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Jack Kerouac Quotes From His Books About Life

Explore these Jack Kerouac quotes to learn more about his views on life, writing, and more.

Jack Kerouac was an American novelist who was part of what was known as the ‘Beat Generation.’ The Beat was a group of novelists who wrote about the rejection of economic materialism and standard narrative values.

They wrote about sexual liberation, the human condition, and experimenting with drugs. Other authors included Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Lucien Carr, and Herbert Huncke.

Some of Jack’s most popular works were The Dharma BoysBig Sur, and On the Road. His first novel, The Sea is My Brother, which he completed during his service as a United States Merchant Marine, would not be published until about 40 years after his death.

These Jack Kerouac quotes are from some of his most prolific works. There are also quotes about his views on life and writing. He likely influenced an entire generation of American readers as well as many other cultural icons such as The DoorsThe Beatles, and Bob Dylan

Jack Kerouac quotes from ‘The Dharma Boys’

1. “One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” ― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

2. “Let the mind beware, that though the flesh be bugged, the circumstances of existence are pretty glorious.” ― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

3. “One man practicing kindness in the wilderness is worth all the temples this world pulls.” ― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

4. “Finding Nirvana is like locating silence.” ― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

5. “It all ends in tears, anyway.” ― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

6. “Pain or love or danger makes you real again….” ― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

7. “The silence was an intense roar.” ― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

8. “I felt free and therefore I was free.” ― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

9. “Believe that the world is an ethereal flower, and ye live.” ― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

Jack Kerouac quotes from ‘On the Road’

10. “Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.” ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

11. “Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

12. “The best teacher is experience and not through someone’s distorted point of view.” ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

13. “I was surprised, as always, by how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility.” ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

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14. “There was nothing to talk about anymore. The only thing to do was go.” ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

15. “The road must eventually lead to the whole world.” ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

16. “I was suddenly left with nothing in my hands but a handful of crazy stars.” ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

17. “No matter what you do it’s bound to be a waste of time in the end so you might as well go mad.” ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

18. “Life is life, and kind is kind.” ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Jack Kerouac quotes about life and writing

19. “The only truth is music.” ― Jack Kerouac

20. “My fault, my failure, is not in the passions I have, but in my lack of control of them.” ― Jack Kerouac

21. “Happiness consists in realizing it is all a great strange dream.” ― Jack Kerouac

22. “Don’t use the phone. People are never ready to answer it. Use poetry.” ― Jack Kerouac

23. “Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion.” ― Jack Kerouac

24. “I don’t know, I don’t care, and it doesn’t make any difference.” ― Jack Kerouac

25. “I’m going to marry my novels and have little short stories for children.” ― Jack Kerouac

26. “I’m writing this book because we’re all going to die.” ― Jack Kerouac

27. “So, therefore, I dedicate myself to my art, my sleep, my dreams, my labors, my sufferances, my loneliness, my unique madness, my endless absorption, and hunger because I cannot dedicate myself to any fellow being.” ― Jack Kerouac

28. “I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another till i drop. This is the night, what it does to you. I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.” ― Jack Kerouac

29. “Be in love with your life, every detail of it.” ― Jack Kerouac

30. “Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.” ― Jack Kerouac

31. “Write in recollection and amazement for yourself.” ― Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac quotes from ‘Big Sur’

32. “It always makes me proud to love the world somehow- hate’s so easy compared.” ― Jack Kerouac, Big Sur

33. “On soft Spring nights I’ll stand in the yard under the stars – Something good will come out of all things yet – And it will be golden and eternal just like that – There’s no need to say another word.” ― Jack Kerouac, Big Sur

34. “It’ll take you eternities to get rid of me,’ she adds sadly, which makes me jealous, I want her to say I’ll never get rid of her – I wanta be chased till eternity till I catch her.” ― Jack Kerouac, Big Sur

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35. “And when the fog’s over and the stars and the moon come out at night, it’ll be a beautiful sight.” ― Jack Kerouac, Big Sur

36. “The empty blue sky of space says ‘All this comes back to me, then goes again, and comes back again, then goes again, and I don’t care, it still belongs to me.” ― Jack Kerouac, Big Sur

