The text I have selected for my research project is “On the Road” by the dashing Jack Kerouac. Widely seen as the defining piece of literature from the beat generation, “On the Road” is a novel published in 1957. Kerouac wrote it as fiction but many of the characters and events in the novel have direct references to real life events. It is a canonical text that follows a group of friends on many road trips across America. I originally picked up the book towards the end of last year when I was itching to get into a car and drive somewhere, anywhere, but could not due to it being two weeks before exams (and I suppose the fact that I do not own a car was a factor). I figured that if I could not have a road trip, I could read about one. I had to return the book before finishing it and I have felt incomplete about the matter ever since. This assignment is the perfect way for me to finish reading it and begin to examine the layers of meaning.
While I loved the feeling I got after reading a chapter, I recall feeling like it was an awfully long text with quite a drag for such a canonized work. Now, having begun to explore the canon and various theoretical approaches to literature, I think I will get much more out of it. My present understanding is that it has been canonized because it is a novel based so firmly in a turbulent time period that it offers a strong sight into life at that time. However, after reading Tompkin’s essay, I believe that a work is not canonized simply because of socio-cultural merit and so I look forward to exploring the alternate ways in which Kerouac’s work is a success. A basic adventure in the library tells me that I will have no problem finding research materials.