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Given Jack Kerouac's enduring reputation for heaving words onto paper, it might surprise some readers to see his name coupled with the word "poetics." Recognition of the elaborate poetics he developed has been limited in great part by lack of widespread knowledge that he was working in two different languages, his native French and his adopted English.
Although there have been more than twenty biographies of Kerouac, and since the 1980s a steady stream of critical works, only one of the biographies (Joyce Johnson's 2012The Voice Is All) and a handful of critical essays have in any serious way addressed his relationship to the French language and the Québécois Diaspora. Hassan Melehy brings to the study of Kerouac theoretically informed discussions of transnationalism, transculturalism, and translingualism and their key roles in his poetics of exile. He also demonstrates that, far from being a naïve pursuit, Kerouac's writing practice not only acknowledged but contributed to some of the major aesthetic and philosophical currents of the twentieth century in which notions of otherness, heterogeneity, nomadism, and multiplicity took shape.Kerouac: Language, Poetics, and Territory offers a major reassessment of a writer who, despite a readership that extends over much of the globe, remains poorly understood at home.