The Town and the City is a complete joy, Jack Kerouac’s holiday present to the world.
As the New England chill turns to cold and colored leaves fall from trees, girls and boys, it’s time to dust off copies of The Town and the City and settle down to an autumnal read for the fall season of football games and big Thanksgiving turkey dinners and American life seen through the glorious, golden, rose-colored glasses of Jack Kerouac. Nostalgia never tasted so good: big families, hometown USA Galloway, life along the river, mother and father, brothers and sisters who are best friends, dozens of neighborhood and school pals, big roast beefs and eggs and bacon and coffee smells, cakes and pies, cigars, cigarettes, and whisky, a wonderful jubilation of Christmas and New Year’s holidays and dances and songs, followed by spring and summer and swimming under shade trees.
A delight to read and fun, sentence after sentence, there’s a bounce to the words, a spark and sparkle, like firecrackers crackling on a big night. In a stunning essay “The Blind Follow the Blind” (The Rolling Stone Book of the Beats) Carolyn Cassady states, “Kerouac’s appeal was his joyous celebration of life . . . giving us descriptions so intimate, intense and colorful, few others have matched his gift.” This is especially apparent in The Town and the City where warm-hued descriptions break wave after delightful wave. As in this scene when Mr. Martin [father] and young Mickey [a brother] win at the track. “Now we’ll go to Boston and have a big feed . . . Whattayou say we both eat a couple of steaks apiece, . . . All the ice cream you want! . . . All the steaks and chops and lobster you want . . . all the ice cream and pie and cake in the world! Everything! Fried Clams! hot dogs! hamburgers! sauerkraut and franks! . . .” The excitement, the good times, the adventure is delicious: grab a slice of life and relish it.
The book is divided into five parts; about half is set in the town of Galloway, Massachusetts, a time of idyllic youth, and the other half, after World War II, is set in the city, New York City, that is, mainly Manhattan. The second half is less innocent than the first. The war has changed the world and life has changed the Martin family. The kids have grown up and the family’s fortunes have dwindled. The protagonist has met up with “wild” friends, who of course turn out to be Levinsky, Dennison, and Wood [Ginsberg, Burroughs, Carr] and the whole gang. Mr. Martin muses, “I wish Petey [Jack] could make friends with some nice normal young people,” which of course is hilarious, and how dull things would have been without such intimates. He continues, “I’m proud of you to have dope fiends and crooks and crackpots for friends.” Pete defends his choices, his friends, and just as he thinks he’s found the meaning to love and life, the police come to the door, and then another explosion from the old man, and tears from Ma.
This is a family saga that comes full circle, ending where it began for Dad, George Martin, in the green rolling hills of New England, surrounded by family, home, tradition. But Jack is who he is, “And Peter was alone in the rainy night . . . on the road again, traveling the continent westward . . .” The rest is history, his story, Jack’s stories, autobiographical poetic prose.
Lucien Carr said about Jack (Jack’s Book: An Oral Biography of Jack Kerouac), “I tell you, you will never find as pure a man as that.” And Jack’s purity, his light-shining spirit certainly illuminate the five hundred pages of this, his first published novel. Originally, the novel was about a thousand pages, but the publishers insisted on cuts.
Archives For the town and the city
The Town and the City is a complete joy, Jack Kerouac’s holiday present to the world.
For literary types and students of Beat history who intend to invest a few cool million in real estate at the someday gentrified Chelsea Hotel, consider a few things. Yes, this was the home of Herbert Hunke and Gregory Corso, and Bill Burroughs and Ginsberg and Kerouac all stayed or passed through here and numerous writers and artists and near writers and near artists and every other type of, as Burroughs might say, “characters” from the world’s stage, and shall we say even those from under the world’s stage, some through windows and through walls, have passed through. The twelve-story hotel, built in 1883-1884, has a history of ghosts and is one of the most haunted buildings in New York City. It truly ranks as a Beat Hotel. Continue Reading…
“What are you rebelling against?” the local girl asks one of the “saintly motorcyclists” in the
1953 movie The Wild One, and Marlon Brando drawls, “Whaddaya got?” That’s a biography in
brief of French poet Arthur Rimbaud, who revolutionized literature and then abandoned it at
age nineteen. Continue Reading…
The interviews with Henderson tell a different side of the now-famously fabled story of how the Beat Generation was jump-started into motion. There are many excellent photos included, as well. Watch for a review in the soon-to-be-released Beatdom Issue 10, the Religion Issue!Continue Reading...
More so than any other literary movement, the Beats have influenced the world of travel and have helped shape our perceptions of the world around us. From obvious influences on hitch-hiking to more serious questions relating to the environment, Beat Generation literature and history has played a major role influencing people over the past fifty years.
We often look to Jack Kerouac as the great backpacker, whose On the Road is credited with sending thousands of readers literally on the road… but he certainly wasn’t the perpetual traveller many think, and the other members of the Beat Generation – whom are less well known for their journeys – travelled far more.
It is strange that when one thinks about the Beat Generation one invariably thinks of New York or San Francisco, because between there lay thousands of miles that they all travelled, and beyond them lay a near infinite abyss that many sought to explore. But these were mere catchments for the meeting of minds; where the young writers and artists of their day met and exchanged knowledge – knowledge that lead them on the road, and was informed by their own personal adventures.
Hitch hiked a thousand miles and brought you wine.
JK, Book of Haikus
Kerouac is the logical starting point for an essay about the Beat Generation and travel. On the Road is undoubtedly the most famous Beat text, and concerned – as the title suggests – travelling. The book detailed Kerouac’s journeys across North America, and inspired subsequent generations of readers, writers and artists to take to the road for spiritual (or non-spiritual) journeys of their own.
Interestingly, Kerouac was not always fond of hitchhiking, although he has had a huge impact upon hitchhikers. He didn’t really do as much travelling as people seem to think, either. Kerouac grew up in Lowell, Massachusetts and stayed there until he went to Horace Mann Prep School in New York at seventeen years old. A year later he went to Columbia University on a football scholarship, but broke his leg and eventually signed up for the merchant marines during World War II. He sailed on the S.S. Dorchester to Greenland.
At twenty-five, Kerouac took his first cross-country road trip, and a year later he took his first trip with Neal Cassady. These journeys took Kerouac from one end of America to another, and eventually found their way into the American road classic, On the Road.
