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am 27. Mai 2013
To enable his frenetic continuous typing, Jack Kerouac simply scotch-taped several sheets of tracing paper together, creating a 120-foot-long roll he fed into his type writer - not as some critics would have it, a roll of Teletype-paper. The entire scroll consists indeed of one single paragraph, written single-spaced, and giving the real names of the protagonists in the published novel. The scroll was auctioned off by the Kerouac estate for $2.4 million in 2001 to Jim Irsay (owner of the football team Indianapolis Colts), who makes it available for public viewing.

The novel is set in 1947, although it was written in 1950. Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac (Dean Moriarty and Sal Paradise in the book) started their 1800 miles drive to Mexico City to visit William Burroughs. Kerouac compares the narrative as a specific era in jazz history, "somewhere between its Charlie Parker Ornithology period and another period that began with Miles Davis." The narrative begins in New York, passes Chicago and drives across the continent to San Francisco, where Sal takes a job as a night watchman at a boarding house for merchant sailors. But he is soon on the road again.

The "civilized" world he’d left behind was gripped in Cold War paranoia under the impression of the Korean War, the U.S. had built the hydrogen bomb and Kerouac was depressed and convinced he might as well die. But high on grass, bouncing along Mexican roads, he experienced a happy hallucination: a microburst of gold shot from the sky right into his startled eyes. This was the moment, he later wrote, that at last made On the Road possible, the "great Occasion" when he had the vision that Dean was God, and God had the face of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the hero who had saved the world from oppression and slavery. Small wonder that to Kerouac this seemed “the most pleasant and graceful trip in the world.

When Dean and Sal reached the La Mexica, they encountered thousands of hipsters in floppy straw hats and long- lapeled jackets, some of them selling crucifixes and weed in the alleys and Mambo blared from everywhere. They found an apartment close to Bill and Joan Burroughs, who had fled the U.S. after Bill’s last drug bust and was writing one of the classic confessional novels of Beat literature. But Mexico City developed into a disaster and soon Sal found himself at loose ends, stayed stoned, smoking fifteen joints a day, and helped himself to Bill’s morphine. After another hallucination in which he saw himself as the saintly hero and prophetic author of On the Road, he left Mexico just one month later and began walking to New York, occasionally hitching a ride. Despite the pain and heartbreak of his misadventure, On the Road was taking shape in his soul.

It is this long trip across half a continent to Mexico City with Dean that can be interpreted as Sal’s last attempt at finding an answer to his problems. The novel comes to a close a year later in New York, where Dean recommends to move to San Francisco, however that doesn’t work and Dean returns to the West alone. The novel ends with Sal sitting on a New York pier during sunset, contemplating God, America, crying children, and closing with "I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty."

Jack Kerouac’s life in New York turned out to be as tumultuous as his stay in Mexico, but in 1951, the book took its final form as an ode to Neal Cassady. However, Kerouac had a long and difficult time finding a publisher. His experimental writing style and sympathies towards minorities made many edtors highly uncomfortable, in post-War America. Graphic descriptions of drug-use and homosexual behavior could even provoke obscenity charges. Finally the book was published in 1957 by Viking and created a sensation and hasn’t lost it’s faszination even today.
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am 26. Juli 2013
Ein echter amerikanischer Klassiker! Liest sich relativ schnell und ist sehr unterhaltsam! Trotzdem hätte ich mir ein bisschen mehr "Sex, Drugs & Rock 'n' Roll" erhofft!
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am 25. Juli 2007
My rating of this book is based on the quality of the writing. If I were to rate the book instead for the appropriateness of what is described, I would rate it as a "zero." Before going further, let me mention that this book describes more immorality, lack of consideration, and disgusting behavior than you will read in five usual novels. If such things upset you, this book will be a poor choice for you to read.

This autobiographical novel is a paean to the hunger and optimism of youth. Everyone you meet in the book is convinced that something much better lies in the next town, in the next relationship, or in the next hit of "tea." The irony of this is nicely explored through the character of Dean Moriarty (Kerouac's friend, Neil Cassady, in real life) who constantly is adrift among the three women he has married.

The uplifting part of the book is found in the way that things somehow work out for everyone involved, even though they lack resources, insight, and appropriate caution. In their giddy gambles on new experiences, they hit the winning numbers often enough to be able to keep coming back for more. Their rootlessness and commitment to experimentation define them in the same way that the Depression defined their parents.

