On The Road



Return to The Beats Wiki

On the Road is Jack Kerouac's best known novel. As Ginsberg's Howl was the defining poem of the Beat movement, On the Road was perhaps the defining work of fiction. It is a sort of fictionalized account of Kerouac's criss-cross journey from New York to San Francisco, California with long-time friend, Neal Cassady. The novel details all the encounters, detours, and strange musings of its main character Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty who function as Kerouac and Cassady seperately. Kerouac changed all of his friend's names in the book to make it less of a tell-all memoir and more of a work of fiction. The writer did this in all of his novels creating different names even for the same real people from book to book.

As Kerouac openly admitted when On the Road was first published, he wrote the entire thing in three weeks when he was hopped up on benzedrine, a stimulant drug. As a result, the novel reads like a run-on sentence. This style of stream of conscious writing has earned Kerouac and his fellow Beats a place in literary history for all time.

Here is a short clip of pictures of Kerouac set to his voice talking about and reading from the final page of On the Road