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Encyclopedia > The Subterraneans
The Subterraneans cover
The Subterraneans cover

The Subterraneans is a 1958 novel by Beat Generation author Jack Kerouac. It is a semi-fictionalized account of his short romance with Alene Lee--Mardou Fox in the novel--an African American woman in the jazz clubs and bars of the budding Beat scene of San Francisco. There are appearances from other well known personalities and friends from his other novels, such as William Burroughs (Frank Carmody in the novel), Allen Ginsberg (Adam Moorad), and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, owner of the famous City Lights bookstore in San Francisco's North Beach. Image File history File links Subterraneans. ... Image File history File links Subterraneans. ... 1958 (MCMLVIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Daniel Defoes Robinson Crusoe; title page of 1719 newspaper edition A novel (from French nouvelle, new) is an extended fictional narrative in prose. ... The term Beat Generation refers primarily to a group of American writers of the 1950s whose work strongly influenced the cultural transformations of the 60s. ... Jack Kerouac Jack Kerouac (March 12, 1922 – October 21, 1969) was an American novelist, writer, poet, artist, and part of the Beat Generation. ... An African American (also Afro-American, Black American, or simply black), is a member of an ethnic group in the United States whose ancestors, usually in predominant part, were indigenous to Africa. ... Allen Ginsberg in later life Irwin Allen Ginsberg (IPA: ) (June 3, 1926 – April 5, 1997) was an American Beat poet born in Newark, New Jersey. ... Lawrence Ferlinghetti Lawrence Ferlinghetti (born March 24, 1919) is a poet who is best known as the co-owner of the City Lights Bookstore and publishing house, which published early literary works of the Beat Generation, including Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. ...

Criticism and literary signficance

The novel has been criticized for its portrayal of American minority groups, especially his portrayal of African Americans and others as in a superficial light, often dramatizing their humble and primitive energy without strong insight into their culture or social positions. The position of jazz and jazz culture is central to the novel, as it ties together many of the themes of Kerouac's other writings, such as the "spontaneous prose" style of composing his works. The following quotation from Chapter 1 captures well the spontaneous prose style of The Subterraneans:


Making a new start, starting from fresh in the rain, 'Why should anyone want to hurt my little heart, my feet, my little hands, my skin that I'm wrapt in because God wants me warm and Inside, my toes--why did God make all this so decayable and dieable and harmable and wants to make me realize and scream--why the wild ground and bodies bare and breaks--I quaked when the giver creamed, when my father screamed, my mother dreamed---I started small and ballooned up and now I'm big and a naked child again and only to cry and fear. - Ah - Protect yourself, angel of no harm, you who've never and could never harm and crack another innocent in its shell and thin veiled pain - wrap a robe around you, honeylamb - protect yourself from harm and wait, till Daddy comes again, and Mama throws you warm inside her valley of the moon, loom at the loom of patient time, be happy in the mornings.'

The best example of the spontaneous style in Kerouac's work is, perhaps, found in his novel Visions of Cody, a 400-page plus free-form treatise on his close friend Neal Cassady. Categories: Literature stubs | Novels of Jack Kerouac ... Neal Cassady, left, with Jack Kerouac, photograph by Carolyn Cassady. ...

Film version

A 1960 film adaptation replaced the African American character Mardou Fox, Kerouac's love interest, with a young French girl (played by Leslie Caron) to better fit both social and Hollywood palates. While it has been derided and vehemently criticized by Allen Ginsberg among many others, it illustrates the way in which the film industry attempted to exploit the emerging popularity of this culture as it grew in the San Francisco and Greenwich Village, New York. Image File history File links Subterraneans. ... 1960 (MCMLX) was a leap year starting on Friday (the link is to a full 1960 calendar). ... An African American (also Afro-American, Black American, or simply black), is a member of an ethnic group in the United States whose ancestors, usually in predominant part, were indigenous to Africa. ... Leslie Caron Leslie Caron (b. ... ... Allen Ginsberg in later life Irwin Allen Ginsberg (IPA: ) (June 3, 1926 – April 5, 1997) was an American Beat poet born in Newark, New Jersey. ... This page is a candidate for speedy deletion. ... The Washington Square Arch Greenwich Village (pronounced Grennich Village; also called simply the Village) is a largely residential area on the west side of downtown (southern) Manhattan in New York City. ... Official language(s) None, English de facto Capital Albany Largest city New York City Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 27th 141,205 km² 455 km 530 km 13. ...

The Subterraneans was one of the final MGM films produced by the legendary Arthur Freed, and features a score by Andre Previn and brief appearances by jazz greats Carmen McRae singing "Coffee Time", Gerry Mulligan as a street priest, and Art Pepper. Arthur Freed (September 9, 1894 - April 12, 1973) was born Arthur Grossman in Charleston, South Carolina. ... Andr Previn (born April 6, 1929) is a prominent pianist, orchestral conductor, and composer. ... Carmen McRae (April 8, 1920-November 10, 1994) was an American jazz vocalist. ... Gerry Muligan Gerald Joseph Gerry Mulligan (April 6, 1927 – January 20, 1996) was an American jazz musician, composer and arranger best known for his baritone saxophone playing, but also played the piano and the clarinet. ... Arthur Edward Pepper, Jr. ...

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