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On the Road

The beat generation a movement of young people in the 1950s who rejected conventional society and favored Zen Buddhism, modern jazz, free sexuality, and recreational drugs. The main writers associated with the movement were Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Jack Kerouac's novel On the Road was published in 1957, and it came to be the epitome of the beat generation. Much of the story of the novel can be taken as autobiographical. Kerouac took events from his life on the road with Neal Cassedy and turned them into the novel. Supposedly written in one sitting, this novel grabs hold of you and doesn't let go. The narrator, Sal Paradise, tells the story of his life on the road with Dean Moriarty, and the story is told in a stream of consciousness method (á la To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf). Dean is reckless, energetic, and a womanizer. Sal is drawn to him because he wants to experience things to write about. On the Road symbolizes the search for fulfillment. It portrays the story of a "fierce personal quest for meaning and belonging." [x] America in the 1950s was a time when WWII had just ended and the Cold War was just getting started. As Americans fought against communism, conformity was welcomed. The beatniks rebelled, and this rejection of the typical life is clear in Kerouac's novel. The excitement they had for the life they lived is evident, such as in this quote from chapter one, as Sal comments on Dean and his friends dancing, "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 that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn..." On a side note, the movie adaptation of this novel is coming out soon (watch the trailer here), and it hasn't received good reviews, with critics saying it was not the movie they had hoped it would be. If you haven't read On the Road yet, I suggest you do! It was a lovely way to start off my 2012 Summer Reading. Rating:★★★★★

The Magician King

Summer Reading