Chronology: 1946


January – Kerouac conceives of The Town and the City during this month.

29 January – Kerouac writes an essay, “Traumatic Trains of Affect.”

8 February – Kerouac writes “the time has come to tell the absolute truth!” The Town and the City will be, as he writes, a “novel of facts” with a confessional narrator with an “obsession for living.”

11-13 February – Kerouac writes “An Extension of My Actuality” [Notebook, “Spiral” 1945] This text concerns Kerouac as writer, on the brink of wanting to start the writing of a novel, and possesses the urge to write it, but still cannot start the actual work of writing it, that is, the “extension of an idea” from conception to actual fruition. Kerouac knows he can plan his novel, but fears the moving on to his actual idea of it. Yet, it must evolve further than mere idealization, but to be actualized.

25 February – Kerouac writes a letter to himself, a reminder of self-awareness and comments on “actuality.”

18 March – Kerouac handwrites some notes: “In order to get away from what now seems (to me) to be destructive scatological tendencies . . .” He also starts another workbook serving as a “direction draft” for The Town and the City which he titles “Appurtenances and Preludes.”

22 March – Kerouac receives a letter from Paul and Caroline Blake for the occasion of his birthday. He responds right away with a two-page letter back to them.

28 March – Kerouac writes notes on the plot of The Town and the City wheras he intends to plan the novel along “anthropological lines” and its gradual metamorphosis toward “Dionysian American attitudes.”

1April – Kerouac writes notes for the composition of The Town and the City. Neal Cassady returns to Denver, Colorado and resumes relations with LuAnne Henderson and Jeannie Stewart.

20 April – Kerouac writes notes on “Michael Martin’s Christmas Joy” to be inserted into a draft of The Town and the City.

21April – Kerouac writes “Notes by a Young American Faustus Written at Midnight, Easter Eve, 1946 (for Dubreton).” He compares himself to Dostoevsky who is said to only have feared man. He, instead, fears his own mind.

23 April – Kerouac notes in his notebook that he is under the grip of dejection that at times threatens to jeopardize his life and work.

3 May – Kerouac’s mood seems to have recovered from the dejection he felt on April 23 to “having hop-skipped back to joy.”

6 May – Kerouac writes some notes after taking a sundown hike in New York City. He asks himself the question if he is “first man to cast aside the idea of Original Sin in favor of the idea of original virtue?”

8 May – Kerouac writes notes on “The Drama of the Artist Working” addresing how the works of “great novelists” were “conceived in pain” despite giving their readers so much “pleasure.”

10 May – Kerouac writes notes on the simplicity of Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy and Henry David Thoreau who are able to meet their challenges and “seek out their joy” and his despisal of “artificiality.”

12 May – Kerouac writes notes asking on the “strange madness” called “ambition” that “possesses some men?” He defines two kinds of successes, that which is deliberate and that which “occurs on the momentum of nothing less than sheer joy.” Kerouac chooses the latter. In a separate notebook, he writes notes for an “experiment” he had been conducting while writing The Town and the City. The act of writing is a “dream of greatness” that is forestalled only by a “painful sifting of doubts.” In his The Town and the City workbook, Kerouac addresses applicable terms in relation to the novel’s “heroes”, in particular, Peter Martin who is a “believer,” has an Oedipus complex, possessed by Catholic guilt and deeply alienated. The “Michael Martin” character is synonymous with his brother Peter. “Francis Martin” is affected by the “dual-aspects” of both the town and the city.

16 May – Kerouac writes lengthy notes on that “group of weaklings” he labels as Freudians, and their ignorance of the precept of psychology being a ‘two-edged sword.” He uses for an example writers like Dostoevsky, Stendhal, and Neitzsche. Leo Kerouac dies in Brooklyn, N.Y. (his prayer card handed out at his funeral gives the date of death as May 17, 1946: “May Jesus have mercy on the soul of Leo A. Kerouac”).

2 June – Kerouac writes notes “For the Re-Writing & Re-Styling” of The Town and the City: “I must strike off on my own course, short moodful chapters piling up into a grand symphonic American rhythm, as the figure is developed. American life is fugueal, I know that for a fact, it is not central in its intensity, but enormous and various and because of that it seems ecstatically inconsistent.”

3 June – Kerouac writes an essay, “The Revitalizing of American Letters”: “I would like to see American letters revitalized along more authentic and appreciative lines, discarding the interpretive and critical trends because they distort the Everything through the prism of a few minds that area not representative of the American people.”

5 June – Kerouac writes a small essay “On Frank Sinatra”: “I believe the thing that really assures Frank Sinatra’s success as a singer in this country is not so much his appeal to teen-age girls, but the fact that he always sings with profundity of feeling, and he himself being a young American from top to toe, the result is always a magnificent expression of young American loneliness and longing. (for male + female alike).”

9-10 June – Kerouac writes a lengthy essay titled “Economic Experiment” to which he explains that Americans must decide between the government having full control over its economy or that of free enterprise. Eventually he incorporates the theories of social historian Oswald Spengler and his prediction of the emergence and imminent clashing of Liberals and reactionary forces.

23 June – Using the recent funeral of his father in Nashua, new Hampshire, Kerouac writes a draft titled “For the Father’s Funeral in T&C.”

30 June – Kerouac writes an essay on Heinrich Zimmer’s Meanings in Maya–and in Faustianism.”

1 September – William S. Burroughs writes Allen Ginsberg from St. Louis, Missouri: “I have given up junk entirely and don’t miss it at all.” Instead he plans to focus his attention on a slew of “money making enterprises.”

3 September – Kerouac begins a journal to span through October 9, 1946: “To know that to be crazed and tortured by all the confusion and hatred and suffering of life, to know that the unspeakable ecstasies of triumph and glee in our souls, and the long days of melancholy boredom and decay, will all end in death, dwindling into the soft dark sleep of death, these are the secrets!”

4 September – Kerouac writes notes “pertaining to the rough plot of “The Town and the City.”

23 September – Kerouac writes an essay titled “America in World History”: “It would be much easier for me to assert that America is a separate culture-civilization from “West-Europe”—younger, with an unfulfilled destiny, not in the petrified decadent “late” civilization stage that Europe undoubtedly is in—because I myself do not feel “late” and “finished,” and because I feel young and unfulfilled.”

24 September – Kerouac writes notes titled “Dawn Hours” regarding some thoughts on the romanticized “pale criminal” Lucien Carr.

30 September – Kerouac writes “Rainy Night” notes on Dostoevsky and The Brothers Karamazov and “On Freedom”: “As long as the sky overspreads men on this earth, the tremendous sky with its thousand aspects of dawn, morning, noon, afternoon, dusk and deepest night, as long as the sky is there—men have to be free.” He writes a letter to John Kingsland.

3 October – Kerouac writes “Reflections on “Ulysses” of James Joyce: “Joyce (Stephen Dedalus) substitutes Leopold Bloom for Simon Dedalus, as his spiritual father. Bloom is a Jew despised by the Irishmen of Dublin, Simon
Dedalus is a Dublin Irishman. It is a reflection of Stephen’s own outcast feeling in Ireland that he would exchange fathers, for a more apt father.”

5 October – Kerouac writes notes “Of Peasants, Kings and Saints.” He makes clear his disfavor toward Goethe labeling him “petty and trivial.” He goes on to explain of the two qualities that he admires in men, that they be “true nobles” or “true saints.”

9 October – Kerouac writes a note about mankind as a “human animal” instead of a “walking brain with mouth attached.” He remarks that our “abyss” is that which we lack in ourselves and is the basis of our individual fears.

10 October – William S. Burroughs writes Allen Ginsberg from St. Louis, Missouri. He asks Ginsberg to inform Joan Adams, now hospitalized in Bellevue Hospital’s psychiatric ward, that he plans on collecting her to bring her back to Pharr, Texas where he is living with Kells Elvins, a boyhood friend from St. Louis, Missouri, until he can find his own place in that state.

31 October – William S. Burroughs arrives in New York City and collects Joan Adams from Bellevue Hospital to return her to his new home in Pharr, Texas.

23 November – Burroughs purchases 99-acres near New Waverly, Texas.

13 December – Kerouac types a story outline: “General sequence of events – Christmas story.” (Outline of story set in 1940s post-war New York involving the Breton family and characters including “Tom Seward, Michael Breton, Junkey, Liz Martin, Gerald McCarthy, […]”)

29 December – Joan Vollmer writes Edie Parker Kerouac:

I’ve really had a mad year, although now perhaps I’ve come to a resting- point—maybe. Was it after you left (I think so) that Bill (Burroughs, of course) finally got nailed for a couple of forged prescriptions? […]
The only way I could get him out on bail, unfortunately, was to call his psychiatrist [Dr. Wolberg], and he promptly informed Bill’s family, which led to a good deal of unpleasantness.
Finally, though, in June, the damn thing came to trial, and he was lucky enough that he got a suspended sentence on condition that he go home to St. Louis for three months. That was pretty good, of course, but it left me in rather a spot, emotionally as well as financially.
Huncke stayed around and raised some money making parked cars for the luggage, and after a while we began taking in a few desperate characters as boarders, until before long I was running quite a pad. Everything in the damn place was hot, as were, of course, a couple of cars out front. Inevitably, people kept going to jail, until finally, due to that and also the ever-present back rent, we got tossed out.
There simply wasn’t an empty apartment in the city, so we bounced around from one hotel to another until Whitey, a sweet but stupid character with whom I was having a light affair at the time, blew his top and tried to lift a Howard Johnson’s safe. He was picked up immediately, so there I was looking for a job, an apartment, a lawyer for Whitey, and money for the lawyer.
I was completely broke, so I left Julie with my aunts on Long Island and stayed with a nice kid named McCarthy. I finally got the lawyer, who was obviously no good, but Whitey insisted on having him. In the meantime, however, I’d been taking so much benzedrine that I got way off the beam, with the result that I finally landed in Bellevue Psycho Ward.
Dad came down and got Julie. Anyway, I was all clear again in a couple of days, but it took me a week and a half to convince those stupid doctors that I wasn’t completely mad.
Everything was timed nicely, though, because just before I got out at last, Bill got back in town. His family agreed to set him up in a small way, provided he’d live away from New York, so we had planned to go to Texas, where he’d spent part of the summer.
As soon as I got out of the nut-house, we drove down to the Rio Grande Valley, stayed a while with some friends of Bill’s, and finally bought a nice broken-down 99-acre farm a little north of Houston. We stayed down there for awhile, starting repairs on the house, and then headed north ten days before Christmas.
We drove to N.Y., where we stayed a few days, and then Bill went to St. Louis and I came up here to get Julie. She and I are going back to Texas by train on January 2nd, and Bill will be back down there by then.
This is all very vague and sketchy, but do write me back and let me have your news. Although we’re not married (Bill got a divorce, but I haven’t yet), make it Mrs. W. S. Burroughs, New Waverly, Texas.


Chronology: 1947


10 January – Allen Ginsberg is struck by Neal Cassady’s physical beauty at Vicki Russell’s apartment after Neal and Kerouac show up there for a visit.

14 January – LuAnne Henderson is caught in a tremendous snowstorm in New York City and decides to return to Denver after her increasing unhappiness with Neal Cassady.

17 January – Neal Cassady writes Allen Ginsberg from New York City: “”I really feel quite badly because of the many obligations I feel toward you . . .”

21 January – Allen Ginsberg is in despair after a “wild weekend in sexual drama with [Neal] Cassady.”

19 February – William S. Burroughs writes Allen Ginsberg from New Waverly, Texas advising him on psychological analysis as well as requesting “hay” and to save the seeds, advising him further to use a pseudonym and fake address on the return address.

22 February – Allen Ginsberg reveals in his journal that he has had a “talk” with Neal Cassady: “He has a highly developed situational imagination and an even, clear mind as far as emotional entanglements are concerned.”

