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Jack  Kerouac
傑克•凱魯亞克
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資料提供者:May Su/蘇子惠
關鍵字詞:American poetry

Jack Kerouac
美國小說家、詩人
蘇子惠
 
 
求學階段
 
  傑克•凱魯亞克原名為尚─路易•樂比利•德•凱魯亞克(Jean-Louis Lebris de Kerouac),一九二二年三月十二日生於美國麻州羅威爾市(Lowell),他七歲前只會講法文,法裔加拿大血統和羅馬天主教背景給他的人生帶來深遠的影響。凱魯亞克自小成績優異,升上羅威爾高中(Lowell High School)後成為運動健將,他在高中足球隊上表現出色,先後獲得進入波士頓學院(Boston College)和紐約哥倫比亞大學(Columbia University)就讀的獎學金,他選擇了哥大,入學前在霍瑞斯曼學校(Horace Mann School)研讀一年。紐約和羅威爾市是兩個截然不同的世界;霍瑞斯曼的學生大多是曼哈頓財團繼承人,凱魯亞克在同儕眼中既有趣又不甚起眼,反而大受歡迎,不僅結交許多新朋友,引領他一探紐約這個花花世界,這座城市的活力和多樣性,也成為他日後靈感的來源。

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從軍時期
 
  凱魯亞克在哥大的生涯並不順遂,他於一九四○年因受腿傷而被迫放棄足球,在翌年足球季上更與教練發生口角。時值第二次世界大戰期間,社會倫理價值觀念驟變,使得凱魯亞克憂心忡忡,人們原有的生活方式頓時消失無蹤,正如麥克納利(McNally)的觀察:「學習和訓練在末世時代成為毫無價值的儀式。」一九四一年底,凱魯亞克選擇放棄念完大學,在商船上當水手,下了工後開始讀美國作家湯瑪士.伍爾夫(Thomas Wolfe,1900∼1938年)的作品,並撰寫第一部小說《大海是我兄弟》(The Sea Is My Brother)。凱魯亞克隔年曾短暫返校,接著又離校加入海軍服役,後來不堪忍受軍紀約束,住進貝蒂斯海軍醫院(Bethesda Naval Hospital)精神病房,最後因「性情冷漠」而榮譽退伍(honorable discharge)。

凱魯亞克再度踏上管理較為鬆散的商船當起水手,過了一陣子後返回紐約,沒再踏進哥大校園一步;他在紐約結識了一群朋友,這幫朋友日後隨他周遊列國,不僅化作他小說中的人物原型,也是「敲打的一代」(Beat Generation)核心人物,包括艾倫•金斯堡(Allen Ginsberg,1926∼1997年)、尼爾•卡薩迪(Neal Cassady,1926∼1968年)以及威廉•布洛斯(William S. Burroughs,1914∼1997年)等人。尤其自父親過世後,凱魯亞克更著手進行一本帶有理想色彩的自傳小說,命名為《城與鎮》(The Town and the City),此書以「約翰•凱魯亞克」(John Kerouac)的名義於一九五○年出版,凱魯亞克開始以作家身分受到敬重,不過,《城與鎮》不似他後期的作品主要以「敲打」(Beat)敘事手法為主,反而深受湯瑪士.伍爾夫作品的風格與結構影響。

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《旅途上》出版緣起和「敲打」的由來
 
  一九五一年四月,凱魯亞克憑著之前完成的《敲打的一代》(The Beat Generation)及《在路上》(Gone On The Road)手稿,寫出知名的小說《旅途上》(On the Road)。他仰賴苯甲胺(Benzedrine,中樞神經刺激劑)和咖啡提神,僅費時三周便完成《旅途上》第一個版本,是一本「自發懺悔式的散文體」(spontaneous confessional prose)作品。凱魯亞克的寫作手法深受爵士樂啟發,尤以咆勃(Bebop)爵士樂(後來則是佛教)以及尼爾•卡薩迪著名的《瓊.安德森的書信》(Joan Anderson letter)影響他最為深遠,不過出版商卻拒絕付梓《旅途上》,理由是小說文體偏重實驗性,無法茍同全書瀰漫著一股對於一九五○年代美國少數弱勢族群的同情論調,直到一九五七年,維京出版社(Viking Press)買下這部小說,出版事宜才有了轉機,社方還要求凱魯亞克把全書重新修訂一遍。

