Talk:Jack Kerouac

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Section on adolescence / origin of name[edit]

I think it's a little bit of a shame what kind of content in articles on individuals sometimes manages to make it past the rule about maintaining an encyclopedic tone. Any specious comment made by some critic, for instance, doesn't need to be in the Wikipedia article about an artist.

Here, there is this sentence: Deleuze and Guattari cited Kerouac as a literary example of an oscillation from revolutionary left-wing expressions to fascist expressions; they said he "took a revolutionary 'flight'" with his on the road journeys, but later finds himself in the "old fascist dream" of searching for "his Breton ancestors of the superior race".

So on the basis of nothing more than having claimed Breton ancestry at one point, an person whose life otherwise was that of a hippy artist is being called a fascist. This is sensational, not encyclopedic.

To my point of view, since it's a big thing in Massachusetts to be Irish, and French speakers may often be minorities who don't fit in in northeastern communities, perhaps Kerouac just wanted to connect himself to Irish or Celtic origins in order to fit in and be accepted there more.

Or perhaps Kerouac's statement was made for the benefit of the upper-class intelligentsia comsumers of his kind of art, who perhaps he expected to often not know much about the details of the demographics of some parts of non-upper-class New England-- about the French presence that stemmed from Quebec. Perhaps he felt insecure that French origins, instead of being connected with Quebec, would make him look upper-class, while he wanted instead to be seen as having a different sort of origin, as not being just anouther spoiled kid playing at being a working-class hero. Perhaps he felt that a French name might make him look, in the eyes of American intelligentsia who hadn't the chance to hear a lot about what Kerouac' origins were like, as if her were the son or grandson of continental Europeans who'd had plenty of money to go traveling around the world and who ended up being charmed by and settling in America. So to combat this perception he decided to promote a story of a Breton origin, an ethnic origin that looked more against-the-grain. This could all be despite the fact that at one point he was trying to connect himself to a baron-- certainly Kerouac could have wanted to look like he had aristocratic origins at one point but then later changed his mind.

I know I don't have any sources for these speculations. But that's just the point-- even without sources, they're just as plausible as some critic's filling in the blanks that if a person comes up with some alternative or unlikely-sounding theory about their own family origins, it means the person is a fascist trying to present a connection with a superior race! In such situations, a source like Wikipedia should ordinarily err on the side of not giving a soap-box to the guy who starts throwing around words like "fascist," especially when history already includes many examples of dyed-in-the-wool, overt fascists among artists and non-artists alike who people can write a Wikipedia article about if they choose.

I expect some people who read my comment may want to try to save the critic's statement by pointing out Kerouac's anecdote about his dad punching a rabbi and Kerouac's at-best ambiguous statement about the story. My answer is, that's still just not enough reason to post up statements that are implying he was a fascist writer. The world is simply full of people whose parents from an older generation had un-admirable mores their children didn't share. It's not logical to call the children names because of what their parents believed. Should we then call any Indian-American whose dad believes that white people are immoral bums a racist just because of what his/her dad said? Should we call any African American whose father didn't want him/her to date any white person a racist fascist? All of this kind of thing is nothing more than a rorschach test, and while it may be okay as a parlor game, it's not appropriate on Wikipedia. Casting these aspersions on Kerouac makes about as much sense as if I were to call up Noam Chomsky and say "Mr. Chomsky, please tell me all the racist things your parents ever said so I can use them in an article to support the idea that you're a fascist." If we don't think that's an intellectually-sound enterprise, we shouldn't support sticking in the critic's quote about Kerouac.

