Kerouac 100

I had intended to mention, briefly, in this opening, the nature of the debt I incurred with Jack Kerouac long years ago, when at the end of On the Road I read that qualification of  Dean Moriarty as “the father we never found”. Maybe because although my father is still alive, and in spite of the fact he was always a good and loving father, I have always felt that Dean Moriarty was, also for me, “the father we never found”, at that age when we all need a second father, preferably almost our own age, preferably someone who will lead us to the other side of the mirror and away from the meek life. Professional burdens and personal contingencies, however, have conspired to rob me of the time that would allow me to state the reasons why, as director of the department of languages, literatures, and cultures, I am wholeheartedly behind this event. But that’s okay, because I believe this conference will be enlightening enough in itself. Because to celebrate Kerouac’s work is to celebrate an idea of writing as a crossing of this vast and unsettled continent that we mistakenly call life, and that we can only endure because we know it is a journey with a thousand paths, but no destination. And that is what great literature teaches us, even, or especially, when it does not wish to teach us anything – and thank God for that.

On behalf of the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures I want to thank all the participants in this conference, as well as the musicians who will close it with a concert at the Paulo Quintela Theater. My special thanks go to my colleagues in the Anglo-American Studies Section directly involved in the organization, Professors Graça Capinha, Maria José Canelo and Susana Araújo. I would also like to thank the FLUC administration, in the person of our Director, for the support he has given us. I wish you all an excellent conference.

[This small text was delivered at the opening session of Kerouac 100, at the Faculty of Letters of the University of Coimbra, on October 28, 2022]