From the Archives: Beat Generation’s Jack Kerouac Dies at 47
Novelist Jack Kerouac, father of the literary “beat generation” of the 1950s and reluctant godfather to today’s hippie movement, died early Tuesday of a massive hemorrhage.
Kerouac, 47, was stricken at home Monday and underwent surgery at St. Anthony’s Hospital. His third wife, Stella, was at his bedside when he died.
A native of Lowell, Mass., a factory town that he celebrated in his novels, Kerouac had moved here almost a year ago with his wife and invalid mother. Burial will be in Lowell.
Kerouac, a handsome athlete of French-Canadian extraction, soared to fame following the publication of his novel “On the Road” in 1957. He wrote 18 books which sold several million copies and were translated into 18 languages. He once said:
“I’m only a jolly story teller and have nothing to do with politics or schemes and my only plan is the old Chinese way of the Tao: ‘Avoid the authorities.’”
The last of his published novels was the “Vanity of Duluoz” last year. A spokesman for his agent, Sterling Lord, said in New York he had completed a new novel, “Pix,” about two Negroes traveling northward from the South.
Kerouac and poets Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso were the prophets of the beat movement which flowered in San Francisco and New York. The term “beat generation” was coined by a friend, poet John Clellon Holmes.
Although Kerouac heatedly repudiated any link with the hippies, he was an idol to them. “On the Road” was their bible, and “The Dharma Bums” popularized Zen Buddhist mysticism.
Kerouac considered himself the father of “modern spontaneous prose,” a kind of stream of consciousness writing he began with “On the Road.”
It had taken him three years to write his first and only pre-beat novel, “The Town and the City.”
Seven years later he composed “On the Road” in three weeks on an unbroken roll of teletype paper which he fed into his typewriter in a friend’s apartment in New York City. The last four feet of the novel had to be rewritten, however, when they were eaten by a small black dog.
In recent years, his literary star in eclipse, he lived in seclusion in New England and Florida.
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