PANEL | Kerouac in Translation, Kerouac in Diaspora
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2016-2017 Penn Humanities Forum on Translation
University of Pennsylvania
Jean-Christophe Cloutier Assistant Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania
Ann Douglas Parr Professor Emerita of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University
Geoffrey O’Brien Editor in Chief, Library of America
Todd Tietchen Assistant Professor of English, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
Contrary to popular belief, Jack Kerouac, famed author of the quintessential American road narrative On the Road, was a native French speaker. Born in the U.S. to French Canadian parents who had migrated to New England, Kerouac did not speak English until he was 6 years old. With the opening in 2006 of the Jack Kerouac archive came the discovery that Kerouac had also composed many texts in his native French. These writings are now available for the first time in La vie est d’hommage, edited by Penn’s Jean- Christophe Cloutier, while the two longest, both novellas, appear in English translation in The Unknown Kerouac: Rare, Unpublished & Newly Translated Writings, edited by Todd Tietchen and translated by Cloutier. These publications reveal Kerouac as essentially an immigrant writer, one whose extraordinary style emerged as a fusion of his native and adopted languages.
Our panel of Kerouac experts considers the ways that we have always been reading Kerouac in translation, and how his fundamental bilingualism informs the immense impact he continues to have on global literature and culture.
For more information on this and other Penn Humanities Forum events: www.phf.upenn.edu