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Wake Up : A Life of the Buddha : Penguin Modern Classics - Jack Kerouac

Wake Up : A Life of the Buddha

Penguin Modern Classics

Paperback

Published: 28th August 2008
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A biography of the founder of Buddhism and a study of Siddartha Gautama's life and works.

It recounts the story of Prince Siddhartha's upbringing and his father's wish to protect him from all human suffering, despite a prediction that he would become a great holy man in later life. It offers a fresh and accessible introduction to the world of Buddhism.

About the Author

Jack Kerouac was an American novelist, writer, poet and artist. Along with William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, he is amongst the best known of the writers (and friends) known as the Beat Generation. Kerouac spent many of the years between 1947 and 1951 on the road, inspiring the partly autobiographical and greatly acclaimed novel On the Road. Kerouac's search for a life worth living in the 1950's led him to recreational drug use and to travel, not only across North America but throughout the world. In 1954, Kerouac discovered Dwight Goddard's A Buddhist Bible at the San Jose library, which marked the beginning of his immersion into Buddhism. Kerouac's work was popular, but received little critical acclaim during his lifetime. Today, he is considered an important and influential writer who inspired others, including Tom Robbins, Lester Bangs and Ken Kesey, and musicians such as The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Morrissey.

A fan's notes on the Awakened One.Iconic Beat writer Kerouac, whose On the Road celebrated its 50th anniversary with suitable fanfare last year, took a modest interest in Buddhism while hanging out with Allen Ginsberg and dabbling in college in New York. Later in the 1950s, his studies became more serious, and he began to think of himself as a "dumbsaint bodhisattva" who, inclined to poverty and wandering, was a living embodiment of what Gautama, ne Siddhartha, was up to back in the fifth century BCE. (It didn't hurt the self-identification that Buddha "was a handsome young prince.") This previously unpublished work is a rather indifferently written biography of the Buddha, largely cribbed from other sources - a notebook for Kerouac's own studies, in other words, and apparently not something he was in a hurry to publish during his short but prolific lifetime. There are a few Kerouackian touches to the piece, as when the author instructs that Buddha "was no slob-like figure of mirth," but instead "the Jesus Christ of India and almost all Asia." Kerouac offers a few novelistic touches, sometimes to beautiful effect, as when he writes, "The groundmist of 3 A.M. rose with all the dolors of the world." However, the overall narrative stance is matter-of-fact, encyclopedic and conventional, with a kind of didactic approach to dialogue, as when Buddha tells an Indian king, "Though your face has become wrinkled, in the perception of your eyes, there are no signs of age, no wrinkles. Then, wrinkles are the symbol of change, and the un-wrinkled is the symbol of the un-changing. That which is changing must suffer destruction, but the unchanging is free from deaths and rebirths."Kerouac completists will have to have this, of course. Literary-minded students of Buddhism will find Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha to be the more attractive introduction, and devotees will have had this story from many other sources, as Kerouac himself did. (Kirkus Reviews)

ISBN: 9780141189468
ISBN-10: 0141189460
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 146
Published: 28th August 2008
Dimensions (cm): 19.6 x 12.8  x 1.2
Weight (kg): 0.141

Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, where, he said, he 'roamed fields and riverbanks by day and night, wrote little novels in my room, first novel written at age eleven, also kept extensive diaries and "newspapers" covering my own-invented horse-racing and baseball and football worlds' (as recorded in the novel Doctor Sax). He was educated by Jesuit brothers in Lowell. He said that he 'decided to become a writer at age seventeen under influence of Sebastian Sampas, local young poet, who later died on Anzio beach head; read the life of Jack London at eighteen and decided to also be a lonesome traveler; early literary influences Saroyan and Hemingway; later Wolfe (after I had broken leg in Freshman football at Columbia read Tom Wolfe and roamed his New York on crutches).'

Kerouac wished, however, to develop his own new prose style, which he called 'spontaneous prose.' He used this technique to record the life of the American 'traveler' and the experiences of the Beat generation of the 1950s. This may clearly be seen in his most famous novel On the Road, and also in The Subterraneans and The Dharma Bums. His first more orthodox published novel was The Town and the City. Jack Kerouac, who described himself as a 'strange solitary crazy Catholic mystic,' was working on his longest novel, a surrealistic study of the last ten years of his life when he died in 1969, aged forty-seven.

Other works by Jack Kerouac include Big Sur, Desolation Angels, Lonesome Traveler, Visions of Gerard, Tristessa, and a book of poetry called Mexico City Blues. On the Road: The Original Scroll, the full uncensored transcription of the original manuscript of On the Road, is published by Penguin Modern Classics.

Visit Jack Kerouac's Booktopia Author Page