On the Road is the classic tale from 1957 where Jack Kerouac and his buddies from The Beat Generation travel in a haze of weed and caffeine across America. It’s considered to be one of the definitions of Beat literature and remembered as a big influence on writers and artists.

On the road cover

In a wider perspective, this is the tale of a lost generation. The free-spirited characters are hazily drifting across America without any clear goal or purpose, an indication of the state of the youth after the war in the fifties. Even though it’s a work of fiction, the characters are strongly based upon friends and people that Kerouac met during his travels across the country.

The original manuscript was supposedly typed on a paper scroll, 36 meter long. In 2007 the book was republished in a 50-year-anniversary edition, containing the uncensored scroll text. It contains the true names of his travel companions, such as William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and Neal Cassady.

City Lights bookshop City Lights bookshop.

I once visited the City Lights bookshop at 261 Columbus Ave (next to aptly named Jack Kerouac Alley) in San Francisco, which has been a hub for Beat literature for half a decade, and walked past the building at 29 Russel St where Jack stayed with Neal and Carolyn Cassady while writing on the book.

Definitely not a book for all audiences, but it’s recommended reading if you’re ever going on the road and care one bit about literature.

Road in Nevada Endless dirt road through Nevada.


No comments yet.

Leave a reply