Jack Kerouac’s Naval Reserve Enlistment Mugshot, 1943

In October of 1942, after completing a voyage to and from an Army command base in Greenland (which he would later write about in Vanity of Duluoz), Kerouac left the merchant marine and returned to Columbia. That was lucky, because most of the Dorchester‘s crew–more than 600 men–died three months later when the ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat.

Naval doctors at Newport found Kerouac to be “restless, apathetic, seclusive” and determined that he was mentally unfit for service, writing that “neuropsychiatric examination disclosed auditory hallucinations, ideas of reference and suicide, and a rambling, grandiose, philosophical manner.” He was sent to the Naval Hospital in Bethesda Maryland and eventually discharged.

For more on this story, visit: Jack Kerouac’s Naval Reserve Enlistment Mugshot, 1943 | Open Culture.

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