Jack Kerouac was speedy.

Posted in typewriter facts.

Jack Kerouac, a fast typist at 100 words per minute, typed On the Road on a roll of paper so he would not be interrupted by having to change the paper. Within two weeks of starting to write On the Road, Kerouac had one single-spaced paragraph, 120 feet long. Some scholars say the scroll was shelf paper; others contend it was a thermo-fax roll; another theory is that the roll consisted of sheets of architect’s paper taped together… I’m just glad he didn’t have a cat, or else that thing would have been a mess.

4 Comments

  1. Julia Heath
    June 2, 2013

    Somehow I imagined the scroll to be an incomprehensible mess that editors had to sift through in order to create something that could be published as a novel. I was very far from the truth.The Original Scroll is an example of excellent writing. Yes, it’s missing paragraphs, but the style is sharp like a knife’s edge. Kerouac’s text has power to concentrate reader’s imagination and then send it flying into a thousand of directions at once.I think I actually prefer the scroll to the classic editions of On the Road. The scroll feels very real and easy to understand.

    • Kaylyn
      June 19, 2013

      It’s spooky how clveer some ppl are. Thanks!

  2. Adrian S. Ellis
    June 5, 2013

    Legend has it that Kerouac wrote On the Road in three weeks, typing it almost nonstop on a 120-foot roll of paper. The truth is that the book actually had a much longer, bumpier journey from inspiration to publication, complete with multiple rewrites, repeated rejections and a dog who — well, On the Road wasn’t homework, but we all know what dogs do.

  3. Hans Shelton
    June 7, 2013

    Though Jack Kerouac began thinking about the novel that was to become On the Road as early as 1947, it was not until three weeks in April 1951, in an apartment on West Twentieth Street in Manhattan, that he wrote the first full draft that was satisfactory to him. Typed out as one long, single-spaced paragraph on eight long sheets of tracing paper that he later taped together to form a 120-foot scroll, this document is among the most significant, celebrated, and provocative artifacts in contemporary American literary history. It represents the first full expression of Kerouac’s revolutionary aesthetic, the identifiable point at which his thematic vision and narrative voice came together in a sustained burst of creative energy. It was also part of a wider vital experimentation in the American literary, musical, and visual arts in the post-World War II period.