On the Road is one book that has changed America. Whether you’ve read it or not, it has had some impact upon your life. Kerouac’s masterpiece has inspired people ever since, and is still as relevant as ever.
“The road is life,” is one oft-quoted phrase from On the Road. It is one that resonates in American society – a country of immigrants, whose classics include Mark Twain, Jack London, Jack Kerouac and Bob Dylan. The road has always meant something to America; their histories are irrevocably linked.
The idea of the wilderness and self-reliance has been entangled in American literary history since the beginning, and was most notably explored in the works of Emerson and Thoreau. Kerouac also believed that it was important, saying in Lonesome Traveler:
No man should go through life without once experiencing healthy, even bored solitude in the wilderness, finding himself depending solely on himself and thereby learning his true and hidden strength.
But mostly it was the idea of non-conformity that appealed to people fifty years ago, and which has inspired readers ever since. Kerouac’s call to “mad” people came at a time when people needed to rebel, and his wild kicks on the roads of America were a wake-up call for millions. The idea of rebelling then became tied to that of travelling – of gaining freedom and independence through running away and exploring the world, and to hell with society’s expectations.
Kerouac explained in The Dharma Bums:
Colleges [are] nothing but grooming schools for the middleclass non-identity which usually finds its perfect expression on the outskirts of the campus in rows of well-to-do houses with lawns and television sets in each living room with everybody looking at the same thing and thinking the same thing at the same time while the Japhies of the world go prowling in the wilderness.
In both Japhy Ryder and Dean Moriarty Kerouac portrayed an attractive outsider that stood against everything society demanded. He presented romantic depictions of these footloose individuals that etched in the consciousness of his readers a desire to be that free soul.
Japhy Ryder was based on Zen poet Gary Snyder, whom Kerouac met in San Francisco, after travelling across America with a backpack full of manuscripts. His Buddhist wisdom inspired Kerouac to attempt communing with nature, as depicted in The Dharma Bums.
Perhaps his Book of Sketches is a better example of Kerouac’s travel-writing. He details a nearly three thousand mile hitch-hiking journey from 1952, as he travelled from North Carolina to California, by way of Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Utah and Nevada. In the book he describes every town he visits and every ride he took in travelling across America.
In 1957 Kerouac travelled to Tangier, Morocco, with Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky. He didn’t enjoy his time there, but helped Burroughs with the concept and title of what would later become Naked Lunch. This journey was recorded in Desolation Angels – which also details his musings on life as he wanders across North America and Europe. The chapter titles in this book include: “Passing Through Mexico,” “Passing Through New York,” “Passing Through Tangiers, France and London” and “Passing Through America Again.”
Later, suffering from his inability to deal with fame and his disappointment at not being taken seriously by critics (as they viewed the Beats as a mere fad), Kerouac attempted to heal himself by escaping to Big Sur, as described in the novel of the same name.
After Big Sur, Kerouac returned to his mother in Long Island and didn’t stray far from her for the rest of his life. They moved together first to Lowell, Massachusetts, and then to St. Petersburg, Florida.
William S. Burroughs
Burroughs doesn’t exactly strike the same image in the minds of travellers as Kerouac, but certainly travelled more than the author of On the Road. His books are hardly odes to nature or travel, but in his life Burroughs moved frequently, and saw much of the world.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Burroughs went to school in New Mexico, and then studied at Harvard. With a healthy allowance from his parents, Burroughs travelled frequently from New York to Boston, and travelled around Europe after studying in Vienna. He returned and enlisted in the army, but was soon discharged and moved to Chicago, where he met Lucian Carr.
Carr took Burroughs to New York, where he met Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. Whilst in New York he and Joan Vollmer Adams had a child. The family soon moved to Texas, and then New Orleans. Some of this was described in On the Road.
After being arrested on account of incriminating letters between him and Ginsberg, Burroughs was forced to flee to Mexico, where he famously shot and killed his wife in a game of William Tell.
In January 1953 Burroughs travelled to South America, maintaining a constant stream of correspondence with Allen Ginsberg that would later become The Yage Letters. “Yage” was the name of a drug with supposed telekinetic properties for which Burroughs was searching.
In Lima, Peru, he typed up his travel notes and then returned to Mexico, where he sent the final instalment of his journey to Ginsberg. This later became the ending of Queer.
In 2007, Ohio State University Press published Everything Lost: The Latin American Notebook of William S. Burroughs. The book details Burroughs’ journey through Ecuador, Columbia and Peru, and gives insight into his personal troubles.
When Burroughs’ legal problems made it impossible for him to live in the cities of his choice he moved to Palm Springs with his parents, and then New York to stay with Ginsberg. After Ginsberg reject his advances, Burroughs travelled to Rome to see Alan Ansen, and then to Tangier, Morocco, to meet Paul Bowles.
Over the next few years Burroughs stayed in Tangiers, working on something that would eventually become Naked Lunch. He was visited by Ginsberg and Kerouac in 1957, and they helped him with his writing.
In 1959, when looking for a publisher for Naked Lunch, Burroughs went to Paris to meet Ginsberg and talk to Olympia Press. Amid surrounding legal problems, the novel was published. In the months before and after the book’s publication, Burroughs stayed with Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, and Peter Orlovsky in the “Beat Hotel.” Ginsberg composed some of “Kaddish” there, while Corso composed “Bomb.”
After Paris, Burroughs spent six years in London, where he originally travelled for treatment for his heroin addiction. He returned to the US several times – including to cover the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago – before moving to New York in 1974. He took a teaching position and moved into the “Bunker,” a rent-controlled former YMCA gym.
Burroughs travelled around America from time to time, before moving to Lawrence, Kansas, where he spent his final years.
Clearly Burroughs possessed more of an instinct to travel the world than Kerouac. However, his writing rarely glorifies the act of travelling, unlike his friend, who celebrated the road.
In an unpublished essay that can be found in the New York Public Library’s Berg Collection, Burroughs writes,
As a young child I wanted to be a writer because writers were rich and famous. They lounged around Singapore and Rangoon smoking opium in a yellow ponge silk suit. They sniffed cocaine in Mayfair and they penetrated forbidden swamps with a faithful native boy and lived in the native quarter of Tangier smoking hashish and languidly caressing a pet gazelle. …
This isn’t exactly the sort of image that invokes pleasant thoughts for most readers, but it shows that Burroughs considered exotic locations and global travel as extremely important. He set these things as a goal for himself, even from a young age.