23 February – Allen Ginsberg reveals in his journal that he will “try not to think on those sexual positions with Cassady which would please me.”

24 February – Kerouac begins a handwritten journal to extend through May 5, 1947. Among some of the prose pieces included in this journal is “On Contemporary Jazz – Bebop.”

2 March – Allen Ginsberg writes into his journal some “tea” visions.

3 March – Kerouac and Neal Cassady undertake a marathon rap session in New York City.

4 March – Neal Cassady returns to Denver by bus.

6 March – Neal Cassady writes Allen Ginsberg from Kansas City, Missouri to give his Denver mailing address to mail a pair of trousers and, to keep Ginsberg on the hook, a list of books he intends to read.

7 March – Neal Cassady writes Kerouac “the Great Sex Letter” from Kansas City, Missouri. Cassady is in a bar on Market Street waiting for a bus to take him to Denver. He describes his dalliance with a female passenger he meets on the bus.

10 March – Neal Cassady arrives in Denver. He writes Allen Ginsberg providing yet another address to mail his trousers, that of the home of Denver friend Bill Barnett (Tomson).

11 March – William S. Burroughs writes Allen Ginsberg from New Waverly, Texas about his lack of success growing poppy and “tea.” He also describes his experiences with a host of vermin and “possums” to which he contemplates purchasing a ferret to combat all of it “emerging in droves.” Allen Ginsberg writes Wilhelm Reich describing his “psychic difficulty as a homosexual.

13 March – Neal Cassady writes Kerouac from Denver, Colorado. Cassady has a new Underwood typewriter from which to write not only letters, but also planned novels. Cassady hints at being able to “fall into a spontaneous groove in not only our correspondence, but, letter writing in general.”

14 March – Neal Cassady writes Allen Ginsberg from Denver, Colorado: “On your part, you must know that any letdown in your regard for me would upset me so much that, psychologically, I would be in a complete vacuum.”

20 March – Kerouac writes Carolina and Paul Blake Sr. thanking them for his birthday card and $1.00 gift. Neal Cassady writes Allen Ginsberg from Denver: “I place you in such high regard academically that I merely reacted normally to your amount of information concerning the literary scene. I presupposed that it had all come out of your head without effort, just as I without effort can speak of football, therefore, when I expressed amazement at the knowledge, it was artificial in that I was complimenting you simply as a means of showing appreciation. So you see I was not truly impressed, but, rather accepted it as further proof of your value. In fact, what you pointed out about it in this latest letter was understood, and understood so well that I find a lack in myself in not implying that, rather than using the false complimentary style to show my thanks to you.”

27 March – Writing from his 1073 Downing Street address in Denver, Colorado, Neal Cassady writes Kerouac of his current events, of troubles with his landlady over girls in his room and blood on his sheets, a rational fear of jail time (he claims because of LuAnne Henderson), and his being so broke that he was forced to “hock” his overcoat and suit. Cassady also inquires about Kerouac’s current novel-in-progress as well as a desire to read the “Lucien” story, either that collaboration written with William S. Burroughs, or Kerouac’s rewrite independent of Burroughs.

30 March – Neal Cassady writes Allen Ginsberg from Denver, Colorado: “Also, I fear, therein lies our strength of tie to each other. I say I fear, for I really don’t know how much I can be satisfied to love you, I mean bodily, you know I, somehow, dislike pricks & men & before you, had consciously forced myself to be homosexual; now, I’m not sure whether with you I was not just forcing myself unconsciously, that is to say, any falsity on my part was all physical, in fact, any disturbance in our affair was because of this. You meant so much to me, I now feel I was forcing a desire for you bodily as a compensation to you for all you were giving me.”

1 April – Neal Cassady writes Allen Ginsberg from Denver, Colorado. Cassady is nonplussed that Justin Brierly that a Ginsberg-authored poem was written by Cassady: “When I believe I’ve attained as much as I can toward making him truly unable to decide, I tell him to go to hell, reject him completely, demand my poem back and stalk away. Thereby freeing myself of the necessity of paying him the money I owe him also, since, after all, he “doubted” me, wasn’t deserving of me and all that. Knowing him as I do, I’m certain this will have no effect on him, at least outwardly, but, by going through this I, again outwardly, obtain a degree of freedom, respect, and if I pull it off properly, save “face”. Cassady is also trying to emotionally distance himself from Ginsberg.

10 April – Neal Cassady writes Allen Ginsberg from Denver, Colorado addressing his lack of a need for emotional involvement with Ginsberg, or anyone.

15 April – Neal Cassady writes Kerouac from his Downing Street address in Denver, Colorado warning of any pretenses of his character and any ensuing complications that could rise thereof: “Remember, my primary feeling for you lies in just that unconcern & frankness, lack of straightness etc. that you speak of, so don’t allow any preconceived ideas of me or my character, or what I’m “seeking” to interfere with that.” He also denounces the “Lucien” story that Kerouac had, apparently, refused to send him, as “overdone” yet “justified” in not sending it to him. Cassady explains that he will only be at the current address for two more weeks until he moves on to Las Vegas, Nevada. Cassady also writes Ginsberg of his plans to work in Central City, Colorado at the Central City Opera House. He encourages Ginsberg to also get a job during the summer season when it commences on July 5th.

19 April – Kerouac to Hal Chase.

2 May – 175,000 words of The Town and the City completed.

8 May – Neal Cassady to Allen Ginsberg: “Can you ever forgive me? I mean it, can you? Really, I feel very guilty about my failure to write; of course, I could rationalize myself indefinitely concerning all the lack of time I’ve had, troubles etc., however, I shan’t do that for I should have written anyhow. The real reason I’ve failed to is, I think, due to my not knowing what would happen next.”

15-17 May – Neal Cassady to Allen Ginsberg from Denver, Colorado: “Great news! Here’s our plan — please bear with me now. I leave here today to go to Trinidad, Colo. to work; I leave there about June 10th or so and dash right over to Bill and Joan’s where I shall meet you and about June 30th or so we come to Denver to work at Central City from July 6 to about August 13th. This is the best and only way for us. After Central we’ll be all set. I’ll make enough the next three weeks at Trinidad to have a few bucks and we’ll save the Central money we make (since I believe our room and board bill will be almost nil up there) to go to NY on. Please Allen steer this course with me this summer.”

20 May – Neal Cassady to Kerouac from 1242 Clarkson Street, Denver, Colorado. He seeks forgiveness from Kerouac for his failure to write over the past two weeks due to a “minor brush with the police.” This, too, had canceled out his plan to go to Las Vegas to gamble. Meanwhile, Cassady had found a job “working ten hours a day digging ditches, mixing cement, etc.” Still, Cassady has meanwhile come up with new plans to leave for Trinidad, Colorado to work before leaving for New Waverly, Texas to visit Burroughs and his wife.

June – Neal Cassady to Allen Ginsberg – Cassady describes meeting a new woman via Bill Tomson, Carolyn Robinson. For this reason, Cassady postpones his trip to Texas to meet Ginsberg at Burroughs’s New Waverly farm to continue their liason: “At any rate, you mustn’t remain hanging on a limb in Texas. Although I can promise you nothing in the way of living quarters, work life, even social activity — I still insist that you hurry to Denver so that we can work something out. I am anxious to see you, also whatever you may bring with you; i.e. tea — may I repeat — tea.”

15 June – Kerouac writes 500 words and gives up. His “mind seems blank and disinterested in these fictions.”

16 June – Kerouac begins a new workbook he calls a “10-Day Mood Log”: “Just made one of those great grim decisions of one’s life—not to present my manuscript of “T+C” to any publisher until I’ve completed it, all 380,000-odd words of it. ” He writes 2000 words pertaining to the current chapter he is developing until it “crumbles” up on him.

17 June – Kerouac continues to struggle with his manuscript, yet seeks to act upon the “unconscious intuitive drift of great theme-thoughts rushing.”

18 June – Kerouac eats a “big meal” at 1 a.m. and goes on a two mile walk before he sits down and writes 18,000 words. He struggles between the difference of having to write his book or wanting to write it.

19 June – Kerouac reads Leo Tolstoy’s “moral essays,” extracting spiritual principles that he will refer to throughout his life. However, he does draw comparisons between Tolstoy and Dostoevsky: “I concluded that Dostoevsky’s wisdom is the highest wisdom in the world, because it is not only Christ’s wisdom, but a Karamazov Christ of lusts and glees. Let’s have a morality that does not exclude sheer life-loving! Poor Tolstoy, anguished because he started rich and profligate—yet when a Count retires to the peasants, it’s really of some account to the world, (pun intended.) Tolstoy must have been self-conscious of his moral importance in the eyes of the world. But Dostoyevsky Shakespeare—their morality grows in the earth, is hidden there and brooding. Dostoevsky never had to retire to morality, he was always it, and everything else also.” He writes 2000 words.

20 June – Kerouac writes in his The Town and the City workbook that “nothing is more specific about a person than the tone and substance of his personality, his being, the fury and feel and look of it” as he centers his efforts on the character of Francis Martin.

21 June – Kerouac takes the day off from writing The Town and the City and goes into New York City.

22 June – Kerouac writes into his “mood log” of The Town and the City’s compositions that it is “worry” that must be eliminated for the “sake of individual force.”

23 June – Despite a day of “intense feelings,” Kerouac writes morning and night after finsihing some business he had in the city.

24 June – Kerouac writes on the final draft of a 10,000-word chapter for The Town and the City.

25 June – Kerouac reads the New Testament of the Holy Bible, “really for the first time.”

26 June – Kerouac goes into the city to make employment plans and work at sea for the summer. Inspired by his recent reading of the New Testament, he wonders if he can “go about in came’s hair and leather gird and subsist on locust and wild honey.” He opts to live like his father in order to reconcile “true Christianity” with “American life.” Later he will write “On the Teachings of Jesus.”

27 June – Kerouac completes the work on his chapter and places it into the main manuscript for The Town and the City, a “grain of sand on the beach.”

July – Kerouac spends ten days in Kingston, North Carolina.

14 July – Kerouac writes William S. Burroughs.

15 July – Kerouac writes Ed White a postcard from Jamaica, New York revealing his plans to join Henri Cru in San Francisco.

17 July – Kerouac leaves New York City in an attempt to follow Route 66 west. He ends up getting lost in upstate New York and returns to the city to take a bus to Chicago.

21 July – William and Joan Burroughs give birth to a son, William Burroughs III.

24 July – Kerouac attends a rodeo in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

28 July – Kerouac arrives in Denver, Colorado. Allen Ginsberg lies awake at the Colburn Hotel Apartments in Denver, Colorado, torturing himself as he listens to Carolyn Robinson and Neal Cassady in bed.

5 August – Allen Ginsberg writes in his journal that he should tell Neal Cassady “to ditch a few women.”

8 August – William S. Burroughs writes Allen Ginsberg from New Waverly, Texas [postmarked as August 8, the actual composition of the letter is July 10]. He thanks Allen for writing “Birthday Ode” [later retitled “Surrealist Ode], a poem written in honor of the birth of William and Joan’s son. He also advises Ginsberg of his fear that his love situation with Neal cassady in Denver is getting “precarious.”

10 August – Kerouac arrives in San Francisco. He writes notes for a short story, “Barnmaking.”

11 August – Kerouac writes out a tentative cast of characters for a play, “Christmas in New York.”

13 August – Gabrielle Kerouac writes to Kerouac (in Marin County and living with Henri Cru) hoping that he has reached his destination “safe.”

15 August – Kerouac writes a prose short on baseball titled “The Absorbing Humaness of Baseball.”

16 August – Kerouac writes Ed White from Sausalito, California. He informs him that he is awaiting a job guarding dormitories for an overseas construction unit and that he has “knocked-off a full-length 40,000 word screen story in six days of “feverish labourings,” while waiting for the guard job to come through.”

