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A Usable Past

A Usable Past

(p.2) (p.3) Chapter 1 A Usable Past
Ann ChartersSamuel Charters
University Press of Mississippi

It was 1948 when John Clellon Holmes and Jack Kerouac met for the first time as young, would-be writers. After that, they remained friends for the rest of their lives. Born on the same day, March 12, four years apart, Holmes and Kerouac were “brother-souls.” Sharing a New England background, they dreamed of becoming the most important novelists of twentieth-century America, at a time when the writing of the “great American novel” was still the goal of every aspiring author. Amid arguments in New York City in the early years of their friendship, and what seemed like an unattainable goal, Holmes and Kerouac wrote their next novels together. Kerouac published a novel first in 1950, followed by Holmes two years later with Go. In the fall of 1948, Kerouac proposed the term “Beat Generation” to describe their group and published the novel On the Road in 1957. Almost everyone who crowds the pages of Go and On the Road became a familiar figure to the intensely curious readers of the books.

Keywords:   novelists, John Clellon Holmes, Jack Kerouac, New England, America, New York City, novels, Go, Beat Generation, On the Road

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