Neal Cassady to Jack Kerouac, December 17, 1950

Reproduction of the first page of the “Joan Anderson Letter” from the Christie’s web-site
© Cathy Sylvia Cassady, Jami Cassady and John Cassady

Christie’s auction house in New York yesterday announced the upcoming sale (June 16) of the legendary Joan Anderson letter to Jack Kerouac
from Neal Cassady

After an eighteen-month legal battle, the court case has finally been settled, clearing the way for the auction next month.

See Sam Whiting’s article in the San Francisco Chronicle – here – for more background details.

Prior to the June 16 auction-date, the letter will travel on a preview tour to Seattle (from May 31 to June 1), San Francisco (from June 2nd to June 4th), Los Angeles (June 6 to June 9) and New York (June 11 to June 15)

Christies, also, helpfully, clear up the issue of what portions of the letter have, so far, been published:

“Only a fragment of the letter has been published, and that 14 years after it was written and after the great works it influenced had come out. A portion of the letter, apparently copied by Kerouac before giving it to Ginsberg, was published in 1964 by John Bryan in his Notes From Underground #1, where it was called “The First Third”. Bryan claimed that Cassady himself came to help print it, while the title suggests that Cassady was by this time considering it as the first portion of his ongoing autobiography. The same extract was published by City Lights in 1971 as an addendum to Cassady’s book, The First Third, and later formed the basis of the 1997 film, The Last Time I Committed Suicide, directed by Stephen T Kaye and starring Thomas Jane and Keanu Reeves.”

This letter, Christies notes, “was written on a three-day Benzedrine high, Cassady later confessed. It contained, by Kerouac’s first calculation, at least 13,o00 words and ran to 40 pages, offering a compelling, unaffected and discursive account of Cassady’s frenetic love life in 1946…(Its) uninhibited, non-literary narrative pointed to the way to the free, truthful style to which Kerouac aspired” – “Cassady’s fluid, incantatory, and deeply-revealing prose influenced the entire generation of Beat writers.”

see – “Discovery- The Letter Jack Kerouac described as “The greatest piece of writing I ever saw” – and all of the info’ on the Christie’s web-site. Looking forward to June 16.

[up-date June 16, 2016 – surprisingly, the letter didn’t sell, didn’t make the reserve price at the auction – but up-date September 27. 2017, the letter is finally purchased by Emory University]

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