Jack Kerouac's rare French novels to be released by Canadian publishers

Quebec's Les Éditions du Boréal won agreement from the iconic American writer's estate to publish La vie est d’hommage in next year.

Les Éditions du Boréal reached an agreement with the American writer's family to publish unseen works

American Beat Generation writer Jack Kerouac wrote in French and English during his short but influential career. Kerouac died in 1969 at the age of 47. (The Associated Press)

Quebec publishing house Les Éditions du Boréal has struck a deal with Jack Kerouac​'s estate to publish previously unseen works from the iconic American author, written in his native French.

The collection, titled La vie est d’hommage, includes the beginning of long form novel La Nuit est ma femme and a novella titled Sur le chemin (On The Road). 

Despite sharing its name with Kerouac's groundbreaking 1957 novel, the publisher says the novella differs from his autobiographical road trip novel that became a defining work of the American Beat Generation.

The texts, preserved by Kerouac's brother-in-law, also include the beginning of Kerouac's famed On The Road (about 2,000 words worth) in French.

Kerouac's 'extraordinary sensitivity'

Born and raised in the French-American community of Lowell, Mass., Kerouac didn't learn to speak English until he was about six. He continued to write in his mother tongue even after he became a celebrity of the American literary scene.

Publishers hope the collection, that will also be published in English by the non-profit Library of America, will reveal new depths to the seminal author, who died in 1969 at the age of 47.

"Above all, [readers] will discover the extraordinary sensitivity of Kerouac when he wrote in his native language," said the Montreal-based publishing house in a translated statement.

La vie est d’hommage is due out in spring 2016.


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