Bloomsday Thoughts: Kerouac & Joyce

“In those days I was writing a Joyce-like novel in which I was the Dedalus; and called myself Duluoz. Let’s do that now. Duluoz the Ladysman!”

– Jack Kerouac

The fiction of Jack Kerouac is heavily inspired by the work of James Joyce. He liked to compare himself and his work to Joyce, and his hero, Neal Cassady, was sometimes compared to Joyce in Kerouac’s letters. Indeed, Kerouac even took inspiration for his own literary persona from the name of Joyce’s alter ego, Stephen Dedalus, as indicated in the above quote.

Kerouac aspired to write a Joyce-like novel, to learn Italian like Joyce, and to do for Lowell what Joyce did for Dublin. He claimed that his stream-of-consciousness style, for which he ultimately became famous, was taken from Joyce, and that his early writing was simply “imitating Ulysses.” When he joined the Merchant Marine and travelled to the UK, he saw Ireland and was primarily amazed that he was laying his eyes upon Joyce’s homeland – something, he claims, that brought tears to his eyes.

Today is Bloomsday, 16th June, the day on which the novel Ulysses is set. Kerouac greatly admired this novel, and claims that it not only inspired his own classic, On the Road, but that his book was so similar it deserved the same sort of respect: “On the Road is inspired in its entirely…. I can tell now as I look back on the flood of language. It is like Ulysses and should be treated with the same gravity.”

Evidently, Joyce was of influence to the creation of the Beat ethos, which was initially established in 1944 with the “libertine circle” philosophy of the New Vision. Kerouac equated it to the work of James Joyce: “I prefer the new vision in terms of art–I believe, I smugly cling to the belief, that art is the potential ultimate. Out of the humankind materials of art, I tell myself, the new vision springs. Look at Finnegan’s Wake and Ulysses and The Magic Mountain.”

In 1952, Ginsberg explained his own thoughts on Joyce:

Joyce is great – working with basic material of thoughts, not saying anything else, but presenting typical sequence in totality

Related posts:

The Beats & Sixties Counterculture
The 1960s are associated with what Frank calls ‘the big change, the birthplace of our own ...
Beatdom #8 Released!!!
It’s been a long wait, folks, but it’s finally here… Beatdom’s SEX issue. That’s right. An...
Kerouac's Bad Trip
In January, 1961, John F. Kennedy was inaugurated as President of the United States of Ame...
Sal’s Sad New Jersey
Hoboken apartment Paterson Lincoln Tunnel Paterson and the Passaic Holland Tunnel “ . . . ...
The Beats and the Beatles: two sides of the same coin
“If two things are two sides of the same coin, they are very closely related although th...
Feeling the Power: The Everlasting Impact of Hubert Selby Jr.’s Last Exit of Brooklyn
 “…You men writers always put your balls in the way of the story…get your ego...

David S. Wills

Posts Twitter Facebook

David S. Wills is the founder and editor of Beatdom literary journal and the author of Scientologist! William S. Burroughs the Weird Cult.He travels a lot and currently lectures in China. He also runs an ESL website. You can read more about and by David at his blog, www.davidswills.com or on Tumblr.

No Comments

Be the first to start the conversation.

Leave a Reply

Text formatting is available via select HTML. <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

*