《旅途上》大篇幅採用自傳體寫作,以主角索爾•帕拉代斯(Sal Paradise)的敘事觀點為主,融入凱魯亞克偕同好友尼爾•卡薩迪橫越美國大陸和墨西哥的冒險旅程,後者即是書中另一角色狄恩•莫里亞提(Dean Moriarty)的人物原型,若要進一步深入探討,書中敘事者追尋的是宗教真理,還有比起二十世紀中葉大多數美國人更崇高的價值觀念。《旅途上》咸認是二次大戰後「敲打的一代」主要作品,凱魯亞克更被認定是「敲打的一代之王」(the king of the beat generation)。至於「敲打」(beat)這個字眼,是由凱魯亞克的好友、也是毒品掮客赫伯特•胡克(Herbert Huncke)首創,小說《城與鎮》第四○二頁也出現此字。一九五二年,凱魯亞克另一名好友約翰•克列農•霍姆斯(John Clellon Holmes)問他該如何形容紐約時代廣場(Times Square)上的時髦青年,凱魯亞克當下即脫口說出「敲打的一代」(beat generation)這個名詞。一九五九年,《美國大學字典》(The American College Dictionary)針對凱魯亞克所發明的字眼,做出如下定義:「『敲打的一代』意指二次大戰後出現在美國的成年人,醉心神祕的超脫狀態(mystical detachment)以及如何化解社會和性別對立,凡此種種,據說是冷戰底下理想破滅的結果。」

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其他主要作品
 
  凱魯亞克在等待維京出版社付梓《旅途上》的同時,開始長期打工維生,他曾做過火車煞車員和森林瞭望員,穿梭遊走在美國東西兩岸之間,目的是為了存錢與母親一起生活,以便完成自認是畢生傑作的《杜魯士傳奇》(The Legend of Duluoz)。《傑爾拉德的靈視》(Visions of Gerard,1963年)則描述凱魯亞克的孩提生活,以及一九二六年兄長傑爾拉德過世的情形;《薩克斯醫生》(Doctor Sax,1959年)是一部充滿奇幻記憶的小說,描寫作者在一九三○年至一九三六年到羅威爾求學作夢的內容,夢中的同伴薩克斯醫生專門伸張正義,對抗邪惡勢力;《瑪姬•卡西迪》(Maggie Cassidy,1959年)內容上較為寫實,作者在書中回憶青春期的自己上高中初戀的情景;《杜魯士的虛幻》(Vanity of Duluoz)則記錄了作者在預校和哥大的足球生涯,以及二次大戰期間的商船和軍旅生活。

在小說《達摩流浪者》(The Dharma Bums,1958年)中,主角瑞德(Japhy Ryder,以美國詩人蓋瑞•史耐德為角色原型)是一名篤信禪宗的青年詩人,凱魯亞克在柏克萊大學結識此人,他在書中針對中產階級平庸和壓抑的生活有獨到的觀察,再來便是提及「反文化」(counterculture)的崛起,旨在對抗美國中產主流文化。凱魯亞克把《旅途上》的主角狄恩•莫里亞提「互不干涉」(non-interference)的生活態度,轉化為《達摩流浪者》中的東方和生態哲學,詩人瑞德也曾幫助凱魯亞克了解當時的政治脈絡,使他從偉大的「背包革命」(rucksack revolution)理念中幡然醒悟,還預示了未來十年興起的嬉皮文化。