22 August – Neal Cassady writes Kerouac from Denver, Colorado responding to a “great little card” sent to him a few days before. Cassady has new plans to go to New Waverly, Texas with Allen Ginsberg to visit William S. Burroughs.

26 August – Kerouac writes Allen Ginsberg.

31 August – Neal Cassady writes Kerouac from William S. Burroughs’s ranch in New Waverly, Texas where he is staying with Allen Ginsberg. He details the indigent state of the Burroughs as well as the Benzedrine drug addiction of Joan Haverty Burroughs and Herbert Huncke. Imminently he has plans to drive Ginsberg and Huncke to Houston, Texas to find new sources for bennies. Ginsberg plans on finding a new merchant vessel to ship out on. Cassady makes himself useful by doing various repairs around the ranch.

2 September – Neal Cassady continues his August 31 letter to Kerouac.

3 September – Neal Cassady, Herbert Huncke and Allen Ginsberg drive to Houston, Texas from New Waverly, Texas in search of a new supply of Benzedrine for Joan Haverty Burroughs who is hopelessly addicted to them as well as buying some ice to keep the meat in Burroughs’s ice box cold. Ginsberg finds a new job as a messman on a freighter shipping to France in four days.

5 September – Ginsberg feels thwarted by Cassady’s lack of sexual interest and prepares to depart for a messman job on a freighter. Cassady finds a woman and loudly has sex with her as Ginsberg and Huncke listens in the next room, angering both for different reasons. After Cassady passes out, Ginsberg kicks the woman out of the room and tries to rouse Cassady for his own sexual tryst to no avail. In doing so, Ginsberg postpones leaving for his messman job, ultimately loses it and earns the disfavor of the merchant’s union. Cassady and Ginsberg return to Burroughs’s ranch without ice which consequently spoils his meat and angers him toward the hapless duo.

9 September – Neal Cassady continues his August 31 letter to Kerouac to bring him abreast of the events of the past week at Burroughs’ farm in New Waverly, Texas.

10 September – Neal Cassady, writing from New Waverly, Texas writes to Allen Ginsberg who has shipped out on the S.S. John Blais: “Here are the letters that have arrived for you. Will write you later at the other address; must rush to get these away to you. Glad you like what you’re doing (I mean where you’re going). See how much of a rush I’m in.”

mid-September – Kerouac writes Neal Cassady describing his anticipation for him to come to New York.

12 September – Kerouac types the beginning of a new novel, “October life. Another ‘experimental’ novel. J.K. California, September 12, 1947.”

13 September – Ginsberg leaves for Dakar, Africa as a messman on a merchant vessel.

17 September – Kerouac writes Ed White waxing on the state of the American family.

20 September – Neal Cassady writes Kerouac from New Waverly, Texas in receipt of a recent letter. He writes of a recent trip to Houston with Huncke in a quest for paregoric for Burroughs and Benzedrine for Joan Haverty Burroughs and Huncke. He responds that his chances of coming to New York are impeded by a fear of getting arrested with Burroughs (they plan on bringing some weed there to sell in October), Carolyn’s wish for Neal to come to San Francisco, and the absence of Ginsberg who was to open the doors for him to academia.

25 September – Kerouac writes Caroline Kerouac Blake about his traveling to Hollywood on October 6 to “place his story in the right hands” and continue towards “home via Tijuana Mexico and Texas and then all the way up to Minnesota and Wisconsin, just to see the country. Before that I might take a run up to Seattle, Washington, just to see the place. if I do all this, and I’ll certainly do 90% of it, I’ll have seen 41 states in all. Is that enough for an American novelist?”

early-October – Kerouac leaves San Francisco and takes a bus to Los Angeles, California. Neal Cassady writes Jack Kerouac. Cassady has just arrived in New York City to meet with William S. Burroughs and Herbert Huncke. Burroughs is there to meet with his wife, Joan Haverty Burroughs who had left with their children ahead of him, as well as trying to sell a batch of weed he grew in Texas. Cassady had plans to meet with Kerouac who had not arrived in the city.

5 October – Writing from San Francisco, Kerouac records two dreams into his notebook. Neal Cassady writes Kerouac: “”Christ! I’m getting corny. I’ve got a lot of old Hampton, Basie, etc. which Stephanie dropped on me a sort of semi-insult, or to, mistakenly, get back in my good graces (or some such confused thought) to get some junk or tea. The kick comes when one sees her thinking she’s killing two birds by giving me the records she didn’t want and believing I’m so square I was really knocked-out by her generosity in parting with all these ‘good’ records she’d had for years, etc. etc.– she laid it on thick, and I gobbled it up to make her think I was taken in. It was a great scene, especially since she should have been dealing with Bill, but she had just thrown Mr. B out and had to vamp me so I would ‘persuade’ Bill to think she wasn’t so.”

6 October – Kerouac decides to return home from California in order to finish The Town and the City.

14 October – Kerouac writes in his notebook observing his travels south from northern California to Los Angeles.

29 October – Kerouac returns home to New York: “and the genuine surprise I felt finding that I had a home, a past, a tradition even, and a mother, fine friends, clothes and food and shelter—in fried, what a surprise to learn that I am a “gentleman” after all! (After all the hoboing–)
And a sort of sad feeling and wonder, and a room where so many written papers lay scattered about, millions and millions of words, written by “some other sranger” somehow, a powerful, aggressive, yet rueful stranger—myself last winter…a boy writing. Now, I just feel tired and wander-weary. I’m resting, resting, feeling old, and much too world-wise to know anything right now…”

1 November – Kerouac reads a copy of Alain-Fournier’s Le Grand Meulnes stolen from a Los Angeles bookstall (in Hollywood). He starts a new “Winter” journal.

3 November – Kerouac writes into a new notebook pertaining to the struggle of getting back into the routine of writing after taking a long break during his travels.

4 November – Kerouac walks the streets of New York City in the rains raging with friends. At one point they smash vinyl records of Mozart over each other’s heads.

5 November – Kerouac writes extensive notes and thinking. He is, as he writes in his notebook, undergoing an “inner revolution.” Neal Cassady writes to Kerouac from San Francisco where he has returned to Carolyn Cassady. He apologizes for not waiting for Kerouac in New York and keeps him informed about Burroughs and Huncke falling out. Cassady feels he has let Kerouac down intellectually, yet feels relaxed that he has released his “fixation to write.”

6 November – Kerouac writes 1000 words in one hour after he has managed to free himself from some “old shackles.”

7 November – Kerouac writes 2500-words in the span of several hours which he correlates to true freedom.

8 November – Kerouac spends the evening with Ed White having a “great conversation.” He calls White and his ideas “simple and true.” Neal Cassady continues his letter to Kerouac from November 5 with a “great letter” from Allen Ginsberg. Ginsberg lets on that he and Kerouac were together in New York City.

9 November – Despite pangs of loneliness, Kerouac writes 2000-words on his novel.

10 November – Kerouac agonizes over money problems and considers selling his “Christmas in New York” story (written in California) once it is returned from the studios. Despite his anxiety, he writes 2500-words.

11 November – Kerouac spends part of the day writing letters and writes 2000-words later in the day.

12 November – Kerouac writes 1500-words for The Town and the City.

13-15 November – Kerouac goes on a three-day drinking binge. He burns his hand with a cigarette.

16 November – Kerouac recuperates from his weekend drinking binge and after writing extensive notes, he hammers out 4000-words of The Town and the City.

17 November – Kerouac feels happier and less worrisome: “change is a gateway to happiness or unhappines, in pulses like the heart-pulse.” He writes 1500-words.

18 November – Kerouac struggles with the burden of trying to be “perfect” in his output. It is, he tells himself, the “curse of vanity.” He writes 2500-words. Neal Cassady writes Allen Ginsberg from San Francisco: “I started this letter, not on good faith, but good tea, yep, I met a nigger and bought some; as soon as I got high I sat down to write this, have been at it three hours, have had three thousand separate and distinct thoughts, have written less than three hundred words and, have lost my thoughts, have said nothing, have no regrets, however, for I know, (I repeat) Carolyn is but a step and so is — fuck it. I’m hitler. I mean; I’M HIGH.”

19 November – Kerouac spends the night with “Dark Eyes” [Ginger Bailey] over his house while his mother sleeps. They listen on the radio to the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh. Neal Cassady attends a Thomas Mann lecture on “Nietzsche in the Light of Modern Experience.” Afterwards, he cooks crepes suzettes.

20 November – A night of “confused sadness” and no writing. His impulse si to write a “simple sequence” for the novel in a quest for simple beauty.

21 November – Neal Cassady writes Kerouac from San Francisco addressing his immersion in jazz and the “touching of souls.” He also shares his recent attendance of a lecture by Thomas Mann on November 19 and that he is reading Oswald Spengler and James Joyce.

22 November – Kerouac gets into an argument with Burroughs and Ginsberg about psychoanalysis. He resents that they are still fascinated with the same topics as a year ago, lumping himself into the same tendency.

23 November – Kerouac describes the day as “dull” and consumed with “dull people” though he does have a “good talk” with Ed White.

24 November – Kerouac feels the absence of Ginger Bailey, the day is “gloomy” and raining.

25 November – Kerouac takes his screen story, “Christmas in New York” to a literary agency, Bergh & Winner. He writes 2000-words toward a feeling of “high destiny.”

26 November – Kerouac is bothered by his mother’s having to work and her insistence that he keep writing just the same. He runs into Burroughs and Ginsberg, accidentally, in the city. He writes 2500-words that night, the “best writing I’ve ever done” which is the argument between George Martin and his son who decides to leave college).

27 November – Kerouac enjoys a roasted duck and a movie for Thanksgiving with his mother. He reads Dostoevsky’s A Raw Youth at night as well as a biography of Goethe. He writes 2000-words.

28 November – Kerouac has a fuller sense of the “contour and shape” of his growing novel and feels all that he has left is the work itself in writing it.

29-30 November – Kerouac spends the day in a drunken binge at different parties around New York City.

1 December – Kerouac writes 1000-words toward The Town and the City. LuAnne Henderson arrives in San Francisco to which Neal Cassady has “extracted the commitment of desire to gain an annulment from her.” [letter to Kerouac – 12-25-47] Cassady, however, continues his liaisons with her whilst expressing commitment to Carolyn.

2 December – Kerouac spends a “feverish night of writing” at least 350 “strange and exalted words.”

3 December – Kerouac is enjoying a rare spell of elation and self-discovery as he feels he has reached beyond the pale of mere “youth” and has evolved into something that is more enabling to his potential as a person and writer.

4 December – Kerouac writes 2000-words on The Town and the City.

5 December – Kerouac goes into the city and has dinner with William Burroughs. Later he has an “outstanding conversation” with Allen Ginsberg. He feels that they do in fact harbor similar visions of life and that Ginsberg has an “infinitely more complex vision of life” than he does. He states that the difference between he and Ginsberg is how they regard their respective visions of life. Ginsberg’s vision is “deeper” while Kerouac’s emphasizes “the urge to brooding self-envelopment.” With badly-needed funds in hand, Neal Cassady sends money to LuAnne Henderson’s mother to “start the divorce.” [letter to Kerouac – 12-25-47]

6 December – Kerouac, inspired by his conversations with Ginsberg, tries starting a new novel. He goes to a movie with his mother and reads a novel by French writer, Stendahl.

7 December – Kerouac wakes up feeling ill and nauseated. He goes for a walk and almost faints. Kerouac decides in his weakened state that it is his imperative to finish The Town and the City before anything else. He handwrites a draft of three pages and titles it “So This Is the World Itself” and crosses it out. He retitles it “A novel – begun Sunday morning, 2am, Dec.7” and begns “If I could write a letter to God, or someone like that …”

8 December – Kerouac writes 3500-words.

9 December – Kerouac is approaching the “climax and finale” of his novel-in-progress. He estimates that he had written 3000-words in November and 10000-words in December. Kerouac writes 1500-words for the night.

