Jack Kerouac On The Road

Day 309 of Colourisation Project – March 12

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

Named one of the most important figures of the 20th century by LIFE Magazine and The Times of London, American novelist and poet, Jack Kerouac, born this day, March 12, 1922, was a literary iconoclast and acclaimed prophet of 1960s counter culture.

It was Kerouac who coined the term, ‘Beat Generation.’ He was the embodiment of a counter culture which alongside his friends, William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, also significant pioneers of the Beat Generation, would eventually define a literary movement. Scores of writers and musicians such as, The Doors, Bob Dylan, and Patti Smith, cite Kerouac as a major influence in their work.

Jack Kerouac

Naval Reserve Enlistment Photo – Jack Kerouac 1943 Coloured by Loredana Crupi

Kerouac was best known for his novel On the Road, an American classic that defined the Beat Generation and is one of the most enduring American novels of all time. Considered The Bible of the counter cultural generation, it appears on virtually every list of the 100 greatest American novels.

He wrote the entire novel over a three-week bender on a single scroll of paper taped together till it was 120 feet long, although he had also spent several years making notes in preparation for this ‘literary outburst’. Kerouac termed this non-stop typing style of writing “spontaneous prose” and felt it necessary to get the ‘kickwriting’ momentum he needed to achieve the literary effect he was after; something he compared to the musical improvisations of the jazz genre.

A New York Times review gave it high praise, declaring it, “the most beautifully executed, the clearest and the most important utterance yet made by the generation Kerouac himself named years ago as ‘Beat’, and whose principal avatar he is….Just as, more than any other novel of the ’20s, The Sun Also Rises came to be regarded as the testament of the ‘Lost Generation,’ so it seems certain that On the Road will come to be known as that of the ‘Beat Generation’.”

Kerouac also wrote poetry employing his free-flowing style of uninhibited prose, which incorporated elements of jazz and Buddhism as well as his own version of the Japanese haiku form. He released several albums of spoken word poetry during his lifetime and once stated that he wanted “to be considered as a jazz poet blowing a long blues in an afternoon jazz session on Sunday.”


Jack Kerouac died October 21, 1969 from an abdominal hemorrhage resulting from his alcoholism at the age of 47, in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Since his death, Kerouac’s literary stature has grown; all of his books are still in print today, testament to his enduring appeal to new generations of rebellious and disaffected youth.


“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 like fabulous yellow roman candles.”   ~   Jack Kerouac

This entry was posted in American Literature, Colorization, Colourisation, Jazz, Literature, Photography, USA and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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