Jack Kerouac is the epitome of cool. Handsome in a rugged kind of way, in his youth, he set forth on a journey across America which has now taken on legendary status in the American popular imagination. And his journey was accompanied by a colourful cast of characters including Neal Cassady, William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg. The later two would also go on to become pillars within the American literary cannon. And together, they would form the beginnings of the beat movement with its rejection of middle class values, exploration of psychedelic drugs and sexual liberalism in addition to bringing about a literature that explores spirituality and Eastern religions.

Kerouac would document his great American journey in On the Road, a book which till this day exemplifies the American bildungsroman. Its exploration of the themes of friendship, societal conformity and dissatisfaction along with what it means to be young and on the verge of trespassing upon maturity has made it a bible of growing up for so many young people from America and around the world alike.

Jack Kerouac would ultimately die on October 21, 1969 at the young age of only 47 from abdominal hemorrhaging. But from the writings that he left behind, the reader can tell that he truly lived, and was somehow able to share some of that living with us. So see below for for our favourite quotes from this very unique voice from all of world literature.

That Feeling

“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”
– Jack Kerouac

The Story Of Love

“And the story of love is a long sad tale ending in graves.”
– Jack Kerouac

Opposite Direction

“A pain stabbed my heart, as it did every time I saw a girl I loved who was going the opposite direction in this too-big world.”
– Jack Kerouac, On the Road

The Right Words

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”
– Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

Fallen Agents

“Are we fallen angels who didn’t want to believe that nothing is nothing and so were born to lose our loved ones and dear friends one by one and finally our own life, to see it proved?”
– Jack Kerouac

Don’t Be Sorry

“Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.”
– Jack Kerouac

Nowhere To Go

“There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.”
– Jack Kerouac

Nothing Behind Me

“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”
– Jack Kerouac

Passions

“My fault, my failure, is not in the passions I have, but in my lack of control of them.”
– Jack Kerouac

Happiness Consists…

“Happiness consists in realizing it is all a great strange dream.”
– Jack Kerouac

Snapshots

“I realized these were all the snapshots which our children would look at someday with wonder, thinking their parents had lived smooth, well-ordered lives and got up in the morning to walk proudly on the sidewalks of life, never dreaming the raggedy madness and riot of our actual lives, our actual night, the hell of it, the senseless emptiness.”
– Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Love

“Will you love me in December as you do in May?”
– Jack Kerouac

The Life

“I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn’t know who I was – I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I’d never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn’t know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds. I wasn’t scared; I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost.”
– Jack Kerouac

Things To Teach

“I have lots of things to teach you now, in case we ever meet, concerning the message that was transmitted to me under a pine tree in North Carolina on a cold winter moonlit night. It said that Nothing Ever Happened, so don’t worry. It’s all like a dream. Everything is ecstasy, inside. We just don’t know it because of our thinking-minds. But in our true blissful essence of mind is known that everything is alright forever and forever and forever. Close your eyes, let your hands and nerve-ends drop, stop breathing for 3 seconds, listen to the silence inside the illusion of the world, and you will remember the lesson you forgot, which was taught in immense milky way soft cloud innumerable worlds long ago and not even at all. It is all one vast awakened thing. I call it the golden eternity. It is perfect. We were never really born, we will never really die. It has nothing to do with the imaginary idea of a personal self, other selves, many selves everywhere: Self is only an idea, a mortal idea. That which passes into everything is one thing. It’s a dream already ended. There’s nothing to be afraid of and nothing to be glad about. I know this from staring at mountains months on end. They never show any expression, they are like empty space. Do you think the emptiness of space will ever crumble away? Mountains will crumble, but the emptiness of space, which is the one universal essence of mind, the vast awakenerhood, empty and awake, will never crumble away because it was never born.”
– Jack Kerouac

The Empty Sky

“My witness is the empty sky.”
– Jack Kerouac

What’s In Store

“What’s in store for me in the direction I don’t take?”
– Jack Kerouac

Beautfiul

“beautiful insane in the rain”
– Jack Kerouac

Love And Hate

“It always makes me proud to love the world somehow – hate’s so easy compared.”
– Jack Kerouac

Our Suitcases

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.”
– Jack Kerouac

Climb!

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.”
– Jack Kerouac

Some Good

“On soft Spring nights I’ll stand in the yard under the stars – Something good will come out of all things yet – And it will be golden and eternal just like that – There’s no need to say another word.”
– Jack Kerouac, Big Sur

This Book

“I’m writing this book because we’re all going to die.”
– Jack Kerouac

Nirvana

“Finding Nirvana is like locating silence.”
– Jack Kerouac

They Have Memories

“They have worries, they’re counting the miles, they’re thinking about where to sleep tonight, how much money for gas, the weather, how they’ll get there – and all the time they’ll get there anyway, you see.”
– Jack Kerouac