《旅途上》和《達摩流浪者》用散文體書寫,兩者皆在追尋美好的美國生活,奉行理想和浪漫兼具的個人主義。雖然凱魯亞克在《達摩流浪者》中對抗社會的意圖甚為明顯,信念卻遠不如《旅途上》堅定,其中一章令人印象深刻的登山情節,乏善可陳的場景和段落處處可見。凱魯亞克後來坦承寫作《達摩流浪者》的動機,真正創作的成分較少,而是渴望繼《旅途上》之後,再次獲得商業上的成功。凱魯亞克曾表示一個人獨自居住在山林之中,可以感受到「真正的自由」,這樣的小說結尾實在過分矯情。《孤獨的天使》(Desolation Angels,1965年)則詳細追溯作者當年的日記,他在書中闡述對於獨居隱世理想的幻滅過程;凱魯亞克在現實生活中亦然,不僅無法與尼爾•卡薩迪共處一室,長久以來也難以認同蓋瑞•史耐德(Gary Snyder)的生活方式。

《地下室》(The Subterraneans,1958年)是凱魯亞克第三本廣受歡迎的小說,採用懺悔式敘事手法,講述和一名黑人女孩的戀愛故事。凱魯亞克藉由藥物的幫助下,達到驚人的創作顛峰,僅花了「十月裡的三個月夜」(three full moon nights of October),《地下室》便大功告成。他後來表示:「《地下室》以俄國作家杜斯妥也夫斯基(Fyodor Dostoevsky,1821∼1881年)的小說《地下室手記》(Notes from Underground)作為雛型,採用懺悔錄文體,揭開任何形式的外遇底下最深沉及隱蔽的痛苦。我相信這些文字來自於未來,源自人心隸屬上層的意識以及底層的無意識,當人們心念電轉之際,只會被時光飛逝的限制所限制。」

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晚年
 
  一九六六年,凱魯亞克再娶第三任妻子史黛拉•薩帕斯(Stella Sampas),夫妻倆小時候住在羅威爾市,二人青梅竹馬長大,史黛拉協助丈夫照顧體弱多病的婆婆嘉貝麗(Gabrielle)。根據他妻子的說法,凱魯亞克晚年十分孤獨,不僅疏遠老朋友,「敲打一代」(beatniks)的核心人物和聲稱受到他作品感召的嬉皮(Hippies)人士,也一律被他排拒門外。一九六九年十月二十一日,凱魯亞克不幸病逝於美國佛州聖彼德斯堡(St. Petersburg)的聖安東尼醫院(St. Anthony's Hospital),他長期重度酗酒,死因是肝硬化引起的內出血,死後被安葬在羅威爾市。

凱魯亞克病逝後,批評家對他的作品開始一點一滴產生共鳴,不時有作家受到凱魯亞克的精神感召,例如肯•凱西(Ken Kesey)和理察•布羅提根(Richard Brautigan)等人。凱魯亞克的作品也廣泛在年輕讀者之間傳閱,企鵝出版社(Penguin Books)在一九七二年重新出版《旅途上》,並列入「企鵝現代經典文庫」(Penguin Modern Classic)書目之一,很明顯地近二十年來,美國文化因《旅途上》的索爾•帕拉代斯和狄恩•莫里亞提而有了轉變,正如威廉•布洛斯所表示:「凱魯亞克使百萬家咖啡館得以開張,也開啟了一兆條李維斯(Levi's)牛仔褲的商機……,依稀可見獲得各大廠商贊助的伍斯托克音樂節(Woodstock)躍然紙上。」

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References
 
 

“Jack Kerouac,” in Contemporary Authors Online. (A profile of the author's life and works)

“Jean-Louis Lebris de Kerouac,” in Contemporary Literary Criticism-Select. (A brief review of the author's life, works, and critical reception)

“Jack Kerouac,” in Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 2: American Novelists Since World War II, First Series. A Bruccoli Clark Layman Book. Edited by Jeffrey Helterman, University of South Carolina and Richard Layman, Columbia, South Carolina. The Gale Group, 1978, pp. 255-261.

“Jack Kerouac,” in Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 16: The Beats: Literary Bohemians in Postwar America. A Bruccoli Clark Layman Book. Edited by Ann Charters, University of Connecticut. The Gale Group, 1983, pp. 278-303.

