Top 10 Quotes from On the Road

"They were like the man with the dungeon stone and gloom, rising from the underground, the sordid hipsters of America, a new beat generation that I was slowly joining."

#09 - CON-MAN

"He was simply a youth tremendously excited with life, and though he was a con-man, he was only conning because he wanted so much to live and to get involved with people who would otherwise pay no attention to him."


"We fumed and screamed in our mountain nook, mad drunken Americans in the mighty land. We were on the roof of America and all we could do was yell, I guess—across the night, eastward over the Plains, where somewhere an old man with white hair was probably walking toward us with the Word, and would arrive any minute and make us silent."


"Something, someone, some spirit was pursuing all of us across the desert of life and was bound to catch us before we reached heaven. Naturally, now that I look back on it, this is only death: death will overtake us before heaven. The one thing that we yearn for in our living days, that makes us sigh and groan and undergo sweet nauseas of all kinds, is the remembrance of some lost bliss that was probably experienced in the womb and can only be reproduced (though we hate to admit it) in death."


"Then a complete silence fell over everybody; where once Dean would have talked his way out, he now fell silent himself, but standing in front of everybody, ragged and broken and idiotic, right under the lightbulbs, his bony mad face covered with sweat and throbbing veins, saying, 'Yes, yes, yes,' as though tremendous revelations were pouring into him all the time now, and I am convinced they were, and the others suspected as much and were frightened. He was BEAT—the root, the soul of Beatific. What was he knowing?"


"Suddenly I had a vision of Dean, a burning shuddering frightful Angel, palpitating toward me across the road, approaching like a cloud, with enormous speed, pursuing me like the Shrouded Traveler on the plain, bearing down on me. I saw his huge face over the plains with the mad, bony purpose and the gleaming eyes; I saw his wings; I saw his old jalopy chariot with thousands of sparkling flames shooting out from it; I saw the path it burned over the road; it even made its own road and went over the corn, through cities, destroying bridges, drying rivers. It came like wrath to the West. I knew Dean had gone mad again."


"So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, and all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars'll be out, and don't you know that God is Pooh Bear? the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all the rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what's going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty."


"I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn't know who I was—I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I'd never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn't know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds. I wasn't scared; I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost. I was halfway across America, at the dividing line between the East of my youth and the West of my future."


"And for just a moment I had reached the point of ecstasy that I always wanted to reach, which was the complete step across chronological time into timeless shadows, and wonderment in the bleakness of the mortal realm, and the sensation of death kicking at my heels to move on, with a phantom dogging its own heels, and myself hurrying to a plank where all the angels dove off and flew into the holy void of uncreated emptiness, the potent and inconceivable radiancies shining in bright Mind Essence, innumerable lotus-lands falling open in the magic mothswarm of heaven. I could hear an indescribable seething roar which wasn't in my ear but everywhere and had nothing to do with sounds. I realized that I had died and been reborn numberless times but just didn't remember because the transitions from life to death and back are so ghostly easy, a magical action for naught, like falling asleep and waking up again a million times, the utter casualness and deep ignorance of it."

#01 - MAD ONES

"I shambled after as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes 'Awww!'"

User Comments - Add a Comment
NAT. - 2008-05-11 21:43:05
I'm reading this book right now. I actually think it's pretty boring. But the way he writes is nice. I totally knew what number one was gonna be. That was the part in the book where I could sorta relate to what he was feeling.
Matthew - 2009-03-22 20:07:28

What's that bloke about it being boring, i'm 17, just finished reading the book and i find it quite amazing really. how it's not about anything but the journey. nothing is important or relavant. i especially like the whole endless jazz sessions and when they talk about 'it'.

Mugy - 2009-10-10 22:28:23

You are one sad little man if you think this book is any good

Jeremy Wilson - 2009-10-20 19:30:32

This book preserves the beatnik generation in America. It is simply a work of art and anyone who can not find respect for its knowledge must be a fool.

Quinn - 2009-10-22 04:50:39

I agree. this book defined a generation and was just a beautiful representation of life and time. It is you who is sad for not being able to see the beauty in this novel

Darren - 2009-10-25 22:20:22

This book is about the Beats, not Beatniks.

Jake - 2009-10-31 23:20:11

completly over rated. a rambling record of a fool.

Mark - 2009-12-08 14:05:14

Darren is right, its about beats not beatniks

figgphoto - 2009-12-13 09:21:06

I like this book because it doesn't make the road seem romantic like alot of books do. ya it can be a little hard to keep an interest, but it fits, the road and adventures have their times of boredom and trials as life in general does. I found it to be a great novel.

