Never before published in Kerouac's lifetime, Jack Kerouac's Wake Up is a clear and powerful study of the life and works of Siddartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, from the author of On the Road. This Penguin Modern Classics edition includes an introduction by Robert Thurman.
Wake Up recounts the story of Prince Siddhartha's royal upbringing and his father's wish to protect him from all human suffering, despite a prediction that he would become a great holy man in later life. Departing from his father's palace, Siddhartha adopts a homeless life, struggles with his meditations, and eventually finds Enlightenment. Written at the end of Kerouac's career, when he became increasingly interested in Buddhist teachings, and collected for the first time in one book, this fresh and accessible biography is both an important addition to Kerouac's work and a valuable introduction to the world of Buddhism itself.
Jack Kerouac (1922-69) was an American novelist, poet, artist and part of the Beat Generation. His first published novel, The Town and the City, appeared in 1950, but it was On the Road, published in 1957, that made Kerouac famous. Publication of his many other books followed, among them The Subterraneans, Big Sur, and The Dharma Bums. Kerouac died in Florida at the age of forty-seven.
If you enjoyed Wake Up, you might like Kerouac's The Dharma Bums, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.
'[Kerouac] defines the attitudes of an entire generation'
Jack Kerouac was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, where, he said, he 'roamed fields and riverbanks by day and night, wrote little novels in my room, first novel written at age eleven, also kept extensive diaries and "newspapers" covering my own-invented horse-racing and baseball and football worlds' (as recorded in the novel Doctor Sax). He was educated by Jesuit brothers in Lowell. He said that he 'decided to become a writer at age seventeen under influence of Sebastian Sampas, local young poet, who later died on Anzio beach head; read the life of Jack London at eighteen and decided to also be a lonesome traveler; early literary influences Saroyan and Hemingway; later Wolfe (after I had broken leg in Freshman football at Columbia read Tom Wolfe and roamed his New York on crutches).'
Kerouac wished, however, to develop his own new prose style, which he called 'spontaneous prose.' He used this technique to record the life of the American 'traveler' and the experiences of the Beat generation of the 1950s. This may clearly be seen in his most famous novel On the Road, and also in The Subterraneans and The Dharma Bums. His first more orthodox published novel was The Town and the City. Jack Kerouac, who described himself as a 'strange solitary crazy Catholic mystic,' was working on his longest novel, a surrealistic study of the last ten years of his life when he died in 1969, aged forty-seven.
Other works by Jack Kerouac include Big Sur, Desolation Angels, Lonesome Traveler, Visions of Gerard, Tristessa, and a book of poetry called Mexico City Blues. On the Road: The Original Scroll, the full uncensored transcription of the original manuscript of On the Road, is published by Penguin Modern Classics.