Monday, September 06, 2010

Zen and the Art of Aging with Grace

The author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, one of the most important works of philosophy to come out of the 1970s, turns 82 today. The Wikipedia entry on author Robert Pirsig is both hyperbolic and interesting:
Pirsig’s publisher’s recommendation to his Board ended with “This book is brilliant beyond belief, it is probably a work of genius, and will, I’ll wager, attain classic stature.” Pirsig noted in an early interview, that Zen was rejected 121 times before being accepted by William Morrow Publishers. In his book review, George Steiner compared Pirsig’s writing to Dostoevsky, Broch, Proust, and Bergson, stating that “the assertion itself is valid... the analogies with Moby-Dick are patent.” The Times Literary Supplement called it “Profoundly important, Disturbing, Deeply moving, Full of insights, A wonderful book.”
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was a novel about a motorcycle trip taken by a father and son. It’s a thoughtful look at values and, allegorically, the meaning of life. Since its initial publication by William Morrow in 1977, the book has sold four and a half million copies, been translated into 27 languages and treated widely as an important work of philosophy. January Magazine has looked at related works here and here.



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