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On the Road: the Original Scroll: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) Paperback – Aug 26 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 502 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (Aug. 26 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143105469
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143105466
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 2.5 x 21.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 798 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 502 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #33,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In introducing the fabled first draft of Kerouac's autobiographical novel-written on a single giant roll of paper, without breaks in the text, in an amphetamine-fueled marathon-editor Howard Cunnell refers to Allen Ginsberg's claim that "the published novel is not at all like the wild book Kerouac typed in '51." Characters are identified by their real names (rather than the 1957 version's apt pseudonyms) and their love affairs are more explicit, giving the book a juicy memoir-like feel, especially where Cassady and Ginsberg are concerned. The plot, however, is identical. Neal Cassady joins Kerouac and Ginsberg's bohemian circle in New York in the late 1940's, and inspires and cons them into traveling around the country, "searching for a lost inheritance, for fathers, for family, for home, even for America." The death of Kerouac's father plays a larger role in the story than in the 1957 version; and Justin W. Brierly, a teacher who served as mentor to Cassady and has a cameo in the published book, makes a series of recurring appearances in the scroll. The lack of paragraphs or chapters emphasizes the breathless intensity of Kerouac's prose. The anniversary publicity will introduce this classic to a new generation of readers, and while the scroll probably won't displace the novel's more familiar, polished incarnation, it will be of keen interest to beat aficionados and scholars.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

The mythology surrounding On the Road begins with a tantalizing creation story: in a 20-day marathon in April 1951, Kerouac speed-typed the single-spaced manuscript on long sheets of tracing paper he taped together to form a 120-foot scroll. Truly a remarkable feat, although Kerouac, who was not exactly the wild man his image as king of the Beats suggests, had already spent years working on what ultimately became On the Road. The legendary scroll, purchased by Jim Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts, for $2.43 million, is currently being exhibited across the country. To celebrate the novel's fiftieth anniversary, the scroll has finally been fully transcribed and thoroughly explicated in four superb introductory essays. Given that the manuscript diverges from the book in the very first sentence, and that Kerouac used the real names of the friends who inspired his characters and wrote unused sexually explicit passages, this is an intriguing read to say the least. Seaman, Donna --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!"

This was my first introduction to Jack Kerouac. I found this book to be fantastic! For those like me who have heard of Kerouac and "On The Road" but really do not know what it is about I will provide a brief synopsis without giving too much away. It is the story of Sal Paradise (substitute for Kerouac) and his friend, Dean Moriarty (modeled on Kerouac's friend) and their late 1940s cross country searches for "it", music, sex, liquor...life, as they know it.

Those who have read my other reviews may be surprised at my gushing praise for this classic of the Beat Generation. The life style described in this book is, in my opinion, utterly disgusting. What makes this book great, to my taste, is the writing style. It is a fast paced, stream of consciousness description of totally irresponsible, hedonistic behavior. I would not recommend this life style to anyone but I do recommend the book to any fan of great writing with the maturity to avoid the siren call to take to the road.
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By JR on June 10 2008
Format: Hardcover
I'm not sure whether I'm reading truth or fiction. The feeling of being out on the road is intense and personal. The writing is absorbing and complex. Dean and the gang celebrate life with no restrictions and just can't wait to get out there to experience experience. The travels across America reveal the urgency of youth to find "something." Everything is laid bare and open and is held together by a lust for jazz and good times. Too bad life couldn't continue on like this forever. Money or jobs are not the concern. The need to be traveling, to drink in the land and women is what is important. It's the story of sex, drugs and rock and roll before they were invented. Jack is my hero for keeping alive the quest for love, truth and adventure, no matter how old you are.
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By A Customer on Sept. 8 2003
Format: Paperback
First, let me say that I read just the first 10 chapters -- about one-fifth -- of this book. So if there is something spectacular in the remainder, I'm sorry, I missed it. But judging from what I read, I saw no reason to go on.

"On the Road" is a rambling series of disjointed episodes as the protagonist, Sal, travels across the country by bus and by hitchhiking. While Sal keeps moving, the story has little direction.

The fragmented nature of the book could be forgiven if the individual parts were interesting, but few are. I did enjoy the image of Sal and other hitchhikers clinging to a flatbed truck as it speeds across the plains, but that's about it. Sal's conversations with fellow hitchhikers and motorists who give him rides are brief and inconsequential. His time with friends, drinking beer and whiskey and pursuing women, are mostly juvenile and pointless.

Worst of all, Sal and the other central characters are only barely likeable, so the reader has little reason to care about them.

I embarassingly admit that I read this book thinking that it was nonfiction. Only once I put it down did I see that it is fiction. But this confounds me even more. When I believed it to be a true account, I could somewhat accept the uneven story -- after all, life is uneven. But now that I know this is fiction, I am puzzled: Why would Jack Kerouac include so many scenes and characters that offer so little to the reader?
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Format: Paperback
On the Road captures Americana in a stronger and more vivid fashion than John Steinbeck did The Grapes of Wrath. On the Road covers the same route (and more) but doesn't water down the regional flavors with allegory. Instead American from New York to California and all parts in between is shown for its good, bad, rich, poor, and various ethnicities with humor and honesty.
Through Sal's numerous transcontental road trips, Kerouac describes the regional beauty, kirks, culture and geography of every city and state the protagonist passes through. Of the cities I've either lived in or visited that are visited in this book I enjoyed the most--especially his numerous pilgrimages to San Francisco. His first entry into San Francisco is classic: "Over the Oakland Bay Bridge I slept soundly for the first time since Denver; so that I was rudely jolted in the bus station at Market and Fourth... and there she was, Frisco - long, bleak streets with trolle wires all shrouded in fog and whiteness... . Weird bums (Mission and Third) asked me for dimes in the dawn..." This opening paragraph to San Francisco is still apt, if not, perfect.
While the book is an icon of the Beat generation and Sal, the narrator, desires to be among that set, he's abmismal at it. Throughout the book he worships his friend Dean who is the wildly cool womanizing, debauched, drug addicted man Sal wants to be but Sal just can't manage to follow in Dean's footsteps. Whereas Dean will drive over 100 mph, steal cars and delight in getting drunk, Sal will either drive the speed limit or hide in the back when Dean is driving, try to return Dean's joy ridden cars, or want to sleep off the booze he's drunk when around Dean.
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