Jack Kerouac – 1922-1969
Kerouac was born of French-Canadian descent in Lowell, Massachusetts, was discharged from the U.S. Navy during World War II as mentally disturbed, then made a precarious living as a merchant seaman and worked various odd jobs before publishing his first novel, The Town and the City, in 1950.
Restless and dissatisfied with accepted literary and social conventions, he worked toward developing a new style, which was highly charged, spontaneous, and unedited, inspired by jazz improvisation and aided by drugs and liquor. In 1957, he wrote On the Road, a freewheeling narrative of road trips across the United States in search of fulfillment in music, literature, mysticism, sex, and life itself.
The characters in On the Road are latter-day hoboes, who turn their backs on regular jobs, mortgages, and the ownership of things. The book became the bible of the “Beat Generation,” which questioned many accepted American values, and which laid the foundation for the Hippie movement of the later 1960s.