In his work one could argue Burroughs was more interested in the notion of time-travel than of terrestrial journeying. From actual references to time-travel to the cut-up techniques that carried readers across space and time, Burroughs seemed very interested in having everything in a constant state of flux.
In his essay, “Civilian Defence,” from the collection, The Adding Machine, Burroughs argues for space travel as the future of mankind. He seems to be suggesting that to change is to survive, that we need to move to develop.
Man is an artifact designed for space travel. He is not designed to remain in his present biologic state any more than a tadpole is designed to remain a tadpole.
From the Allen Ginsberg Trust:
Ginsberg might have been an American by birth, but through his extensive travel he developed a global consciousness that greatly affected his writings and viewpoint. He spent extended periods of time in Mexico, South America, Europe and India. He visited every continent in the world and every state in the United States and some of his finest work came about as a result of these travels.
Ginsberg spent his tumultuous youth in Paterson, New Jersey, before moving to Columbia University and meeting Kerouac and Burroughs. He met Neal Cassady there and took trips across America – to Denver and San Francisco. In 1947 he sailed to Dakar, Senegal, and wrote “Dakar Doldrums.”
Ginsberg returned to New York and attempted to “go straight,” but moved to San Francisco and became heavily involved in its poetry scene. In 1951 he took a trip to Mexico to meet Burroughs, but Burroughs had already left for Ecuador. In 1953 Ginsberg returned to explore ancient ruins and experiment with drugs, and in 1956 he visited Kerouac in Mexico City.
In 1955 he read “Howl” at the Six Gallery and became a Beat Generation icon. When Howl and Other Poems was published, City Lights Bookstore was charged with publishing indecent literature, and the trial helped made Ginsberg a celebrity.
During the trial Ginsberg moved to Paris with his partner, Peter Orlovsky. From there they travelled to Tangier to help Burroughs compose Naked Lunch. They returned through Spain to stay in the “Beat Hotel” and help Burroughs sell the book to Olympia Press. In a Parisian café, Ginsberg began writing “Kaddish.”
In 1960 Ginsberg travelled to Chile with Lawrence Ferlinghetti for a communist literary conference. He travelled through Bolivia to Lima, Peru, where he tried yage for the first time.
In 1961 Ginsberg and Orlovsky sailed on the SS America for Europe. They looked for Burroughs in Paris. From Paris he travelled through Greece to Israel, meeting Orlovsky, who’d taken a different route.
Together, Ginsberg and Orlovsky travelled down to East Africa, attending a rally in Nairobi. From Africa they travelled to India, first to Bombay and then Delhi, where they met Gary Snyder and Joanne Kryger. Ginsberg and Snyder travelled throughout India for fifteen months, consulting as many wise men as they could find.
After India, Ginsberg travelled on his own through Bangkok, Saigon and Cambodia, and then spent five weeks in Japan with Snyder and Kryger. He wrote “The Change” on a train from Kyoto to Tokyo.
In 1965 Ginsberg travelled to Cuba through Mexico, but was kicked out of the country for allegedly calling Raul Castro “gay” and Che Guevara “cute.” The authorities put him on a flight to Czechoslovakia. In Prague Ginsberg discovered his work had become very popular and used his royalties there to travel to Moscow. He travelled back through Warsaw and Auschwitz.
Back in Prague Ginsberg was elected “King of May” by the students of the city, and spent the following few days “running around with groups of students, acting in a spontaneous, improvised manner – making love.”
Eventually he was put on a flight to London after the authorities found his notebook – containing graphically sexual poems and politically charged statements. In London he partied with Bob Dylan and the Beatles, and organised a big poetry reading.
On his return to the US Ginsberg learned that his previously deactivated FBI file has been updated with the warning, “these persons are reported to be engaged in smuggling narcotics.” This was not helpful to someone as passionate about travel as Allen Ginsberg, and for two years he travelled around the US.
In 1967 he flew to Italy and was arrested for “use of certain words” in his poetry. He then travelled back to London and on to Wales, before returning to Italy to meet Ezra Pound.
In1971 a plane ticket to India and West Bengal was anonymously donated, and Ginsberg travelled to the flood and famine ravaged area.
Back in America, Ginsberg was always travelling – seeking wisdom and change. He moved around the country, participating in demonstrations and rallies. He trained with Buddhists, founded the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa, in Boulder, Colorado, and toured with Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Review.
Ginsberg toured Europe again in 1979 – visiting Cambridge, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Paris, Genoa, Rome and Tubingen, among other places. He was accompanied by Gregory Corso and Peter Orlovsky.
In the early eighties Ginsberg settled in Boulder, to play a more active role at Naropa, following a series of problems that had troubled the school. During this time he travelled to Nicaragua to work with other poets on stopping American interference in the politics of other nations. (He returned to Nicaragua for a poetry festival in 1986.)
He spent eight weeks in China following a 1984 poetry conference with Gary Snyder, and in 1985 travelled in the USSR for another poetry conference. In August and September of 1986 he travelled throughout Eastern Europe – performing in Budapest, Warsaw, Belgrade and Skopje. In January of 1988 he travelled to Israel to help bring peace to the Middle East. Later that year he returned to Japan to help protest nuclear weapons and airport developments.
After twenty five years, Ginsberg was re-crowned King of May upon his return to Prague in 1990. A few months later he travelled to Seoul, South Korea, to represent America in the 12th World Congress of Poets.
Continuing to travel right up until 1994, Ginsberg went to France in ’91 and ’92, and then toured Europe in ’93. His four month tour took him around most of Europe, including a ten day teaching job with Anne Waldman.
After selling his personal letters to Stanford University, Ginsberg bought a loft in New York, where he largely remained until his death in 1997.
Neal is, of course, the very soul of the voyage into pure, abstract meaningless motion. He is The Mover, compulsive, dedicated, ready to sacrifice family, friends, even his very car itself to the necessity of moving from one place to another.
William Burroughs, on Neal Cassady
His name may not be as famous as that of Kerouac, but Cassady is well known to any Beat enthusiast. He was portrayed as Dean Moriarty in On the Road: the man Sal Paradise followed on his cross-country trips.
Whilst he may remain most well known for inspiring Kerouac, Cassady influenced many people to enjoy their lives, and to break free of convention. John Clellon Holmes talked about him in Go, Ginsberg referenced him in “Howl” and Hunter S. Thompson mentioned him (unnamed) in Hell’s Angels. He was not only a hero of the Beats, but of many during the following psychedelic era.
