The Great Sex Letter

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On March 7th of 1947, a drunken Neal Cassady — the man on whom Dean Moriarty in On the Road would later be based — wrote the following letter to his friend, Jack Kerouac, and described two recent sexual encounters. Cassady's uninhibited, free-flowing prose was a huge influence on Kerouac's writing and this letter in particular caught his imagination. After passing it around his circle of friends and singing its praises, Kerouac later dubbed it, the "Great Sex Letter."

(Source: The First Third; Image: Neal Cassady & Jack Kerouac in 1952, via.)

March 7, 1947

Dear Jack:

I am sitting in a bar on Market St. I'm drunk, well, not quite, but I soon will be. I am here for 2 reasons; I must wait 5 hours for the bus to Denver & lastly but, most importantly, I'm here (drinking) because, of course, because of a woman & what a woman! To be chronological about it:

I was sitting on the bus when it took on more passengers at Indianapolis, Indiana – a perfectly proportioned beautiful, intellectual, passionate, personification of Venus De Milo asked me if the seat beside me was taken!!! I gulped, (I'm drunk) gargled & stammered NO! (Paradox of expression, after all, how can one stammer No!!?) She sat – I sweated – She started to speak, I knew it would be generalities, so to tempt her I remained silent.

She (her name Patricia) got on the bus at 8 PM (Dark!) I didn't speak until 10 PM – in the intervening 2 hours I not only of course, determined to make her, but, how to DO IT.

I naturally can't quote the conversation verbally, however, I shall attempt to give you the gist of it from 10 PM to 2 AM.

Without the slightest preliminaries of objective remarks (what's your name? where are you going? etc.) I plunged into a completely knowing, completely subjective, personal & so to speak "penetrating her core" way of speech; to be shorter (since I'm getting unable to write) by 2 AM I had her swearing eternal love, complete subjectivity to me & immediate satisfaction. I, anticipating even more pleasure, wouldn't allow her to blow me on the bus, instead we played, as they say, with each other.

Knowing her supremely perfect being was completely mine (when I'm more coherent, I'll tell you her complete history & psychological reason for loving me) I could concieve of no obstacle to my satisfaction, well, "the best laid plans of mice & men go astray" and my nemesis was her sister, the bitch.

Pat had told me her reason for going to St. Louis was to see her sister; she had wired her to meet her at the depot. So, to get rid of the sister, we peeked around the depot when we arrived at St. Louis at 4 AM to see if she (her sister) was present. If not, Pat would claim her suitcase, change clothes in the rest room & she and I proceed to a hotel room for a night (years?) of perfect bliss. The sister was not in sight, so She (note the capital) claimed her bag & retired to the toilet to change ––– long dash –––

This next paragraph must, of necessity, be written completely objectively ––

Edith (her sister) & Patricia (my love) walked out of the pisshouse hand in hand (I shan't describe my emotions). It seems Edith (bah) arrived at the bus depot early & while waiting for Patricia, feeling sleepy, retired to the head to sleep on a sofa. That's why Pat & I didn't see her.

My desperate efforts to free Pat from Edith failed, even Pat's terror & slave-like feeling toward her rebelled enough to state she must see "someone" & would meet Edith later, all failed. Edith was wise; she saw what was happening between Pat & I.

Well, to summarize: Pat & I stood in the depot (in plain sight of the sister) & pushing up to one another, vowed to never love again & then I took the bus to Kansas City & Pat went home, meekly, with her dominating sister. Alas, alas –––

In complete (try & share my feeling) dejection, I sat, as the bus progressed toward Kansas City. At Columbia, Mo. a young (19) completely passive (my meat) virgin got on & shared my seat ... In my dejection over losing Pat, the perfect, I decided to sit on the bus (behind the driver) in broad daylight & seduce her, from 10:30 AM to 2:30 PM I talked. When I was done, she (confused, her entire life upset, metaphysically amazed at me, passionate in her immaturity) called her folks in Kansas City, & went with me to a park (it was just getting dark) & I banged her; I screwed her as never before; all my pent up emotion finding release in this young virgin (& she was) who is, by the way, a school teacher! Imagine, she's had 2 years of Mo. St. Teacher's College & now teaches Jr. High School. (I'm beyond thinking straightly).

I'm going to stop writing. Oh, yes, to free myself for a moment from my emotions, you must read "Dead Souls" parts of it (in which Gogol shows his insight) are quite like you.

I'll elaborate further later (probably?) but at the moment I'm drunk and happy (after all, I'm free of Patricia already, due to the young virgin. I have no name for her. At the happy note of Les Young's "jumping at Mesners" (which I'm hearing) I close till later.

To my Brother
Carry On!
N.L. Cassady

P.S. I forgot to mention Patricia's parents live in Ozone Park & of course, Lague being her last name, she's French Canadian just as you.

I'll write soon,
Neal.

P.P.S. Please read this illegible letter as a continuous chain of undisciplined thought, thank you.

N.

P.P.P.S. Postponed, postponed, postponed script, keep working hard, finish your novel & find, thru knowledge, strength in solitude instead of despair. Incidentally I'm starting on a novel also, "believe it or not". Goodbye.