On the Road: The Original Scroll

Jack Ker­ouac’s “On the Road” is turn­ing 50 this month, some­thing we recent­ly not­ed. And to com­mem­o­rate the event, Viking has just pub­lished the orig­i­nal draft of the nov­el (check it out here) that Ker­ouac banged out in three quick weeks, in a New York apart­ment, on eight long sheets of trac­ing paper, which he lat­er taped togeth­er to cre­ate a 120-foot scroll (see pho­to). This new pub­li­ca­tion offers a repro­duc­tion of Ker­ouac’s first draft and lets you see how the beat clas­sic changed from ini­tial draft to pub­li­ca­tion. In the scroll, Ker­ouac uses the real names of friends instead of pseu­do­nyms, and some of the details are a lit­tle more graph­ic. If you want to see footage of Ker­ouac read­ing from “On the Road,” feel free to refer back to our post on August 15.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.