The legendary novel of freedom and the search for authenticity that defined a generation, now in a striking new Pengiun Classics Deluxe Edition
Inspired by Jack Kerouac's adventures with Neal Cassady, On the Road tells the story of two friends whose cross-country road trips are a quest for meaning and true experience. Written with a mixture of sad-eyed naiveté and wild ambition and imbued with Kerouac's love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz, On the Road is the quintessential American vision of freedom and hope, a book that changed American literature and changed anyone who has ever picked it up.
About the Author
Jack Kerouac was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1922, the youngest of three children in a Franco-American family. He attended local Catholic and public schools and won a scholarship to Columbia University in New York City, where he first met Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs. His first novel, The Town and the City, appeared in 1950, but it was On the Road, published in 1957 and memorializing his adventures with Neal Cassady, that epitomized to the world what became known as the “Beat generation” and made Kerouac one of the most best-known writers of his time. Publication of many other books followed, among them The Dharma Bums, The Subterraneans, and Big Sur. Kerouac considered all of his autobiographical fiction to be part of “one vast book,” The Duluoz Legend. He died in St. Petersburg, Florida, in 1969, at the age of forty-seven.
"An authentic work of art . . . the most beautifully executed, the clearest and the most important utterance yet made by the generation Kerouac himself named years ago as 'beat,' and whose principal avatar he is." —Gilbert Millstein, The New York Times
"On the Road has the kind of drive that blasts through to a large public. . . . What makes the novel really important, what gives it that drive is a genuine new, engaging and exciting prose style. . . . What keeps the book going is the power and beauty of the writing." —Kenneth Rexroth, San Francisco Chronicle
"A highly euphoric and intensely readable story about a group of wandering young hedonists who cross the country in endless search of kicks." —Leonard Feather, Downbeat
"On the Road is perhaps the supreme American romance . . . a mystical and poignant reminder of lost youth, and those sublime years when everyone feels immortal." —The Guardian, "The 100 Best Novels"
"[On the Road] changed my life like it changed everyone else's . . . It speeds by like a freight train . . . You grabbed ahold of the train, hopped on and went along with him, hanging on for dear life." —Bob Dylan
"Kerouac turned up the temperature in American letters, and it's never gone down since." —John Updike
"[On the Road] showed me that you could do things that weren't sypposed to be done. Suddenly, I realized I wasn't the only one to think I was a nut because I had strange thoughts. Finally, here was somebody telling the truth." —David Bowie
"If [Kerouac] hadn't written On the Road, The Doors would have never existed . . . that sense of freedom, spirituality, and intellectuality—that's what I wanted in my own work." —Ray Manzarek
"My teenage years were soaked in Kerouac. I wanted to go on a road trip with Neal Cassady. The expanse of the American West became implanted in my imagination." —Colum McCann
"On the Road, The Dharma Bums . . . That was my starting point, the Beats putting poetry—spoken word—and jazz together." —Van Morrison