On the Life and Works of Jack Kerouac, “King of the Beats”
From the History of Literature with Jacke Wilson
For tens of thousands of years, human beings have been using fictional devices to shape their worlds and communicate with one another. Four thousand years ago they began writing down these stories, and a great flourishing of human achievement began. We know it today as literature, a term broad enough to encompass everything from ancient epic poetry to contemporary novels. How did literature develop? What forms has it taken? And what can we learn from engaging with these works today? Hosted by Jacke Wilson, an amateur scholar with a lifelong passion for literature, The History of Literature takes a fresh look at some of the most compelling examples of creative genius the world has ever known.
Jack Kerouac was one of the most famous American writers of the mid-20th century. As a key member of a group of writers known as the “Beat Generation,” his works explored the role of the individual in post-war America. His most famous work, On the Road (1957), has sold millions of copies and continues to inspire seekers of nonconformity and spiritual uplift. In this episode, Jacke takes a look at the life and works of the King of the Beats, and along the way offers some thoughts on how to read literature from the past, even when the churning world progresses past some (but not all) of the ideas within.