KEROUAC, Jack (1922-1969). Typed manuscript with about 205 autograph additions and revisions, comprising a section of Visions of Cody; this excerpt originally titled by Kerouac "Earlier History of Dean Moriarty," published as "Before the Road," in Playboy, December 1959, Kerouac's short-lived pen name ("Jean-Louis") crossed out at the bottom of p.33; Kerouac has substituted the more familiar "Jack Kerouac," and added the address and telephone number of his literary agent, "Lord" (Sterling Lord); two original Playboy editorial forms present. 33 pages on 33 leaves, double-spaced on foolscap paper; the paper brittle, a few pages with small marginal chips, light browning.
[With:] Long galley proofs for Kerouac's "Before the Road," with several ink corrections by Kerouac. 13 pp., narrow folio, stapled at upper corner, light browning.
BEFORE THE ROAD: "LONG AGO IN THE RED SUNTHAT WOW-MAD DEAN WHO WENT ON THE ROAD WITH ME": AN EXCERPT FROM "VISIONS OF CODY"
Visions of Cody was begun by Kerouac in the Fall of 1951 in the house he shared with his mother in Queens and finished in May 1952 in the attic bedroom of Neal and Carolyn's Cassady's San Francisco home., during one of the most stable and productive periods of Kerouac's often bumpy career. It constitutes Kerouac's most successful use of the "spontaneous prose" he first experimented with in On the Road. After the publication of On the Road in 1957, Kerouac offered Viking Press a number of works, including Visions of Cody, all of which had languished for years, unpublished. When Viking finally rejected all of them, Kerouac's agent, Sterling Lord Agency, began to place key excerpts with a number of literary magazines. The Playboy editors snapped up several important Kerouac excerpts like this, such as "Good Blonde" and "Rumbling, Rambling Blues" (see lot 105) as well as a highly personal history of the Beat movement "Origins of the Beat Generation" (the scroll typescript of that Kerouac article was offered at Christie's, 29 October 2001, lot 232).
This portion of Visions of Cody narrates the early life and picaresque adventures of Neal (Dean) during his childhood and young manhood in Denver, especially its poolhalls. The novel is widely regarded as Kerouac's modernist masterpiece: "for sheer linguistic boldness and exhuberence, there is perhaps nothing quite like Cody in American literature" (E. Amburn, Subterranean Kerouac, p.172). At the top of page 1, Kerouac originally titled his typescript "October in the Poolhall, or Portrait of an American," (reminiscent of his lyrical "October in the Railroad Earth") but this is inked out and he has scrawled a new title at the left "Earlier History of Dean Moriarty." When accepted in July 1959, that titled remained, but by the time of publication, the excerpt had been retitled "Before the Road." In the typescript, Kerouac's ink corrections are quite numerous: most notably, he alters his subject's actual name from "Neal" and "Cassady" to "Dean," and "Moriarty" in dozens of places; and changes other actual names of towns and people to fictionalized names. Kerouac's ink additions total some 205 words including the last line "Dean who went on the road with me." Another hand, perhaps a Playboy editor, has made additional scattered corrections of punctuation and spelling, usually in a distinctive cursive, quite different from Kerouac's neat printing.
The Playboy typescript and galleys represent a significant excerpt from a seminal work: "In Visions of Cody, Kerouac fashioned his most ebulliently lusty style as if intending to explore the full resources of Cassady's gusto and enthusiasm for living. Written with amazing inventiveness, stylistic freedom, and originality, Visions of Cody is Kerouac's most metaphorical book. Its texture is richer than any writing he ever conceived, an exultation of his best long-line sequences" (J. Tytell, Naked Angels: Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs, p.178).