“Jack Kerouac” in American Writers
 
 
 

Jack Kerouac
1922-1969
American novelist and poet
蘇子惠
 
 
 School Years
 
  Jack Kerouac was born Jean-Louis Lebris de Kerouac in Lowell, Massachusetts on 12 March 1922. He spoke only French until the age of seven, and his French-Canadian heritage, along with the Roman Catholic faith in which he was raised, was a strong influence throughout his life. He was an excellent student, and by the time he entered Lowell High School, he was also developing into a gifted athlete. It was his performance on the high school football team that earned him scholarships to Boston College and Columbia University in New York. He entered Columbia University after spending the scholarship's required year at Horace Mann School. New York City was a world away from Lowell. At the Horace Mann School, his classmates were the heirs to Manhattan's fortunes. Kerouac seemed amusingly rustic to them, but he was well liked, and his new friends guided his explorations of the city. He found its vibrancy and diversity inspirational.

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War Service
 
  Kerouac had a checkered career at Columbia. A broken leg kept him from playing football in 1940, and his 1941 season was marked by disagreements with his coach. Furthermore, Kerouac was beginning to feel deeply troubled by the great shift in morals brought about by World War II. A whole way of life seemed to be vanishing, and as McNally observed, “Studying and practicing seemed trivial exercises in an apocalyptic world.” Late in 1941, Kerouac left the university for a stint in the Merchant Marine. In his off-duty hours, he read the works of Thomas Wolfe and worked on a novel he called The Sea Is My Brother. He returned briefly to Columbia in 1942, left to join the Navy, and found himself unable to submit to the military discipline of that service. This earned him some time in the psychiatric ward of Bethesda Naval Hospital, but he eventually received an honorable discharge for “indifferent character.”

Kerouac reentered the less-regimented Merchant Marine for some time before returning to New York City, although not to Columbia. It was in New York that Kerouac met the people with whom he was to journey around the world, and the subjects of many of his novels: the so-called Beat Generation, which included people such as Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady and William S. Burroughs. After the death of his father, Kerouac began working on a new novel, an idealized autobiography The Town and the City. It was published in 1950 under the name “John Kerouac” and earned him some respect as a writer. Unlike Kerouac’s later work, which established his Beat style, The Town and the City is heavily influenced by Kerouac’s reading of Thomas Wolfe.

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On the Road
 
  Building upon previous drafts tentatively titled “The Beat Generation” and “Gone On The Road,” Kerouac wrote what is now known as On the Road in April, 1951. Fueled by Benzedrine and coffee, he completed the first version of the novel during a three week extended session of spontaneous confessional prose. His technique was heavily influenced by Jazz, especially Bebop (and later Buddhism) as well as the famous Joan Anderson letter authored by Neal Cassady. Publishers rejected the book due to its experimental writing style and its sympathetic tone towards minorities and marginalized social groups of the United States in the 1950s. In 1957, Viking Press purchased the novel, demanding major revisions.

The book was largely autobiographical, narrated from the point of view of the character Sal Paradise, describing Kerouac’s roadtrip adventures across the United States and Mexico with Neal Cassady, the model for the character of Dean Moriarty. On a deeper level, it was the story of the narrator’s search for religious truth and for values more profound than those embraced by most of mid-twentieth-century America. Kerouac’s novel is often described as the defining work of the post-World War II Beat Generation and Kerouac came to be called “the king of the beat generation.” It was Herbert Huncke, a friend of Kerouac, who introduced him to the word “beat,” as Kerouac described in his first novel The Town & The City on page 402. Kerouac himself coined the term “beat generation” in 1952, when John Clellon Holmes asked him to characterize the attitude of the young hipsters on Times Square. In 1959, The American College Dictionary published Kerouac’s definition of the term: “Beat Generation—members of the generation that came of age after World War II who espouse mystical detachment and relaxation of social and sexual tensions, supposedly as a result of disillusionment stemming from the cold war.”

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Other Works
 
  During the long wait before On the Road was accepted by Viking Press, Kerouac worked a series of jobs as a railroad brakeman and fire lookout, traveling between the East and West Coasts, saving his money so he could live with his mother while he wrote what he conceived of as his life's work, The Legend of Duluoz. It begins with the novel Visions of Gerard, which describes the first years of Kerouac's childhood and the death of his brother Gerard in 1926. Doctor Sax is a fantasy of memories and dreams about his boyhood (1930-1936) in Lowell with an imaginary companion, Doctor Sax, the champion of Good in a mythic battle against the forces of Evil. Maggie Cassidy is a more realistic novel about his adolescence in high school and his first love. Vanity of Duluoz describes his years playing football at prep school and Columbia, and his experience in the merchant marine and navy during World War II.