10 December – Kerouac goes by himself to New York City to listen to Lennie Tristano.

11 December – After returning from New York City, Kerouac writes 2500-words at 2:00 a.m. By 5 a.m. he writes 1500 more words. By night he is typing and re-working 3000 words as he considers the novel’s structure.

12 December – Kerouac goes into the city to spend time with his friends (Vicki Russell, Tom Livornese, Ginger Bailey, Ed White, Jack and Jeanne Fitzgerald, William Burroughs, Joan Haverty and Bill Garver. Later he walks alone for two miles in Manhattan.

13 December – Kerouac spends the day goofing.”

14 December – Kerouac spends the night reading “all the papers.”

15 December – Kerouac writes 2000-words.

16 December – Kerouac reaches, by his assessment, the “halfway mark” of his monthly goal. He writes 1000-words by night.

17 December – Kerouac attempts to “peddle” a script he had written in New York City and attends a screening of Elia Kazan’s A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (1945). He feels particularly isolated in the city when he senses none of his friends are around, though he does see two of them in Times Square, though they do not see him and eventually they too vanish.

18 December – Kerouac writes “only” 1000-words, but rewrites 3000-words for the main manuscript of The Town and the City.

19 December – Kerouac writes 1500-words and is frustrated at the seeming lack of progress toward completing the novel.

20 December – Kerouac goes into the city for the night.

21 December – Kerouac visits relatives for the afternoon and later, reads his “Monument to Adolescence” sea diary of 1942. He uses this source material to write the “Greenland narrative” of The Town and the City. He extracts only the “juices” for the novel, and decides to save much of it for later (which he does, in Vanity of Duluoz).

22 December – Kerouac prepares for a Christmas trip to North Carolina with his mother.

23 December – Kerouac writes Ed White from New York. He shares his itinerary for spending the holidays with his mother.

25 December – Neal Cassady writes Jack Kerouac from San Francisco. He expresses to Kerouac that he is a “blood-brother” and that they are similar on many levels. He shares plans to return to New York City by fall 1948 and that he is “starting to write” again.

26-27 December – Kerouac experiences an “intestinal illness” which makes him particularly miserable for his return trip to New York.

28 December – Kerouac returns from North Carolina to te aftermath of a snowstorm in New York.

29 December – Kerouac tosses around the idea of attending a city college using the new G.I. Bill for which he is eligible in order to bring in some much-needed cash ($65.00 a month). However, he decides that his novel-in-progress requires all of his attention for the moment feeling certain that it will sell to a publisher eventually. Working through his lingering illness, he writes 3500-words. Cassady concludes his December 25 letter to Kerouac from San Francisco: “I have great visions, I understand people; I move freely — I know everything. I am everybody.”

30 December – Neal Cassady to Allen Ginsberg. Cassady shares that he plans to leave his wife Carolyn and return to Denver to live with his father and sister.

31 December – Kerouac attends a New Year’s Eve party at Tom Livornese’s home. He feels sad because he is dateless.

Chronology: 1948


1 January – Kerouac drinks and converses with Jack Fitzgerald and later, his mother.

2 January – Kerouac writes letters and rests, preparing for his last great push to complete The Town and the City. He reads at night through a bout of sadness. He writes Allen Ginsberg: “How many times do I have to tell you that I understand all about the Forest of Arden, the reservoir, etc., and so forth, I agree with it wholeheartedly, I’m all for ripeness and greatness, and it’s you, it’s YOU goddamnit who keeps fourling up the harmony. (That type error ‘fourling’ comes from the French word for f-ck, ‘foure.’) I am not afraid of you …” & “In this letter I’m trying to straighten out your suspicions and can make no real effort towards rich complexity due to excitement and happiness. Excuse the crudeness of the logic. So many rich wonderful things are happening—it seems as though some sort of climax is being reached, a kind of climax that can only end in death, years later possibly. It seems as though I have a great fear of happiness. But I’m happy these days. Jack Fitzgerald, with whom I’ve been drinking for two days and nights, said last night: ‘Goddamit whenever I met a woman who really liked me I was horrified and mystified.’ To show you what a great soul that kid has, I’m enclosing a letter of his with this, and I want you to spare no effort in preserving and returning that letter to me, I’m entrusting you with something very valuable and don’t go and lose it, hear? (Nealism). In all of Jack’s conversations and stories there runs a definite metaphysical thread, elicited through these expressions—‘So he walked away in the night,’ or ‘I looked at Celine when I met her that first time and Goddamit she seeped slowly into my life,’ or ‘There’s one guy I’ve met in this world who seems to not give a shit what direction he’s taking.’ etc. In other words there’s always a hint of ‘the night,’ and ‘this world,’ and a confrontation of souls, that ‘seep’ into each other slowly:- I know you’ll like this.. It’s your Xmas present.
Now about the Raw Youth. Just a day before I received your card asking me to mail it to Patterson I had taken the damn thing into town to Ed White’s room so that you could pick it up there. So I made a special trip to N.Y. to mail it myself, but Ed wasn’t in his room and I couldn’t find him. A few days later I was in North Carolina for the holidays. I got back three days ago and I just mailed the damn thing off to Patterson. So explain it to your old man: the whole affair was a pain in the ass. But it’s straight now. So here I am telling you that you need not think I’m shying away from you, but actually looking for you. (Does that frighten you?) Remember that somersault you did over the bed in Joan’s room that night, when you had a vision of complexity and of your own cleverness? Well, turn another one, because what you said to Neal is all wet, and I’m pissed off at him for assuming that I would shy away from you like that. I’m going to write him a letter too.”

4 January – Kerouac writes at night, including some correspondence (one to Neal Cassady), and then work on the “city-episode” of The Town and the City. He also solved two significant plot obstacles.

5 January – Kerouac commences writing early in the afternoon and completes 3000-words. That night he experiences “gleeful little things around me” as he lay in bed: “almost real, corporeal, and I envisioned little fairies, butterflies, dancing moth-shapes, whole swirls and hosts of them, all around me, I felt like Gulliver, with little things dancing gleefully all over me and around me, and more interesting: it seemed that these little ‘fairy glees’ of our life were amazed with me because I had discovered them, because I had “turned my head and seem them,” and in the simplicity of their little hearts, were pleased with me, loved me, danced around me, ‘their champion and king,’ were happy because I had seen them.”

6 January – Kerouac writes 2500-words.

7January – Kerouac attends a stage performance of Crime and Punishment starring John Gielgud, feels “lost” and writes 1000-words at night. Neal Cassady writes Kerouac from San Francisco. He is seeking from others “the answer to the soul.” In writing, Cassady forges (accidentally) the compositional credo for Kerouac: “I have always held that when one writes one should forget all rules, literary styles, and other such pretensions as large words, lordly clauses and other phrases as such, i.e., rolling the words around in the mouth as one would wine and proper or not putting them down because they sound so good. Rather, I think, one should write, as nearly as possible, as if he were the first person on earth and was humbly and sincerely putting on paper that which he saw and experienced, loved and lost; what his passing thoughts were and his sorrows and desires; and these things should be said with careful avoidance of common phrases, trite usage of hackneyed words and the like. One must combine Wolfe and Flaubert — and Dickens.” Furthermore, he expresses that “art is good when it springs from necessity,” which Kerouac shares into his journal. Cassady plans on learning a musical instrument like saxophone and is “plagued” by hives.

8 January – Kerouac writes 3000-words. Neal Cassady responds to an undated letter of Kerouac’s (typing with one hand due to an injury), undertaking a lay analysis of Kerouac’s dream about Allen Ginsberg and an “idiot” symbol derived from Dostoevsky to which Kerouac identifies as himself. Cassady goes on to give his opinion of Lucien Carr: “a young fellow who some years ago began a cycle of events in which he was the principal antagonist.”

9 January – Kerouac feels “lazy” and writes nothing. Talks with his mother.

10 January – Kerouac doesn’t write at all. Attends a perfomance by Sarah Vaughan on 52nd Street.

11 January – Kerouac reads Thomas Wolfe’s You Can’t Go Home Again. He writes 2500-words until he is “interrupted” by a visit by Allen Ginsberg at 4 a.m. to tell Kerouac he is “going mad.” Kerouaxc calms him down and reads him parts of The Town and the City wherefrom Ginsberg declares it as “great as Melville” and “the Great American Novel.” Kerouac does not believe him: “It seems to me, that he is just like any other human being and I see that this drives him to his wit’s ends. How can I help a man who wants to be a monster one minute and a god the next, and never makes up his mind with his earthly will, and goes on wandering to and fro snarling and fawning at people, and never resting, and never wanting to rest, and always accusing me of being stupid because I like to rest once in a while and because I like myself occasionally, and believe in work and like things and people once in a while.”

12 January – Kerouac declares Dostoevsky’s A Raw Youth an “evil book.” Neal Cassady buys a 1941 Packard Club Coupe for $1195.00 After putting 14,000-miles on the car, he gives it back.

13 January – Kerouac writes 3000-words.

14 January – Kerouac writes 1500-words.

15 January – Kerouac writes over 1000-words.

16 January – Kerouac goes to Manhattan and drinks a “quantity of whiskey.” He receives 1500 sheets of quality bond paper from Tony Monacchio.

19 January – Kerouac recognizes that it is the anniversary of his novel’s composition. Since then, he had written 225,000 words for The Town and the City. He resolves to complete the writing of the novel before his 26th birthday on March 12. He writes 1500-words.

20 January – Kerouac writes only 500-words. Neal Cassady quits his job at McKales after feeling suicidal. In an attempt to kill himself, he drives fifty miles per hour through a busy intersection.

21 January – Kerouac writes 1000-words in “slow torture.”

22 January – Kerouac tries to write and ends up crossing it all out.

23 January – Kerouac goes out on a “slight” drinking binge.

24 January – Kerouac is motivated to start a new novel after he finishes The Town and the City. He writes 1500-words.

25 January – Kerouac writes 1500-words.

26 January – Kerouac writes 2000-words.

27 January – Kerouac writes 2500-words.

29 January – Kerouac is “out in New York suffering.”

30 January – Kerouac writes 2500-words. He has issues with self-awareness. His mother tells him that his friends are a “bad influence.” Though he doesn’t want to reconcile with her thoughts, he finds that he tends to agree with her.

31 January – Kerouac spends the day reading and attending a movie with his mother. The cold weather forbids him from staying up at night to work.

1 February – Kerouac tallies his total word count for January 1948 at 30,500-words. He still plans on finishing his novel by his twenty-seventh birthday, March 12. He lets Ed White and Hal Chase read an excerpt from the “City” portion of the manuscript, and they both feel that the character of Peter Martin seemed remote from the action.

2 February – Kerouac writes approximately 2000-words and ends up crossing it all out. He is challenged by the “City” part of the novel.

3 February – Kerouac goes into town to buy his mother a present for her birthday, February 4. He meets with Hal Chase and Ed White.

4 February – A blizzard sweeps over New York. Kerouac has a thought: “Town & City is tremendous story, because I’m making it tremendous.” He writes 1500-words.

5 February – Kerouac writes 2000-words with significant effort.

6 February – Kerouac experiences self-doubt as a writer and questions his sanity. He goes out to take a break by listening to Lennie Tristano on 52nd Street.

7 February – Kerouac writes in the afternoon “without much success” until something breaks, and he begins writing with “gusto.”

8 February – Hal Chase comes to the apartment of the Kerouacs where he and Jack talk until late night. Though the talk clears Kerouac’s brain, he is still experiencing a fog “about how to continue the flow of my novel at this point, technically and spiritually.” On Neal Cassady’s birthday, Neal tries to kill himself after stealing a .38 caliber revolver that he puts to his temple.

