Jack Kerouac  

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"The same thing was almost going on in the postwar France of Sartre and Genet and what's more we knew about it--But as to the actual existence of a Beat Generation, chances are it was really just an idea in our minds--We'd stay up 24 hours drinking cup after cup of black coffee, playing record after record of Wardell Gray, Lester Young, Dexter Gordon, Willie Jackson, Lennie Tristano and all the rest, talking madly about that holy new feeling out there in the streets- -We'd write stories about some strange beatific Negro hepcat saint with goatee hitchhiking across Iowa with taped up horn bringing the secret message of blowing to other coasts, other cities, like a veritable Walter the Penniless leading an invisible First Crusade- -We had our mystic heroes and wrote, nay sung novels about them, erected long poems celebrating the new 'angels' of the American underground--In actuality there was only a handful of real hip swinging cats and what there was vanished mightily swiftly during the Korean War when (and after) a sinister new kind of efficiency appeared in America, maybe it was the result of the universalization of Television and nothing else (the Polite Total Police Control of Dragnet's 'peace' officers) but the beat characters after 1950 vanished into jails and madhouses, or were shamed into silent conformity, the generation itself was shortlived and small in number."--Jack Kerouac (In Esquire magazine in 1958)

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Jean-Louis Lebris de Kérouac March 12, 1922 – October 21, 1969), often known as Jack Kerouac, was an American novelist of French Canadian ancestry, who, alongside William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, was a pioneer of the Beat Generation.

During World War II, Kerouac served in the United States Merchant Marine; during his service he completed his first novel, though it would not be published until over forty years after his death. His first book to be published was The Town and the City, but he only achieved widespread fame and notoriety with the publication of his second novel, On the Road, in 1957. On the Road made Kerouac a beat icon, and he would publish twelve more novels during his life, in addition to numerous poetry volumes.

Kerouac is recognized for his style of spontaneous prose. Thematically, his work covers topics such as his Catholic spirituality, jazz, promiscuity, Buddhism, drugs, poverty, and travel. He became an underground celebrity and, with other beats, a progenitor of the hippie movement, although he remained antagonistic toward some of its politically radical elements. Kerouac would have a lasting legacy, greatly influencing many of the cultural icons of the 1960s, including Bob Dylan, the Beatles, and the Doors.

In 1969, at age 47, Kerouac died from an abdominal hemorrhage caused by a lifetime of heavy drinking. 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.





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Jack Kerouac" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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