Every prominent artist during the course of his or her career arouses all kinds of statements, both good and bad, from many critics. Just because a published critic said or wrote something once doesn't mean that the critic's comment was a good comment. Wikipedia should not be a forum to cherry-pick the most extravagant and unlikely of these statements and then to post them up for all readers of the article- the sensible and informed readers as well as the ignorant and gullible ones- to take in. The sentence should be removed.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:40, 27 June 2010 (UTC)

Birth name[edit]

It is not a joke from me but a joke from Kerouac himself! You made a mistake with the real name of Jack Kerouac. Jack Kerouac was born "Jean-Louis Kérouac" in Lowell, not "Jean-Louis Lebris de Kérouac" as we can read in his books and biographies. It has been well known in France and Canada, for a long time. My source is Jack Kerouac, Breton d'Amérique, a book I have written with Hervé Quéméner in March 2009. "Lebris de Kerouac" is a false name of his ancestor, whom real name was "Le Bihan de Kervoac". And Jack Kerouac wanted to inherit from this ancestor. It is the reason he has changed his name in Lebris de Kérouac in his books. The passport of Jack Kerouac was "John Louis Kérouac". You can have more information in: [1] Excuse my poor English but I'm French. -User:

I believe it was Ann Charters who said Kerouac was baptized with the name "Jean-Louis Lébris de Kérouac". Viriditas (talk) 09:48, 1 January 2010 (UTC)

Yes Ann charters and the others autors have made the same mistake about Kerouac's name. The verity was not well known when they published theirs books. User: —Preceding undated comment added 16:12, 1 January 2010 (UTC).

Legacy trivia list[edit]

Removed trivia list. Here it is if anyone wants to rework it into a paragraph. --Leodmacleod (talk) 23:54, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

In 1987 the band 10,000 Maniacs released the album In My Tribe, which included the song Hey Jack Kerouac, written by Robert Buck and Natalie Merchant. The song became one of the band's best known works.

In 1989 the Beastie Boys released the album Paul's Boutique, which included the song "3-Minute Rule" that contained the lyric, "You slip you slack you clock me you lack, While I'm reading On the Road by my man Jack Kerouac".

in 2002, Our Lady Peace referenced Kerouac in their song All For You, from the Gravity album.

Kerouac is mentioned in the Seth James song, "Two for Tuesday," on his 2009 album That Kind of Man.

Kerouac is mentioned in the Our Lady Peace song, "All for You," on their 2002 album Gravity.

Kerouac is mentioned in the Five Iron Frenzy song, "Superpowers," on their 1997 album Our Newest Album Ever!, in the lyric "Sometimes I feel like Holden Caulfield/Sometimes Jack Kerouac..."

Kerouac, other beat writers, and the subject matter of beat literature (especially blues, jazz and mysticism) have all had a significant influence on the work of Van Morrison. His 1991 album Hymns to the Silence, contains the song On Hyndford Street which includes: '...reading Mr Jelly Roll and Big Bill Broonzy and 'Really the Blues' by Mezz Mezzrow and 'Dharma Bums' by Jack Kerouac over and over again.' On the 1982 album Beautiful Vision, the song "Cleaning Windows" includes: '...I heard Leadbelly and Blind Lemon on the street where I was born. Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, Muddy Waters singing 'I'm a rolling stone'. I went home and read my Christmas Humphreys book on Zen. Curiosity killed the cat, Kerouac's Dharma Bums and On the Road.'

Wakefield band The Ran-Tan Waltz cite Kerouac as an influence. Their song "The Beat Generation" can be heard on their myspace page.

I summarized the list and took out artists that don't have their own article. Hope it looks good to everyone.--Abie the Fish Peddler (talk) 00:20, 29 January 2010 (UTC)

Looks great! Thanks Abie! --Leodmacleod (talk) 00:37, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
Yeah, I think I needed your nudge. Nice teamwork.--Abie the Fish Peddler (talk) 00:46, 29 January 2010 (UTC)

Early Adulthood[edit]

According to newly released Navy records he had been diagnosed with "dementia praecox", an antiquated term for schizophrenia. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Borange (talkcontribs) 00:42, 25 February 2010 (UTC)

There is NO conclusive evidence that Kerouac was schizophrenic. This is merely heresy or perhaps he merely wanted out of the navy. It is not very difficult to fake the symptoms. Kerouac was known for his restlessness. Maybe he simply wanted out of the service. ALSO...let me make this clear for the record...Jack Kerouac was not gay. There have been many questions about this and people still try to link him to gay men but Kerouac was not homosexual. Just wanted to make that clear. Hope people READ and understand.WeAreOurOwnDevils (talk) 05:49, 1 April 2010 (UTC)

