Kerouac wrote Visions of Cody between October 1951 and April 1952, in New York and San Francisco.
Although he considered Visions of Cody to be his masterwork, a view now shared by most
Kerouac scholars, Allen Ginsberg, on first reading the book in 1952, declared it "a holy mess" and
stated that he did not think it could be published anywhere. Publishers apparently shared that view,
and although various short extracts appeared in magazines, the book remained unpublished until
January 1960, when Excerpts from Visions of Cody appeared in a limited, signed edition of 750
copies from New Directions. This version comprised about one third of the total text, and the book
was not published in full until January 1973, more than three years after Kerouac's death.
New Directions, 1960
|Front cover||Title page||Introduction||First page||Signature page||Insert|
|McGraw Hill 1973||McGraw Hill 1974||McGraw Hill 1989||Penguin 1993||Penguin 1996||Penguin 2011|
|Deutsch 1973||Granada 1980||Flamingo 1992||Flamingo 1995||Flamingo 2001||Penguin 2012|
|Brazil 2009||Bulgaria 2004||Czech Rep 2011||France 1993||France 1999||France 2012|
|Hungary 2007||Italy 1974||Italy 1979||Italy 1995||Italy 2005||Spain 1975|
|Spain 1976||Spain 2014|
Before the publication of Excerpts from Visions of Cody in 1960, some extracts from the book had been
published by magazines, including the "Neal and the Three Stooges" and "October in the Poolhall" sections.
Kerouac had retitled the Poolhall section (pages 47-70 of the 1973 edition) as "The Early History of Dean
Moriarty" in an attempt to interest magazine publishers. It was eventually taken up by Playboy.
"Neal and the Three Stooges," as recorded by Kerouac the following year for the LP Readings on the
|New Editions 1957||Text||Italy 1993|
Playboy followed up on the success of On the Road by publishing the complete "October in the Poolhall"
section of Visions of Cody as "Before the Road: The earlier adventures of Dean Moriarty".
Following the publication of Excerpts from Visions of Cody, extracts from the book appeared in
some magazines, while others preferred to publish sections omitted from the Excerpts.
Three extracts from the Excerpts which follow on from the "October in the Poolhall" section.
|US Gold Medal 1960||Text||Text (cont)||US Gold Medal 1963|
"The mad road" section, from the Excerpts, which was also used in Kerouac's introduction to
Robert Frank's book of photographs, The Americans (1960). The first half also appeared in
The "Joan Rawshanks in the Fog" section, which had not been included in New Directions' Excerpts.
|TR 9, UK 1962||Text|
This anthology included the "Manhattan Sketches" section from the beginning of
Visions of Cody, which had not been included in New Directions' Excerpts.
|US 1963||Text||UK 1967|
The New Directions Reader, in a piece titled "Meet Cody," used the first half of the Poolhall
section from the Excerpts, but, unlike Playboy, kept the hero's name as Cody Pomeray.
|ND Reader 1964||Text||Text (cont)|
Some extracts from the Poolhall section from New Directions' Excerpts.
|Ice, UK 1966||Text|
The same complete Poolhall section as published in Playboy, but preserving the hero's name as Cody Pomeray.
|UK Penguin 1967||Text|
Although some of the later tape sessions were included in the Excerpts, this "First Night of the Tapes"
section was not. Here, the real character names are preserved.
|TR 33/34, UK 1969||Text|
The first half of "The mad road" section, from the Excerpts.
The second half of the "October in the Poolhall" section.
The same sketches as in The Moderns, published by Pirate Edition (a forerunner of Hanuman Books) in 1987.
In the January/February 2013 edition, Playboy published an edited version of their December 1959 piece,
"Before the Road," calling it "Chasing Moriarty".
The original notebooks in which Kerouac wrote Visions of Neal, 1951-1952,
now housed at the New York Public Library.
Compiled by Dave Moore
Thanks to Rod Anstee, Niels Hansen, Michael Powell, and Paul Rickert for the use of their book cover images.
Return to On the Road covers
A selection of books by William S. Burroughs can be found here:
A selection of books by Neal Cassady can be found here:
A selection of books by John Clellon Holmes can be found here:
A selection of books by David Goodis can be found here:
More Kerouac book covers can be found here:
Visit the Kerouac Companion for definitive character keys and family trees