On the Road

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Novel by Jack Kerouac, published in 1957.

Sal Paradise (a self-portrait by Kerouac), a struggling author in his mid-twenties, tells of his meeting Dean Moriarty (based on Neal Cassady), a fast-living teenager just out of a New Mexico reform school, whose soul is “wrapped up in a fast car, a coast to reach, and a woman at the end of the road.” During the next five years they travel coast to coast, either with each other or to each other. Five trips are described. In the first Sal travels to Denver in July 1947 to be with Dean, whom he finds has left his recent wife Marylou for a woman named Camille. After ten days of wild parties, Sal goes to San Francisco, then Los Angeles, picking up jobs and women before returning to New York to work on his novel. A year and a half later, Dean, back with Marylou, joins Sal in the East to drive to San Francisco. When Dean again deserts his wife for Camille, she and Sal have a brief affair before Sal returns alone to New York. In the spring of 1949 Sal goes to California to find Dean, still living with Camille, who expects her second child, and the two reunited friends leave her to drive to New York, where Dean finds another love, Inez, who bears him a child. Later, Sal, having sold his novel to a publisher, goes with Dean to Mexico, partly so that Dean may divorce Camille. But when Sal falls sick, Dean leaves him, returning to New York and Inez. After a time Sal, settled in New York, and Dean in San Francisco, again with Camille, plan further travels, when Dean goes east and remains there temporarily while Sal goes west again, this time alone.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Jack Kerouac (1922—1969) American novelist and poet

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