Why Jack Kerouac Isn’t Taught

, Malcolm A. Kline, 2 Comments

You know, I often wondered why the Modern Language Association never featured panels on him. An undergraduate from the University of Pittsburgh may have unearthed the reason. “In a 1968 episode of William F. Buckley Jr.’s Firing Line, my favorite author, Jack Kerouac, discussed his faith and writing career with Buckley while drunk out of his wits, which was hardly unusual for him,”Marlo Safi said at an Intercollegiate Studies Institute dinner. “Despite his slurred words, he said several things of substance, one quote of which has stuck with me.”

“While describing to Buckley his identity as a Catholic, a patriot, and a Beatnik, he said that he believes in ‘order, tenderness, and piety.'” Well, those are three qualities it is hard to find on campuses.


2 Responses

  1. Bart

    December 1, 2017 12:07 pm

    I’m no Kerouac scholar, but I did read On the Road about 4 years ago. I have to believe that he was being ironic with Buckley if he called himself Catholic or said he believed in order, tenderness or piety.

  2. Robert

    December 1, 2017 10:30 pm

    Kerouac was not being ironic. Despite his lifelong addiction to alcohol as well as binging on other drugs, and his glorification of Neal Cassady’s sexual expoits (and his own), he was indeed a deeply pious Catholic who also explored Buddhism and wrote about his spiritual quests. Read The Dharma Bums, Some of the Dharma, or Visions of Gerard if you doubt his deep interest in spirituality, as well as tenderness and piety. Just because his life was so disordered and messy doesn’t mean that he didn’t believe in those things. Some people who read On The Road confuse the colorfully hedonistic character of Dean Moriarty (based on Neal Cassady) for Kerouac himself, while he really is the more subdued and spiritually-searching Sal Paradise character.

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