9 February – Kerouac starts over a portion of his writing in pencil which he feels is the only way to write “sincerely and sensibly.” He finds that his thoughts cannot keep up with the limitations of a typewriter (despite being a speed typist).

10 February – Kerouac writes more slowly with absorption into the material. He plans on showing the manuscript to a publisher (Whittlesey House) by March 21.

11 February – Kerouac types out 3500-words of the manuscript and writes 2500-words of new material.

12 February – Kerouac types 3500-words and writes 1000-new words.

13 February – Kerouac goes into the city and talks “all night in cafeterias.

14 February – Kerouac takes his mother to a movie.

15 February – Kerouac reads at his house and types out 3500-words at night. Later, he scans through the novel-in-progress.

16 February – Kerouac types 4000-words.

17 February – Kerouac writes 2000-words and types out 3500-words for manuscript. Later he walks 2.5 miles around Manhattan. He buys a Lowell, Massachusetts newspaper and feels that at last, “Lowell was part of the whole world, after all.”

18 February – Kerouac types 3500-words and writes a “few hundred” more. He has plotted the novel right down to the end at last.

19 February – Kerouac writes 1500-words and types out 3500-words for the manuscript.

20 February – Kerouac writes 1500-words, 1000 of which for the “sea-chapters” in another section of The Town and the City. William S. Burroughs writes Allen Ginsberg from New Waverly, Texas telling him that he spent two weeks at the Lexington Narcotic Farm in Lexington, Kentucky (a federal cure compound) “for the cure.”

21 February – Kerouac goes out drinking in Yorkville Germantown with Hal Chase and Ed White. They spend the day talking about women, literature, the sea and psychology.

22 February – Kerouac and Ed White drink beer until dawn, talking woman, the world and jazz.

23 February – After taking his mother to a movie, Kerouac walks three miles and takes introspective notes.

24 February – Kerouac types 3500-words and reads Sinclair Lewis’s Kingsblood Royal until late in the night.

25 February – Kerouac types 3500 words for his manuscript. He writes 2000-words by pushing himself “methodically and painfully and reluctantly back to real driving work. There’s no other way.”

26 February – Kerouac experiences difficulties with writing the “city” section of his novel. He goes to a movie that evening and afterwards, works on his novel until late at night.

27 February – Kerouac writes 1500-words and types another 3000 for his manuscript.

28 February – Kerouac writes 1000-words and types 2000 for his manuscript. Kerouac decides to “write ceaselessly about the dignity of human beings no matter who and or what they are […]”

29 February – Kerouac writes 1000-words. His total word count for the month of February, by his estimate, is 23000.

1 March – Kerouac writes 1000-words. He makes plans for his future, yearning to live and love women, and to travel at his whim by the time he turns 27 years old. Neal Cassady drives 2894 miles to Denver, Colorado without sleep in an attempt to divorce LuAnne Henderson. During the trip his car slides into a ditch in the freezing cold Continental Divide for seven hours. Unsuccessfully he tries to freeze himself to death before a bus pushes him out. He drives back to San Francisco.

2 March – Kerouac goes into the city to go to the movies, watching Diamond Jim (1935) and The Spoilers (1942). A “beautiful blonde” on the subway makes an advance toward Kerouac, who resists because he thinks she is a “$10-whore.”

3 March – Kerouac writes 500-words at dawn. He goes to the library and checks out three books on American history, the Oregon Trail, and Old Spanish Trails. At night, he writes 2000-words.

4 March – Kerouac writes a “little, read, walked, etc.”

5 March – Kerouac writes 500-words and typed on his manuscript. He goes to New York at night where he runs into crowd of “new” people and starts a drinking binge. After driving thirty-six hours straight through Wyoming and Utah, Neal Cassady arrives in San Francisco. On the way he picks up a “young girl” named Joy and catches pubic lice. Later he drives her to Sacramento, California and drops her off at a whorehouse (by his account).

6 March – Kerouac continues his drinking binge by consuming “1,000,000 glasses of beer.”

7 March – Kerouac returns home to find Hal Chase and Ginger Bailey waiting for him.

8 March – Kerouac suffers from a cold that had building up for several days. He assesses a total word count of 13000-words in the past five days.

20 March – Kerouac tears an article written by Joseph Barry from the New York Times: “To Understand France, Study Her Clowns; Their art, ranked with that of Moliere, is a touchstone of the national character.”

22 March – Neal Cassady meets another “girl” and proceeds to coerce her into a threeway orgy.

30 March – Neal Cassady succeeds in his attempt to drive for forty-six hours to Denver, Colorado to obtain a legal divorce from LuAnne Henderson.

31 March – Neal Cassady returns to San Fransisco from Denver. He experiences car trouble most of the way. As he approaches San Francisco, he gets into a minor car wreck.

April – Kerouac writes Allen Ginsberg – “Then it gets darker— ‘And it was so: the sun was setting, leaving a huge swollen light in the world that was like dark wine and rubies, and long sash-clouds the hues of velvet purple and bright rose above, all of it sombre, dark, immense, and unspeakably beauteous all over: everything was changing, the river changing in a teeming of low colors to darkness (dig that?), the abysses of the streets to darkness, etc., fabulous thousand-starred glitter, etc., etc.,’ and finally, as you look across the river to Brooklyn—‘the swoop of the bridges across the river—the river like pennies—to Brooklyn, to the teeming, ship-complicated, weaving-soft incomprehensibly ruffled water’s-end and the very ledge of Brooklyn.”

1 April – Neal Cassady legally marries Carolyn Elizabeth Robinson to become his second wife.

2 April – Neal Cassady begins his job on the railroad. For the time, he must take “student trips” without pay for training purposes.

10 April – Neal Cassady returns his new car after putting heavy mileage on the odometer. In total, he had only paid $200.00 in payments.

17 April – Neal Cassady completes his training for the railroad.

27 April – Neal Cassady goes to Watsonville, California in order to find a regular paying job with the railroad. He must stay in the vicinity in order to get any paying work.

May – Kerouac completes The Town and the City, 1100-page manuscript at 350,000 words.

6 May – Neal Cassady gives up on finding work with the railroad in Watsonville and decides to try his luck with going to sea. He has connections with the Marine Division of Standard Oil Company who “fixes” him up with a new prospect.

8 May – Neal Cassady obtains papers to work as an Ordinary Seaman with the merchant marine.

10 May – Neal Cassady finds work at last with the railroad and gives up on the merchant marine prospects. He has work enough to last him until January 1949. After that, he plans to take to the sea to remain gainfully employed.

17 May – Neal Cassady departs for Bakersfield, California to work for the railroad.

18 May – Kerouac writes Allen Ginsberg who had been staying in Paterson, New Jersey for the past several days, that he has heard at last from Neal Cassady. Cassady had requested from Kerouac a statement of character for his application to the Southern Pacific railroad where he wants to work as a brakeman.

19 May – Neal Cassady begins working for the Southern Pacific Railroad in Bakersfield, California.

5 June – William S. Burroughs writes Kerouac and Ginsberg informing them that he was just arrested for drunk driving and public indecency after he was caught in a parked car with Joan in Beeville, Texas. He is arrested, fined $173.00 and bailed out of jail by his parents after spending a single night there

7 June – Neal Cassady gets a call to work in Pixley, California working for a local union picking potatoes. He takes the job.

16 June – Neal Cassady writes Kerouac from Pixley, California. Cassady explains the reason behind not answering the last several letters of Kerouac’s and the latest happenings in his ever-turbulent life. He shares news of Carolyn Cassady’s pregnancy and his plans to name the child after Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg (if it’s a boy!). Carolyn, however, feels the whole thing would lead to nothing more than incompatibility over household tasks.

23 June – William and Joan Burroughs sign a deed to sell their east Texas farm.

27 June – Kerouac writes Neal Cassady. He writes of his plan to live in a commune-type setting on a ranch with family and friends, including Cassady.

late June – Allen Ginsberg to Neal Cassady: “I spent 30 hours at Jack’s — we talked, drank bottles of beer, showed each other the latest manuscripts, and mooned about you — The great event was your letter — we had assumed you were in jail or something — I of course had fantasized you dead, more or less, and even suspected suicide some months back. Myself, this spring has been one of madness, much like yours. Frenzy, frenzy, creation that is worthless, drinking, school, etc. I’ve been working part time and so I had about an even stint of money, and bought a lot of records. What finally pulled me out — to name an external cause since they are the signs by which we mark seasons — was Jack’s novel. It is very great, beyond my wildest expectations. I never knew.”

3 July – Ginsberg is staying with Russell Durgin at his Harlem apartment at 321 East 121st Street and reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He develops a “brotherly feel” for Durgin who is also a student and writer. It is at this address that Ginsberg experiences his Blakean cosmic vision/hallucination while he masturbates. He hears the voice of William Blake reciting poetry. Over the next several weeks, he continues to experience a heightened awareness.

5 July – Neal Cassady writes Kerouac from 160 Alpine Terrace, San Francisco. He apprises Kerouac of all of his accumulating expenses with wife and forthcoming birth of their child. He pictures a commune-type living arrangement, not only with Kerouac, but also within their circle.

6 July – Ginsberg returns to Paterson to spend time with his father. He invites Kerouac to come for a visit to their home any time the following week.

8 July – Kerouac writes Ed White from Jamaica, New York giving a progress report on his writing developments of The Town and the City.

July – Neal Cassady to Allen Ginsberg. Cassady seeks to put an end to their friendship: “You and I are now further apart than ever. Only with effort can I recall you…”

23 July – Neal Cassady writes Kerouac from San Francisco. He chides Thomas Wolfe as an “overdone, overripe Gulliver.” Cassady demonstrates a spate of writing to music from his phonograph culminating in heightened physical self-presence. He plans on taking $2.00 an hour saxophone lessons in September and psychoanalysis in October. He asks of Kerouac of an opportunity “speak more freely” and by doing so, to “improve my direct, simple style of writing.”

2 August – Burroughs purchases a house at 509 Wagner Street in Algiers, Louisiana, across the Mississippi River from the French Quarter, for $3,800 on a promissory note he gave to the seller, the Eureka Homestead Society.

3 August – Neal Cassady to Allen Ginsberg – Cassady speaks from his “awakened soul’s being” with an onslaught of self-loathing, reaches out to Ginsberg to be his “father” as Kerouac is his “brother and Carolyn, his wife. Cassady explains his reading of Dostoevsky’s The Idiot and how he had first read it in reform school in 1943. He also dsetails details about hsi sense of consciousness: “I have periods of semi-consciousness, similar to dozing off or just waking, which are not dreams, nor guilt nightmares, but, are great impressions of things. Often, as I sit on the sand-box of the huge locomotives, I am lulled into a stupor by the drive-wheels’ rhythm, and this phenomenon occurs. This is not a new thing to me — I first had dreams of such vividness years ago — but now they are not as they were then.”

4 August – Neal Cassady continues his letter to Ginsberg from August 3 after a seventeen-hour freight train run.

20 August – Neal Cassady to Allen Ginsberg – Cassady shares his plan to name his child, if it’s a boy, Allen Jack Cassady. If it’s a girl: Cathleen JoAnne Cassady.

22 August – Neal Cassady continues August 20 letter to Ginsberg: “Love you, Allen, my mate.”

late August – Ginsberg feels that he is going mad from his visions. To Kerouac, he writes “I am insane does that surprise you?”

September – Kerouac continues to suffer rejection letters from publishers unable to consider The Town and the City for publication.

5 September – Kerouac to Neal Cassady. He urges Cassady to write with more regularity since he had not heard from him since July 1948.

