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The appearance of Jack Kerouac’s 'On the Road' in 1957 announced the entry of the the “beat” generation into the world of American letters. Kerouac’s autobiographical, “spontaneous prose,” a kind of novelistic composition also reflected in the work of his beat compatriots Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso, burst onto a fifties America supposedly safe, stuffy, and conservative (though in retrospect there is considerable evidence to the contrary). Here was a new and wildly disorganized view of life that seemed to extol amorality and indulge in self-gratification. Kerouac’s characters are in search of some sort of spiritual truth—and it may be connected to drugs, drink, sex, jazz, or fast cars.
John Tytell, one of the great chroniclers of the beat writers, here offers an insightful mini-biography of Jack Kerouac, certainly the icon of the beat generation and a writer of puzzling complexity.
"Strong, urgent, ultimately thrilling."--New York Times Book Review of John Tytell's 'Naked Angels'
John Tytell was born in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1939, shortly before the Nazi invasion forced his family to flee the country. He grew up in New York City, studied at the City College of New York, and worked as a graduate reader at New York University for Leon Edel and Oscar Cargill while completing his doctoral dissertation. He also began teaching at Queens College in 1963 and has been professor of English there since 1937. Mr. Tytell has written Naked Angels, Reading New York, Paradise Outlaws, Ezra Pound, The Living Theatre, and Passionate Lives. He is married and lives in Greenwich Village, New York City.