Kerouac: Selected Letters

Kerouac: Selected Letters

Volume 1: 1940-1956

Written by:
Introduction by:

Additional Formats
  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780140234442
  • 656 Pages
  • Penguin Books
  • Adult


It was in his letters that Jack Kerouac set down the raw material that he transmuted into his novels, exploring and refining the spontaneous prose style that became his trademark. The letters in this volume, written between 1940, when Kerouac was a freshman at college, and 1956, immediately before his breathless leap into celebrity with the publication of On the Road, offer invaluable insights into Kerouac’s family life, his friendships with Neal and Carolyn Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, and William S. Burroughs, his travels, love affairs, and literary apprenticeship. At once fascinating reading and a major addition to Kerouac scholarship, here is a rare portrait of the writer as a young adventurer of immense talent, energy, and ambition in the midst of writing and living an American legend.


“The most exhilirating book of the year.”
Chicago Tribune

“As we just now begin to map full the fallout of [the Beat Generation’s] creative explosion, these letters offer an invaluable blueprint to the intricate, high-yield ballistics that went into creating it.”
San Francisco Examiner

“The greatest addition to the Kerouac canon in recent years”
—Steven Moore, Review of contemporary Fiction

“To have [his letters] gathered in one place . . . is to be overwhelmed by his passion for the printed word, by his hunger for experience and by his ability to describe both in language that sings. . . . The most exhilirating book of the year.”
—Thomas McGonigle, Chicago Tribune