• On the Road: The Original Scroll

  • By: Jack Kerouac
  • Narrated by: John Ventimiglia
  • Length: 12 hrs and 37 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (683 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The legendary 1951 scroll draft of On the Road, published word for word as Kerouac originally composed it.

Though Jack Kerouac began thinking about the novel that was to become On the Road as early as 1947, it was not until three weeks in April 1951, in an apartment on West 20th Street in Manhattan, that he wrote the first full draft that was satisfactory to him. Typed out as one long, single-spaced paragraph on eight long sheets of tracing paper that he later taped together to form a 120-foot scroll, this document is among the most significant, celebrated, and provocative artifacts in contemporary American literary history. It represents the first full expression of Kerouac's revolutionary aesthetic, the identifiable point at which his thematic vision and narrative voice came together in a sustained burst of creative energy. It was also part of a wider vital experimentation in the American literary, musical, and visual arts in the post-World War II period.

It was not until more than six years later, and after several new drafts, that Viking published, in 1957, the novel known to us today. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of On the Road, Viking will publish the 1951 scroll in a standard book format. The differences between the two versions are principally ones of significant detail and altered emphasis. The scroll is slightly longer and has a heightened linguistic virtuosity and a more sexually frenetic tone. It also uses the real names of Kerouac's friends instead of the fictional names he later invented for them. The transcription of the scroll was done by Howard Cunnell who, along with Joshua Kupetz, George Mouratidis, and Penny Vlagopoulos, provides a critical introduction that explains the fascinating compositional and publication history of On the Road and anchors the text in its historical, political, and social contexts.

©2007 Jack Kerouac (P)2007 Penguin Audio

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What listeners say about On the Road: The Original Scroll

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A Classic Brought to Life

This edition is as authentic as it gets. The text is exactly what Kerouac first wrote on the legendary single spaced typed scroll. The presentation is excellent, making it easy to follow the story and insights of the author. The clean, straight forward narration style served the content well. Great audio book.

16 people found this helpful

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John V nails it!

Would you listen to On the Road: The Original Scroll again? Why?

I already have

What other book might you compare On the Road: The Original Scroll to and why?

I would compare it to the published version of OTR. I found it very interesting to hear the parts which were edited out and the actual names of the characters.

Which character – as performed by John Ventimiglia – was your favorite?

He did a great job with every character and captured the excitement and momentum of the story. You can tell he loves Kerouac.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

My tag line would be "Don't try to make a movie out of this book"

Any additional comments?

You might be familiar with some of John Ventimiglia's other work. Look him up on IMDB.

11 people found this helpful

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Perfect reading of a great book.

The narrator for this book was perfectly cast. Anyone who regularly listens to audio books knows how important this is and in this they nailed it. Will definitively re-listen.

9 people found this helpful

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Better version

What about John Ventimiglia’s performance did you like?

John Ventimiglia must have listened to the recordings of Kerouac, because he captured Kerouac's voice really well. Kerouac had a funny way of pronouncing words with a double o sound, (doom, gloom) and John nailed it.

Any additional comments?

It's worth comparing the scroll with the first-published, edited, and censored version. The scroll is actually a better book.

7 people found this helpful

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Yes Sir

I've read the final version, I've watched all the movies and documentaries I can about Jack and the book, so of course this original scroll was fantastic to hear, of course. And what made me purchase something I've already read and researched was the narrator, John Ventimiglia. He makes for a good voice of Jack and I dug the way he handled the rhythms and energies of the story. Done right, yes sir.

6 people found this helpful

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Absolutely Incredible

We are so blessed to have had Kerouac to tell us this tale - this perceptive portrait of a defining American age...

5 people found this helpful

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Enjoyable narration

Excellent narration. Almost sounds like Kerouac himself. Enjoyed the cadence & rhythm of the narration. Probably as close as we'll get to a version actually narrated by the author.

4 people found this helpful

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Pretensious and boring.

Could not go past the first 4 hours. A pretensious, never-ending rambling about a nonsense story. Racist, sexist, and narrow-minded. Hated it.

4 people found this helpful

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Excruciating! !

Hates it from the very start!! Will never get another book of his at all!!

4 people found this helpful

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I didn't get it??????

I read a lot of reviews for this book and when it was offered as a two for one deal I bought it without hesitation. I do realize that the version I have is written a one long paragraph hence the title the original scroll. I just didn't get it.... if I was actually reading I wouldn't have gotten far. I'm still trying to figure out what the book was about? I don't think that the characters and very good people. They do nothing except drive fast Rob stores of food and gas and when they get into a jam call their mother for money! I was so exhausted with the character David, he is a very annoying guy! I had a hard time feeling sorry for him in the end.... The longest story about nothing! But what do I know about lititure? If this book inspired a generation then I have my answer to what went wrong with our country!

3 people found this helpful

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