It could be said that Cassady lived and died on the road. He was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and raised by his alcoholic father in Denver, Colorado. He was a criminal from an early age, always in trouble with the law. He was frequently arrested for car theft, and known as an exhilarating driver.
After meeting Kerouac and Ginsberg in New York City, Kerouac and Cassady travelled across America and into Mexico. Kerouac was inspired by Cassady’s life and his letter-writing style, whilst the latter sought advice about novel-writing from Kerouac, who’d already published The Town and the City, a novel featuring a far more conventional style of writing than that for which Kerouac later became known.
Both the subject and style of On the Road owe their existence to Neal Cassady. His impact upon Kerouac cannot be understated.
Cassady settled with his wife, Carolyn, in San Jose, and worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad. He kept in touch with the rest of the Beats, although they all drifted apart philosophically.
In the sixties Kerouac withdrew into alcoholism and what seems like an early onset of middle-age, whilst Cassady took to the road again with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. In a bus called “Furthur” Cassady took the wheel and drove the Pranksters across America. It was a trip well documented in Tom Wolf’s Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.
Cassady travelled to Mexico many times, and in 1968 he died on a railroad track, attempting to walk fifteen miles to the next town. Shortly before his death he told a friend, “Twenty years of fast living – there’s just not much left, and my kids are all screwed up. Don’t do what I have done.”
In his short life, Neal Cassady travelled back and forth across North America. His wild antics, footloose life and driving skills inspired many who met him to follow him where he went. He was immortalised in art and literature, and continues to be an inspiration today in sending people on the road.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti commented that if Allen Ginsberg was the Walt Whitman of the Beat Generation, then Gary Snyder was its Henry David Thoreau. Through his rugged individualism and Zen peacefulness the young poet made quite an impact upon his contemporaries, introducing the culture of Asia to the West Coast poetry scene.
Snyder was both interested in the teachings of Asian culture and the tough landscape of North America, and his relationship with both is most famously recounted in Kerouac’s Dharma Bums.
Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Snyder quickly learned the importance of place. He spoke of a Salishan man who “knew better than anyone else I had ever met where I was.” The mountains and forests of his part of the world were dangerous and beautiful places, and respect and awareness of them were key to his development. Knowing himself inside and out was essential for Snyder’s growth and survival.
From a young age Snyder was fascinated with Asia. He grew up on the West Coast of the United States, revelling in the diversity of the cities.
The geographical significance of East Asia to the West coast was palpable, as I was growing up. Seattle had a Chinatown, the Seattle Art Museum had a big East Asian collection, one of my playmates was a Japanese boy whose father was a farmer, we all knew that the Indians were racially related to the East Asians and that they had got there via Alaska… There [was]… a constant sense of exchange.
After years of studying Asian culture and teaching himself to meditate, Snyder was offered a scholarship to study in Japan. His application for a passport was initially turned down after the State Department announced there had been allegations he was a communist. (This was shortly after the 1955 Six Gallery Reading, at which Snyder read “A Berry Feast.”)
Snyder studied and travelled in Japan, and eventually became a disciple of Miura Isshu. He mastered Japanese, worked on translations, learned about forestry and formally became a Buddhist.
His return to North America in 1958 took him through the Persian Gulf, Turkey and various Pacific Islands, whilst he worked as a crewman on an oil freighter.
Snyder returned to Japan in 1959 with Joanne Kyger, whom he married in February 1960. Over the next thirteen years he travelled back and forth between Japan and America, occasionally living as a monk, although without formally becoming a priest.
As mentioned in the “Allen Ginsberg” section of this essay, Snyder and Ginsberg travelled together throughout India, seeking advice from holy men.
Between 1967 and 1968 Snyder spent time living with “the Tribe” on a small island in the East China Sea, practicing back-to-the-land living. Shortly after, Snyder moved back to America and settled with his second wife – Masa Uehara – in the Sierra Nevada mountains, in Northern California. He maintained a strong interest in back-to-the-land living after returning.
Gary Snyder’s poetry often reflects his relationship with the natural world. Throughout his life he worked close to the land, and in his poems we see intimate portraits of the world around him. Issues of forestry and geomorphology are frequently addressed in his poems, as well as in his essays and interviews.
In 1974 Snyder’s Turtle Island won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. “Turtle Island” is a Native American name for the North American continent, and Snyder believed that by referring to it as such, it was possible to change contemporary perceptions of the land to a more holistic, balanced viewpoint.
Mountains and Rivers Without End was published in 1996, and celebrates the inhabitation of certain places on our planet.
Today there is an incredible volume of work concerning the poetry of Gary Snyder, and it largely divides its focus between his interest in Asian culture and the environment. It is pretty much agreed, however, that the natural world and a strong sense of community have pervaded his works throughout his entire career.
The only member of the Beat Generation to have actually been born in Greenwich Village was Gregory Corso. He was the youngest of the Beats, and had an extremely tough childhood, growing up on the streets of New York without a mother and did time in both the Tombs and Clinton Correctional Facility.
He met Ginsberg in a lesbian bar in New York and was soon introduced to the rest of the Beats. In 1954 he moved to Boston and educated himself. His first book of poetry was released with the help of Harvard students.
Corso worked various jobs across America, and stayed for a while in San Francisco, performing with Kerouac and becoming a well known member of the Beats.
Between 1957 and 1958 Corso lived in Paris, where he wrote many of the poems that would make up Gasoline, which was published by City Lights. In October of 1958 he went to Rome to visit Percy Byssthe Shelley’s tomb. He travelled briefly to Tangier to meet Ginsberg and Orlovsky, and brought them back to Paris to live in the Beat Hotel. In 1961 he briefly visited Greece. In February 1963 he travelled to London.
It seems that Corso came to consider Europe his home, in spite of having been born in New York. His travels there inspired him, and he spent many years living in Paris. During a return to New York he said: “It dawns upon me that my maturing years were had in Europe – and lo, Europe seems my home and [New York], a strange land.”
Ferlinghetti claimed to have been a bohemian from another era, rather than a Beat. Indeed, he isn’t often viewed in the same light. He was the publisher of the Beats, more than a Beat Generation writer, and he lived a more stable life. While Ginsberg, Kerouac and co. were on the road, gaining inspiration and living their footloose lives, Ferlinghetti was mostly settled in San Francisco.
He travelled a little – going to Japan during World War II and studying in Paris after attending Columbia University. He lived in France between 1947 and 1951.
