Jack Kerouac Reading a Letter
(Photo from the Accidental Magic collection at Wizard Academy)
On the Road contains an account of ‘Cru’ (boyhood friend Remi Boncoeur)
getting Kerouac a job in San Francisco as a security guard. It was during this period in San Francisco (1950) that Kerouac wrote to Neal Cassady suggesting they should take a cross-country trip together, and that he would write a book about it.
Kerouac said he intended to have a character named Wilfred Boncoeur travel with a companion named ‘Cousin’ who would act as “Panza to the hero’s Quixote.” These characters evolved into Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty in the final draft of Kerouac’s nation-changing book, On the Road.
America was never the same.
It has long been my belief that Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and
Jack Kerouac did more to shape American culture than any other men in our history. This belief caused me to study these men deeply enough to stumble onto their fascination with Don Quixote.
Thomas Jefferson birthed the American Dream:
Freedom, Equality, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
He wrote continuously of Quixote for 50 years (1771-1821)
Teddy Roosevelt shattered America's ruling class,
elevated the common man, and lifted America from its status
as a third-world nation into leadership as a true world power.
(Facing down JP Morgan and the robber barons,
inviting Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House,
and leading the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War.)
We owe the rise of the middle class to Theodore Roosevelt.
He loved Don Quixote enough to carry the book to Africa.
Jack Kerouac triggered America's fascination with counterculture.
He didn't mean to, and he was never comfortable wearing the mantle
of King of the Beats, but historians agree that Kerouac's On the Road
launched the beatniks of the 50's, which became the hippies of the 60's,
which became Woodstock and the Summer of Love.
Our cultural diversity is owed to Kerouac.
He envisioned On the Road as a retelling of the exploits of Quixote.
The 3 men most pivotal in shaping
America's culture were each
shaped by Don Quixote.
By the way, George Washington's copy of Don Quixote has the feminist speech of Marcela bracketed in pencil. Washington read few works of fiction and almost never wrote in his books. Interesting. But that's another story for another day.