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Personnellement, me souvenir de la naissance de Kerouac aujourd’hui, c’est me rappeler que tout reste à (re)faire ! Oui. Le cynisme ambiant de la société m’incite à (re)prendre la route, (ré)investir l’espace, (ré)apprendre à lire et écrire, r(e)configurer les agencements, creuser de nouvelles sources… etc. Lourde tâche. J’y reviendrai.

Outre cette date du 12 mars [1922] où Kerouac fêterait son 88e anniversaire, il y a toujours une petite actualité Kerouac en cours ou en préparation. ♦ En France par exemple dans le plus récent numéro de Les lettres françaises (o6 mars 2010 [url/fr-PDF), on y lit un court texte de Michel Bulteau qui revient sur les rapports entre Kerouac et le jazz. ♦ À Lanmeur, en Bretagne, le 27 mars se tiendra le 1er festival Jack Kerouac : Sur la route de Lanmeur [url/fr] + [url/fr]. ♦ Aux États-Unis, on y fait déjà la promotion d’un film documentaire réalisé autour de son roman Big Sur (1962): « One Fast Move or I’m Gone: Kerouac’s Big Sur ». C’est du sérieux ! Lancement le 20 octobre 2010. Tous les détails — et la bande-annonce — sur le site Web du projet [url/ang] et ci-contre :

♦ Il y a également lancement du livre « Paradise Road: Jack Kerouac’s Lost Highway and My Search for America » de l’auteur Jay Atkinson [url/ang], ce dernier reprenant littéralement et concrètement mais aujourd’hui toute la route tel que décrite dans On The Road (1957), chez l’éditeur Wiley [url/ang]. On annonce également pour le 12 juillet 2010 la publication attendue de lettres (environ 200) échangées entre Kerouac et Allen Ginsberg entre 1944 et 1963. ♦ Finalement au Québec, la Centaur Theatre Company à Montréal propose [jusqu’au 13 mars] la pièce de théatre Michel & ti-Jean de George Rideout, mise-en-scène de Sarah Garton Stanley : une rencontre imaginaire entre Michel Tremblay et Kerouac en 1969 [url/ang]. Finalement, l’auteur Clément Moisan fait paraître un Kerouac : L’écriture comme errance, chez l’éditeur Hurtubise [url/fr].

Personnellement, à la veille d’un prochain déplacement à New York — aller/retour en voiture S.V.P. ! — il m’importe d’ici-là de relire quelques textes de Kerouac, afin de me « mettre en bouche » la route, si je puis dire. J’ai choisi son Lonesome Traveler (1960) il y a 50 ans ! Le Vagabon solitaire en traduction française [voir photo ci-haut de la 1e édition de poche chez Black Cat en 1970 avec une photographie de Robert Frank] comprenant notamment les textes « New York Scenes » (p. 104-117)  et « Alone on a mountain top » (p. 118-134), ce dernier débutant par ce paragraphe programmatique : « AFTER ALL THIS KIND OF FANFARE, and even more, I came to a point where I needed solitude and just stop the machine of « thinking » and « enjoying » what they call « living, » I just wanted to lie in the grass and look at the clouds — »

Également en toutes premières pages de ce livre, j’aime beaucoup cet « Author’s Introduction » (p. VI-VIII), rédigé par Kerouac lui-même et qui en révèle long, malgré la brièveté, sur la personne [reproduit ci-bas]:


NAME     Jack Kerouac

NATIONALITY     Franco-American

PLACE OF BIRTH     Lowell, Massachusetts

DATE OF BIRTH     March 12, 1922

EDUCATION (schools attended, special courses of study, degrees and years)
Lowell (Mass.) High School, Horace Mann School for Boys; Columbia College (1940-42), New School for Social Research (1948-49). Liberal arts, no degrees (1936-1949). Got an A from Mark Van Doren in English at Columbia (Shakespeare course). — Flunked chemistry at Columbia. — Had a 92 average at Horace Mann School (1939-40). Played football on varsities. Also track, baseball, chess teams.



Everything: Let’s elucidate: scullion on ships, gas station attendant, deckhand on ships, newspaper sportswriter (Lowell Sun), railroad brakeman, script synopsizer for 20th Century Fox in N.Y., soda jerk, railroad yardclerk, also railroad baggagehandler, cotton-picker, assistant furniture mover, sheet metal apprentice on the Pentagon in 1942, forest service fire lookout 1956, construction laborer (1941).


HOBBIES     I invented my own baseball game, on cards, extremely complicated, and am in the process of playing a whole 154-game season among eight clubs, with all the works, batting averages, E.R.A. averages, etc,

SPORTS     Played all of them except tennis and lacrosse and skull.