Politics and social justice were always important to Ferlinghetti, and he was active with Ginsberg in protesting and demonstrating for change. He read poetry across America, Europe and Latin America, and much of the inspiration for his work came from his travels through France, Italy, the Czech Republic, the Soviet Union, Cuba, Mexico, Chile and Nicaragua.
His poems are often political and social, but also celebrate the natural world.
McClure has never been renowned for his travelling or travel writing, but rather for his depictions of nature and animal consciousness. His poems are organised organically in line with his appreciation of the purity of nature. They carry the listener (as McClure’s delivery of his poems is fantastic, and often accompanied by music) to totally different place.
He first read his poetry aloud at the Six Gallery in San Francisco, and has since read at the Fillmore Ballroom, San Francisco’s Human Be-in, Airlift Africa, Yale University, the Smithsonian, and the Library of Congress. He even read to an audience of lions at San Francisco Zoo. He has read all around the world, including Rome, Paris, Tokyo, London and in a Mexico City bull ring.
His travels have carried him around North America, South America, Africa and much of Asia.
Kaufman was one of thirteen children, and at age thirteen he ran away from the chaos of his New Orleans home. He joined the Merchant Marine and spent twenty years travelling the world. It is said that in this time he circled the globe nine times.
He met Jack Kerouac and travelled to San Francisco to become a part of the poetry renaissance. He rarely wrote his poems down, preferring to read them aloud in coffee shops.
Kaufman was always more popular in France than in America, and consequently the bulk of his papers can be found in the Sorbonne, Paris. Today his written work is hard to find.
Norse was born in Brooklyn and attended New York University. After graduating in 1951 Norse spent the next fifteen years travelling around Europe and North Africa.
Between 1954 and 1959 he lived and wrote in Italy. He worked on translations and used street hustlers to decode the local dialects.
In 1960 Norse moved into the Beat Hotel in Paris, with William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso. Whilst in Paris he wrote the experimental cut-up novel Beat Hotel.
Like many of the Beats, Norse travelled to Tangier after reading the work of Paul Bowles. He returned to America in 1968 to live in Los Angeles, befriending Charles Bukowski, before spending the rest of his life in San Francisco.
Jack Kerouac’s Search for his Roots
Much has been written about Kerouac’s apparent rootlessness being the driving force behind his travels and his writing. His search for his true roots was endless. In the final decade of his life it became desperate. Jack had learned, from his father and uncles, that their ancestor came from France to Canada in the 1700s. But Kerouac’s quest was confused. In his 1952 novel, Doctor Sax, Jack named his ancestor as ‘the honorable soldier, Baron Louis Alexandre Lebris de Duluoz [Kerouac],’ and this became Alexandre Louis Lebris de Kerouac in 1960, in the introduction to Lonesome Traveller. By 1968, writing to genealogist Howard Valyear, Jack gave the different name of Francois-Edouard Lebrix de Kerouac’h, but a month later changed the first names to Francois Alexandre. His ancestor, he maintained, was a soldier in Montcalm’s army who was also known as ‘The Little Prince’, since he was allegedly the son of the titular king of the Cornouialles district of Brittany, an area populated by Celtish people driven out of Cornwall, England, by Anglo-Saxons in the 6th century. A romantic myth, but, we now know, far from the truth.
The only evidence for the name of the ancestor was on his marriage certificate of 1732, where he signed it Maurice-Louis Le Bris de Kerouac. This implies a family name of Le Bris, originally from a place named Kerouac. But searches in France for such a family proved fruitless. When Kerouac was there in 1965 he learned that vital records held in Paris had been destroyed by bombing during the Second World War. As Jack described in Satori In Paris, he travelled on to Brittany and met a Pierre Lebris (called ‘Ulysse’ in the book) but discovered that he was part of another branch of a very large family, with no connection to Kerouac. Jack’s quest for his roots had led him up a blind alley where he would remain until his death four years later.
The Kerouac families of Canada and the USA, now numbering some three thousand members, continued the search for their ancestor. Investigations by genealogists in the village of Kerouac, some 15 miles east of Quimper, in southern Brittany, curiously found no evidence of a Le Bris family coming from that area. In fact, there was no trace at all of the name Le Bris de Kerouac in France. It apparently did not exist. Then, in 1999, a breakthrough. Patricia Dagier, a French genealogist employed by the Kerouac families of North America, discovered records of an old family called Le Bihan de Kervoac. Kervoac being the Breton spelling of Kerouac, this caused some excitement. The hamlets of Kervoac are near the northern coast of Brittany, close to the port of Morlaix. In fact, there is a cluster of three hamlets, situated on the south-eastern outskirts of the town of Lanmeur: Kervoac Huella, Kervoac Izella, and Kervoac Creiz (or, translating from the Breton: Upper, Lower, and Central Kerouac. Kervoac itself means ‘wet place’ in Breton).
The research by Patricia Dagier revealed that a Henry Le Bihan, a notary, was living in Lanmeur in 1609, when he married. His son, a merchant in Morlaix, followed the Breton custom of attaching the place of the family’s origins to his name, to become Auffroy Le Bihan de Kervoac, and his son, Laurens, maintained the tradition. Laurens Le Bihan de Kervoac moved some twenty miles south to become a procurator in the town of Huelgoat, marrying there in the 1660s and producing a son Francois-Joachim who became a rich notary in Huelgoat. This notary was the father of the Kerouac ancestor, Urbain-Francois Le Bihan de Kervoac, born in Huelgoat around the year of 1702.
In September 1720, Urbain, who was being trained to follow in his father’s professional footsteps, suddenly found his world turned upside down. Attending the wedding party of a friend, he was accused of attempting to seduce and then of stealing money from one of the female guests. Whether the claims were true or false, Urbain, as the son of a famous notary, not wishing to bring disgrace upon his family, fled Brittany and sailed for La Nouvelle France — Canada. On arrival, in an attempt to conceal his true identity, Urbain changed his name and became known as Alexandre. In Canada he travelled up and down the St. Lawrence river, making his living as a hunter and fur-trader. He seems to have adapted well to this new, hard life-style and to have had an aptitude for the exploration of his new country, acquiring the nickname ‘Le Voyageur’ (‘The Traveller’) at this time. His first appearance in official records was his signature as a witness to the wedding of a friend in 1727. This he signed as Hyacinthe Louis Alexandre Le Bihan de Kervoac, disguising his real first names, but preserving his original family name, presumably out of respect for his old friend. He also gave false names for his father and mother, in an apparent attempt to throw the curious off the true scent.