7 September – Carolyn Cassady gives birth to a girl, Cathleen JoAnne. Cassady writes Ginsberg to share the news.

10 September – Neal Cassady writes Kerouac from San Francisco. He labels Kerouac a “true “All-American”” He emphasizes again the true freedom they can share in expressing themselves as honestly and frankly as possible. He also shares news of the birth of he and Carolyn’s daughter, Cathleen JoAnne Cassady and Carolyn’s new job in Hollywood, California working at Western Costume, Company to which she will be turned down by letter’s end.

mid-September – Kerouac, Carr and Tom Livornese enjoy a night on the town on Sixth Avenue, drinking Pernod Absinthe at the Rochambeau bar in New York City. Afterwards, Livornese leaves with his date. Kerouac and Carr continue to drink and watch the sunk sink into the west. Later, he and Carr meet up with Kerouac’s young girlfriend, Jinny Baker. Though Kerouac makes love to her in Carr’s absence, he feels she loathes him and wants to be mistreated. He writes Ginsberg: “If all the world were love, then, how could love exist?”

18 September – Kerouac writes Ginsberg from Ozone Park: “I’ve been having some very mad thoughts since I saw you…”

22 September 22 – Neal Cassady continues letter to Kerouac dated September 10 sharing news of his daughter’s birth.

25 September 25 – Neal Cassady concludes letter to Kerouac dated September 10. Carolyn Cassady’s application for a job on Hollywood was turned down. He pleads once again for Kerouac to come to California to be with him.

7 October – Neal Cassady writes Kerouac that he is still waiting for RR job to fall through in November for Kerouac. He extols the virtues of their friendship in a letter on this date.

8 October – Kerouac fills out a Registrar’s slip for the New School for Social Research in New York City. The requested course is for Elbert Lenrow’s 20th Century Novel America.

October – Kerouac finds out he is entitled to a $5000.00 G.I. Loan. Immediately he makes plans to buy a farm.

13 October – Kerouac takes notes on Walt Whitman and his conception of himself as an American poet as lectured by Alfred Kazin.

14 October – Kerouac takes notes on Frank Norris’s McTeague (1899) as lectured by Elbert Lenrow. Lenrow also lectures on Theodore Dreiser. William S. Burroughs writes Allen Ginsberg that his farming prospects “looks very good.” He contracts to buy a lot in the Woodland Acres Subdivision in Kenner, west of New Orleans, from the Trudeau Syndicate.

15 October – Kerouac is lectured on “myth patterns,” Poe and Dostoevsky at New School. He types one page of prose titled “Hank Lambert.” Later, Kerouac reads Walt Whitman poetry on Union Square. Cassady continues letter to Kerouac started on October 7. He is happy about his new daughter, Cathy and recognizes that sex used to drive him, but now it is music. However, he realizes he is just making up stuff as he goes along for sake of writing his letter. He shares that he just had a “vision” about Kerouac. He continues letter on November 1, 1948.

18 October – Kerouac writes Neal Cassady, pleading that he must write more often. Kerouac has been “through a period of great tightness and tension of soul.” He tells Cassady that he may be the “Walt Whitman of this century.” He then extols the virtues of Whitman and his poetry.

20 October – Kerouac writes a term a paper on five writers “or one” for the New School.

25 October – Ed White writes Kerouac asking about the “big love affaire” he promised to write about.

27 October – Kerouac studies “Song of Myself” with Alfred Kazin at the New School. Kerouac notes that Whitman is more than one mind, but consists of several.

29 October – Kerouac is lectured on Stendahl’s The Red and the Black and Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. He writes Ed White telling him that the title of his next novel will be Doctor Sax and subtitled “The Imagination of Kids” as well as an update on his other writing projects.

late Autumn – Ginsberg remains in Paterson, New Jersey for several weeks.

November – During a conversation with John Clellon Holmes, Kerouac quips, “So I guess you might say we’re a beat generation.”

1 November – Kerouac discusses Tolstoy and feels that women are angered by Tolstoy’s timidity and that he was ugly. He writes in another notebook, a “composing diary,” of his thoughts on writing. He no longer recognizes ““moods” as my real enemy but the psychology of accept-or-reject underlying their violence.” He has already written three false starts for his planned story about “Doctor Sax” and vows to write it at last in two months as a short novel of 50,000 words. Cassady concludes his letter dated October 7. He responds to Kerouac’s last letter which he received and tells Kerouac that he has been busy working with sixteen hours on the road and eight hours sleeping in a work-week cycle. He is antsy for the following day when he will learn whether or not he is keeping his railroad job. Also, he feels he has lost his libido and his “penis is sore from blowing & masturbating.” He alerts Kerouac to watch for the envelope, and if it is checked “Tes” or “No.” If it is “no,” Kerouac is to come west at once to San Fransisco.

2 November – Kerouac starts writing at 1:00 a.m. in Bickford’s Cafeteria, finishing about 2000-words. At noon he takes a mile-long walk before sitting down to start to integrating an earlier draft of Doctor Sax (from 1943) into his present project. He harbors hopes that the new novel will be a success.

3 November – Kerouac goes to New School for studies and to earn money for rent and expenses. He talks to Alfred Kazin after class about his finished novel. Afterwards they go to Dave Diamond’s home where he meets novelist Marc Brandel. Later he gets “blotto” with Lucien Carr.

4 November – Kerouac attends Brom Weber’s class at New School with John Clellon Holmes. Later they go to Holmes’s place to drink beer. Kerouac calls Harriet Johnson to come over to join him, Holmes and his wife, Marian. That evening, Kerouac has a “mad sex-night with perverse Harriet, a virgin.”

5 November – Kerouac has a morning talk with his mother before leaving for Poughkeepsie, New York to see Jack & Jeanne Fitzgerald. There he meets 17-year old Thea whom he coerces into sex upstairs at Fitzgerald’s house.

9 November – Ed White responds to Kerouac’s letter of October 29th chiding him for his lonely lifestyle. Kerouac hitchhikes home from Poughkeepsie, getting a ride straight into the Bronx, New York from a truckdriver who tells Kerouac, Life….is a mystery.” Once home he starts to write On the Road, putting Doctor Sax aside for the time being and accomplishes 6000-words. That night, he visits with John Clellon Holmes and Tom Livornese. They have an argument about Kerouac’s “sex idea.” William S. Burroughs writes Allen Ginsberg from Algiers, Louisiana. Though his financial situation is improving, he is unhappy with his living conditions. He feels that Kerouac would benefit from collaborating with a “professional writer” that knows how to edit in order to commodify his writing to “marketable proportions.”

10 November – Kerouac receives letters from Alan Temko in Paris, and Ed White in Denver. He writes 2000-words. He also writes “Whitman: A Prophet of the Sexual Revolution.”

11 November – Kerouac writes 800-words at 3 a.m. That afternoon, he writes another 1500-words of On the Road. Later he goes into the city to see friends, including those he recently met at the New School. He wrties “Notes on the sexual revolution.

12 November – Kerouac writes 2500-words for On the Road. Later he goes to Times Square with John Clellon & Marian Holmes.

13 November – Kerouac writes 3000-words for On the Road. He wonders if he could work Doctor Sax into the storyline.

14 November – Kerouac writes 2000-words on On the Road.

15 November – Kerouac signs in at New School in order to collect his pay and later attends artist Alan-Wood Thomas’s art opening at Carlsbach studios in Manhattan. He eventually gets drunk, “spouts Shakespeare” and argues with John Clellon Holmes over “political consciousness.”

16 November – After attending Alfred Kazin’s class at New School, Kerouac returns home and writes 700-words for On the Road.

17 November – Kerouac attends class and feels especially elated by a few people he meets: Dick & Marilyn Neumann; Welborne; Sando Burger and the wife of John Taleyko. He later writes 1000-words and afterwards, a letter to Neal Cassady pleading that he wants to kiss his feet, not because he is trying to be “Dostoyevskian,” but because he is “afraid to die.” He wants forgiveness. “I could shout this letter across the country to you, just dig my sickness for a moment,” and it is the sickness of consumption, of being consumed, obsessed and inspired, so much that full-length books pour forth from his pencil, across and through typewriter keys. It isn’t the man he sees, but the ideal of the man. He writes Neal Cassady pleading forgiveness and is worried about being rejected by him. He asks “am I not also your blood-brother because I too have been in jail?”

18 November – Kerouac writes 3000-words. That night he attends a party with many of his New York City friends.

19 November – Kerouac is anxious for word from publishers Little, Brown and Atlantic Monthly. At night he writes 1500-words.

20 November – Kerouac writes 2500-words and writes the first draft of an essay, “Whitman: A Prophet of the Sexual Revolution for Alfred Kazin’s course at New School. He also writes a letter to Alan Harrington.

21 November – Kerouac goes to New School to sign-in for his check, skips class and walks to Times Square to attend a screening of Captains Courageous (1937) and San Francisco (1936). The former, he remembers, prompted him to start novel writing at 13-years old. Later, he writes 1000-words.

22 November – Kerouac writes over 5000-words.

23 November – Kerouac writes Alan Harrington and used Ginsberg’s letters for research purposes in writing On the Road. Later he attends a night class of Alfred Kazin who lectures on Herman Melville’s Redburn and then gets “sick drunk.” Allen Ginsberg and Lucien Carr have to carry Kerouac, in his stockinged feet, over each shoulder. He sleeps in Lucien’s car.

24 November – Kerouac “staggers” home at 9 A.M. He has a duck dinner for Thanksgiving with his mother. At night, Tom Livornese visits Kerouac at his apartment.

25 November – Kerouac goes to the movies with his mother: “I love my mother, my sweet, dear little mother…a person like all the other treats I happen to know so accidentally.”

26 November – Kerouac writes to Paul Blake Sr. proposing that he and his faily come live with them in New York. He watches Army/Navy game in a bar. He later visits with John Clellon Holmes.

27 November – Kerouac visits Alan Wood-Thomas’s house with John Clellon Holmes. He meets Wood-Thomas’s married model, Pauline and falls in love with her.

29 November – Impatiently, Kerouac sends Little, Brown a letter to follow-up on his manuscript submission of The Town and the City.

30 November – Kerouac writes Ed White. William S. Burroughs writes Kerouac from Algiers, Louisiana with publishing advice and his status as farmer. Burroughs writes Allen Ginsberg, schooling him on the ethics of crime. He informs Ginsberg, “I will be leaving in a few days for the [Rio Grande] Valley to look after my interests there, and may extend my trip into Mexico. I hope to rid myself of the habit in the course of this trip.”

1 December – Kerouac writes 5000-words on Leon Levinsky in Times Square for The Town and the City. By 4 a.m. he finishes with 25000-words. He writes a draft of “Whitman: A Prophet of the Sexual Revolution.”

2 December – At 4:30 a.m. Kerouac (in Bickford’s Cafeteria) writes of the “most horrendous thoughts of my life tonight, though they really don’t bother me.” He has a long talk with Professor Charles Van Doren about “civilization” and “where it is coming from.” Van Doren recommends that Kerouac read The Revolt of Asia (1947) by Robert Payne. William S. Burroughs writes Allen Ginsberg from Algiers, Louisiana inquiring where to send a batch of “tea”. He gives Allen advice on employment prospects, suggesting that he only work for himself. He encloses an article on “the Texas labor situation.”

Early December – Neal Cassady, one of the newest employees, is laid off from the Southern Pacific Railroad due to a successful vote to repeal the Southern Pacific’s “Full Crew Law.” Cassady’s friend, Al Hinkle, marries Helen Henide. Cassady offers to drive them on their honeymoon to New York City. The means of transport, a 1949 Hudson. From there, Cassady plans on driving Kerouac back to San Francisco.

7 December – Kerouac writes Ed White to which he relays his meeting with Jack Fitzgerald of which he calls it “one of the greatest times of my life.”

