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On the Road (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

Jack Kerouac , Ann Charters
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (224 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
Price: £6.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

24 Feb 2000 Penguin Modern Classics

Five decades after it was first published, Jack Kerouac's seminal Beat novel On the Road finally finds its way to the big screen, in a production from award-winning director Walter Salles (Motorcycle Diaries) starring Sam Riley (Control, Brighton Rock), Garret Hedlund (Friday Night Lights), Kristen Stewart (Twilight), Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams and Viggo Mortensen.

Sal Paradise (Sam Riley), a young innocent, joins his hero Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund), a traveller and mystic, the living epitome of Beat, on a breathless, exuberant ride back and forth across the United States. Their hedonistic search for release or fulfilment through drink, sex, drugs and jazz becomes an exploration of personal freedom, a test of the limits of the American dream. A brilliant blend of fiction and autobiography, Jack Kerouac's exhilarating novel swings to the rhythms of 1950s underground America, racing towards the sunset with unforgettable exuberance, poignancy and autobiographical passion. One of the most influential and important novels of the 20th century, On the Road is the book that launched the Beat Generation and remains the bible of that literary movement.

Jack Kerouac (1922-69) was an American novelist, poet, artist and part of the Beat Generation. His first published novel, The Town and the City, appeared in 1950, but it was On the Road, published in 1957, that made Kerouac famous. Publication of his many other books followed, among them The Subterraneans, Big Sur, and The Dharma Bums. Kerouac died in Florida at the age of forty-seven.

'The most beautifully executed, the clearest and the most important utterance yet made by the

generation Kerouac himself named years ago as "beat"'

The New York Times

'Pop writing at its best. It changed the way I saw the world, making me yearn for fresh experience'

Hanif Kureishi, Independent on Sunday

'On the Road sold a trillion Levis and a million espresso machines, and also sent countless kids on the road'

William Burroughs

Frequently Bought Together

On the Road (Penguin Modern Classics) + Howl, Kaddish and Other Poems (Penguin Modern Classics) + Junky: The Definitive Text of 'Junk' (Penguin Modern Classics)
Price For All Three: £17.47

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (24 Feb 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141182679
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141182674
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 12.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (224 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 924 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

On The Road, the most famous of Jack Kerouac's works, is not only the soul of the Beat movement and literature, but one of the most important novels of the century. Like nearly all of Kerouac's writing, On The Road is thinly fictionalised autobiography, filled with a cast made of Kerouac's real life friends, lovers and fellow travellers. Narrated by Sal Paradise, one of Kerouac's alter-egos, this cross-country bohemian odyssey not only influenced writing in the years since its 1957 publication but penetrated into the deepest levels of American thought and culture. --Acton Lane


? A dazzling piece of writing for all of its rough edges, stripped of affectations that in the novel can sometimes verge on bathos . . . It seems much more immediate and contemporary.??Luc Sante, " New York Times Book Review"

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I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Jack Kerouac wrote this novel about several escapades he took across the country in the late 1940's. He used characters from his real life, such as Allen Ginsburg the poet and author; and Neal Cassidy, Kerouac's idol, and changed their names to use in the story.
In "On The Road", Sal Paradise(Kerouac), a young writer from New York City, ventures to cities around the country, staying with old friends, making new friends, and doing everything he can to stay alive and move on. His mentor and friend, Dean Moriarty(Neal Cassidy), often travels with Sal, always talking, laughing, and being his insane self. Now let's stop and take a brief look at the fascinating life of Dean Moriarty: Throughout the story, Dean plays several different women, has 3 wives and 4 children, half of whom he can't account for ever meeting. He was born in Salt Lake City, and grew up going to reform schools and jail. Dean was an infamous hustler in Texas and Denver who was always stealing cars and money, but never for more then $10 or just when he needed a quick ride. He was insane, always laughing and having a great time, and always getting the most he could out of life. Sal and Dean experienced some great high's and low's of travelling together, seeing such cities as Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, and Mexico City. Throughout the book you get to know the fascinating personalities of Sal, Dean, and several other characters.
Just as important as the story and the characters is the STYLE in which the book is written; it's this style, which gives the book its vibrant, breathless, spontaneous intensity. And, yes, this is where the book really earns its legendary status, because few other books are able to convey the exhilaration and excitement and fun of a mad attempt to "seize the day.
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49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not an easy read but its one that stays with you 28 Nov 2011
On the Road was first published in 1957 and is a largely autobiographical account of Jack Kerouac's various road trips taken with his friends during the 1940s. All names were changed (to protect the not so innocent) and the story mostly features the characters Sal Paradise (based on Kerouac) and Dean Moriarty (based on real life person Neal Cassady) along with various other real life characters occurring throughout.

The novel overall has a fresh feel and I think this is because the idea of youth searching for more than the conformity of the society they are in is an idea which is being constantly being explored. This does not mean that the book is cliqued however as although the subject matter might not be original, the descriptions of their methods, ideas and the people they encounter is. Crossing the American continent is exhausting enough (I know, I did it) and Kerouac does not hide from the reader the exhaustion, the dirty aspects, the arguments along the way.

One of the stronger aspects of the novel are the people that Sal and Dean encounter along the way. They have various conversations with drunks, travellers, drug addicts and poor immigrant workers all of whom often add more insight than Sal and his friends can provide. The friendship between Sal and Dean is also interesting and goes through many changes throughout as they spilt then meet up again.

A lot has been said on the bad behaviour of the characters and yes they take drugs, have wild parties, visit Mexican brothels and steal cars. This might not seem so shocking now but when you consider these guys were born before my grandmother it just goes to show that despite the fact that each generation thinks they invented teenage bad behaviour, they really didn't.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Live each day to the full 11 Feb 2005
This is a book that I have read many times, and each time I have loved it even more. Although the story is brilliant, this book is more about how it makes you feel whilst reading it, as well as after. It makes you want to get off of life's treadmill of work, telly, eat, sleep and to get out there and really 'live'. To make memories, stories, adventures, and to stay far from the mundane.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On The Road by Jack Kerouac 23 Nov 2011
I picked a copy of On The Road up in my comprehensive school library when I was 17. I started reading it and I literally could not put it down. I actually walked into a lamp-post reading it while I was walking home.
This wonderful book is crammed full of life, excitement, love, yearning and a delight in experiencing the new. I read it in about 1972, the tail-end of the Hippy Era and it made me realise that I had to....just like Dean and Sal...go on the road. Directly inspired by this book I spent the next few years hitchiking around the UK and Europe, experiencing everything I could.
Regard it as a manual for living. Kerouac had a tender, religious attitude to his fellow man. He was endlessly fascinated by everyone and everything around him. He also had little regard for materialism...other than a bottle of liquor, a joint or a bebop record. For Jack, experience and friendship is everything.
More than anything it is a thrilling read. Kerouac takes you with you on his epic journey of self-discovery and you will NEVER forget the ride.
Let's just hope the new movie - it it EVER appears - does justic to this sacred text.
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