Inspired by the road trip pictures and by how much effort Garrett put into getting to understand and embody Neal Cassady aka Dean Moriarty, I thought I’d do a post spotlighting the man who inspired the iconic character. I asked Garrett for some recommendations, and he named the first three books as the best out there. The original scroll is of interest because that’s the version of the book that the filmmakers used to make the movie closer to Kerouac’s original vision.

Some books that might interest you:

The only book Neal Cassady ever wrote, this volume was originally published by City Lights in 1971. It is a collection of writings about Neal Cassady’s life prior to meeting up with Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg (what might be called “the second third” of his life). He never got to live “the last third”. This book contains letters to Jack Kerouac and Ken Kesey, as well as fragments of other writings concerning topics ranging from “Autoeroticism” to “The History of the Hip Generation”. Jack Kerouac often said his spontaneous prose was modeled on Neal Cassady’s letter writing style and it’s easy to make the connection here. A must for any Neal Cassady fan.
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Garrett said this one was the most fun to read.

Neal Cassady–that happening, hard-living, hard-loving hero of the Beat culture is fully here–in his own words. Cassady was part raw sexuality, part inspiration for Kerouac and Ginsberg, part arrogant con man, and part insecure, indecisive drifter. The only thing we can be sure of is that Cassady possessed some major charisma. Women bore his children and his absences and not only coped with but even approved of his interchangeable partner approach. Men fell in love with him, too, whether sexually or in pure awe. Cassady’s letters show this and more, revealing a sometimes manic yet incredibly insightful and electric mind and a man so charged with emotion for life and open to his urges that he seemed unable to settle anywhere (including within his various selves) for very long. Well edited and annotated, this volume is an essential addition to Beat literature that strengthens the notion of Cassady as a major Beat figure and, more important, presents Cassady as a man, not an icon.

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Off the Road tells the intimate story of the now legendary Neal Cassady and his remarkable friendship with Jack Kerouac (who immortalized Cassady as Dean Moriarty in On the Road) and Allen Ginsberg. Written by the woman who loved them all—as wife of Cassady, lover of Kerouac, and friend of Ginsberg—this riveting memoir spans one of the most vital eras in twentieth-century literature and culture, including the explosive successes of Kerouac’s On the Road and Ginsberg’s Howl, the flowering of the Beat movement, and the social revolution of the 1960s. Carolyn Cassady reveals a side of Neal Cassady rarely seen—that of husband and father, a man who craved respectability, yet could not resist the thrills of a wider and ultimately more destructive lifestyle.

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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 Twentieth 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 several new drafts, that Viking published, in 1957, the novel known to us today. On the occasion of the fiftieth 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 context.
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Videos –
Neal and Allen Ginsberg (Carlo Marx – Tom Sturridge in the movie) – the person who posted it has more segments on their Youtube channel

Neal doing a reading/rambling in 1967 with The Grateful Dead

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest author Ken Kesey tells a story about Neal who was a member of Kesey’s Merry Pranksters, which you can read about in Tom Wolfe’s book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

Jack reads from On The Road on The Steve Allen Show. The excerpt is from the end of the novel.

Some sites you might want to check out:
The Beat Museum – Located in San Francisco, it was one of the places Garrett visited to research Neal and they’ve been a great source of movie information. – the shopping part of The Beat Museum site. Great selection of books, cd’s, posters, tshirts, etc.
Carolyn Cassady’s Website – Full of wonderful stories and pictures, Carolyn reveals the man behind the legend.

  • Elle
I think of Dean Moriarty ...
Laura ReTweet
07 May, 2011

This entry was posted on Saturday, May 7th, 2011 at 3:51 pm and is filed under Movies, On The Road. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “I think of Dean Moriarty …”

Comment by Elle
In June 16, 2011 @ 5:26 pm

I’m almost done with Off the Road which is an excellent companion to the scroll-based version of the book. Caroline’s insights on Neal are extremely interesting.


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