The ultimate truth is unnecessary (and impossible) to reach; it would be completely appropriate to say that Navy psychiatrists (or whomever) diagnosed him with dementia praecox, if a reliable source can be found for that assertion. Similarly, the speculation of certain biographers about his sexuality can be noted with proper attribution to those sources, without declaring it as fact. postdlf (talk) 06:08, 1 April 2010 (UTC)


The section titled Politics is not factual in my opinion, especially the sentence stating that he supported the Vietnam War and was friendly with William F. Buckley. This can be verified by watching the youtube video entitled "Jack Kerouac, Interview (doc, subtitled in italian)" Kyleeld123 (talk) 20:05, 23 February 2010 (UTC)

That section is a bit sketchy, especially the phrasing "friendly with" -- is this in reference to the Buckley interview in which he was polite? There's a difference between being polite ("friendly toward) and being pals ("friendly with"). How about the interview where he said Eisenhower had a good head on his shoulders? It doesn't prove anything out of context. His turn more heavily toward conservatism and Catholicism is definitely worth expanding upon, in an accurate way of course. Kerouac always had conservative tendencies and some less than PC views on race. He certainly wasn't fond of hippies either. A fuller and more accurate exploration of this aspect of Kerouac would be helfpul to the casual reader's understanding of the total Kerouac.F. Simon Grant (talk) 16:28, 26 February 2010 (UTC)

Would love to get the "Politics"-section back. His views (if they can be called so) on politics were intereseting, though, as muche else, I think, heavily based on emotion over anything else. Haven't scanned the text recently, but his support of the Vietnam war solely to piss off the hippies, is both interesting and amusing, and I hope it still exists (if it ever did?) in the article. (That being said, this Discussion looks pretty dead to me, so I guess I'm speaking to non-existing deaf ears) --Torsrthidesen (talk) 23:45, 13 October 2010 (UTC) EDIT: Just saw the, somewhat strange sentence about Buckley on It seems to have been both stolen (ot Stole'd as Karl Pilkington would say, that jokes is probably only funny to a few) and absurd. --Torsrthidesen (talk) 23:48, 13 October 2010 (UTC)

Small edit[edit]

I changed the line "Though the work was completed quickly, Kerouac had a long and difficult time finding a buyer" to "Though the work was completed quickly, Kerouac had a long and difficult time finding a publisher" Unless "buyer" had some significance I don't know, it makes more sense --Torsrthidesen (talk) 23:40, 13 October 2010 (UTC)

Lead again[edit]

The entire lead needs to be rewritten again due to recent edits and edits made within the last year. Kerouac is not "known" and recognized for his writings about Catholic spirituality. Prior to those edits, the lead said Kerouac was recognized for his spontaneous method of writing covering topics such as jazz, promiscuity, Buddhism, drugs, poverty, and travel, which although poorly worded, is more or less accurate. Viriditas (talk) 03:23, 24 November 2010 (UTC)

