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On the Road: The Original Scroll | [Jack Kerouac]

On the Road: The Original Scroll

Though Jack Kerouac began thinking about the novel that was to become On the Road as early as 1947, it was not until three weeks in April 1951 that he wrote the first full draft that was satisfactory to him. Typed out as one long, single-spaced paragraph on eight long sheets of tracing paper that he later taped together to form a 120-foot scroll, this document is among the most significant, celebrated, and provocative artifacts in contemporary American literary history.
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Publisher's Summary

Here is the legendary 1951 "scroll" draft of On the Road, word for word as Jack Kerouac originally composed it.

Though Kerouac began thinking about the novel that was to become On the Road as early as 1947, it was not until three weeks in April 1951, in an apartment on West 20th Street in Manhattan, that he wrote the first full draft that was satisfactory to him. Typed out as one long, single-spaced paragraph on eight long sheets of tracing paper that he later taped together to form a 120-foot scroll, this document is among the most significant, celebrated, and provocative artifacts in contemporary American literary history. It represents the first full expression of Kerouac's revolutionary aesthetic, the identifiable point at which his thematic vision and narrative voice came together in a sustained burst of creative energy.

It was not until more than six years later, and after several new drafts, that Viking published, in 1957, the novel known to us today. The differences between the two versions are principally ones of significant detail and altered emphasis. The scroll is slightly longer and has a heightened linguistic virtuosity and a more sexually frenetic tone. It also uses the real names of Kerouac's friends instead of the fictional names he later invented for them.

This audio edition is narrated by actor John Ventimiglia, best known for his portrayal of restaurant owner Artie Bucco in The Sopranos.

©2007 John Sampas, Literary Representative, the Estate of Stella Sampas Kerouac; John Lash, Executor of the Estate of Jan Kerouac; Nancy Bump; and Anthony M. Sampas; (P)2007 Penguin Audio, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

What the Critics Say

"It is a dazzling piece of writing for all of its rough edges, and, stripped of affectations...it seems much more immediate and even contemporary....The novel that On the Road became was inarguably the book that young people needed in 1957, but the sparse and unassuming scroll is the living version for our time." (The New York Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (284 )
5 star
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3.9 (154 )
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4.2 (157 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    dan 11-29-12
    dan 11-29-12

    t p prince esquire international-- Switzerland / USA --Author publisher of adult and children's literature.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "taking On the Road back on the Road"

    The original Scroll of On The Road was amazingly inspiring for its warmth, honesty and integretty. I remember reading about Jack Kerouac in my journalism school days at Mizzou but I never really connected with Neal Cassidy till I listened to John Ventimiglia's interpretation of the original penning. What a wonderful, tragic and inspiring charachter he was. I spend my time hitching on the road in the seventies and this reading brought back the freedom and honesty that America once was. Who would have the balls to do those trips today? Who could so openly love and project themselves as Neal did back in the 50s? Easy Rider without a chopper!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    spunky1000 Miami, FL USA 10-08-12
    spunky1000 Miami, FL USA 10-08-12 Member Since 2011

    spunky1000

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    4
    2
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    Performance
    Story
    "Great for a road trip"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Great look at America in 1947, wonderful imagery. The characters were contrasting and the book was a real nice listen during a long road trip.


    What other book might you compare On the Road to and why?

    ?


    Which character – as performed by John Ventimiglia – was your favorite?

    All were good


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Road trip before interstates


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel PAHOA, HAWAII, United States 10-02-12
    Daniel PAHOA, HAWAII, United States 10-02-12 Member Since 2008

    I live now on the eastern tip of the Big Island of Hawaii... and work in Pahoa Town... where I try to anticipate the weather...

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Required Reading"
    What did you love best about On the Road?

    Anybody who came of age in the mid 20th Century (1945-1970) has read this book at least once back then... when they were young... and it resinated. Not so much because of the stuff Jack and his friends did and talked about... but just because they could... and did and wrote about it. What a relief to read a book about a guy hitchhiking... and staying up all night and talking on wine and speed and pot and working at any old job because nobody much cared about the future or their career or the clothes they wore. This was a revelation... because I felt this way too... mostly.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Jack Kerouac? Why or why not?

    Not now... because Kerouac kept writing 'On the Road' over and over. All his subsequent books were more versions of this book... and no way as good.


    What about John Ventimiglia’s performance did you like?

    I liked the narrator very much... and this is a great book to hear... listen too... better I believe than reading it... it's such a verbal tour.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I don't like to listen to any book in one sitting... 'On the Road' included... but it would be a trip.


    Any additional comments?

    'On the Road' is a book for the young. Listening to it now... in my sixties... I find faults without knowing why... but I love it still... mostly because it took me back... for another ride.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S-Loftis Los Angeles, Ca 08-20-12
    S-Loftis Los Angeles, Ca 08-20-12
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    2
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    "Original Scroll"
    If you could sum up On the Road in three words, what would they be?

