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Uncensored ‘On the Road’ to be published

Sex, drugs reinserted for release of rambling scroll's 50th anniversary
/ Source: The Associated Press

Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" will be published in its unedited original scroll version by Viking Press, which published the Beat Generation classic in September 1957.

John Sampas, executor of the writer's literary estate and brother of Stella Sampas, Kerouac's third wife, said he has signed a contract with Viking, an imprint of Penguin Group USA. He hopes the work will be out by the end of next year, the 50th anniversary of the publication.

"Incidents in the original were edited out of the published version because of the censorship of the time," said Sampas, who noted that some of the edited sections refer to drugs and sex. "On the scroll, entire paragraphs are crossed out and not included in the published version."

Sampras said the new version will be in book form, but taken from the original scroll. Any sections Kerouac had crossed out before turning it into the publisher will be excluded in the new edition.

In 1951, Kerouac, hopped up on coffee and Benzedrine, sat at a typewriter and began retelling the tale of an aimless trek he made across America. In a spontaneous, stream-of-consciousness burst, he typed on long sheets of tracing paper, taping each finished page to the previous one to form one continuous, rolling text.

Published six years later, "On the Road" won critical praise and became an icon of the post-World War II subculture of intellectuals, writers, musicians and rebels who identified with the freedom of Kerouac's cross-country odyssey and embraced his disdain for 1950s conformity.

The original, 120-foot, coffee-stained scroll that is yellowing with age was purchased in 2001 by James Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts, for $2.43 million. The scroll is touring U.S. museums and libraries.