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Showing posts from May, 2013

Literary Mythmaking: Reworking Warped Threads

As languages evolve over time, their words they contain change ever so slightly as they are uttered from one person to the next. At first, the words might only slightly change in the manner they are pronounced, yet the interlocutors' accents do not prevent them from being mutually understood. A good example is the difference between different forms of Modern English, such as when Canadian English speakers talk to their distant British friends, or with their Australian mates from the other side of the world; regardless, the forms of the English language spoken between these countries are mutually understandable, all except for certain terms which are certainly more common to each "locality" or country. Evidently, context plays a very important part in language evolution, be it historical, cultural, geophysical or whatever else that contributes to certain innovatory features that appear in a form of English and not the other.

English is the present-day lingua franca in the…

William S. Burroughs and Cut-Up Writing

I think William S. Burroughs was on to something. Aside from Jack Kerouac, Burroughs was another one of the influential authors of the Beat Generation that in the 1950s and 60s found popularity - if not notoriety in Burroughs' case - in his experimental writing styles. Burroughs was introduced to the cut-up technique of writing, which basically means he would quite literally "cut-up" a strand of linear text into segmented pieces with one or a couple of words a piece, and then simply reorder them in whatever fashion he saw fit.

Burroughs experimented with the cut-up technique at great length and it suited him fine, for he found that by doing so he could somehow alter reality - or even foretell future events. The Nova Trilogy, published in the early 1960s were a series of three experimental novels published by Burroughs in which he made use of the cut-up. The Soft Machine was the first book in the trilogy - published two years after his groundbreaking Naked Lunch- , and it…

Kérouac: Joual Royalty

The great American novelist, poet, the so-called King of the beats, Jack Kerouac - or as he was known in his French Canadian community in Lowell, Massachusetts, by his birth name Jean-Louis Kérouac or simply by his nickname Ti-Jean. His jazzy second novel, On the Road (1957), is an iconoclast literary masterwork, often referred to by critiques as one of the more influential pieces of writing in the postwar era.

But alas, what many people do not know is that Kerouac had initially written On the Road (1957) in French - or quite specifically - the form of Canadian French often referred to as Joual. In fact, Sur le chemin was the title Kérouac gave to the initial and original version of the work which he penned in 1952 while in Mexico. It is Gabriel Anctil, a Canadian journalist, who made this unexpected discovery while gaining access to the author's manuscripts in 2007 (see article interview with Anctil in Le Monde"Sur le chemin" un inédit de Jack Kérouac écrit en français)…