On the Road
On the Road is the second novel published by the American-born French-Canadian author Jack Kerouac. The principle themes are travel, self-fulfilment, drugs, sex, jazz and the search for spiritual and physical comfort. It was published after Kerouac's first and more conventional novel, The Town and the City. Kerouac wrote a novel before either of these titled The Sea Is My Brother, which he disapproved of and therefore did not wish to see published.
On the Road was written in 1951 and published in 1957. It chronicles the real-life travels of Jack Kerouac and his friend Neal Cassady in Mexico and the rest of North America. In the book, as in Kerouac's other novels which depicted real people, he gave pseudonymns to his characters in order to prevent accusations of libel. He refers to himself as "Sal Paradise" and to Neal Cassady as "Dean Moriaty."
The novel is the first to use Kerouac's own developed style of writing which he called 'spontaneous prose'. This was a style which broke with literary conventions and adopted a sentimental, highly descriptive tone which, as one critic put it, "swings to the rhythym of jazz". Kerouac's prose is marked by sentences which are often very long, poetic, and possess a lyrical quality keeping with the influence of bebop jazz stylings. Kerouac wrote the bulk of the novel in three weeks, but spent six years sporadically editing the text.
On the Road was adapted into a film in 2012, to the general disapproval of devout fans.