The brilliance of this book is that although you will probably not approve of the irresponsible lives the characters live, you will find yourself deeply involved with them. You will probably also know how they feel. In one vivid sequence, the bipolar Moriarty recreates a memory by almost crashing the car he is driving . . . just to make his point. In the aftermath, he quicky falls asleep, and someone else has to drive.

Youth can be very manipulative, and Kerouac's male pals certainly exemplify that impulsive weakness. Out of money, they steal, beg, borrow, lie, and do whatever it takes to score some. Then, they will spend whatever they have to last them for weeks on a spree covering just a few hours. Moriarty routinely leaves people in strange cities with no money and no friends, and forgets about them. Another pal marries a woman so he can get her to pay for a cross-country drive. When her money runs out in Arizona, he abandons her.

Kerouac's writing captures all of this in a remarkably vivid way. He has a lust for experiences that makes the world fresh and new. For example, he lovingly describes being a cotton picker, one of the worst jobs available at the time. The descriptions of what it is like to listen to jazz are remarkably effective and will probably attract new fans for years. Unfortunately, he also glamorizes drug usage which will also probably generate a lot of new fans for that, as well.

Road trips are a classic way that young men blow off steam in college. Freed from the restraints of being around those who supervise them, life seems more open and everything is possible. The men in this novel are mostly veterans who can get G.I. bill funds for their education. This can help fund road trips across the country, when the urge to travel hits them, tied to either their sense of being footloose or a vague promise of a bed on the other coast. Even after they marry and begin to raise families, the behavior changes little. These are Peter Pans who have adult responsibilities.

While most of what these people do are things that I do not consider commendable, this book took me back to my youth in very fundamental ways. I recalled each and every one of my "conservative" road trips with great relish and delight. I hadn't thought about them in years. I suspect that this book will be a "youth drug" for making you feel like a teenager again, too.

After you have enjoyed the great writing and the reminiscences that the book inspires, I suggest that you think about the exemplary things you did as a young person. How can you share those experiences with others in ways that will inspire them to want to serve goodness in the same ways?

