Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Faculty of Letters and Arts
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Abstract: This paper is an analysis of Jack Kerouac’s 1954-letter to Robert Lax and it emphasizes that the American author’s (temporary) conversion to Buddhism was not a mere reaction against his Christian belief and tradition, but the result of a natural, informed realization of the possibility to accept, to celebrate distinction, to bridge the differences through compassion. The analysis partly mirrors Jack Kerouac’s own etymological method and highlights the differences between his own and the traditional interpretation of the terms karuna and agape. The conclusion is that, even though Kerouac’s understanding of certain religious concepts might sound subjective, it provides the reader with a valuable perspective on the two spiritual traditions which enabled the American author to naturally turn to Buddhism, albeit temporarily; it also facilitates the analysis of his writing.
Keywords: modern and contemporary American literature, Jack Kerouac, karuna, agape, Christianity, Buddhism.
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