Road dust heavengoing Reading the development of Jack Kerouac's spontaneous prose in "On the Road", "The Subterraneans", and "Tristessa"

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Description: Since its publication in 1957, On the Road has too often monopolized the attention of commentators upon Jack Kerouac's novels. His improvisatory writing style--which he named "spontaneous prose"--has always attracted critics, although, more recently, many have chosen to focus upon the roles of race, class and gender. Yet commentators have too often failed to explore how Kerouac developed his aesthetic of spontaneous prose in his subsequent novels The Subterraneans (1958) and Tristessa (1960). Instead, they have emphasized race, class and gender at the expense of Kerouac's continued wrestling with form and style, structure and texture. In "Road Dust Heavengoing," I shall explore the origin of Kerouac's extemporaneous aesthetic in On the Road, his emergent interest in psychology in The Subterraneans ; and his complex spiritual inflection in Tristessa. He initially wanted his writing to be a simulation of jazz. His project with language and storytelling markedly changed, however, when he redefined the stream of consciousness as a psychological occurrence. The Subterraneans represents this shift in Kerouac's style, as the text combines the energies of psychotherapy and Catholic confession. His discovery of Buddhism led to yet another stylistic reappraisal. The stream of consciousness became a spiritual tool, a voice which could attempt to make sense of the metaphysical world. Tristessa, a meditation on suffering and balance, speaks for this period of Kerouac's life and demonstrates how far Kerouac moved beyond the stylistic limitations of On the Road.
Language: English
Format: Degree Work