Be open to life's potential . . . and be prepared to help enhance it with your responsible participation.
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Fünfzig Jahre nach dem Erscheinen von Jack Kerouacs Kultbuch On The Road kommt eine Version auf den Markt, die durch die Offenlegung der Produktionsbedingungen erst das Lesegefühl vermittelt, das der Autor eigentlich intendiert hat. Kerouac hatte seit Ende der vierziger Jahre an einer Version geschrieben, die auf einer einzigen Rolle zustande kam. Insgesamt fünfzig Meter lang hat er diese Rolle betippt, ohne Absatz, ohne Überschriften und ohne Umbrüche. Auf über dreihundert Seiten fegt das Original durch die rastlose Handlung und vermittelt dadurch das Tempo und den Herzschlag, der sich hinter den Aufzeichnungen verbirgt. Kerouac beschreibt seinen Aufbruch von Ozone Park auf Long Island durch New York, Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, zurück nach New York, wieder nach Denver und San Francisco, zurück nach New York, Abstecher nach North Carolina, New Orleans, Chicago, immer wieder New York bis hin zu der langen Reise nach Mexico City. Es ist die Jagd nach dem Glück und der Traum einer immerwährenden Freundschaft, die sich einzulösen sucht in den Gelagen, in denen Alkohol, Marihuana und die freie sexuelle Beziehung zu Frauen das vermeintliche Ticket des Glücks bilden. Durchaus bekannte Persönlichkeiten wie Allen Ginsberg, William Borroughs und Henri Cru sind immer wieder mal mit von der Partie und sie suchen alle ihren Weg heraus aus dem Festgefügten und der Tristesse des Profanen. Aufgrund unterschiedlicher Sozialisation sind die Mittel verschieden, da spielt noch die absurde Poesie eine Rolle, die bewusste soziale Durchmischung und das intensive Ausleben des Jazz. Die tragische Figur in diesem Spiel ist Neal Cassady, Sohn eines Trinkers und Obdachlosen aus Denver, der selbst schon als Minderjähriger in Besserungsanstalten sein Dasein gefristet hat. Cassady taucht irgendwann in den intellektuellen Kreisen im New Yorker Village auf und fragt Ginsberg, wie man das Schreiben lernt. Es entstehen die wilden Reisepläne und alle suchen den Ausweg auf der Straße, dem Freiheitssymbol der amerikanischen Siedlergesellschaft. Ohne Geld trampen sie durch Nächte und Wüsten, tagelang ohne Essen, dann mal wieder Gelegenheitsjobs und außergewöhnliche Lifts mit Typen, die die amerikanische Gesellschaft nicht besser beschreiben können. Kerouac jagt Cassady immer wieder hinterher. Sind sie mal zusammen, zerstört Cassady durch seine Extravaganz und seine Wildheit die schnell entstehenden sozialen Ensembles und wird durch die eine oder andere ahnungslose Frau gerettet. Eigentlich kommt er nie herein in die nach Emanzipation strebende verwegene Gemeinschaft, er setzt die Impulse und wird danach immer wieder ausgesondert und ehe sich das entstandene Ensemble versieht, ist Cassady schon wieder on the road. Kerouac muss beim Einhämmern auf seine Schreibmaschine gewusst haben, dass sie alle scheitern werden, denn aus der original scroll schreit die Sehnsucht nach einer Freundschaft, die auch bei der Auflösung aller gesellschaftlichen Gesetztheiten niemals von Bestand ist. Neal Cassady verliert dabei immer mehr den Verstand und Kerouac räsoniert zunehmend über die Vergeblichkeit des Daseins. Auf einem letzten Trip nach Mexico stürzen sich die Freunde in die letzten Gelage, landen in den Tropen zu einem letzten Auftanz in einem Bordell und durchleben noch einmal die ganze Exquisität der Hoffnungslosigkeit in einer letzten Nacht, bevor sie sich in ihrem klapprigen Ford bis Mexico City schleppen und Kerouac durch ein schweres Fieber handlungsunfähig wird. Cassady reist ab, Kerouac kehrt Wochen später nach New York zurück, wo er als Schriftsteller reüssiert und heiratet. Cassady besucht ihn dort noch mal, ohne zu wissen, warum und reist sprachlos wieder ab zur Westküste. Es ist eine traurige Geschichte, die den Leser dennoch nie loslässt, sie peitscht gleichsam durch alle Venen und durchkämmt die Lebenserfahrung einer ganzen Generation. Sprachlich ist the original scroll gewaltiger und authentischer als alle Versionen, die vorher erschienen. Die Faszination, die Kerouac vermittelt, ist das Ergebnis außergewöhnlicher Literatur, die Größe des Autors bestand darin, dass er das Scheitern antizipierte und dennoch weitermachte, bis es auch bei ihm nicht mehr ging.
On the Road: The Original Scroll (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)
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am 26. August 1998
As a junior in college, I was hesitant to read a Kerouac novel because of the negative connentations associated with the "Beats". While contemplating reading "On the Road", a friend nakedly asked me, "isn't that book about drugs?" My reply "I don't think so", couldn't mask my nervousness about the content of "On the Road". Was I about to read another dated novel about a scene whose time has passed? Well let me assure the quisical reader that this novel is the complete opposite of tired and dated. Kerouac is an amazing, inventive, and charismatic writer who entertains with every word. I assure you this novel is as entertaining as advertised. The plot revolves around the adventures of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarity(thinly veiled altered egos of Kerouac and Neal Cassidy) as they cross the country in search of an illusive yet ever present freedom. Enjoyable scenes
1. Paradise's first trip from the East Coast to the West Coast. The descriptions are joyously vivid and intensely enjoyable. Wow!
2. Kerouac's descriptions of a jazz show in San Francisco. His enthusiasm for jazz is well-documented but this scene conveys the love for jazz like no other author has done before or after.
Enjoy this novel with an open mind and a love for powerful writing.
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am 6. Juli 1999