8 December – Ed White writes Kerouac.

13 December – Kerouac writes notes from a letter to Alan Temko.

15 December – Neal Cassady places a long-distance phone call from San Francisco to Ozone Park to tell Kerouac he will be coming (with Al Hinkle) to New York in his new car, a 1949 Hudson to pick him up in North Carolina (after agreeing to Gabrielle Kerouac) and bring him back west to Arizona in order to work on the railroad. Kerouac posts ten dollars to Cassidy.

16 December – Kerouac writes to Allen Ginsberg – “I have decided that I am dead, given up, gone mad.” He also shares that Neal Cassady will be coming to New York for New Years Eve.

Late December – Kerouac writes an essay, “Dreiser and Lewis: Two Visions of American Life” for Professor Elbert Lenrow’s 20th Century Novel in America course.

Chronology – 1949


2 January – Kerouac makes notes on immortality and how he must become a teacher and lesarn to speak in is own “true voice.”

10 January – Kerouac writes Brom Weber, his creative writing teacher at the New School: “Why believe? Perhaps nothing is true but everything is real. All life, and art, nothing but a big creation . . . even a big lie . . . which we make; all a myth like the Divine Comedy; and the myths we make about each other […]” William S. Burroughs writes Allen Ginsberg inquiring on the whereabouts of Cassady and Hinkle to pick up Helen Hinkle, a temporary guest at the Burroughs home in New Orleans. From New York, Neal Cassady writes a letter to Helen Hinkle on behalf of her husband, Al asking her to take a bus from New Orleans to New York in lieu of them picking her up. Cassady writes on behalf of Allen Ginsberg to William S. Burroughs explaining that they must stay in New York for “at least a month”

11 January – Neal Cassady writes Carolyn Cassady informing her that he is at last sending money to her despite not having found a job yet. In dire straits, he considers selling the Hudson: “I wound all the people I love – why?”

15 January – Kerouac writes Ed White from Jamaica, New York.

16 January – William S. Burroughs writes Allen Ginsberg from Algiers, Louisiana: “I would like to know what gives with the Hinckle-Kerouac-Cassady expedition.”

19 January – Kerouac, Cassady and LuAnne Henderson leave New York for Louisiana.

27 January – Kerouac takes his final exam at The New School. [CHECK ON THIS]

28 January – Kerouac, Neal Cassady and LuAnne Henderson leave Burroughs’ home in Louisiana

30 January – William S. Burroughs writes Allen Ginsberg of Kerouac, Cassady and Henderson’s departure from his home and provides an intuitive breakdown of both the voyage they ar eundertaking to San Francisco, and Cassady as their driver. He also advises Ginsber not to take in Herbert Huncke who is due to be release from Riker’s Island penitentiary.

1 February – Kerouac writes “Oakland Again,” notes written while waiting for Neal Cassady in Oakland, California as well as an early version of the opening of “On the Road” he titles “On the Road. Chapter One.” It begins, “Many years ago my grandfather stopped at a bend of the river.”

2 February – Neal Cassady gets into an argument with LuAnne Henderson and strikes her. In the process, he severely inures his thumb.

3 February – Neal Cassady writes Allen Ginsberg that he has arrived in San Francisco and has acquired a “good job” which he earns on commission to which he is required to spend $10.00 to get started. He also asks Ginsberg to mail him the Hudson’s registration slips so that he doesn’t lose the car.

7 February – Kerouac writes a post card from Butte, Montana to instructor Elbert Lenrow telling him that he will be back “next week” and his plans to re-register for his course. Writes a letter to Allen Ginsberg. William S. Burroughs writes Allen Ginsberg educating him on farming and two impending lawsuits from “two insufferable fruits” living on his property.

11 February – Kerouac registers for another course at the New School for Social Research with instructor Elbert Lenrow.

late February – Kerouac writes an essay, “The Minimization of Thomas Wolfe in His Own Time.”

1 March – Kerouac writes a seven-page draft for a story, “Sea Change.”

9 March – Kerouac writes Mark Van Doren including a synopsis of Doctor Sax as well as excerpts from The Town and the City.

11 March – Kerouac writes eight lines of verse during a visit to Elbert Lenrow’s brownstone apartment on West 55th Street.

15 March – Neal Cassady writes Allen Ginsberg telling him about his fractured hand acquired after attempting to strike LuAnne Henderson, and his need for a doctor to stick a pin under his thumb nail along the left of the finger in order to straighten it to doscourage deformity. William S. Burroughs writes Kerouac of his negligible opinion of Neal Cassady.

17 March – Neal Cassady concludes his March 15 letter to Allen Ginsberg informing him that he is “free of LuAnne” and his love for his “life’s blood,” his daughter, Cathy.

18 March – William S. Burroughs writes Allen Ginsberg apprising him of his move to the French Quarter of New Orleans, he sale of his vegetable crops, and advising him to read Count Alfred Korzybski’s Sciencey and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics (1933) to educate him on the “principles of Semantics.”

24 March – Kerouac types “About Us All (Problems & materials for use in On the Road.”

29 March – The Town and the City is accepted for publication in the United States by Harcourt, Brace in the United States. His assigned editor is Robert Giroux. Kerouac writes Ed White to share news of his novel’s acceptance.

March-April – Kerouac buys a cheap reprint of short stories by Fyodor Dostoevsky and annotates it.

6 April – William S. Burroughs is stopped by police near Lee Circle, New Orleans after a patrol car recognizes his wanted-by-the-law passengers. Writes James Grauerholz: “Burroughs was arrested by New Orleans police in the 1800 block of Calliope at 4:15 P.M. the day before, in a car along with Joseph M. Ricks, Horace M. Guidry, and Alan Cowie. Ricks was 40, Guidry 41, and Cowie 21 years old. The cops had recognized Ricks, who was driving Burroughs’ car, and after a hot pursuit and search, they found marijuana on Cowie. The police department had just launched a “dope drive,” and the Burroughs group were only four of nineteen such arrests that day.”

8 April – Security Building & Loan Association draws up papers to sell Burroughs’s French Quarter property to Mortimer Burroughs’s agent, attorney J. Raeburn Monroe, Esq. from the firm of Monroe & Lehman.

13 April – Joan Burroughs writes to Allen Ginsberg: “Please explain to Jack [Kerouac] that a letter expressing our delight at his success [i.e., the publishing contract for his first novel, The Town and the City], along with a letter to you, approximately half-a-dozen firearms, and a jar and several smaller bits of contraband material were seized, along with the person of William, by a trio of New Orleans city detectives a week ago yesterday.”

15 April – Dr. John B. Wick closes the case file on William S. Burroughs: “The patient […] gives me the impression of being grossly immature, lacking all adult sense of responsibility, and being grossly dependent on his wife, who seemed to enjoy taking care of the serious problem which he represented. An attempt was made […] to point out to her that a long period of hospitalization should be considered. She would not agree to this, however, and on April 15, 1949, removed him from the hospital against advice.”

16 April – William S. Burroughs writes Allen Ginsberg that he has just taken a “fall” for possession executed, in part, by Burroughs’ letters to Ginsberg inquiring about “tea.” He warns Ginsberg that the “feds” may have his address and may be coming his way. Burroughs advises Ginsberg to “keep clean.” Burroughs, for his part, plans to once again kick his junk habit.

17 April – Kerouac writes on his “Voyage to Greenland; or A Monument to Adolescence” journal the following: “All life is but a skull-bone and a rack of ribs Through which we keep passing food & fuel just so’s we can burn so furious beautiful.”

22 April – Allen Ginsberg, Vicki Russell, Herbert Huncke and Little Jack Melody are arrested for handling stolen goods.

23 April – Kerouac writes Alan Harrington: “I’ve just read ‘An Unfortunate [sic] Predicament,’ a long story by Dusty-what’s-his-name. I studied it carefully and found that he begins with ‘ideas’ and then demolishes them in the fury of what actually becomes the story. This letter is a similar venture. However, nothing detracts from the fact that this is a mad letter. ‘So be it! So be it!'”

26 April – Kerouac writes his New School instructor, Elbert Lenrow from Ozone Park informing him of his decision to withdraw from New School to focus on the editing of The Town and the City.

27 April – Kerouac handwrites a nine-page draft of On the Road, including an outline and narrative titled “On the Road – itinerary of travels.” He has divided the novel into five sections. It begins: “On the Road. One Sunday evening in May, in New York April 27, 1949.”

29 April – Kerouac writes to Ed White from Jamaica, New York.

1 May – Elbert Lenrow responds to Kerouac’s April 26 letter expressing his sentiments for withdrawing so suddenly.

1-14 May – Kerouac writes 8,000 words on his “road” novel in New York.

9 May – Kerouac writes Ed White from Jamaica, New York.

15 May – Kerouac writes Hal Chase.

22 May – Kerouac writes in his journal from Westwood, Colorado and creates notes for an early chapter of the novel, “On the Road.”

23 May – Kerouac enjoys his solitude, yet puzzles how to write his ‘road’ novel. He reads a Western dime novel and retires to bed shortly after midnight.

24 May – Kerouac writes in his journal and is hopeful to earn money from his books and never having to grovel for support. He writes all day laboring over a total word count of 2000-words. He is anxious for his mother and sister’s family to join him.

25 May – Kerouac goes to Denver University and after hitchikes to Ed White’s home.

26 May – Kerouac goes to an amusement park at the invitation of a neighbor. He later attends a Roy Rogers film. A car of “drunks” nearly drives Kerouac and friends off the road.

27 May – Kerouac is plagued by depression as he misses his family and feels they are “wasting” time coming to Colorado. William S. Burroughs writes Kerouac to give him farming advice.

28 May – Kerouac goes to some “beerjoints” and listens to “cowboy music”.

29 May – Kerouac goes horseback riding to prepare for a rodeo the following day.

30 May – Kerouac skips out on the rodeo because he is saddle-sore. He hears of gossip concerning a mother of a boy named Johnny (whom he went to the movies with on May 26) and himself. He chooses to ignore it. He writes at night.

1 June – Kerouac receives a letter from Allen Ginsberg and reconceptualizes his “road” novel to incorporate various elements of his New York friends and acquaintances. He fixes the well-pump thinking that his well had gone dry. Meanwhile he is very bothered by the delay of his mother and his sister and family. The house he is living in is empty without furniture. Kerouac also receives a letter from ex-girlfriend Beverly Burford Pierceall who is married now and living in Colorado Springs. He writes her back. He reads the New Testament before going to sleep.

2 June – Kerouac is expecting the arrival of his family this night.

10 June – Kerouac writes Allen Ginsberg.

15 June – Lucien Carr writes Kerouac from New York City alerting him of his newest female conquest: “Why she makes even Celine look like a pedestrian and a colorless one at that. and to top the situation off it is necessarily ridden and shot through with intrigue, concealment, plots, dander, skuldugery and desperate devil-may-care. If and when you come back to this here city-bone. In the nonce, I find myself utterly incapable of putting down a rational appraisal of the situation.” He also inquires about Kerouac’s personal life: “Have you got your family out there in them hills with you. did you finally remove your poor old mother from that sweatshop. God bless you Jackie boy, youre real good. The Denver set-up sounds find. Healthy and interesting. It is too bad you have to work, but perhaps you can save a little money and then quit to write your bone-books.”

16 June – Neal Cassady writes to Kerouac from Pixley, California.

24 June – Kerouac writes John Clellon Holmes – “Some of us take ourselves too seriously. It’s all very beautiful because it isn’t moribund, this ‘irrationality’ I speak of. They are, for instance, holding a Goethe Festival in the mountains this summer. Think of grave, foolish Goethe; and this foolish, serious-titmouse festival, and all the incoherences that will ensue. It reminds me of what I heard once about Carl Sandburg, that he appeared at a wartime dinner of some kind, and made a speech which no one understood or listened to, and looked sad while everybody ate and chatted through his speech, and finally giggled. (I think.) I may not have the story straight. Or the time that Thomas Mann took Allen Temko by the shoulder (this insane character who thinks life is a Hemingway dialog and is indeed a very funny guy)—took him by the shoulder, and turns out Mann’s only a little guy, and a little cross-eyed I understand, and says, ‘In youth lies the future.’ Do you mean to tell me he was serious? or that he believed such guff?” William S. Burroughs writes Kerouac questioning Allen Ginsberg’s attitude toward his arrest on April 22, Wilhelm Reich’s The Cancer Biopathy (1948), his orgone accumulator, and cotton crop.

