"THEY OWED IT TO LITERARY HISTORY TO COUPLE": EXTRAORDINARY ASSOCIATION FIRST EDITION OF ON THE ROAD, GORE VIDAL'S PERSONAL COPY WITH HIS ESTATE STAMP
KEROUAC, Jack. On the Road. New York: Viking, 1957. Octavo, original black cloth, original dust jacket. $16,500.
First edition of Kerouac's second and most important novel, "a physical and metaphysical journey across America," in colorful original dust jacket. Gore Vidal's personal copy with his bold estate stamp.
"Between 1947 and 1950, Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac took off on a freewheeling journey through the USA and Mexico in search of something outside their domestic experience. Ten years later their adventures were related in On the Road… The novel's composition has become a well-known anecdote in its own right. Returning home from his wanderings, Kerouac spent almost a year pondering how (specifically, in what form) he might convey the life he had been living. Several false starts were made, but in April 1951 he fed a 120-foot roll of teletype into his typewriter, typed for three weeks and the result, largely unrevised, was On the Road" (Parker, 339). "Just before Jack Kerouac died in 1969, he told Neal Cassady that he feared he would die like Melville, unknown and unappreciated in his own time… On the Road has become a classic of the Beat Movement with its stream-of-consciousness depiction of the rejection of mainstream American values set in a physical and metaphysical journey across America" (Book in America, 136). Bruccoli & Clark I:217. The copy belonged to Gore Vidal and bears his estate stamp. Despite Vidal's notorious promiscuity, his involvement with Kerouac took on a different character. "The sex with people he knew is rare and striking: he and Kerouac 'both thought, even then (this was before On the Road), that [they] owed it to literary history to couple'" (New York Times). Their encounter appeared in a Kerouac novella called "The Subterraneans" just a year after On the Road, with Gore Vidal recrafted as a successful novelist named Arial Lavalina. Vidal was deeply annoyed with Kerouac's piece and actually confronted him about his failure to include the specific details of their sexual encounter. Kerouac, visibly strung out, claimed not to remember. Ultimately, Vidal would share the story in detail in one of his memoirs, Palimpsest. Vidal shared that he met up with Kerouac and author William Burroughs "at the San Remo bar… after Burroughs' return from Mexico. Kerouac, Vidal writes, 'was manic. Sea captain's hat. T-shirt. Like Marlon Brando in Streetcar.' Burroughs asked about a Turkish bath in Rome that Vidal had described in The Judgment of Paris. They moved on to Tony Pastor's, a lesbian bar; afterwards, Kerouac swung around a lamppost out front, 'a Tarzan routine that caused Burroughs to leave us in disgust'" (Dangerous Minds). Despite a personal rule against sleeping with drunk men and a general dislike of Kerouac's bulky physique, Vidal ended up getting a hotel room with Kerouac. Vidal found the aftermath slightly distasteful and only related the story later to assert that he was pure "trade." Kerouac, on the other hand, immediately bragged to the entire clientele at the San Remo about their encounter—omitting some details and including others that Vidal didn't even remember until Allen Ginsberg reminded him. Bookseller ticket.
Book with a few spots of soiling to interior and spine leaning slightly. Dust jacket with a bit of wear to extremities. A near-fine copy with extraordinary provenance.