TidBits 025: “On the Road” on paper

What was to become one of the most iconic literary manuscripts in existence was originally typed on a single 120-foot-long semi-translucent paper scroll.

In April 1951, in a New York City loft, Jack Kerouac – in a burst of creative energy – wrote On the Road, the novel that would become a symbol of the Beat Generation: a group of American writers that came to prominence in the late 1950s, who shared a rejection of mainstream American values of the times and celebrated non-conformity and spontaneous creativity.

Kerouac produced the continuous scroll by taping pages together to feed the type writer and write without interruption. He completed the novel in twenty days of almost continuous typing. The text is nearly without punctuation, single-spaced and without paragraphs. Fifty years and one month after its production, the original type script scroll was bought by Jim Irsay (owner of the Indianapolis Colts Football Team) for US$ 2.4 million ata Christie’s auction in New York, less than a mile from where it was created.

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