brownie Posted August 18, 2007 Report Share Posted August 18, 2007 From AFP today. UNCUT EDITION OF KEROUAC'S 'ON THE ROAD' ISSUED 50 YEARS LATER by Luis Torres de la Llosa When "On The Road" came out in 1957, Jack Kerouac became the voice of the Beat Generation almost overnight. "Jack went to bed obscure and woke up famous," was how his girlfriend Joyce Johnson put it. Now, 50 years on, the tale of disaffected youth struggling to find a place in post-war America is to be re-released in its original form, unedited, cruder and more erotic, and with the real names of Kerouac's traveling companions restored. The novel recounts drug-fueled road trips Kerouac took across America with fellow writers, poets and artists, all narrated in a spontaneous stream of consciousness and set to the strains of bebop jazz. "On one level, it is a beautifully written, compelling story that is part of a long mythology about the promise of the American frontier," explained Penny Vlagopoulos, professor of literature at Columbia University in New York. The cult novel has sold four million copies in America alone, and continues to sell at the rate of around 100,000 a year, according to publisher Viking. The novel tells the story of Sal Paradise -- the author's alter ego -- and his friend Dean Moriarty traveling from New York out west as far as California and Mexico during the late 1940s on spontaneous journeys of discovery. Kerouac took notes on the trips and according to legend wrote the book in a frantic three week stretch in 1951, fueled by coffee and Benzedrine. The script is typed on a 36-meter (120-foot) scroll of paper, single spaced and without paragraph breaks. But when it was first published on September 5, 1957, a good bit of the most explicit sexual content was sliced out and the real names of the characters were swapped for pseudonyms. The new edition represents the first time average readers will have seen the original manuscript, presented in a "less conventional, more spontaneous" style than the originally-published version, Vlagopoulos explained. "The reason the original scroll version of 'On the Road' was not published up till now was to avoid lawsuits by those who thought they were defamed or that their privacy had been invaded," said John Sampas, Kerouac's executor. Beat generation figures such as poet Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady and writer William S. Burroughs appear in the novel under their real names instead of their familiar pseudonyms of Carlo Marx, Dean Moriarty and Old Bull Lee. Other details, such as episodes detailing characters' homosexuality or attraction to underage girls are also back in. "The published version does not stray drastically from the original, but its more formally experimental style makes the feeling of reading it much more immediate and closer to the literary experience Kerouac had in mind," Vlagopoulos said. In November, the original manuscript -- bought at auction by a private buyer in 2001 for 2.4 million dollars -- is to go on display at the New York Public Library as part of the exhibition "Beatific Souls: Jack Kerouac's On the Road." A film version of the novel has also been announced for 2009, to be produced by Hollywood giant Francis Ford Coppola and directed by Walter Salles, the filmmaker behind Che Guevara biopic "The Motorcycle Diaries." Academics have long sought to explain the popularity of "On the Road," which for many critics has little in the way of literary merit. "The idea that one can map out a life that is in some way unmediated by existing social restrictions and responsibilities is still quite resonant," says Vlagopoulos. Another measure of its popularity is that bookshops report it being one of their most frequently stolen titles. Kerouac died an alcoholic at the age of 47 in 1969, just 12 years after "On the Road" came out, unable to live with the fame. As he wrote through the character of Sal Paradise: "The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time. "The ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars". Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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