facilities for an hour. Dean and I shaved and showered. I dropped my wallet in the hall. Dean found it and was about to sneak it in his shirt when he realized it was ours and was right disappointed...

...But we forgot that and headed straight for North Clark Street, after a spin in the Loop, to see the hootchy-kootchy joints and hear the bop. And what a night it was.

'Oh, man,' said Dean to me as we stood in front of a bar, 'dig the street of life, the Chinamen that cut by in Chicago. What a weird town--wow, and that woman in that window up there, just looking down with her big breasts hanging from her nightgown, big wide eyes. Whee. Sal, we gotta go and never stop going till we get there.'"

Featured Author: Jack Kerouac

Here's a great resource for people interested in learning about Kerouac's most famous novels (Dharma Bums, Desolation Angels, The Subterraneans, and, my personal favourite, On The Road). The site is run by The New York Times and carries critiques and reviews of all of Kerouac's work, along with some audio files and some interesting passages of prose. There're also some links to newspaper articles relating to Kerouac's influence on the Beat movement, and his impact on the style of 20th century American literature.

This site is very user-friendly, easy to navigate, and has a clean layout that makes it one of the better pages I've seen. The links provided are all from professional websites (primarily other large-scale newspapers), so you can be sure you're getting quality information from a reputable source.

Speaking of links, I just noticed that mine aren't working on this blog right now. I'll have them fixed-up as soon as possible, so bear with me! Thanks.

Hi guys,

Just thought I'd update you on a bit of information I've come across recently regarding Jack Kerouac. I found this site called Kerouac Speaks that contains audio clips of Kerouac reading (and sometimes even singing) excerpts of his poetry and prose. The site uses .au files, so the quality isn't exactly the best, but it's better than nothing!

Kerouac Speaks has some links to other Beat-related sites and gives users the chance to join webrings so that you can learn more about Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and other popular authors from the late 1950s and 60s. You can also find some information on lesser-known authors and poets that deserve some serious attention and respect (like Lu Xun and Zora Neale Hurston).

What took me by surprise was the way Kerouac's voice could capture the moment, the emotion, and passion of his writing. I'd read before that he was dismissed from the Navy for 'schizoid' behaviour, but you can really tell that this is an individual who lived life on the very edge of sanity and spirituality (more on that later). This is your chance to hear the man himself! Consider yourselves enlightened.

Click Here: Kerouac Speaks

Monday, March 03, 2003
Welcome to my site about the Beat Generation! This blog is dedicated to Jack Kerouac and other writers of the 1940s-50s who have inspired me, and millions of others. Hopefully they will do the same for you.


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