Legendary roll manuscript
of Kerouac's On the Road
Fifty years after it was published, the 36 metre (120 feet) roll of paper on which novelist Jack Kerouac typed out his On the Road in a coffee-and Benzedrine-fuelled three week frenzy has been put on exhibit in New York.
A legendary icon of the beat generation's creative intensity, the massive scroll went on display last week at the New York Public Library, together with other documents, pictures and objects from Kerouac and his contemporaries William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and Neal Cassady.
The scroll contains the original, unedited text of On the Road, Kerouac's tale of disaffected youth travelling around the country searching for a place in post-WWII America.
While the final version of the book, which five decades later still sells some 100,000 copies a year, changed several of the names and toned down some of the sex, the scroll makes clear who among his friends Kerouac was using as character models. The scroll was sold at auction to a private buyer in 2001 for 2.4 million dollars, who has agreed to put the first half of it, some 18 metres (60 feet) on display.
Beatific Soul: Jack Kerouac On the Road will continue at the New York Public Library through March 16, 2008, but the On the Road manuscript will be removed after February 24.