Lonesome Traveler, Paperback
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


This is a timeless travelogue from the leading light of the Beat Generation, Jack Kerouac's Lonesome Traveller is a jubilant celebration of human discovery, published in Penguin Modern Classics.

As he roams the US, Mexico, Morocco, Paris and London, Kerouac records, in prose of pure poetry, life on the road.

Standing on the engine of a train as it rushes past fields of prickly cactus; witnessing his first bullfight in Mexico while high on opium; catching up with the beat nightlife in New York; burying himself in the snow-capped mountains of north-west America; meditating on a sunlit roof in Tangiers; or falling in love with Montmartre and the huge white basilica of Sacre-Coeur - Kerouac reveals both the endless diversity of human life and his own high-spirited philosophy of self-fulfilment. "Piquant writing, the best part of its flavour being...the hunt for the big experience, a touch of Hemingway and Whitman." (Guardian). "Full of startling and beautiful things...one sees, hears and feels." (Sunday Times).




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The early and later prose styles of Jack Kerouac are very different. Kerouac's earliest prose was written during the 1930s and 1940s. These early prose works are written in a fairly conventional prose style, although themes such as the search for freedom and detachment from convention can be found, besides the beginnings of an interest in experimentation with drugs.In his later prose style, Kerouac's search for freedom and detachment from convention is pushed into his use of language. His late prose, written in a type of stream of consciousness is a wildly extatic outpour of verbiage, poetic at times, and often incoherent. Some of these prose texts were likely written while drunk or under the influence of drugs. They are not really enjoyable to read.Lonesome traveler brings together various texts of Kerouac's travel writing, or short stories based on his travels. The first story, ""Piers of the Homeless Night" is stylistically the least accessible. It is a pain to read. There are better, more lyrical examples of Kerouac's stream of conscious style in some of the other stories.Various members of the Beat Generation loved travelling to Mexico, as it is the nearest foreign country, which is very different from the American way of life. Besides, in Mexico they access to a native culture of using drugs, and were free to experiment. "Mexico Fellaheen" and "Railroad Earth" describe such journeys to Mexico, where Kerouac did not only find drugs, but also a much freer, more relaxed lifestyle, and he feels tempted to look at the suave, slender bodies of Mexican men. These two stories have strong elements of Kerouac's later prose style. "New York Scenes" is a lovely portrait of New York City.While Kerouac found freedom on the road by hitch-hiking, for longer voyages he mustered on board ships. "Slobs of the Kitchen Sea" presents a story describing such a sea adventure."On a Mountain Top" describes Kerouac's longing for solitude, to work and to meditate. In describes his awakening interest into Buddhism. The story describes an experience of living in nature on Desolation Peak, close to Thoreau's Walden experience. (O lonesome traveler!)"Big Trip to Europe" is a hilarious story, in which Kerouac describes his trip to Tangier, Marseille, Paris, and the most funny part of it, his attempt to convince British customs that he is not just a penniless bummer, but a renowned American author.The last story, "The Vanishing American Hobo" is an endearing tribute, evoking the spirit of Benjamin Franklin and Walt Whitman as they traveled the open road. It describes how people's attitudes towards wanderers have changed, from sympathy to disgust, and how "hobos" are now seen as a nuisance and a danger.Lonesome traveler is another form of writing about Kerouac's experience "on the road", and his quest to seek freedom in far off places.

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