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On the Road: the Original Scroll

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  10,764 ratings  ·  711 reviews
The legendary 1951 scroll draft of On the Road, published word for word as Kerouac originally composed it

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, in an apartment on West Twentieth Street in Manhattan, that he wrote the first full draft that was satisfactory to him. Type
Paperback, 416 pages
Published August 16th 2007 by Viking (first published 1957)
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Average rating 4.13  · 
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 ·  10,764 ratings  ·  711 reviews

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Feb 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I've been meaning to review this book for a while, but I get sort of emotional reading what other people think about Kerouac, and it has been hard to figure out what I want to say. I feel almost personally insulted by some of the more negative reviews which is totally weird and inappropriate of me. I guess I identify with Kerouac because in his heart he's not really all that unconventional, but he loves the company of wild adventurers and can be talked into almost anything.

I reread the original
Jack Kerouac (1922 – 1969) is the author of this book. He is considered a pioneer of the Beat generation, along with Allan Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs. If you are considering whether to read the book you must decide which edition to read. The book first came out in 1957 with the title On the Road. In 2007, the 50th anniversary edition of the book was published under the title: On the Road: the Original Scroll, which is what I have chosen to read and what I am reviewing.

This, the Scroll ve
Finished in the original.

Matching Soundtrack :
Jubilee Stomb - Duke Ellington

I find Jack Kerouac's spontaneous prose up to the task.
On the other hand, the five "books" are really uneven, which can somewhat drag you down, however it bears credit to the extensive use of spontaneous prose throughout : the typescript is alleged to have been written in a week.

Here goes a collection of personal observations on the book :

- On the Road is reminiscent of French Blablacar, especially in its first third w
Sep 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Five stars is not enough for this book: it should be ten stars! This is a very beautiful book and rightfully an American classic. Stunning!

"On The Road" is the real deal. I just started reading this and it's just a fantastic read. The energy just pops out of the page. The punk rock of novels. Mr. Jack just had the 'moment' when he wrote this, and it is incredible experience to share that 'moment' with the great man. Great.
Mar 30, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I felt hungover by the time I was done reading this book. I couldn't wait for it to end and it's not because I wanted to find out what was going to happen.

While there are a few great lines like, "My mother once said that the world would never find peace unless men fell at their women's feet and asked for forgiveness...," and the famous, " ...Because the only people who interest me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that
K.D. Absolutely
What I find intriguing about this book was how it was spontaneously written: 3 months on a scroll of papers. Jack Kerouac (1922-1969) did not have formal training on writing and probably he wanted to make a statement by packing up his things and write his experience while on the road with a friend, Neal Cassady (1926-1968). The book was largely autobiographical and describes Kerouac's road-trip adventures across the United States and Mexico with Cassady in the late 40s, as well as his relationsh ...more
Sep 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of poetic prose and searchers for an earlier hillbilly america
The continent "groans" again and again.

The night is too often "sad," the cities are "mad" or "wild" and "sad" some more. New York is the "edge of the continent," and San Francisco, too and sometimes they're the "rim of the world," or some similar allusion.

Jack Kerouac and his friends, would be considered drunks and losers by the standards of most. The author's muse and messiah, Neal Cassady, is a fellow too easily distracted, undisciplined and, by today's measurements, a candidate for depressi
Mar 07, 2012 rated it did not like it
This might be my only 1 star review on Goodreads out of 300+ I've rated here so far. Why didn't I like it? In short, it's a buddy-travel-memoir by an extremely immature and sexist 30-something written in a single paragraph. That's right. All 300+ pages of this book (and I'm not counting the 100 pages of introductions by the so-called scholars and critics who adore Kerouac and this book) are a single paragraph. About a quarter of the way through this behemoth paragraph, it was all I could do not ...more
Apr 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
I became a fan of the 'original' version around my second year of high school. I remember idolizing these crazy characters - to the point of writing a paper for English class on 'The Beats'. When I heard that this minimally edited version was available, I looked forward to reliving my love of this wild bunch of friends...jumping madly across the continent. Free of conformist society, traditional writing methods, and the mindless responsibilities of the new modern life.

