Religious Turmoil: The Conflict Between Buddhism and Catholicism in Jack Kerouac's Life and Writing

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Title: Religious Turmoil: The Conflict Between Buddhism and Catholicism in Jack Kerouac's Life and Writing
Author: Simpson, Emily Patricia
Advisors: Dr. Nick Halpern, Committee Chair
Dr. Carmine Prioli, Committee Member
Dr. Lucinda MacKethan, Committee Member
Abstract: Although Jack Kerouac has begun to be recognized as one of the great 20th century American writers, scholars have not yet fully explored the influence that his conflicting religious beliefs had on his work. Kerouac's internal struggle to reconcile his Buddhist and Catholic thinking, and his ultimate attempt to embrace Catholicism, had a profound effect on his writing, giving it the religiously tumultuous charge that is essential to Kerouac's distinctive writing style. This study addresses Kerouac's religious life and its effect on his work by focusing primarily on three of his works: Visions of Gerard, The Dharma Bums, and Big Sur. Kerouac's complex relationship between Buddhism and Catholicism and the effect this conflict had on his work has heretofore gone largely uninvestigated. However, it is essential to a complete understanding of his work. Exploring this element of his work sheds new light on Kerouac's novels that illuminates his depth and solemnity as a writer. Kerouac's religious quest was a cornerstone of his artistic development, and the three novels I have examined illustrate how Catholicism and Buddhism together informed that quest.
Date: 2002-12-31
Degree: MA
Discipline: English
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/1392


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