JungleCat - 2009-12-17 05:17:38

Have you ever seen the way an orator divides up a speech he's about to deliver by slashing key phrases with a pen - or the way a musician bars out the measures when the time signature is fulfilled? Maybe those of you who dont get it but are still open need to do the same thing. There's a rhythm to this book with crescendos and decrescendos that have to be felt - the technical artistry is easy to see but the substance of it has to be felt to be understood.

Ellis Maxx - 2010-01-13 17:07:19

There are people who understand so little about this book that it seems boring and irrelevant. There are those who get the sense of adventure and like it. And then there are those who understand what it is really saying and they love it. I think it's depth is easily under-estimated and rarely understood.

David - 2010-01-14 21:38:57

read this on a bunch of speed and then you'll understand. better like i did...get 2/3 of the way through the book...learn your lesson and hit the road with a pocket full of dreams and amphetamines.

Jon - 2010-01-15 00:57:13

The story is in the details. This book is the timeless tale of man wanting to be natural within the false pretenses of society. If you can't relate to this book in any way, I truly feel bad for you. Both for missing out on a work of art, and also for being so vein to the mold which must be cast upon you by society.

Jason - 2010-06-20 01:37:36

Talking about this book the way I see hear tells me it's missed it's mark on some of you. The book is a passport to escape the confines of "structured life" in any era. I love it. It has changed my life.... smaller quotes like, " we turned around at twenty paces, because after all love is just a dual" level me. They are poetry. Stay on your journey-- but if this book doesn't do it for you I don't know what will.

Jimmy Mac - 2010-06-23 13:22:02

I read it first 30 years ago and thought it was wonderful stuff, I'm rereading it now, 30 years older, and I'm think what a pretentious self centered mob they were. In the past 30 years I've met several authors and met the characters they have written about, and I now know that authors generally blow their characters out of all proportion. But it is an good entertaining read, just don't go taking it all too seriously.

razor baker. - 2010-07-01 14:57:42

if you're never been mad for it you'll never like the book, as a 19yo kiwi in 99 I hitch-hiked 15,000 miles from vancouver to new orleans taking 4 months with $30, I was mad for experience, mad for life, was given the book in a hostel in new orleans and it changed everything for me, and made me realize how powerful the word is. I truly feel sorry for those who dont go mad at least once, what truly boring lives they must lead.

Jean-Luc - 2010-07-08 19:49:25

i read this book when i was 15 and man it changed me life. i love things based on east coast meeting west coast vice versa. i remember going to class acting all beat and mad. i got lost and feel in love with this book. very well excuted, its a book for all generations.

Anonymous - 2010-09-08 18:13:22

you call these the best quotes? holy shit. maybe 3 deserve to be on the top 10. these almost appear random.

non english - 2010-10-08 11:16:57

"Jake - 2009-10-31 19:20:11 completly over rated. a rambling record of a fool." Before saying this book is overrated, you should read more books so you learn how to spell COMPLETELY

Adrian Wilde - 2010-11-14 05:31:41

I love how while your reading the book and when you finish it, you realise that nothing the hell happened. But you think back and you wish you were there with them.

cleee - 2010-12-14 09:20:51

I understand the people who found it life-changing and those who found it boring. I liked the book because I liked the spiritual feeling it created, the stream-of-consciousness style narrative, the exuberance of it all. However, I felt it dragged on after a while seeing as there was little tension drawing the plot forward. I liked the book, as I said, but it didn't live up to my expectations

RE - 2011-03-17 13:25:52
rambling record of a fool?!! are you serious.. this book has deffo altered the way i think about things. anyone who says this book is boring needs to really read it. Jack is ridiculously passionate unlike many samey writers that are about. I love it.
Anonymous - 2011-03-31 03:01:34
Best book I ever read that was written in 3 weeks on a 16-foot sheet of thin Japanese drawing paper while the auther was stoned out of his mind (thats a compliment)
Dea - 2011-08-05 02:26:07
Really? People actually dislike this book? Not only was it interesting, but it made me bored with life. It's constant motion! If you find it to be "ramblings" then you must read too slow. IT'S PROSE!
Anonymous - 2011-10-02 10:34:59
I read this book and honestly found it so tedious whilst i was reading it; once you've got about a third of the way through it's the same story repeated over and over with minor superficial details altered. That said, it's been a year since i read it now and i find myself relating back to passages of it with a newfound understanding. I don't want to sound pretentious but i think this book is quite a good summarisation of life; you expend a tremendous amount of time and effort on trying to escape from monotony through various pursuits, they will all work for a while but ultimately you have to keep finding new routes to fulfillment because when things become routine they cease to be satisfying. To me On The Road is just a more poetic way of stating these obvious things.
zara89 - 2011-11-15 14:28:39
Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.
PaPaCatfish - 2012-12-10 18:42:39

why no JAZZ Quotes ? Miles Davis,Dizzy Gillispie, Chet Baker....Count basie, Stan Kenton? The Music was ....They had much to say, but at the time, Few would listen.