At first I was intimidate
Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kerouac
A book I first read nearly half a century ago. Thought I had outgrown it. If you have tried to read the 1957 published version and given up in disgust at its mediocrity, know that what you read was what the publishers did to Kerouac mournful prose. This is the version that quivers with all the beauty I had remembered.

What I had forgotten was how utterly sad this book was...
May 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: own
The road is long and winding, and so is Jack Kerouac’s writing, but it doesn’t make for a very enjoyable novel. As Truman Capote famously said, “None of these people have anything interesting to say,” he observed, “and none of them can write, not even Mr. Kerouac. [What they do] isn’t writing at all—it’s typing.”

I understand what Kerouac is trying to do here: to represent life in the wandering way that life exists, and to present two characters that don’t know quite what they’re looking for and
Jim Cherry
Jul 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The plot to “On The Road” wouldn’t really tell you what “On The Road” is about because the travels of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarity are more existential than overt action. Yes, they drive from coast to coast, meet people, go to parties, but it’s not the action that is important but the experience Sal and Dean derive from each adventure.

The real story of “On The Road: The Original Scroll” isn’t in the book but in how Kerouac created it. The autobiographical elements that made up “On The Road,”
Jan 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Perhaps it's because I am a 19-year-old liberal arts college student or perhaps it's because I always have and probably always will yearn for excitement and beauty and adventure, but whatever the reason may be, I absolutely loved Kerouac's On The Road>i>. Every passage drew me in deeper and deeper until I could hardly stand just how much I wanted jump in the car or on a train or bus and make it across the country to the West Coast. Even the frantic tales of endless NYC nights beckoned me to get ...more
It seems like I don't get along well with Mr. Kerouac. Maybe some other time. ...more
Nov 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Well it is actually hard to say if I enjoyed this book, it wasn't terrible, but this is one of the occasions when a better word should be used. So I think three stars is fair. At first I thought to say straight away that Kerouac was a sort of son to Steinbeck's short stories like Sweet Thursday, Cannery Row, etc. etc. and that his road odyssey was him and some pals escaping death and situations they couldn't handle. But it is much more than that, in fact it was so many things that I wondered at ...more
Jen Knox
Nov 28, 2009 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book far more a few years ago. I think Kerouac's tale is decent, gloriously rebellious, but over-hyped; this book is marked with a few fantastic insights but my belief is that On The Road is only popular due to timeliness and the oft-consumed glamorization of alcoholism. Kerouac was the face of the movement, not the grit.

William Burroughs was able to write about such tales while bringing to life the disease, the twisting of the gut that follows escapades similar to Kerouac's, onl
I read "The Original Scroll" only, and it was great, deserving of its status... (I haven't really compared the two yet, haven't read a full paragraph in OTR, but check out the difference in GR ratings...they are much higher for the Scroll! Probably means they are very different experiences.) OK, here is my review of The Original Scroll... [Update, I've read both, both 5 stars for me.]

My opinion and experience: The only negatives for me in On the Road The Original Scroll were the second 30 pages
Aug 22, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: classics
On the Road – Jack Kerouac’s autobiographical novel of the exhilarating and exhausting cross-country road trips of 20-somethings Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty – was such an enormous watershed in American culture that it seems quite fitting that its 50th anniversary should be noted by Viking with no less than three newly published books: "On the Road: The 50th Anniversary Edition," "On the Road: The Original Scroll," and "Why Kerouac Matters: The Lessons of ‘On the Road."