In The Dharma Bums,the hero is “Japhy Ryder” (actually Gary Snyder), a young poet and student of Zen Buddhism whom Kerouac meets in Berkeley. The description of the banality and repression of middle-class life is more specific in this novel, and the alternative is a way of life later to be defined as a “counterculture” to the American mainstream. It is basically Dean Moriarty’s life of “non-interference” presented in The Dharma Bums in terms of Oriental philosophy and the ecology movement. Japhy Ryder gives a political context to Kerouac's disaffiliation with his idea of a great “rucksack revolution” in American society, prophesying the hippies of the following decade.

On the Road and The Dharma Bums are narrated in a direct prose style, telling the story of a search for a way of life in America that would fulfill an ideal of romantic individualism. Although the social context of Kerouac’s rebellion is more clearly drawn in this novel, The Dharma Bums is not so substantial as On the Road. There is one memorable mountain-climbing episode, but there are dull scenes and mechanical passages. Kerouac later said that he wrote the book less on the strength of a genuine creative impulse than as an attempt to have another commercial success after On the Road. It’s ending, when Kerouac professed to feel “really free” living alone in the mountains, is contrived. In Desolation Angels, which closely followed the journals he kept at the time, he gave a much fuller account of his disillusionment with the experience. Kerouac was unable to live with Neal Cassady, and he also couldn't accept Gary Snyder’s life-style for very long.

The third of Kerouac’s most popular novels, The Subterraneans, is a confessional narrative, the story of his love affair with a black girl. It was written in “three full moon nights of October” on benzedrine in one of Kerouac’s most astonishing creative bursts. He later said “the book is modelled after Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground, a full confession of one’s most wretched and hidden agonies after an affair of any kind. The prose is what I believe to be the prose of the future, from both the conscious top and the unconscious bottom of the mind, limited only by the limitations of time flying by as our mind flies by with it.”

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Late Years
 
  In 1966, Kerouac married his third wife Stella Sampas, a childhood friend from Lowell, who helped him take care of his invalid mother Gabrielle. In the years before Kerouac’s death, he was, as his wife said, “a very lonely man,” disassociating himself from his former friends, as well as the “beatniks” and “hippies” who claimed descendancy from his books. Kerouac died on October 21, 1969 at St. Anthony's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. His death was resulted from an internal hemorrhage caused by cirrhosis of the liver, the unfortunate result of a life of heavy drinking. He is buried in his home town of Lowell.

Since Kerouac’s death in 1969, there has been a little more sympathy for his work from the critics and his influence has been noted on such writers as Ken Kesey and Richard Brautigan. He is still widely read by young readers, and On the Road was reissued in 1972 by Penguin Books as a “Penguin Modern Classic.” What has been increasingly clear in the last twenty years is that the fabric of American culture has never been the same since “Sal Paradise” and “Dean Moriarty” went on the road. As Burroughs said, “Kerouac opened a million coffee bars and sold a trillion Levis to both sexes.... Woodstock rises from his pages.”

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References
 
 

“Jack Kerouac,” in Contemporary Authors Online. (A profile of the author's life and works)

“Jean-Louis Lebris de Kerouac,” in Contemporary Literary Criticism-Select. (A brief review of the author's life, works, and critical reception)

“Jack Kerouac,” in Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 2: American Novelists Since World War II, First Series. A Bruccoli Clark Layman Book. Edited by Jeffrey Helterman, University of South Carolina and Richard Layman, Columbia, South Carolina. The Gale Group, 1978, pp. 255-261.

“Jack Kerouac,” in Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 16: The Beats: Literary Bohemians in Postwar America. A Bruccoli Clark Layman Book. Edited by Ann Charters, University of Connecticut. The Gale Group, 1983, pp. 278-303.

“Jack Kerouac” in American Writers
 
 
 

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