WASHINGTON, DC – On November 6th and 7th, more than 150 Americans learned about the francophone roots of Jack Kerouac and Québec’s influence on his work, as they attended the literary event Sur la route : Jack Kerouac’s Francophone Roots organized by the Québec Government Office in Washington.
Hassan Melehy, professor of French at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Joyce Johnson, author of the recent Kerouac biography The Voice Is All were invited by the Québec Government Office to discuss this unfamiliar facet of Kerouac’s life. Dozens of Francophiles and Kerouac fans participated in each event, hosted in partnership with the Smithsonian Associates and Loyola University, in Baltimore.
M. Melehy went through several key moments of Québec history, notably the French-Canadian migration to the United States in which Kerouac’s family took part. Analyzing Kerouac’s texts, he illustrated how his “quebecitude” influenced his “spontaneous prose.”
Referring to memories and discussions she had with Kerouac, Joyce Johnson, who was a good friend of the Beat writers, related the importance of “Ti-Jean’s” francophone roots in his quest for identity.