December 09, 2011
Kenneth Curry Professor of Literature Maurice O'Sullivan and Director of Olin Library Jonathan Miller review the Dharma Bums typescript as presented by the Kerouac House to Rollins' Special Collections & Archives. (Photo by Lauren Bradley)
It’s been more than fifty years since Jack Kerouac wrote his famous novel The Dharma Bums while living in Orlando. Eleven years later, Kerouac died and left behind a literary legacy that Central Florida continues to honor today. He also left behind a typescript of the novel, littered with his and other editors handwritten notes and scribbles. As part of a permanent loan agreement with the Kerouac Project, that typescript is about to call Olin Library Special Collections & Archives its home.
“The Special Collections at Rollins has a responsibility to collect the local history of Central Florida,” said Director of Olin Library Jonathan Miller, who will have the typescript placed in an acid-free archival box and stored in the vault inside the Olin Library’s Special Collections Department. “One of the roles that the library and the archives can play is the preservation of history.”
But Miller also pointed out that the purpose of housing the typescript on campus, versus its previous home at the Orange County Regional History Center, is so that students and faculty can engage it.
“Since it is such an important historical document, access to it will be limited,” said Miller. “But faculty members like Maurice O’Sullivan and Phil Deaver are really excited about finding ways to integrate the typescript into their courses.”
“Allowing students to see an original typescript, one that has editorial comments and edits, connects students with history,” shared Maurice “Socky” O'Sullivan, Kenneth Curry professor of literature. “It makes it more real than reading it on a Kindle.” O’Sullivan also likes that the typescript will enable students to see the creative process and learn that literature is not something that happens spontaneously. “This work dispels the myth that literature is an explosion of creativity,” he said. “You can see the craft in it. I hope people learn from it that writing requires discipline.”
O’Sullivan also hopes that the typescript’s arrival on campus creates a tighter bond between the English department and the Kerouac Project, a non-profit organization supporting aspiring writers. “I always wanted to have a closer connection with the project and the visiting writer. This a good catalyst for this to happen.”
“The Jack Kerouac Writers-in-Residence Project of Orlando is proud to share with Rollins College one of the very few literary treasures with a rich Orlando provenance,” said Bob Kealing, co-founder of the Kerouac Project and author of Kerouac in Florida: Where the Road Ends. “We at the Kerouac Project are grateful for the passion Jonathan Miller and Rollins faculty have shown to establish a new home for this one-of-a-kind typescript at the Olin Library. Our goal is to see it displayed and shared with students and scholars as an example of Kerouac's indomitable creative spirit while living in Orlando.”
Like Winter with the Writers and the Winter Park Institute, the College’s commitment to the local arts community manifests itself in many ways. “Rollins plays an important role in the local arts community,” Miller said, “particularly in literary arts. We have one of the best archival collections in Central Florida. We’re all really excited to welcome this important typescript here.”
The Dharma Bums arrived on campus on Friday, December 9.
By Kristen Manieri