• Re-Remembering Gerard: Using Beat Author Jack Kerouac’s Letters to Lead Students to a Deeper Understanding of his Novels

    Author(s):
    Mary-Beth Brophy (see profile)
    Date:
    2016
    Subject(s):
    American literature, Teaching of literature
    Item Type:
    Other
    Tag(s):
    jack kerouac
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M65P5G
    Abstract:
    In recent years, American Beat author Jack Kerouac’s body of work has found a reduced role in the study of 20th century American literature, functioning primarily as a window into an aspect of Americana that has largely vanished with the proliferation of high speed roadways: the cross-country road trip. However, the widespread availability of Kerouac’s personal letters opens the door to new interpretations of his novels, offering teachers of American literature both an intertextual approach to presenting Kerouac’s novels and a clear example, through private letters, of the role that authorial view can play in shaping the Roman à clef. This article uses letters written by Kerouac to shed light on the authorial choices made in his novel Visions of Gerard. By closely examining the influences at work— including historical events, the reliability of human memory, familial pressures, and Kerouac’s own guilt—the novel can be viewed on many levels, including those that do not reveal themselves if the novel is studied in the absence of the letters. Using Visions of Gerard as an example, this article seeks to demonstrate the value of using Kerouac’s letters and other private writings to support classroom study of his body of work.
    Notes:
    Originally published in the Summer, 2011 issue of Teaching American Literature: A Journal of Theory and Practice http://www.cpcc.edu/taltp/archives/summer-2011-4-4
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal Article
    Publisher:
    TALTP
    Journal:
    Teaching American Literature: A Journal of Theory and Practice
    Volume:
    Summer
    Issue:
    2011
    Status:
    Published
    License:
    All Rights Reserved

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