The first of them, lot 45378, is a letter from Cassady to Kerouac often referred as the Joan Anderson letter. I discussed it as follows before it passed at Christie's on June 16, 2016 from a very expensive reserve price.
Crises and wars provoke some reactions of social rejection that generate a literary and artistic creativity. This is the case of the Beat Generation, a term coined by Jack Kerouac in 1948 with the meaning of "lost generation".
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.
The other document for sale at Heritage, lot 45379, is a typescript by Kerouac himself for The Dharma Bums.
On the Road had been rejected by all publishers in 1952. It nevertheless was a huge success when it was released in 1957. Kerouac immediately prepared a sequel, The Dharma Bums, on the same scroll format as he did for On the road. That original typescript is currently not located. The document for sale is a copy typed by the author on 200 usual 8 1/2 x 11 inch pages in January 1958 for preparing the edition.
The tweets below apply to the two lots in the next Heritage sale and to the previous Christie's sale.
RESULTS INCLUDING PREMIUM
Cassady's letter to Kerouac $ 206K
Dharma Bums typed draft $ 137K