With "Howl 50" and the associated corporate buckfest now beginning to subside in the public consciousness, latest news reports that John Sampas, executor of the Kerouac estate, has signed a contract with Viking to publish an "unexpurgated" volume of "On The Road" to coincide with the 50th anniversay next year of the publication of the original book.
Sampas, like a literary knight errant, reports that those sections excised from the original novel to suit the fashions and prejudices of the time will be restored in the new version--though he adds that sections taken out by Kerouac himself won't be included. Can it be said, then, to be truly unexpurgated? I would like to see the whole work, with--perhaps--annotations to indicate which sections Jack may not have wanted to be in the final version. That way we get a picture of his vision for the published work, but also his working method, and the truth of the man behind the increasingly fake and romanticised image. Jack was a man, flawed like all of us; but it was from this corruptible soil that some of the greatest prose and poetry of the last century emerged.
Incidentally, how are Sampas and the editors involved in the creation of the new version of "On The Road" going to be sure what was taken out by Kerouac and what was removed by other hands, including Giroux and Cowley, with whom he first worked on the novel? On the single-spaced typescript of the infamous "O.T.R." scroll I imagine that sort of scholarship would be extremely difficult; and the consequences of error would be disastrous for our understanding of Kerouac, and the perception of him as an author and a man by succeeding generations.