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Jack KEROUAC

American Jack KEROUAC

born Jean-Louis KIROUAC

American novelist and poet

Source :  Patrice PORTIER

Born: on March 12, 1922 in Lowell, Massachusetts, USA
Died: on October 21, 1969 in St. Petersburg, Florida, USA


Biography

Jack Kerouac was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, to French-Canadian parents, Léo-Alcide Kéroack and Gabrielle-Ange L'Evesque, natives of the province of Quebec, Canada. There is some confusion surrounding his original name partly due to variations on the spelling of Kerouac, and partly because of Kerouac's own promotion of his name as Jean-Louis Lebris de Kerouac. His reason for doing so seems to be linked to an old family legend that the Kerouacs had descended from Baron Francois Louis Alexandre Lebris de Kerouac. Kerouac's baptism certificate lists his name simply as Jean Louis Kirouac.

Kerouac often gave conflicting stories about his family history and the origins of his surname. He sometimes claimed he was descended from a Breton nobleman, granted land after the Battle of Quebec, whose sons all married Native Americans. Research has shown him to actually be the descendant of a middle-class merchant colonist whose sons married French Canadians, Kerouac's own father having been born to a family of potato farmers in the village of Saint-Hubert-de-Rivière-du-Loup. He also had various stories on the etymology of his surname, usually tracing it back to Irish, Breton, or other Celtic roots. In one interview he claimed it was the name of a dead Celtic language and in another said it was from the Irish for "language of the water" and related to Kerwick. Kerouac, derived from Kervoach, is the name of one hamlet situated in Brittany in Lanmeur, near Morlaix. Deleuze and Guattari cited Kerouac as a literary example of an oscillation from revolutionary left-wing expressions to fascist expressions; they said he "took a revolutionary 'flight'" with his on the road journeys, but later finds himself in the "old fascist dream" of searching for "his Breton ancestors of the superior race".

Despite the future elaborations, around the house during his childhood, Kerouac was referred to as Ti Jean or little Jean. Kerouac did not start to learn English until the age of six, and at home, he and his family spoke French. When he was four, he was profoundly affected by the death of his nine-year-old brother, Gérard, from rheumatic fever, an event later described in his novel Visions of Gerard. Some of Kerouac's poetry was written in French, and in letters written to friend Allen Ginsberg towards the end of his life, he expressed his desire to speak his parents' native tongue again. Recently, it was discovered that Kerouac first started writing On the Road in French, a language in which he also wrote two unpublished novels. The writings are in dialectal Quebec French.

There were few African-Americans in Lowell, so the young Kerouac was not raised in an environment of racial hatred as many were at the time, though he was exposed to great degree of anti-Semitism, a movement that was on the rise in 1930s America. Kerouac once recalled to Ted Berrigan, in an interview with the Paris Review, an incident from the 1940s, in which his mother and father were walking together in a Jewish neighborhood in the Lower East Side of New York, saying "And here comes a whole bunch of rabbis walking arm in arm... teedah- teedah - teedah... and they wouldn't part for this Christian man and his wife. So my father went POOM! and knocked a rabbi right in the gutter.... Now if you don't like that, Berrigan, that's the history of my family."

Kerouac's athletic prowess led him to become a 100-meter hurdler on his local high school track team, and his skills as a running back in American football earned him scholarship offers from Boston College, Notre Dame and Columbia University. He entered Columbia University after spending a year at Horace Mann School, where he earned the requisite grades to matriculate to Columbia. Kerouac cracked a tibia playing football during his freshman season, and he argued constantly with coach Lou Little who kept him benched. While at Columbia, Kerouac wrote several sports articles for the student newspaper, the Columbia Daily Spectator. He also studied at The New School.

Source :  http://www.wikipedia.org/

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