The figure of the Canadian-born American writer Jean-Louis Lebri de Kerouac became a cult figure for entire generations, largely defining the direction of American literature in the second half of the 20th century. His title book, On the Road, turned out to be a reference book for many young people not only in America but also in other countries. This is the confession of a simple man, tens of thousands of words long, thousands of miles of sun-bleached and rain-drenched roads, hundreds of meetings and a million steps along the streets of dusty cities. All his work is a continuous search for himself, God and Himself in God.
But first, a few words about Jack himself. He was born March 12, 1922 in Lowell, Massachusetts, USA, in a family of French-Americans of Breton origin, becoming the third child. Until the age of six, he did not study English, Quebec French was spoken in the family at home. By the age of 10, he was firmly convinced that he would become a writer. Jack Kerouac spent most of his life either wandering the expanses of America or at his mother’s house. He began to make his first attempts at writing by the end of the 1930s, and the novel The City and the Town, published in 1950, opened the way for him into great literature.
Speaking of Kerouac, one cannot pass by another of his books, Dharma Tramps, where, as in Andre Breton’s Manifesto of Surrealism, the idea of individual freedom, freedom of creativity and the language in which the creator speaks with the world and people, with himself is defined. yourself and God. In it, a desire not to follow everything generally accepted, to get off the knurled rut, not to get involved in the system of social relations runs like a red line through the entire narrative. The author says so: “The world needs to be filled with backpackers who refuse to obey the general demand for product consumption, in which people must work for the privilege of consuming all this junk, which in fact they don’t need at all … revolutions, thousands and even millions of young Americans travel with backpacks on their backs, climb mountains, write poems that come to their mind because they are kind, and by doing strange things, they maintain a sense of eternal freedom in everyone, in all living beings “.
Don’t you think that only a yogi, a yogi from the heart, for whom there is only one path in the multitude, can speak like this – the religion of the heart and inner freedom through absolutely earthly things, personal attachments and burning emotions about the very fact of life. One enlightened sage says this: “The flame that annuls death in mortal things.” “God, my God, what a crazy world this is!” echoes Dean Moriarty, one of the characters in On the Road.
Kerouac, being a passionate jazz lover, conceived On the Road as a musical improvisation on literary grounds, recording everything that happened to him on the roads of America and Mexico with Dean Moriarty, the prototype of which was his friend Neil Cassidy. This book perfectly conveys to us the spirit of America in the 40s and 50s with the beatniks and their antisocial behavior, with Zen Buddhism penetrating the West and jazz, jazz, jazz …
Written in a spontaneous, confessional style, the book shows us the toss and turns of man-in-search-for-God: “Isn’t he there? Or maybe he is here? the author asks. And starts all over again. Not without reason, after all, Kerouac found a spiritual spine in Christianity, Zen Buddhism and other Eastern teachings.
In the meantime, he was looking for – he burned, burned, “like Roman candles”, wrote, loved, suffered, rejoiced, and most importantly – LIVED. He became for us not just a writer and the “chief beatnik”, but, first of all, a person who inspires, invites us to a joint search, doubts, and if he is wrong, he does it confidently and simply delights us in his eternal striving for something. then.
Therefore, let us thank Jack Kerouac for his books, for his life, and together say: “Happy birthday, Jack!”
Petr Kalugin, March 12, 2013