Tuesday, February 1, 2011

HST 378 Book Review Assignment I -- Jack Kerouac, On the Road

HST 378
Book Review 1
Dr. Heitmann
Due on February 15

The length of the review should be 4-5 typed, double-spaced pages. You have considerable freedom in writing a critical analysis and personal response to Jack Kerouac’s On the Road , but I suggest you consider the following to provide structure and guidance to this exercise.
Since the publication of On the Road, a venerable mountain of critical literature has been generated on the author’s intended themes. The most recent views that have been discussed are those of John Leland, author of Why Kerouac Matters: The Lessons of On the Road (they’re not what you think). Leland asks the reader to focus on Sal Paradise (Kerouac’s character), rather than on Dean Moriarity (Neal Cassady). Leland argues that Sal provides the reader with something they can use, like The Road Less Traveled or The Purpose Driven Life. He goes on:
“Sal’s lessons divide among four overlapping fields, each unsettled in the postwar boom. America had emerged from the war with half the world’s wealth and nearly two thirds of its machines, and with destructive capabilities unmatched in history. It was creating suburbs, television, organization men, nuclear families, the car culture, Brando, McCarthy, and Rock and Roll. Amid this tumult, Sal navigates distinctive paths through the men’s world of work, money and friendship; the domestic turf of love, sex and family; the artist’s realm of storytelling, improvisation and rhythm; and the spiritual world of revelation and redemption. His lessons in all four areas remain relevant today – any reader picking up the book for the first time can apply them to questions that are new to him or her as they were to Sal.
What lessons emerge after reading the book, and why are they important to you?

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