But Alexandre’s free and easy existence was to change in 1732. Arriving back in the village of Cap St-Ignace, some 40 miles east of Quebec, he was approached by members of the family of an unmarried twenty-year-old woman, Louise Bernier, who had given birth to a son, Simon-Alexandre, eight months earlier. The baby, she insisted, was Alexandre’s and so, a few days later, on October 22, 1732, he found himself being married to Louise. The records show that, presumably to save his family from further embarrassment, this time he signed his name as Maurice-Louis Le Bris de Kerouac. The name Le Bihan had vanished, never again to appear in Canadian records. But why did he become Le Bris? One theory is that this was the name of one of his mother’s cousins, and a close friend of the family. Whatever, this change of surname was responsible for the total genealogical confusion which masked the true origins of the Kerouac ancestor for nearly 300 years.
The couple settled into the home of Louise’s parents, but his newly-found domesticity evidently did not agree with the flamboyant Alexandre, since he was missing, probably away on further travels, when his second son, Jacques was born in 1733. Shortly after the birth of his third son, Louis, in 1735, the couple left the Bernier home and settled in Kamouraska, a small village on the St. Lawrence river, a further forty-five miles east of Quebec. But Alexandre de Kerouac, as he was now known, was not to live there for long. He died in his mid-thirties on March 6, 1736. His wife Louise survived to the grand age of 91, and their eldest son, Simon-Alexandre, went on to father thirteen children of his own, becoming the main branch in the Kerouac family tree.
Some coincidences: one of Alexandre’s acquaintances in Canada was Joseph Martin, the very same name that Kerouac unwittingly gave to the character based on his great-grandfather, Edouard Kerouac, in his 1950 novel The Town and the City. And, ironically, in Chapter 32 of Satori in Paris, the book based upon his 1965 journey to France, Jack reads the name ‘Behan’ in the genealogy of Ulysse Lebris, without realizing its connection to the ancestor he was so desperately seeking. The final irony is that Jack had to cancel another planned trip to Brittany in 1967 with his Breton friend Youenn Gwernig because of his publisher’s demands that he completed work on Vanity of Duluoz. Their intended destination? — Huelgoat, the birthplace of Jack’s North American ancestor.
Jack Kerouac died in ignorance of his true French ancestry, but would no doubt have been fascinated to know the correct story of his Breton forebears, from whom he seems to have inherited many characteristics, including the travelling gene, even if the true facts differ considerably from the long-standing myths.
[ Copyright Dave Moore ]
By Kristin McLaughlin
Without Gerard, what would have happened to Ti Jean? – Jack Kerouac
Visions of Gerard is Kerouac’s prolonged meditation on his older, saintly brother Gerard, who died at the age of nine (Jack was four at the time) of rheumatic fever. As the cornerstone of the Dulouz legend, Visions of Gerard, along with Maggie Cassidy and Dr. Sax, deals with Kerouac’s early life in Lowell, Massachusetts. Most biographers agree that though Kerouac left Lowell after high school, he never left it emotionally. That was where his heart remained. In 1963, six years before his death, he said, “I have a recurring dream of simply walking around the deserted twilight streets of Lowell, in the mist, eager to return to every known and fabled corner. A very eerie, recurrent dream, but it always makes me happy when I wake up.”
Kerouac was born in March 1922 at 9 Lupine Road in Centralville, one of Lowell’s neighborhoods on the north side of the Merrimack River. Lowell had its hay-day during the late 19th/early 20th century when the banks of the river were crowded with textile mills. By the time Jack was born, however, Lowell was already declining as the mills began to close.
He was the third child of Leo and Gabrielle Kerouac, both French-Canadian immigrants who had met and married in Nashua, New Hampshire. Leo owned a print shop in Lowell and was “a hearty, outgoing burgher” and Gabrielle, known to everyone as Mémêre, conducted the household in a Quebecois patois known as joual. For one of the most influential American writers of the 20th century, Jack didn’t learn English until he went to school.
Kerouac’s mother played an important – perhaps unhealthily important – role in his life. He told biographer Anne Charters that his mother was the only woman he ever loved. She was devoutly Catholic, and wore religious medals attached to the strap of her slip. After Gerard’s death, she became fiercely protective of Ti Jean (as Jack was known), and that continued throughout his life. While his father seemed indifferent and occasionally hostile to organized religion and its messengers, Mémêre instilled in the Kerouac children a religious sensibility that is apparent in all of Kerouac’s writings. Religion, his mother, and his background as a child of working-class immigrants profoundly affected him, his writing, and his worldview. Though he did a lot of things that could be viewed as the antithesis of those influences, it’s clear in his writing that those influences were always there.
In Visions of Gerard, Kerouac seamlessly blends dream and reality to create a “book of sorrows.” Though evidence suggests that most of the scenes in Visions of Gerard do not stem from Kerouac’s real memories, he manages to meld his few recollections, his dreams and visions, his mother’s romanticized anecdotes and his own imaginings into a tribute to a dying brother. To Jack, Gerard really was angelic.
One story related of Gerard is that he once found a mouse in a trap that was still alive. Horrified that someone would do this to one of God’s creatures, he brought the mouse home, bandaged it up and took care of it. Before long the cat found the mouse and ate it, leaving only the tail behind. Gerard scolded the cat, but not in the mean way you would expect from a child. Instead, Gerard gives the feline a lecture that it shouldn’t harm others. Leo tries to explain to the boy that that happens in life – we eat things that are smaller than us. But Gerard wants none of it. “We’ll never go to Heaven if we go on eating each other and destroying each other like that all the time! – without thinking, without knowing.”
As stated earlier, Gerard died of rheumatic fever, an inflammatory disorder affecting the heart, joints, skin, and nervous system that can develop after a Group A streptococcal infection such as strep throat or scarlet fever. Though he was in a great deal of pain, particularly towards the end of his life, Kerouac does not put the boy’s suffering in the forefront. Gerard, in his saintliness, suffers quietly, without complaint. Despite his own pain, he brings home hungry neighborhood children for Mémêre to feed. “Unceasing compassion flows from Gerard to the world even while he groans in the very middle of his extremity.”
