Beat Exhibit


Jack Kerouac


Hailey Cragun



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Kerouac emerged as one of the brightest stars in the firmament of American letters due to the success of his 1957 novel, On the Road, but this fame would contribute to his undoing. Despite the fact that he had devoted himself to literary success for many years, Kerouac was unprepared for either the hostility leveled at his experimental style or the adulation of fans. He was in some ways famously shy, too self-conscious or insecure even to read his recently completed volume of poetry, Mexico City Blues, at the now famous 1955 Six Gallery reading. He assumed a leading role in the Beat movement that sprang largely from the Six Gallery reading and On the Road, but he repeatedly distanced himself from the Beats. Kerouac found it increasingly difficult to establish a spiritual foundation for his work and life. The alcoholism that had plagued him from youth lead to his early demise in 1969. "Beat" to him, however, had always meant something beautiful. Perhaps he said it best, mere months before his death, "[the Beat movement] was pure in my heart."

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Jack Kerouac