On The Road, revisited (from afar)

Posted: October 3, 2007 in Blog

I still remember finding Jack Kerouac’s On The Road on a bookshelf at The Bookcase early in high school and thinking “Hey, this looks interesting.” I had never read anything like it before and was soon tracking down other Kerouac books and generally anything written by that crowd of Beats, imagining road trips and opening my eyes to the significance of taking off to explore new places.

Of late, there has been a lot written about Kerouac and this book, to mark the 50th anniversary of its publication.

This, for me anyway, is by far the best of the recent columns. (Perhaps stereotypically, I had the quote Brooks mentions in the column hung on my wall in university.)

I first read the book casually, as an impressionable mind judging the book on its own and seeing it through my own filter. I later studied it in university and wrote term papers about it. Though I loved the process of re-visiting it, and also to listen to others’ impressions, it seemed odd to be studying such an unstructured book in such a structured setting. A book like that– that opens eyes and affects people on such a personal level– should not be carved off into themes and alliterations and passages “of importance to the development of the main character”.

  1. Amber says:

    “So in America, when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars’ll be out, and don’t you know that God is Pooh-Bear? the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, and darkens all rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what’s going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty.”

    Sorry, I couldn’t help it. This final passage is my favourite. Everytime I read it I feel calm.


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