On The Road
125 years Exhibition
Jack Kerouac wrote to his editor Malcolm Cowley, prior to the publication of On the Road.
Dear Mr Cowley
Only today April 19th got your month-old letter about why you couldn’t wait. Had just sent you a postcard saying BOO! - Please send the list of recommendations and I will start on it (the Denver section etc.) This address is a shack - I wanta bring my mother to California, I hope we can publish On the Road at last. - I’ve got all this time at last. - I’ve got all this time now to do the work, in this shack, till June when I’ll be completely out of touch 2 months in wilderness lookout job…so would appreciate speed.
p.s How’d you like GERARD?
After years of struggling to find a publisher, Kerouac was keen to have On the Road published as quickly as possible. But he was also concerned over Cowley’s revisions and corrections to his long type-written manuscript, as he later explained in an interview for the Paris Review:
...All my editors since Malcolm Cowley have had instructions to leave my prose exactly as I wrote it. In the days of Malcolm Cowley, with On the Road and The Dharma Bums, I had no power to stand by my style for better or for worse. When Malcolm Cowley made endless revisions and inserted thousands of needless commas like, say, “Cheyenne, Wyoming” (why not just say “Cheyenne Wyoming” and let it go at that, for instance), why, I spent five hundred dollars making the complete restitution of the Bums manuscript and got a bill from Viking Press called “Revisions.”...
Kerouac’s letter is on display at The Newberry, in Chicago, until December 31st, which is celebrating 125 years as a “Research institution and center for the humanities”. Other items on show include the original printed (and never-bound) instantiation of Voltaire’s Candide; correspondence from a slave husband to his free wife; Joseph Whitehouse’s journal from the Lewis and Clark Expedition. More details here.
Via The Newberry