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Being Beat: The Stern Reality of London's Tramp Diary and Kerouac's Road

Being Beat: The Stern Reality of London's Tramp Diary and Kerouac's Road Being Beat Th e Stern Reality of London’s Tramp Diary and Kerouac’s Road Paul Crumbley, Utah State University In the “Author’s Introduction” that appears in the opening pages of his 1960 collection of travel sketches, Lonesome Traveler, Jack Kerouac pres- ents a brief résumé of his life in which he includes the following item: “read the life of Jack London at 18 and decided also to be an adventurer, a lonesome traveler” (v). While Kerouac is without question alluding to his experience of reading about London’s life during the eighteenth year of his own, it is possible with hindsight and perhaps a touch of literary- historical prestidigitation to extract a layer of unintended meaning from Kerouac’s words and make the case that he was in fact reading about London’s life at the time that London was eighteen. Th is proposition may at fi rst seem far- fetched but becomes somewhat less so when considering the fact that the eighteen- year- old London kept a record of his 1894 participation in the nation- wide labor action known as Coxey’s Industrial Army in a docu- ment now referred to as the Tramp Diary, the same document that would provide the germ http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Studies in American Naturalism University of Nebraska Press

Being Beat: The Stern Reality of London's Tramp Diary and Kerouac's Road

Studies in American Naturalism , Volume 14 (1) – Sep 19, 2019

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Publisher
University of Nebraska Press
Copyright
Copyright © Studies in American Naturalism
ISSN
1944-6519

Abstract

Being Beat Th e Stern Reality of London’s Tramp Diary and Kerouac’s Road Paul Crumbley, Utah State University In the “Author’s Introduction” that appears in the opening pages of his 1960 collection of travel sketches, Lonesome Traveler, Jack Kerouac pres- ents a brief résumé of his life in which he includes the following item: “read the life of Jack London at 18 and decided also to be an adventurer, a lonesome traveler” (v). While Kerouac is without question alluding to his experience of reading about London’s life during the eighteenth year of his own, it is possible with hindsight and perhaps a touch of literary- historical prestidigitation to extract a layer of unintended meaning from Kerouac’s words and make the case that he was in fact reading about London’s life at the time that London was eighteen. Th is proposition may at fi rst seem far- fetched but becomes somewhat less so when considering the fact that the eighteen- year- old London kept a record of his 1894 participation in the nation- wide labor action known as Coxey’s Industrial Army in a docu- ment now referred to as the Tramp Diary, the same document that would provide the germ

Journal

Studies in American NaturalismUniversity of Nebraska Press

Published: Sep 19, 2019

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