These first Beats repeat somehow the choice of Achilles : they want above all that their life will be intense. They are attracted by all the taboos and have a liberated sexual life, both heterosexual and homosexual, while indulging in drugs. These asocials are the precursors of the sexual revolution of the 1960s.
Neal Cassady is in the group. His letter to Kerouac dated December 17, 1950 is the trigger for the literary dimension of the Beats : with Kerouac of course but also with Ginsberg and Burroughs. For Kerouac, Cassady was the typical Beat, born in wheels on the road.
Cassady's letter is confessional with the names of the real people. He was soaked with amphetamines after a visit to a girlfriend who just missed her suicide. In 18 tightly typed pages with autograph supplements, Cassady rolls an unrestrained writing widely mingled with slang.
Kerouac is amazed by the unprecedented style of his friend, altogether frenetic and spontaneous. Between 2 and 22 April 1951, he types a similar story. The result is a paper scroll 36 meters long that will be On the road. This draft was sold for $ 2.43M including premium by Christie's on May 22, 2001.
Neal's letter to Jack was circulating among the Beats and was lost during an attempt of submission to publishers. It has been said that one of them had thrown it overboard from his boat but the reality is less poetic : another editor had placed it in a stack of documents to read, where it remained unnoticed until an archive dusting was made sixty years later.
This seminal document of the Beat literature is estimated $ 400K for sale by Christie's in New York on June 16, lot 146.