Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Curation #22 from my Kerouac bookshelf -- On The Road: The Original Scroll by Jack Kerouac

The 22nd item in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is a copy of On The Road: The Original Scroll by Jack Kerouac. The provenance of this particular book is easy to determine as it is inscribed thusly:
Merry Christmas Rick
This is a Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition that appears to be a 9th printing from 2008. Regular readers of this blog need no background on this book. It features the actual text of Kerouac's classic novel as it appears on the continuous scroll -- also called a roll -- of paper on which he feverishly typed out a version of the novel in a nonstop 3-week blaze of caffeine- and Benzedrine-fueled radio bop-motivated glory between April 2 and April 22 of 1951. You'll find no paragraphs here, minimal punctuation, numerous textual differences from the edited classic edition published first in 1957 (e.g., more graphic sex), and, of course, the real names of characters. So Neal Cassady appears as Neal Cassady, not Dean Moriarty, and so on. But you still need Dave Moore's excellent Duluoz Character Key to keep things straight.

What else? Well, this edition includes an excellent 51-page introduction by editor Howard Cunnell, along with 3 other critical essays before the actual text of the novel. Throughout the actual text, as you can imagine, Cunnell had to use editorial judgments about Kerouac's handwritten corrections, revisions, insertions, and cross-outs. Since the last few feet of the scroll manuscript are lost (eaten by Lucien Carr's dog, Potchky), Cunnell does his best to present what the lost ending may have looked like.

I've only read the scroll edition of On The Road one time, and need to do so again. I did use it in my Kerouac class at the University of Maine at Farmington, comparing passages from the scroll to the classic version. Since it is required that all Kerouac fans own a copy of this book, here is a link for purchasing it.

Below is a picture of Shelf #1 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (3rd item from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: an early paperback edition of On The Road by Jack Kerouac.

Shelf #1 of my Kerouac bookshelf

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