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On the Road.
New York: Viking Press,, 1957. Octavo. Original black cloth, titles to spine and front cover in white, top edge red. With the dust jacket. Housed in a custom blue morocco-backed black cloth folding-case. Minor wear at extremities; an excellent copy in the jacket with slight creasing to extremities and small chip to head of rear panel. First edition, first printing. A highly important presentation copy, inscribed by the author to John Montgomery with a drawing by Kerouac of the ghost of the Susquehanna, relating to both On the Road and The Dharma Bums. Montgomery was a Berkeley librarian who, according to Gerald Nocosial, "fascinated Jack with his scholarly non sequiturs." In October 1955, the poet Gary Snyder and Montgomery fitted Kerouac up with hiking gear and the three of them hiked up the 12,000-foot ridge of Matterhorn Mountain in Yosemite. This episode was to be transformed by Kerouac in to a key event in his celebrated novel, The Dharma Bums. In the novel, Montgomery is depicted as Henry Morley and Snyder, Japhy Ryder. Kerouac described the three men's expedition as "all completely serious, all completely hallucinated, all completely happy". Kerouac's evocative drawing depicts the Ghost of the Susquehanna, described in chapter 14 of part one of On the Road. "It was the night of the Ghost of the Susquehanna. The Ghost was a shrivelled little old man with a paper satchel who claimed he was headed for 'Canady.' He walked very fast, commanding me to follow, and said there was a bridge up ahead we could cross... as far as I could see he was just a semi-respectable walking hobo of some kind who had covered the entire Eastern Wilderness on foot... We were bums together. We walked seven miles along the mournful Susquehanna. It is a terrifying river. It has bushy cliffs on both sides that lean like hairy ghosts over the unknown waters. Inky night covers all... I thought all the wilderness of America was in the West till the Ghost of the Susquehanna showed me different..." While the Ghost undoubtedly has its origins in a hobo Kerouac encountered in western Pennsylvania, the vision is also inspired by a recurring nightmare, which Kerouac related to Allen Ginsburg and others in the late 1940s. He dreamed repeatedly of being pursued by a "Hooded Wayfarer without a Name." Kerouac came to believe that the hooded figure was merely his own self wearing a shroud. The first draft of On the Road to contain a scene approximating his dreams of the shrouded stranger was produced in 1951. Provenance: John McVey Montgomery (1919–1992); sold by him c.1988 via a Californian book dealer to Ken Lopez and Tom Congalton; subsequently in the noted Kerouac collection of Airick Kredell (1950–2004); sold in 2004 by Skyline Books to a private collector in London.
      [Bookseller: Peter Harrington]
Last Found On: 2017-11-25           Check availability:      Biblio    

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