Gerard oversees Jack, wanting him to be good. Kerouac writes of when he stabbed a picture of a murderess on the front page of the newspaper. Gerard scolds him, like he scolded the cat, and together they patched the newspaper back together, so the picture was as good as new. Though Gerard is mostly kind to Ti Jean (except when slaps him for knocking over his erector set), there is competition. Little Jack wonders why Gerard gets fed before he does, and states, “there’s no doubt in my heart that my mother loves Gerard more than she loves me.”
The Gerard that Jack knows is otherworldly. He falls asleep in class and dreams that the Virgin Mary came to him with a white wagon pulled by two lambs. He tells his little brother about the color of God. He goes to confession where he tells the priest about a little boy whom he pushed when the child accidently knocked over something he was making. The priest asks if the boy was hurt; Gerard says no, “but I hurt his heart.” Near his death Gerard tells Ti Jean, “God put these little things on earth to see if we want to hurt them – those who don’t do it who can, are for his Heaven – those who see they can hurt, and do hurt, they’re not for his Heaven – See?” When the doctor tells the Kerouacs that it is time to call for the priest, the nuns from Gerard’s school come as well, kneeling by his bedside, asking him questions and writing down the boy’s answers. The whole portrayal is of a child who is more than a child –a child who understands something about the world and about Heaven that those around him do not. He tries to explain that “we’re all in Heaven, but we don’t know it.” Kerouac puts the religious theme in the forefront here. All of his novels are religious novels at heart, but in some of them it’s hard to discern.
Then Gerard dies. Jack runs down the street towards his father on his way home, “gleefully…yelling, ‘Gerard est mort! as thou it was some great event…I thought it had something to do with some holy transformation that would make him greater and more Gerard like…so when he wearily just said, ‘I know, Ti Pousse, I know’ I had that same feeling that I have today when I would rush and tell people the good news that Nirvana, Heaven, our salvation is Here and Now, that gloomy reaction of theirs, which I can only attribute to pitiful and so-to-be loved ignorance of mortal brains.”
After his death, the neighborhood women notice that the birds that Gerard had lovingly fed from his windowsill had gone and they did not return. “’They’re gone with him!’ Or, I’d say, ‘It was himself.’”
In 1955, shortly after the famed Six Gallery reading in San Francisco, which featured Allen Ginsberg’s performance of “Howl,” Neal Cassady left Kerouac in charge of his mentally unstable girlfriend of the moment, Natalie Jackson. Jack spent the afternoon trying to calm her manic episode with Buddhist texts, but to no avail. The next day she jumped from the window to her death. Kerouac was very disturbed by this and returned to his sister’s home in Rocky Mount, North Carolina shortly before Christmas. Of course, his mother was there too. The experiences that would fill Kerouac’s future novel, The Dharma Bums, were occurring at this time.
In January 1956, Mémêre left Rocky Mount for New York to attend a funeral. It was then, in the absence of his mother, that Kerouac sat down to write what would become Visions of Gerard. “My sister and her husband weren’t interested. They went to bed and I took over the kitchen, brewed tea and took Benzedrine. It was written by hand on the kitchen table. My sister wouldn’t let me light candles, so I used the kitchen light. You got to live with your family, you know. Mémêre wasn’t there. She went to the funeral of her step-mother in Brooklyn. If she’d been there, I wouldn’t have written it. We’d have talked all night. But that funeral reminded me of funerals, my brother’s funeral…”
At the time of writing Visions of Gerard, Kerouac was in the process of synthesizing his two religions – Catholicism and Buddhism; both are clearly represented in the novel, and Kerouac successfully harmonizes them to present his Catholic sensibility from his recently adopted Buddhist perspective. To say that Kerouac was a devout Catholic is to imply that he was a practicing Catholic, which he was not. But he continued to maintain his belief in Catholicism throughout his life. He was Catholic in his heart, and was devout in his own way. His beliefs at the time of writing the novel can probably be summed in the words he says that Gerard’s “sad eyes first foretold”: “All is well, practice Kindness, Heaven is Nigh.”
It only took Kerouac approximately fifteen days to write Visions of Gerard, though John Kingsland, who read the unedited original draft of Kerouac’s The Town and the City, stated that some of the scenes that were edited out of that first published novel are included in Visions of Gerard. On January 15, 1956, Kerouac wrote to Gary Snyder that the novel was finished. In that letter, he called the work his “best most serious sad and true book yet,” and reiterated this in letters as late as 1961, still two years before its publication. By late 1956, Kerouac had submitted the book to Viking Publishers, where Malcolm Cowley objected to its Buddhist influences; Cowley didn’t see how it related to Jack’s French-Canadian upbringing. In response to requests to revise the novel, Kerouac told his agent, “Visions of Gerard suits me as it stands. As it comes, so it flows, and that’s literature at its purest.” But by 1958, Kerouac was offering to revise the novel and substitute Catholic references for the Buddhist ones if Viking would buy the book. He really wanted the book to be published, mostly to counteract his ever-growing image as an encourager of youthful rebellion. He wrote that Visions of Gerard “is by far the wisest next book for me because of present screaming about my juvenile delinquent viciousness.”
The book, along with Big Sur, was eventually bought in January 1962 by Farrar, Straus and Cudahy for a $10,000 advance. When it was sold, Kerouac’s editor promised not to make changes to it, but it’s unclear if any changes were made between its original writing, which was done in pencil, and its final, published version. In December 1962, he wrote to his friend Philip Whalen, “I’m proofreading Visions of Gerard…[it] will be published by Fall 1963 and will be ignored I guess, or called pretentious, but who cares…” Who cares? Jack certainly did. For all the coolness of that statement, Kerouac was crushed by negative reviews, which typically not only ripped his books to shreds, but Kerouac as a person.
Visions of Gerard wasn’t exactly ignored, but the reviews were very bad indeed. The New York Herald Tribune stated that it was, “a text very much like everything else [Kerouac] has published in the past five years: slapdash, grossly sentimental, often pridefully ‘sincere’ that you can’t help question the value of sincerity itself…In someone else’s hands, it could have been moving. Even in Kerouac’s own hands, it could have been good, if only he had made writerly demands of himself. As it stands, though, it just amounts to 152 more pages of self-indulgence.” The review in the New York Times wasn’t any better: “…the clangor we hear far too often is the narrator’s jaunty, garrulous hipster yawping, and before its implacable onslaught all feeling disintegrates. It is not enough to say that the style does not evoke or intensify the emotion. It betrays and debases it. The dead boy deserved better of his eulogist.” Biographer Gerard Nicosia states that “critics seemed to be stirring for new lefthanded and underhanded ways of putting [Kerouac] down.” This further fueled Kerouac’s downward spiral – now he was not only the cause of juvenile delinquency, but he was desecrating his brother’s memory and exploiting his death.
