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November 15, 2006


a cup of tea

I'm sure someone else could do better, but using my 10yrs.+ old high school French, here's a rough translation of the "Context" section next to the player:

"The interview Jack Kerouac gives to Fernand Seguin unfolds in French as the writer comes from a French-Canadian family who settled in Massachusetts. The author talks about his childhood, of his taste for trips, of his method of writing. Kerouac also gives his definition of the term "beat generation," which translates the misery of the Blacks of the American south, beatitude, and the jazz rhythm."

Two of my favorite moments were things you might not read in a Kerouac biography, if I got them right (and somebody correct me if I got them wrong!):

When asked why he lives in Lowell and not New York or San Francisco, he says "Because I know the police there." (05:10)

One of the people in the town who knew him growing up says "He was a wise child, a calm child, very studious," after which, Jack laughs. (09:45)

I wish I could give you more, but I'm obviously rusty. (And Jeff: thanks for the link!)


It is an excellent interview. Kerouac is charismatic in his native French . . I write 'native' because in the interview he relates that he didn't speak English until the age of 6. The Kerouac household functioned in French.

The scenes from Lowell, Mass, the mix of residential and, mostly, industrial resembles the Southwest district of Montreal, especially around the Lachine Canal. Based on the interviews, the lives of the Franco-Americans there and in similar textile towns up through Maine, was pretty much similar to what their cousins and aunts lived in Québec workingclass towns and neighbourhoods.

Yes, a transcript in English would be nice (surprising if it doesn't already exist). If I work on such a project, I will post it on my blog.

Thanks mucho for the link. Until today I felt that people who claimed Kerouac as a Canayen français carried the cultural appropriation of the American icon a little too far. Now I agree, he was as much a French Canadian as René Levesque (ha ha).

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