Kerouac himself says that his Catholicism played a larger part in his writing than his Buddhism "My serious Buddhism, that of ancient India, has influenced that part in my writing that you might call religious, or fervent, or pious, almost as much as Catholicism has"]. So if the reference to Buddhism belongs, certainly the reference to Catholism does. I don't know how anyone who has read him could disagree. Ginsberg described him as "a French Canadian Hinayana Buddhist Beat Catholic savant". Here's an example from Beatdom: "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". This is not just the case with this work. Literary criticism of Kerouac is replete with these sorts of references. His own words bear it out. Mamalujo (talk) 04:13, 24 November 2010 (UTC)
Mamalujo, you have avoided the issue. The question is not what Kerouac thought or what influenced his writing. In the lead section, you said that Kerouac is known for his writings about Catholic spirituality. That is not true. Viriditas (talk) 04:17, 24 November 2010 (UTC)
"Literary criticism of Kerouac is replete with these sorts of references." That would be pretty much synonymous with saying he's known for it. Take a look at some of the critical works on him - it's there. Mamalujo (talk) 04:30, 24 November 2010 (UTC)
Mamalujo, I appreciate your interest in this topic. However, when disputes arise about content and wording, it is very important to follow the sources closely and respect NPOV. So, let's start there. Which source says explicitly, "Kerouac is known for his writing on Catholic spirituality". I think you will agree that there is no source that says that. Can we move on? Viriditas (talk) 04:34, 24 November 2010 (UTC)
OK, and while we're at it, why don't you show me the source that says the same of Buddhism or jazz. Mamalujo (talk) 04:46, 24 November 2010 (UTC)
That's a valid question, and yes, we should have that discussion. First, let's start with what we have and go from there. In other words, what can we keep in the lead now with the source that we already have in the article. Viriditas (talk) 05:11, 24 November 2010 (UTC)
Well the lede ought to include his noted works, style and innovations for which he is regarded and major themes of his work. I don't think it's doing too bad a job of that now. I don't think we ought to be removing themes from the lede while retaining others that are arguably of equal or lesser import. Mamalujo (talk) 05:47, 24 November 2010 (UTC)
You're on the right track, but let's start with bare bones. Are there any lead sections of GA or FA biographies that particularly interest you? Take a look at them, and you'll get some ideas on what we need to do. The current lead doesn't work. Viriditas (talk) 05:51, 24 November 2010 (UTC)
Well, I just glanced at Tolkien, Chekhov and Yeats, but I don't know how long it's been since they were FA or if their ledes have been much altered since then. Well, I think we can keep a good deal of the content. I think some of the problem is stylistic. I may not be the best person to clean that up. On the sentance we were discussing, I would I was thinking something along the lines of "Kerouac is recognized for his spontaneous method. He dealt with themes of intertwining material and spiritual journey, combining insights Buddhism with the Catholicism of his birth, while dealing candidly with the then taboo topics such as sexuality and drugs." Just a thought. Mamalujo (talk) 06:15, 24 November 2010 (UTC)
Like you, I think the Catholic influence is important, but based on what I've read about Kerouac, we need to keep it separate for a moment. Deal with it on its own, in a separate sentence, perhaps also mentioning his upbringing and its importance to him as a person. Sometimes when we are dealing with multiple concepts, it is easier to break them down into chunks (see chunking). This has the added benefit of avoiding the conflict/dispute we were having with Buddhism. We can also use it as a baseline and decide to grow and expand the sentence from that point. Sort of like a skeleton or support. Viriditas (talk) 06:26, 24 November 2010 (UTC)
I suppose we could deal with them separately. I makes little sense to me. The sources more often than not treat them together, as Kerouac typically did. Also, it would be false and misleading to suggest that Kerouac's catholicism only had ramifications personally or biographically (i.e. in his upbringing or to his as a person) - it is unequivocally a major theme of his work, as both he and the body of critical work underscore. The fact of the matter is that some during his life did seek to redact his Christianity from his work or from his identity, which Kerouac found galling. John Leland's Why Kerouac matters notes thatKerouac complained when every publication except the NY Times cropped photoshoot pics to remove his conspicuous crucifix. On the following page (150), Leland says that "while hipsters approved of Kerouac's self-taught Buddhism, they have largely ignored his devotion to the cross". Nothwithstanding the appetite of hipsters, it is prominent in the work (Leland notes, again at p. 150, characters' repeated references to "God, salvation and redemption" in On the Road). Mamalujo (talk) 22:15, 24 November 2010 (UTC)
Looking at recent sources on the subject, there appears to be enough material for an entire section on the Catholic influences. Have you had a chance to do some research? One good reason to keep it separate is because interest in this angle has only begun with recent scholarly appraisal of his papers. On the other hand, a separate section on Buddhism is also called for here. Then again, we could merge the two. Do you like it this way or that way? It is easier to take an incremental approach with both separate, and as the article evolves, we can bring them closer and closer together. In fact, several sources I've looked at actually do this, discussing Kerouac in terms of a "Catholic-Buddhist". Viriditas (talk) 11:47, 26 November 2010 (UTC)
Dealing with the subjects separately would be fine. So I have no objection to you editing as you see fit. I suspect at some point some of the two subjects will have to be adressed together. I don't think interest in the Catholic aspects of Kerouac are recent, although they may have been more pronounced recently. Critics always noticed it, Kerouac reiterated it. It has become even more undeniable with publication of his papers. Authorized biogropher, historian Douglas Brinkley says the first thing to understand about Kerouac is that he was an American Catholic writer. I will make some appropriate edits when I get to it. Cheers. Mamalujo (talk) 01:18, 30 November 2010 (UTC)