28 June – Kerouac writes to Elbert Lenrow from Denver, Colorado. He informs him that his family have all decided to return to their respective homes: Gabrielle to New York and Caroline & Paul Blake to North Carolina.

3 July – Neal Cassady writes to Kerouac. He has hit LuAnne and broke his left thumb and apprises Kerouac of his latest turn of events: “Classification 3-A, Jazz-hounded C. has a sore butt. His wife gives daily injections of penicillin for his thumb, which produces hives; for he’s allergic. He must take 60,000 units of Fleming’s juice within a month. He must take one tablet every four hours for this month to combat the allergy produced from this juice. He must take Codeine Aspirin to relieve the pain in the thumb. He must have surgery on his leg for an inflamed cyst. He must rise next Monday at six A.M. to get his teeth cleaned. He must see a foot doctor twice a week for treatment. He must take cough syrup each night. He must blow and snort constantly to clear his nose, which has collapsed just under the bridge where an operation some years ago weakened it. He must lose his thumb on his throwing arm next month.”

4 July – Neal Cassady continues writing from July 3 letter. He shares details about his infected thumb and his difficulty working at a tire shop and Carolyn’s pregnancy: “Classification 3-A, Jazz-hounded C. has a sore butt. His wife gives daily injections of penicillin for his thumb, which produces hives; for he’s allergic. He must take 60,000 units of Fleming’s juice within a month. He must take one tablet every four hours for this month to combat the allergy produced from this juice. He must take Codeine Aspirin to relieve the pain in the thumb. He must have surgery on his leg for an inflamed cyst. He must rise next Monday at six A.M. to get his teeth cleaned. He must see a foot doctor twice a week for treatment. He must take cough syrup each night. He must blow and snort constantly to clear his nose, which has collapsed just under the bridge where an operation some years ago weakened it. He must lose his thumb on his throwing arm next month.” Cassady also details his past criminal misdeeds.

11 July – Mortimer Burroughs completes sale of French Quarter houses. Grauerholz writes, “He defaulted on his contract for the “swamp land” in Kenner, and it was eventually put up at sheriff’s sale and repurchased by the developers. Burroughs’ real-estate ventures in Louisiana were rapidly being rolled up; one wonders how the French Quarter eviction lawsuits were resolved.”

17 July – Neal Cassady continues letter dated July 3: “Sitting on a sore ass in my kitchen with the ball game, gurgling daughter, grass-watering wife, full belly from two dollar steak. A new book, “Escape from Reality” by Norman Taylor is fairly interesting and deals with all forms of junk, stuff, coke, etc. I bought it and gave it to [Jim] Holmes (who is quite a tea-head, now) as a going away present. Glad you and Hal together again; hope he does something tremendous in his field. Suppose Brierly snuck in on the Aspen festival somehow; manager in charge of all underdone men who provide transportation for overdone women. I’ve always liked the old guy. How’s Central City this year? Ed White still in Paris? What else new?”

23 July – Neal Cassady continues his letter dated July 3 to Kerouac:, in part: “I tried to call you by phone last week, but the operator said the phone listed under name Davidson had been disconnected. So guess I’d better mail this. Come to think of it, I’ve written you 4 letters now since you’ve left SF. One particularly good one was about St. Patrick’s day and also dealt with the Ides of March. Another one consumed in flames was a travelogue I planned before I broke my hand. The last was bits of paper and like scrap I got together for mailing. After I’d compose a letter I would allow it to lay around for a few days then discard it as outmoded, so, thus you didn’t hear from me.”

26 July – Kerouac writes Allen Ginsberg. Neal Cassady continues letter dated July 3. In part: “Got to go to work now. Love you; write again please, I’m lonely. Tell your Mother if she really wants to work out here I’ll look into it with accurate reporting to you at once. You know how things change and perhaps by now the shoe factory and Union news isn’t necessary. I want her to know the speeding ticket in Washington isn’t forgotten. God Bless her; honest, Jack, I feel so fond of her when I think of the day I caught her alone and working on that rag rug, waiting for you to come home from Frisco a couple of years ago. Goodbye now, must rush.”

28 July – Kerouac writes Neal Cassady.

late July – Neal Cassady writes Kerouac. He gives him a rundown of his life at the moment and invites Kerouac once again to come to San Francisco.

August – Neal Cassady writes Carolyn Cassady (via Helen Hinkle): “Am leaving today– won’t ever bother you again. I won’t come back in a month to make you start it all over again — shudder shudder!”

22 August – Elbert Lenrow writes Kerouac from Virginia Beach, Virginia bringing him up-to-date on current events.

September – Kerouac writes three-pages of “The Hip Generation, I ‘Early Appurtenances.'”

7 September – Kerouac writes an essay, “An Organization and Measurement of the World and the Soul: “The soul receiveth life, because the soul itself is dead, and what life the soul receiveth, and it does not every moment receive, is Grace. And the snowflakes fall like Grace, or Graces, upon our shoulder. Each snowflake and each petal substantial is thereby, through the Mystery of Grace, made spirit. But Beatitude is given only to those who give recognition to Grace and to the mysteries of God.”

18 September – Elbert Lenrow writes Kerouac enclosing an article from New Yorker magazine, Joseph Mitchell’s “The Mohawks in High Steel,” concerning the Caughnawaga Indians of which reminded Lenrow of Kerouac.

26 September – William S. Burroughs writes Kerouac sharing his experiences in Mexico City and extols the virtues of living there (i.e. cheap). He also asks Kerouac to find more details on the construction of the orgone accumulator.

28 September – Kerouac writes Elbert Lenrow from Richmond Hill, New York. Kerouac informs him that he is deep into the revision stage of The Town and the City at Harcourt, Brace Publishers and thanks him for the enclosed magazine article.

10 October – Kerouac writes Ed White from Jamaica, New York.

13 October – William S. Burroughs writes Allen Ginsberg

15 October – Kerouac tries mescaline. He will type descriptions of his mescaline-induced visions of this date, as well as complete a slightly longer finished work, “A trip on mescaline, Jack Kerouac.”

19 October – Kerouac writes a fragment draft of “The Simpleton’s Christmas: A 3-Act Pay” and creates a list of plays he had personally seen.

27 October – Burroughs’s trial is scheduled for this date. He decides not to show.

30 October – Kerouac types a revised manuscript, “The Hassel of Earth, Work – or perhaps the Gift of Givers.” Holograph note on final verso: “This general freshly Hassel / Oct. 30, 1949.”

2 November – William S. Burroughs writes Kerouac: “My case in New Orleans looked so unpromising that I decided not to show. So I figure to be in Mexico quite some while. I think it’s 5 years before a case is canceled out by the statute of limitations.”

9 November – Kerouac writes Ed White from Jamaica, New York.

21 November – Burroughs’s applies to attend Mexico City College Burroughs to the School of Higher Studies at M.C.C., in the department of “anthropology or archaeology,” with a “Special interest in Mexican archaeology.”

23 November – Kerouac types prose, beginning, “A marvelous guy, just now, I saw him out my window here in Ozone. . . ”

15 December – Neal Cassady phones Kerouac at his Ozone Park apartment (downstairs in the pharmacy). In New York City, Birdland opens its doors with an “All-American Jazz Festival.” Included in the line-up is Gram “Hot Lips” Shearing; Lester Young and Stan Getz; Charlie Parker Quintet; and Lennie Tristano. In the weeks to come, Kerouac and Cassady will enthuse over a performance given by blind jazz pianist George Shearing. It is said, at this time, that Shearing composed “Lullabye of Birdland” in nine minutes.

24 December – William S. Burroughs writes Allen Ginsberg.

25 December – Neal Cassady arrives in Rocky Mount, North Carolina with Luanne Henderson and the Hinkles.

An excerpt from I Am the Revolutionary: Young Jack Kerouac

Kerouac has an interest in world history; he reads H.G. Wells’ The Outline of History which serves as a survey of evolution. The Outline of History spans primal earth to the first world war. It isa book he will defer to throughout the 1940s.

He is also immersed in the historical surveys of Carlton Hayes. Kerouac becomes increasingly grounded in world affairs from which he becomes informed (most times though, he remains apolitical). He absorbs the politics of the Spartan wars, the Hellenistic era and the Roman conquest usurping and becoming the center of a great empire.

He learns of the Iliad as a method of chanting to proclaim the heroic deeds of Aegean warriors. He notes the poetry’s singular style of vivid imagery. These, he learns, are ways of conveying ideas with a fresh provoking essence. Of science, Kerouac’s education runs through a survey of Thales, Pythagoras and Aristotle’s tremendous influence over later sciences. There is Euclid, Archimedes, the trigonometry of Hipparchus, Galileo, Ptolemy, Copernicus, and the astronomy of Tycho Brahe.  Kerouac learns to graph cultures, a solvent education he becomes increasingly interested in, exemplified in Oswald Spengler’s belief that all rising civilizations will eventually fall. There is, Spengler believes, a birth, life and death to all cultures. This belief becomes instrumental not only to Kerouac, but his fellow beats who use the book as a talismanic barometer of current events, informing their belief that there will be a ‘Second Religiousness.’

Kerouac reads even more, sounding through fathoms of Greek tragedies like the theological mystic Aeschylus whom envisions Man as a spectator of God-like events in the trilogy of Oresteia.


“Oh, the torment bred in the race,

            the grinding scream of death

            and the stroke that hits the vein,

            the hemorrhage none can staunch, the grief,

            the curse no man can bear.


            But there is a cure in the house, and not outside it, no,

            not from others but from them,

            their bloody strife. We sing to you,

            dark gods beneath the earth.


            Now hear, you blissful powers underground —

            answer the call, send help.

            Bless the children, give them triumph now.”

Other books (over the next several years) pass through his hands: Sophocles and the skeptic Euripides delving into the psychological dealings of humans (Oedipus Rex). He reads Aristotle’s Poetics, noting its influential design. He delves into the Enlightenment, of Locke and man’s pre-disposal to sin via Martin Luther and Calvin’s predestination. Isaac Newton, Montesquieu and Voltaire, the mighty advocate of freedom of speech: I wholly disapprove of what you say and will defend to the death your right to say it. He reads Descartes, Locke, Rousseau, Erasmus and the Augustinians. Humanism proclaims Man to be innately “good.” The Renaissance serves to stress Man’s worthiness. These and more assault Kerouac through rote book-learning alogn with books of his own choosing: Thoreau, Joyce, Tolstoy, Goethe, Swift, Mark Twain and Walt Whitman. Every morning he turns Old Testament pages, immersing into a phantasmagoria of prophecies, infanticide, human sacrifice, ethereal arch-angels and hell-haired demons bent on raining blood on earthy paradise: “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you.  I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.  Isaiah 46:4”

Reading however doesn’t distract him from what is to come. He worries for the future. What will it bring? The western world, seemingly far away across ever-rolling bars of gleaming sea, violently toils at war. There is scarcely time for frivolity.  Get mad! He nurtures an uncanny certainty for artistic destiny. He cannot hide indefinitely, as is his wont. The journal he keeps enables aloofness from “teeming humanity.” It keeps him in line; a fermenting restlessness held in check by self-destination. He acknowledges a turgid flow of thoughts worthy of reflection and expression. They can serve as the bedrock of his art.