Fact-based account of post-war, rebellious intellectuals who embrace poverty and aimlessness in a kinetic quest for drugs, alcohol, sex, jazz, and existential insight. Kerouac was on an extended benzedrine binge for the first draft of this book, and the prose is sometimes disjointed, but the enthusiastic, poetic idealizations of his vagabond experiences make the trip worthwhile.
One is reminded of Cannery Row in observing the characters' dreamy intentions and the comically alcoholic results, except that Steinbeck was aware of his characters' absurdity while Kerouac takes himself and his drug-addled companions way too seriously. Kerouac unintentionally mocks the real life poverty of those he encounters on the road by the fact he is supported by the GI Bill and his mommy (oh, excuse me, his "aunt").
Before you decide to imitate Kerouac, be sure you've got a generous "aunt", and be advised that in real life the gone cat burned out his liver and died at 47. Yes, yes, yes, yes, uh, oops.
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am 9. April 1998
Just as modern art is a collection of talentless folk, the "Beat Generation" (Kerouac, Burroughs, Ginsberg etc.) is largely void of any literary talent. "On the Road" is an important book, however. It opened the door to the literary and artsy world to the mediocre, weird and foolish. What Warhol did for the art world, Kerouac did for the literary world. Peck at your typewriter, type anything that comes into your head and ignore trite things like plot, character development and transcendent thought. Why is there so little serious fiction today? Read this book, remember how profound it was regarded by the intelligensia and you will realize how far serious fiction has dropped- from Hemingway, Faulkner, Cather and Steinbeck to Kerouac and Ginsberg to Tom Clancy and John Grisham and Deepack Chopak.
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am 21. Juli 1999
I read this book because of its outstanding reputation, and the amazingly cool guy Kerouac is supposed to be. the characters in the story have a lot of fun, they get drunk, they have "green tea" and they are all psychotic (not a bad thing in this case) but they have no direction...and I guess thats the point of the story--to have no worries, but its too unreal. by the end of the story I was getting angry at all the characters fer their lack of any regard for their actions (i. e. one was like twenty and had zillions of kids across the country). One very good thing about it is its accurate and rich portrayal of the Beat generation. The coolest thing about this book is the inspiration it gives to leave everything grab ten bucks and go to New York to get a job as a parking lot attendant :)
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am 4. März 1999
Ti-Jean, is not an " ordinary " writer, and 5 stars is not enough in any case to qualify this masterpiece and his whole masterpieces it would take all the stars you can see in the clear sky of Frisco by night I guess, or at least all them being represented in the starspangeled flag ( and it's a minimum ) this is The American writer since Jack London, and better, he s been as precious in our secular as an Emile zola, or a Honoré de Balzac were in their time in the French literature...
I am now working on turning some of his wrintings into french ( since already made translations exist... ) but this is jus for my pleasure and not to be published anyway and I ve never read a book like this ( Lonesome traveller ) ...
Submissions become the property of Amazon.com.
I don t see why .... I am the auuthor of this ... message
so .... It " ALSO " belong to me :
lamalang@club-internet.fr, copyrighy 1999
And ... I DON'T WANT to be classified or called a Rewiewer ...
I am a reader there,
a writer elsewhere
Want to be published someday elsewhere ...
I don t like REviews
or maybe once at the " Folies Bergères " ...
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"We were all delighted, we all realized we were leaving confusion and nonsense behind and performing our one and noble function of the time, move. And we moved!"
Fans of Kerouac just aren't going to like me much.
Now don't get me wrong, the book was okay for what it was: a snapshot of a different time. I read over and over again how "this book changed my life and blah blah blah..." According to the blurb on my copy, it is, "quite simply one of the greatest novels and major milestones of our time."
I can't comprehend the fact that this book could change the life of anyone in my generation. The characters are not very likable and I can't imagine myself enjoying the situations they find themselves in. The writing seems extremely average to me. I have a gnawing feeling I read a different book than everyone else I ever talked to about Kerouac's "masterpiece".
Several scenes are fairly strong and memorable, especially when he was hitchiking alone, and I know that Kerouac is addressing those "wandering spirits" that exist independant of what decade it is, as well as talking about being lost as a young adult. Still, I have to wonder how one could identify so much with any of the characters in the book without being a total moron.
His metaphors are inane, and not even in a good way ("This was a manuscript of the night we couldn't read"), and he only gives us small snapshots of the late 40's "underground" - a paragraph about Wilheilm Reich and his orgones here, a paragraph or two about jazz there.
Perhaps the characters were (lying on their) hip in the 40's and 50's, but they're just not cool now. They seem like a collection of cardboard cutouts of parrots. I have no problem with drugs (hell, I like William Burroughs), but the way Kerouac addresses their drug use seems off the cuff and almost as if it was inserted extemporaneously to make the book more "edgy" (or hip, if you insist).
Recommendation: If you want to try Kerouac, read San Francisco Blues or one of his other books of poems instead.
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