While the 50th anniversa
William Lawrence
May 08, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: great-literature
The intro material is 4-5 star and worth the hardcover alone, but the manuscript is just grueling. 400 pages with no paragraphs. That's just torture. ...more
Nov 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: orgasmic
I first read On The Road (the non-original-scroll) when I was 15 years old and it changed my life. I was off school for the summer holidays and I read The Catcher In The Rye too, and despite not much else happening that summer, it remains vivid in my memory. It was the first book that spoke to me, or for me, and I guess it either altered my way of thinking or else it validated what was already becoming a way of looking at the world for me. For that reason I've always been reluctant to revisit On ...more
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The impact and influence this book has had on my life is indescribable. I decided to read the original scroll some 3 years after having read the novel version, book which changed my life forever. I wanted to remind myself of why I had named Jack and On the Road as pivotal in my life, why I'd named them as the explanation of my career choice, my interests, and I was promptly reminded indeed. Kerouac's way of perceiving life is one that equates life to art. The point of life is art. The point of a ...more
Jan 21, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
My first experience of On the Road was this quotation:

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”

It was actually quoted in a fanfiction, as Axel's favourite book (Kingdom Hearts AU). It's stuck with me, ever since: not the fanfiction itself, but the q
Justin Groot
Feb 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
This thing is a straight shunt into the mind of a terrifyingly good writer. The prose jitters with energy. Reading this is an amazing experience, and you should definitely do it.

Will note that the book's portrayal of women and minorities sometimes descends into stereotypes and casual prejudice that made me squirm. Sure it's from the fifties and people had different sensibilities back then yadda yadda but the fact that every female character exists only as an accessory to a man - each female char
May 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: popsugar-2020
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeremiah Lloyd
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
a favorite
Breinholt Dorrough
I cannot say the original scroll is any more enjoyable or meaningful than the published novel. All I can say is the format here is slightly cooler.

After seeing what was censored by Kerouac's editors in the 6 years between his first draft and publication, which material I find relatively mild, it really is astounding to see how far literary censorship has come in the past several decades.
Kyle van Oosterum
I don’t know where to start. Perhaps on the first page. In this heavily unedited, raw manuscript, there appears a remarkable misprint: “I first met met Neal Cassady not long after my father had died.” It suggests a car misfiring right before it takes on a soulful and epiphanic odyssey, which is pretty much what this novel is.

There has probably never been a bigger fan of the continental United States than Jack Kerouac. He’s intoxicated by the landscape, gets high off of the Jazz and has a profou
Jason Ernst
Apr 10, 2013 rated it did not like it
After intending to read "On the Road" for a good five years, I finally put it on my wish list and received a copy that contained two versions: "The Original Scroll" and one of the more punctuated, commonly published versions.

While I didn't enjoy either, my impression of what I read should be taken with a thick grain of salt. I am a wanderer at heart who has spend the last few years traipsing around the globe while writing copy to fund my budget travel experiences, which have included plenty of h
selis şen
Dec 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
it was a really good book about self-exploration and a very unique point of view to the beat generation. kerouac's narration never bored me once (actually the only thing that bored me was that there was no paragraph indentation since it's the original scroll). i have just finished the book, so naturally my mind is a mess and i don't think i can write a proper review. maybe i'll right later, after thinking about everything about the book thoroughly. (or maybe i won't BC I'M SUCH A LAZY PERSON \m/ ...more
Read the STOP SMILING review of the British edition of On the Road: The Original Scroll:

We’ve been waiting a long time for a definitive (textual) edition of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. But, alas, On the Road: The Original Scroll (Howard Cunnell, editor: Viking-Penguin, 2007) isn’t it. Yes, we have the original unexpurgated transcript with the real names reinstated and an informative if at times ill-organized introduction on the writing of the novel by Cunnell that corrects some misconceptions on
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Jack Kerouac was born Jean-Louis Lebris de Kerouac on March 12, 1922, in Lowell, Massachusetts. Jack Kerouac's writing career began in the 1940s, but didn't meet with commercial success until 1957, when On the Road was published. The book became an American classic that defined the Beat Generation. Kerouac died on October 21, 1969, from an abdominal hemorrhage, at age 47.


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