Copyright problem[edit]


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Lead, again[edit]

I've just removed this sentence from the lead: "Critics of his work have labeled it "slapdash", "grossly sentimental",[1] and "immoral".[2]

  1. ^ "Jack Kerouac's Visions of Gerard". Retrieved 2010-01-29. 
  2. ^ "On the Road (Criticism): Information from". 2010-01-14. Retrieved 2010-01-29. 

As one can see from the above cites, the immoral part of it isn't even referenced: it's a link to a bunch of links at Totally unacceptable. The article does provide a reference to a New York Herald Tribune review which (along with the New York Times) poorly reviews a single work, Visions of Gerard. But the way it's presented in the lead, it seems as if it's a verdict on Kerouac's overall body of work -- which it isn't. I believe having this is in the lead is a case of WP:UNDUE. Shawn in Montreal (talk) 14:35, 25 October 2011 (UTC)

  • I agree. He certainly had his detractors, but without a source that properly overviews the critical response, we shouldn't be cherrypicking adjectives. Seems like someone had an agenda in choosing those, as if they wanted to characterize his work on the whole as poorly reviewed, which is inaccurate. The lede would be better off to note the influence and impact of his work (considered the spokesman for the so-called Beat Generation, rating on many lists of On the Road as one of the top novels of the 20th century) and leave style critiques for more in-depth article discussion, particularly within the articles on the books themselves. postdlf (talk) 15:31, 25 October 2011 (UTC)

Kerouac and bisexuality[edit]

Why is Jack Kerouac's bisexuality not mentioned at all in the article, and he's not in the section for bisexual writers? It is a very well documented and verifiable fact that Jack Kerouac was bisexual, it's as well known as how Allen Ginsberg was gay. To not show Kerouac as being bisexual is nothing but bisexual erasure and biphobia. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:13, 12 December 2011 (UTC)

Kerouac's bisexuality should be mentioned in the article since he was bisexual and this is a verified biographical fact about him. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:22, 7 December 2012 (UTC)


Before I go through a biography or two pulling out citations to use in a section on his sexuality, is anyone going to object to having such a section? Specifically one that says, with sources: he was sexual with other young men as a youth; he lost his penis-in-vagina virginity with a prostitute in New York; he had multiple relationships with women; he had sex with other men and prostitutes while in the merchant navy; he continued this afterwards; despite having bisexual behaviour and attractions, he identified as heterosexual and did not like being thought of as 'queer'? Lovingboth (talk) 15:43, 3 March 2014 (UTC)

Such a section is bound to prove controversial, as not all biographers agree on how to interpret these facts (or even whether some of them are facts) and some biographers are definitely more inclined to argue for his homosexual tendencies than others. So you'd do best to first work on a draft of this material in your userspace and then post it to this talk page for comment and revision, before adding it to the article. postdlf (talk) 17:04, 3 March 2014 (UTC)
This section definitely needs to be done. Happy to help with it. Odd that nothing is mentioned. (talk) 18:15, 27 October 2014 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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This article contains no serious criticism of Kerouac's insipid, cliché-ridden, badly written prose which at times is slmost high school quality. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2602:306:8BBB:A8B0:2002:4439:D461:AA52 (talk) 00:13, 15 November 2015 (UTC)


Can someone with access to the relevant cited material have a look at this section as it does not seem to make much sense? Unless I have repeatedly misread it it appears to say that the family challenged a will (purportedly) made before 1973 and a judge made a decision in 2009! (Jarndyce v Jarndyce?) The final sentence is also unhelpful and could usefully be rewritten or expanded so that it is informative without further legal research. PRL42 (talk) 14:50, 6 August 2016 (UTC)

As no one has anything top say on the matter, the offending text has been removed. Perhaps at some point someone will add something that makes overt sense. PRL42 (talk) 12:30, 15 August 2016 (UTC)

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