October 22, 1969
By JOSEPH LELYVELD
Author of 'On the Road' was Hero to Youth--Rejected Middle-Class Values ack Kerouac, the novelist who named the Beat Generation and exuberantly celebrated its rejection of middle-class American conventions, died early yesterday of massive abdominal hemorrhaging in a St. Petersburg, Fla., hospital. He was 47 years old.
"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, desirous of everything at the same time," he wrote in "On the Road," a novel he completed in only three weeks but had to wait seven years to see published.
When it finally appeared in 1957, it immediately became a basic text for youth who found their country claustrophobic and oppressive. At the same time, it was a spontaneous and passionate celebration of the country itself, of "the great raw bulge and bulk of my American continent."
Mr. Kerouac's admirers regarded him as a major literary innovator and something of a religious seer, but this estimate of his achievement never gained wide acceptance among literary tastemakers.
The Beat Generation, originally regarded as a bizarre bohemian phenomenon confined to small coteries in San Francisco and New York, spilled over into the general culture in the nineteen-sixties. But as it became fashionable to be beat, it became less fashionable to read Jack Kerouac.
The full text is available here.
41 years later... and over thirty books in print... it is not "fashionable" to read Kerouac in my mind, but it is desirable.