    I absolutely love On The Road but the Original Scroll is even better. It is what Jack initially wrote before he was told to edit it for the novel and I am happy that I read what Jack initially wanted On The Road to be.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    LuAnne is my favorite character because her role in Jack and Neal adventures is put more emphasis than on the novel version.


    What does John Ventimiglia bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Ventimiglia brought to me more of how the characters were with his accents


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The ending when Jack thinks about the the two coasts, everything that is in between and Neal Cassady.


    Any additional comments?

    This is ideal for anyone who loves the Beat Generation.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Randolph Cocoa Beach, FL, United States 02-11-08
    Randolph Cocoa Beach, FL, United States 02-11-08 Member Since 2005

    Live in Cocoa Beach Florida. Am a videographer and photographer.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Randy"

    Although I was just a boy during the time frame of this manuscript, I found the charactors totaly foreign. Drugs, alcohol and meaningless relationships. I did not like any of the charactors. They were all one diminsional jerks thinking only of themselves. Still, I could not stop listening.

    5 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amy South Carolina 09-15-13
    Amy South Carolina 09-15-13 Member Since 2012

    I'm an artist and an art historian, and a chef, and a dog mom, master crocheter, a mediocre gardener, and a girlfriend, mostly. My favorite authors (in equal amounts of favorite) are Tom Robbins, Jane Austen, J.D. Salinger, and Haruki Murakami.

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    "Unexpectedly boring."
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I feel like this book would have been much more interesting written from an unprivileged minority's perspective, then a whiteboy looking for "adventure".


    What could Jack Kerouac have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Nothing. I know that it is a classic, I just really found it boring.


    What aspect of John Ventimiglia’s performance would you have changed?

    His voice was boring to me. He didn't make me like the main character. He made me loathe him even more.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    Maybe. Maybe the movie would take a different spin on the main character. Give him some interesting qualities.


    Any additional comments?

    I just have to say, if you are looking for adventure in this book you wont find it. If anything I find this book is important to America to show that it is still full of hipsters trying to make their lives more meaningful. The answer to that is to do great things, not bum off of people who really are unprivileged, and then make a mockery of their lives as a way to make yourself more interesting.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tamara Chicago, IL, USA 05-11-08
    Tamara Chicago, IL, USA 05-11-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "lost my interest"

    recording is great, the reader is awesome - the story is easy to follow.

    with all that said the rating i gave is primarily due to the time wasted on Kerouac's constant digressions.

    the first half is exciting! and seems like you will follow this great man on an amazing adventure!!! but as it gets more into the last half you begin to think, "whoa Kerouac, did you forget where you were going with this?"

    he goes into ridiculous digressions of relationships with people who ultimately do not matter and are as uninteresting as my grandmothers new hummel.

    sadly, and in my opinion, the story begins to break down in the last half into an anticlimactic bit of frustration.

    i totally stopped listening because i got BORED.

    5 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Avondale, PA, USA 11-26-07
    William Avondale, PA, USA 11-26-07 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Over Hyped"

    Over hyped, but I guess these guys foreshadowed the hippies of the ‘60’s. Some powerful descriptions of America interspersed with a rambling narrative of pointless road trips heavy on sexual exploits. Women are one dimensional second class citizens. Neal Cassidy? Is he supposed to be a hero or a victim? He’s neither. Other than having a heightened sensitivity to, and appreciation of, the world around him, he’s a total loser.

    7 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Orin Olympia, WA, United States 06-26-12
    Orin Olympia, WA, United States 06-26-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Narrator, one tip, acting lessons."

    A great look into the creation of novel ruined by horrid narration. I knew exactly what I was expecting from the scroll as I have read the book, but sitting in traffic on my commute, I was looking for a great experience of hearing it and understanding it just I little more intensely, but alas I am so annoyed by the narration, I almost want to stop listening to it.

    There are enough recordings of Kerouac and Cassady to easily be able to recreate the feel of their timbre, accent, and meter. I mean, just listen to Mike Meyer in "So I Married an Axe Murder" and compare it to Kerouac on "Blues and Haikus," he does a brilliant homage to Mr. Kerouac.

    Part of the greatness of this book, and books such as this like Travel's with Charlie, is that the authors attempt to capture the accents and vernacular from the different parts of the nation. The US in the 50s was still full of truly beautiful local dialects and this reading misses all of them. In fact, it has all but Kerouac's narration and Ginsburg's speech (which is pretty good) in a slightly mangled southern, black, riverboat accent.

    There were so many great choices to make on who could read this properly, I wonder desperately why this actor was chosen and why the recording wasn't stopped after the first couple sessions and this actor sent home.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elaine Greenlee 05-10-08 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    5
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    "What a waste of time!"

    Never have a listened in such wonder that anyone would actually think this is a worthwhile book. It's nice to learn something new or at least be entertained - but this one offers neither, unless you want to hear about doing drugs, stealing gas and cigarettes, having sex with as many women as you can and calling a grand adventure. It was just boring.

    2 of 19 people found this review helpful
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