Publishing Kerouac's 'On the Road' Scroll

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The original draft text of Jack Kerouac's On The Road will be published to mark the 50th anniversary of the book next year. Kerouac wrote his draft of the novel in a three-week period in 1951 on taped-together sections of tracing paper, resulting in a single scroll of nearly 120 feet of paper. Characters in the scroll version bear the names of real-life friends of the author, such as Neal Cassady and Allen Ginsberg, rather than the fictionalized versions in the final edition.


An artifact of another, more recent era will be made available to the public soon.


It's the original version of the Jack Kerouac novel On the Road. The 50th anniversary of the book's publication is September 2007 and to mark that occasion, the version that Kerouac actually typed will be published for the first time.

NORRIS: Kerouac wrote his Beat Generation masterpiece on a taped-together scroll. Five years ago, the owner of the Indianapolis Colts bought it. It's housed at Indiana University's Lilly Library. Jim Canary is the head of Special Collections there and says he's read the whole thing.

Mr. JIM CANARY (Lilly Library, Indiana University): It's very different from the book. At the very beginning, in the printed book that we all know, it's, I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up, whereas in the scroll it's, I first met Neil not long after my father died.

SIEGEL: This early version of On the Road also bears scratched-out passages, misspellings, made up words and there's the mark of Jack Kerouac's earliest and hungriest editor.

Mr. CANARY: The end just disappears. It's all mottled and gone. Jack wrote in pencil on the end of it, eaten by Potchki, a dog.

NORRIS: The 1951 scroll was typed out in three weeks, but it was based on four years of notes. Jack Kerouac hand cut paper in lengths of about 12�feet and taped them together. Hilary Holliday is the director of the Kerouac Center for American Studies at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.

Ms. HILARY HOLLIDAY (Kerouac Center for American Studies, University of Massachusetts): Because this way he could just continue the thought and he didn't have to keep inserting new pages of paper into the typewriter.

SIEGEL: Jack Kerouac worked on his novel for another six years before it was published in 1957. That first version of On the Road is due out to mark the 50th anniversary next year. It will, however, be bound as a book, not a scroll.

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