In an October 1963 letter to friend and fellow writer John Clellon Holmes, Kerouac states, “everybody’s become so mean, so sinister, so hypocritical I can’t believe it. So I turn to drink like a lost maniac…They make me feel like never writing another word again.” So much for not caring. Kerouac’s entire identity was as a writer, and all he desired professionally was to be taken seriously. Since the publication of On the Road, he had been physically declining largely due to the notoriety it brought him. He was so self-conscious, and the press had turned him into everything he wasn’t, and didn’t want to be.
Visions of Gerard is almost a prolonged religious homily to his brother, who in his mind – and the mind of his mother – was a saint. But while this novel does have an overarching religious sensibility to it, it is a very sad tale. Jack was absolutely devoted to his brother – he worshipped him and emulated him in a way probably most boys would look up to an older brother. “For the first four years of my life, while he lived, I was not Ti Jean Dulouz, I was Gerard, the world was his face, the flower of his face, the pale stooped disposition, the heartbreakingness and the holiness.” He was extremely jealous of Gerard’s friends, and when they would come to visit the bed-ridden boy, Jack would complain to Mémêre and she would send the boys away, saying that Gerard belonged to Jack. Losing his brother appears to have been very traumatic for Kerouac – he grew frightened of the dark and often wondered how he could get into heaven to be reunited with his beloved brother. For a short time after his brother’s death, Jack even thought Gerard would return in some resurrected form, “huge and all-powerful and renewed.”
Neighborhood playmates of Gerard remember him as a normal, but sickly, kid and suggest that Kerouac largely embellished the story of his brother’s holiness. In fact, in a letter to his sister, Caroline in 1945, Kerouac admitted all he remembered of Gerard was the slap over the erector set. The myth of Gerard was most likely encouraged and reinforced by Mémêre and greatly merged with the French tradition of child-saints. It is legitimate to wonder how much Gerard’s death – and his doting mother’s reaction to it – influenced Kerouac later in life. In the same letter to Caroline, he admits feeling guilty about Gerard and that he may have been responsible for the death. But imagine Jack’s position: as a child he believed his brother was favored over him, his parents view the boy as a saint. Gerard’s piety was used as a standard against which Kerouac often measured his own life, and he failed miserably against that standard. Gerard’s death has come to be seen by researchers as a potential source of Kerouac’s torments and turmoil, and Visions of Gerard has been described as being “told from the standpoint of a man looking from the dark torrents of a raging river at an unattainable peaceful shore.” But though the boy’s death was clearly a tragedy, and served as a source of terrible guilt and anguish for Kerouac – and perhaps even was the original catalyst that eventually led to his alcoholism and death, we are also faced with the question of whether, had Gerard lived instead, Kerouac would have ever become a writer in the first place. As Kerouac asks in the novel, what would have happened to Jack without Gerard?
“The whole reason why I ever wrote at all and drew breath to bite in vain with pen and ink…because of Gerard, the idealism, Gerard the religious hero – Écrivez pour l’amour de son mort.”
 Kerouac, Jack. Visions of Gerard. New York: Penguin Group, 1991. 5.
 “Book News from Farrar, Straus, & Cudahy, Inc.” Empty Phatoms: Interviews and Encounters with Jack Kerouac. Ed. Paul Maher, Jr. New York: Thurder’s Mouth Press, 2005. 223
 Gifford, Barry and Lawrence Lee. Jack’s Book: An Oral Biography of Jack Kerouac. NY: St. Martin’s Press. 1978. 4.
 Kerouac, Jack. Letter to Gary Snyder. 15 January 1956. Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters 1940-1956. Ed. Anne Charters. New York: Penguin Group, 1995. 358-359.
 Kerouac, Jack. Visions of Gerard. New York: Penguin Group, 1991. 11.
 Ibid., 70.
 Ibid., 71.
 Kerouac, Jack. Visions of Gerard. New York: Penguin Group, 1991. 36.
 Ibid., 104.
 Ibid., 54.
 Ibid., 109-110.
 Ibid., 117
 Charters, Anne. Kerouac: A Biography. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1973. 252.
 Kerouac, Jack. Visions of Gerard. New York: Penguin Group, 1991. 6.
 Nicosia, Gerard. Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac. Berkley: University of California Press, 1983. 500
 Kerouac, Jack. Letter to Gary Snyder. 15 January 1956. Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters 1940-1956. Ed. Anne Charters. New York: Penguin Group, 1995. 358-359.
 Kerouac, Jack. Letter to Sterling Lord. 7 October 1956. Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters 1940-1956. Ed. Anne Charters. New York: Penguin Group, 1995. 589.
 Kerouac, Jack. Letter to Sterling Lord. 29 November 1958. Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters 1957-1969. Ed. Anne Charters. New York: Viking Press, 1999. 169.
 Kerouac, Jack. Letter to Philip Whalen. 13 December 1962. Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters 1957-1969. Ed. Anne Charters. New York: Viking Press, 1999. 353.
 Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters 1957-1969. Ed. Anne Charters. New York: Viking Press, 1999. 370.
 Maloff, Saul. “A Yawping at the Grave.” New York Times. 8 September 1963.
 Nicosia, Gerard. Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac. Berkley: University of California Press, 1983. 648
 Kerouac, Jack. Letter to John Clellon Holmes. 5 October 1963. Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters 1957-1969. Ed. Anne Charters. New York: Viking Press, 1999. 370.
 Kerouac, Jack. Visions of Gerard. New York: Penguin Group, 1991. 2.
 Kerouac, Jack. Visions of Gerard. New York: Penguin Group, 1991. 109.
 Kerouac, Jack. Letter to Caroline Kerouac Blake. 14 March 1945. Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters 1940-1956. Ed. Anne Charters. New York: Penguin Group, 1995. 87.
 Simpson, Emily Patricia. “Religious Turmoil: The Conflict Between Buddhism and Catholicism in Jack Kerouac’s Life and Writing.” MA Thesis. North Carolina State University, 2003. 28.
 Kerouac, Jack. Visions of Gerard. New York: Penguin Group, 1991. 112.