SPECIAL     Girls

Had beautiful childhood, my father a printer in Lowell, Mass., roamed fields and riverbanks day and night, wrote little novels in my room, first novel written at age n, also kept extensive diaries and « newspapers » covering my own-Invented horseracing and baseball and football worlds (as recorded in novel Doctor Sax). — Had good early education from Jesuit brothers at St. Joseph’s Parochial School in Lowell making me jump sixth grade in public school later on; as child traveled to Montreal, Quebec, with family; was given a horse at age II by mayor of Lawrence (Mass.), Billy White, gave rides to all kids in neighborhood, horse ran away. Took long walks under old trees of New England at night with my mother and aunt. Listened to their gossip attentively. Decided to become a writer at age 17 under influence of Sebastian Sampas, local young poet who later died on Anzio beach head; read the life of Jack London at 18 and decided to also be an adventurer, a lonesome traveler; early literary influences Saroyan and Hemingway; later Wolfe (after I had broken leg in Freshman football at Columbia read Tom Wolfe and roamed his New York on crutches). — Influenced by older brother Gerard Kerouac who died at age 9 in 1926 when I was 4, was great painter and drawer in childhood (he was) — (also said to be a saint by the nuns) — (recorded in forthcoming novel Visions of Gerard). — My father was completely honest man full of gaiety; soured in last years over Roosevelt and World War II and died of cancer of the spleen. — Mother still living, I live with her a kind of monastic life that has enabled me to write as much as I did. — But also wrote on the road, as hobo, railroader, Mexican exile, Europe travel (as shown in Lonesome Traveler). — One sister, Caroline, now married to Paul E. Blake Jr. of Henderson N.C., a government anti-missile technician — she has one son, Paul Jr., my nephew, who calls me Uncle Jack and loves me. — My mother’s name Gabrielle, learned all about natural story-telling from her long stories about Montreal and New Hampshire. — My people go back to Breton France, first North American ancestor Baron Alexandre Louis Lebris de Kérouac of Cornwall, Brittany, 1750 or so, was granted land along the Rivière du Loup after victory of Wolfe over Montcalm; his descendants married Indians (Mohawk and Caughnawaga) and became potato farmers; first United States descendant my grandfather Jean-Baptiste Kérouac, carpenter, Nashua N.H. — My father’s mother a Bernier related to explorer Bernier — all Bretons on father’s side — My mother has a Norman name, L’Evesque. —

First formal novel The Town and the City written in tradition of long work and revision, from 1946 to 1948, three years, published by Harcourt Brace in 1950. — Then discovered « spontaneous » prose and wrote, say, The Subterranean! in 3 nights — wrote On the Road in 3 weeks —

Read and studied alone all my life. — Set a record at Columbia College cutting classes in order to stay in dormitory room to write a daily play and read, say, Louis Ferdinand Celine, instead of « classics » of the course. —

Had own mind. — Am known as « madman bum and angel » with « naked endless head » of « prose. » — Also a verse poet, Mexico City Blues (Grove, 1959). — Always considered writing iny duty on earth. Also the preachment of universal kindness, which hysterical critics have failed to notice beneath frenetic activity of my true-story novels about the « beat » generation. — Am actually not « beat » but strange solitary crazy Catholic mystic…

Final plans: hermitage in the woods, quiet writing of old age, mellow hopes of Paradise (which comes to everybody anyway)…

Favorite complaint about contemporary world: the facetiousnest of « respectable » people … who, because not taking anything seriously, are destroying old human feelings older than Time Magazine… Dave Garroways laughing at white doves…

Lonesome Traveler is a collection of published and unpublished pieces connected together because they have a common theme: Traveling.

The travels cover the United States from the south to the east coast to the west coast to the far northwest, cover Mexico, Morocco Africa, Paris, London, both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans at sea in ships, and various interesting people and cities therein included.

Railroad work, sea work, mysticism, mountain work, lasciviousness, solepsism, self-indulgence, bullfights, drugs, churches, art museums, streets of cities, a mishmosh of life as lived by an independent educated penniless rake going anywhere.

Its scope and purpose is simply poetry, or, natural description. »

Je ne saurai vous inciter davantage à vous procurer — peut importe le moment de l’année — des livres du grand frère… ti-Jean. Par exemple en poche et en anglais, justement chez Black Cat, division poche de l’éditeur Grove/Atlantic « ressuscitée » en 2004. Ils proposent toujours cinq titres incontournables de Kerouac soit The Subterraneans, Lonesome Traveler, Dr. Sax, Mexico City Blues et Satori in Paris and Pic . Choisissez [url/ang].


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