37. “The more ups and downs, the more joy I feel. The greater the fear, the greater the happiness I feel.” ― Jack Kerouac, Big Sur

Jack Kerouac quotes from his other books

38. “A scene should be selected by the writer for haunted-ness-of-mind interest. If you’re not haunted by something, as by a dream, a vision, or a memory, which are involuntary, you’re not interested or even involved.” ― Jack Kerouac, Book of Sketches

39. “After all this kind of fanfare, and even more, I came to a point where I needed solitude and to just stop the machine of ‘thinking’ and ‘enjoying’ what they call ‘living,’ I just wanted to lie in the grass and look at the clouds…” ― Jack Kerouac, Lonesome Traveler

40. “Practice kindness all day to everybody, and you will realize you’re already in heaven now.” ― Jack Kerouac, The Portable Jack Kerouac

41. “Being crazy is the least of my worries.” ― Jack Kerouac, Book of Blues

42. “Some of my most neurotically fierce bitterness is the result of realizing how untrue people have become.” ― Jack Kerouac, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters

43. “America is a lonely crock of shit…” ― Jack Kerouac, Visions of Cody

44. “Everything is perfect on the street again, the world is permeated with roses of happiness all the time, but none of us know it. The happiness consists in realizing that it is all a great strange dream.” ― Jack Kerouac, Lonesome Traveler

45. “Sweet life continues in the breeze, in the golden fields.” ― Jack Kerouac, Book of Sketches

46. “How clear the realization one is going mad — the mind has a silence, nothing happens in the physique, urine gathers in your loins, your ribs contract.” ― Jack Kerouac, The Subterraneans

47. “I clearly saw the skeleton underneath all this show of personality what is left of a man and all his pride but bones?” ― Jack Kerouac, Scattered Poems

48. “No man should go through life without once experiencing healthy, even bored solitude in the wilderness, finding himself depending solely on himself and thereby learning his true and hidden strength. Learning for instance, to eat when he’s hungry and sleep when he’s sleepy.” ― Jack Kerouac, Lonesome Traveler

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49. “I feel impossibly sad and like I’ll die, what can we do?” ― Jack Kerouac, The Subterraneans

50. “Dreams were so irrational, so gray with a nameless terror… and yet, too, so haunting and beautiful.” ― Jack Kerouac, The Sea is My Brother

51. “There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.” – Jack Kerouac

More Jack Kerouac quotes and sayings

52. “The air was soft, the stars so fine, the promise of every cobbled alley so great, that I thought I was in a dream.” – Jack Kerouac

53. “A pain stabbed my heart, as it did every time I saw a girl I loved who was going the opposite direction in this too-big world.” – Jack Kerouac

54. “Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” – Jack Kerouac

55. “My witness is the empty sky.” – Jack Kerouac

56. “I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page and I could do anything I wanted.” – Jack Kerouac

57. “Houses are full of things that gather dust.” – Jack Kerouac

58. “They have worries, they’re counting the miles, they’re thinking about where to sleep tonight, how much money for gas, the weather, how they’ll get there – and all the time they’ll get there anyway, you see.” – Jack Kerouac

59. “We turned at a dozen paces, for love is a duel, and looked at each other for the last time.” – Jack Kerouac

60. “Things are so hard to figure out when you live from day to day in this feverish and silly world.” – Jack Kerouac

Which of these Jack Kerouac quotes is your favorite?

Thomas Wolfe, who Kerouac read avidly, influenced the Town and the City. Kerouac wrote Big Sur, which features his alter ego Jack Delouz, over a ten-day period. It encompasses his stay in Big Sur California. Many of his works were known to be fictionalized autobiographies.

It is clear that Kerouac was the epitome of a troubled artist. He was honorably discharged from the military on psychiatric grounds. He was a lifelong alcoholic who died at 47 years old due to cirrhosis complications. Despite that, or maybe in part because of that, his work was visionary.

What is your favorite novel by Jack Kerouac? Do you have any other favorite Jack Kerouac quotes and sayings to add? Feel free to leave your answers in the comment section below!

Danielle Dahl, Lead Contributor
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  1. Julian

    February 4, 2021 at 4:52 AM

    Nice selection of quotes, optimism and resignation alternate cosmic insight and simple life observation. Kerouac’s words still ring true.

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