Original dissertation title:

"La società unidimensionale e il suo superamento:
Un confronto tra la posizione di Herbert Marcuse e quella di Jack Kerouac"

(Ph.D. thesis, Università degli studi Gabriele d'Annunzio, 2008)

"One-Dimensional Society and Its Overcoming:
A Comparison between Herbert Marcuse's and Jack Kerouac's Positions"

by Debora Neri

To: Books About page of the Official Herbert Marcuse website,
page created January 1, 2011; updated

71 page pdf of entire thesis in Italian

English abstract (back to top)


My work originates from the attempt to set up a dialogue between literature and philosophy, referring to the possibility of an "overcoming" of "one-dimensional society." With reference to this, in my thesis I confront Herbert Marcuse's works, in particular One-Dimensional Man, with Jack Kerouac's On the Road, in search of analogies and differences between their positions in the context of the American society of the Fifties.

After the treatment, in the first chapter, of Marcuse's philosophical "run" till One-Dimensional Man, to which I dedicate the whole second chapter, I analyze, in the last chapter, Jack Kerouac's books and the social and political significance of the Beat movement.

In spite of the many differences between the two authors, my research focuses mostly on the topics that seem to be common to both them. Marcuse's polemic against consumer society resounds in Kerouac's refusal of the homologation and in his research of new values; Marcuse's idea of revolution as "qualitative change" is similar to Kerouac's "revolution of silence" as "inner rebirth of the human being;" Marcuse's accusation of the language levelling is comparable to Kerouac's "spontaneous prose" that wants to demolish, with words, language barriers. Finally, both Marcuse and Kerouac trust in culture as an instrument of renewal for the society, to promote a counter-education.

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