Kerouac, Jack (John Kerouac)kĕrˈəwăkˌ, 1922–69, American novelist, b. Lowell, Mass., studied at Columbia. One of the leaders of the beat generation, a term he is said to have coined, he was the author of the largely autobiographical novel On the Road (1957), widely considered the testament of the beat movement. Frequently employing idiosyncratically lyrical language, Kerouac's writings reflect a frenetic, restless pursuit of new sensation and experience and a disdain for the conventional measures of economic and social success. Among his other works are the novels The Subterraneans (1958), The Dharma Bums (1958), Big Sur (1962), and Desolation Angels (1965); a volume of poetry, Mexico City Blues (1959); and a volume describing his dreams, Book of Dreams (1961). By the time he died of complications of alcoholism he had written more than 25 books.
See H. Cunnell, ed., On the Road: The Original Scroll (2007) and M. Phipps-Kettlewell, ed., Jack Kerouac: Collected Poems (2012); D. Brinkley, ed., Windblown World: The Journals of Jack Kerouac, 1947–1954 (2004); A. Charters, ed., Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters, 1940–1956 (1995) and Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters, 1957–1969 (1999) and B. Morgan and D. Stanford, ed., Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters (2010); H. Weaver, The Awakener: A Memoir of Kerouac and the Fifties (2009); biographies by A. Charters (1973), B. Gifford and L. Lee (1978, repr. 1994), D. McNally (1980), G. Nicosia (1988), and B. Miles (1998); studies by T. Hunt (1981), R. Weinreich (1986), I. Gewirtz (2007), J. Leland (2007), P. Maher, Jr. (2007), and B. Morgan (2010).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
More on Jack Kerouac from Infoplease:
See more Encyclopedia articles on: American Literature: Biographies