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Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Cover of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
An Inquiry Into Values
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THE CLASSIC BOOK THAT HAS INSPIRED MILLIONS

A penetrating examination of how we live and how to live better

Few books transform a generation and then establish themselves as touchstones for the generations that follow. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is one such book. This modern epic of a man's search for meaning became an instant bestseller on publication in 1974, acclaimed as one of the most exciting books in the history of American letters. It continues to inspire millions.

A narration of a summer motorcycle trip undertaken by a father and his son, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance becomes a personal and philosophical odyssey into fundamental questions on how to live. The narrator's relationship with his son leads to a powerful self-reckoning; the craft of motorcycle maintenance leads to an austerely beautiful process for reconciling science, religion, and humanism. Resonant with the confusions of existence, this classic is a touching and transcendent book of life.

This new edition contains an interview with Pirsig and letters and documents detailing how this extraordinary book came to be.

THE CLASSIC BOOK THAT HAS INSPIRED MILLIONS

A penetrating examination of how we live and how to live better

Few books transform a generation and then establish themselves as touchstones for the generations that follow. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is one such book. This modern epic of a man's search for meaning became an instant bestseller on publication in 1974, acclaimed as one of the most exciting books in the history of American letters. It continues to inspire millions.

A narration of a summer motorcycle trip undertaken by a father and his son, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance becomes a personal and philosophical odyssey into fundamental questions on how to live. The narrator's relationship with his son leads to a powerful self-reckoning; the craft of motorcycle maintenance leads to an austerely beautiful process for reconciling science, religion, and humanism. Resonant with the confusions of existence, this classic is a touching and transcendent book of life.

This new edition contains an interview with Pirsig and letters and documents detailing how this extraordinary book came to be.

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Excerpts-
  • Chapter One

    I can see by my watch without taking my hand from the left grip of the cycle, that it is eight-thirty in the morning. The wind, even at sixty miles an hour, is warm and humid. When it's this hot and muggy at eight-thirty, I'm wondering what it's going to be like in the afternoon.

    In the wind are pungent odors from the marshes by the road. We are in an area of the Central Plains filled with thousands of duck hunting sloughs, heading northwest from Minneapolis toward the Dakotas. This highway is an old concrete two-laner that hasn't had much traffic since a four-laner went in parallel to it several years ago. When we pass a marsh the air suddenly becomes cooler. Then, when we are past, it suddenly warms up again.

    I'm happy to be riding back into this country. It is a kind of nowhere, famous for nothing at all and has an appeal because of just that. Tensions disappear along old roads like this. We bump along the beat-up concrete between the cattails and stretches of meadow and then more cattails and marsh grass. Here and there is a stretch of open water and if you look closely you can see wild ducks at the edge of the cattails. And turtles. . . . There's a red-winged blackbird.

    I whack Chris's knee and point to it, "What!" he hollers.

    "Blackbird!"

    He says something I don't hear. "What?" I holler back. He grabs the back of my helmet and hollers up, "I've seen lots of those, Dad!"

    "Oh!" I holler back. Then I nod. At age eleven you don't get very impressed with red-winged blackbirds.

    You have to get older for that. For me this is all mixed with memories that he doesn't have. Cold mornings long ago when the marsh grass had turned brown and cattails were waving in the northwest wind. The pungent smell then was from muck stirred up by hip boots while we were getting in position for the sun to come up and the duck season to open. Or winters when the sloughs were frozen over and dead and I could walk across the ice and snow between the dead cat-tails and see nothing but grey skies and dead things and cold. The blackbirds were gone then. But now in July they're back and everything is at its alivest and every foot of these sloughs is humming and cricking and buzzing and chirping, a whole community of millions of living things living out their lives in a kind of benign continuum.

    You see things vacationing on a motorcycle in a way that is completely different from any other. In a car you're always in a compartment, and because you're used to it you don't realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You're a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame.

    On a cycle the frame is gone. You're completely in contact with it all. You're in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming. That concrete whizzing by five inches below your foot is the real thing, the same stuff you walk on, it's right there, so blurred you can't focus on it, yet you can put your foot down and touch it anytime, and the whole thing, the whole experience, is never removed from immediate consciousness.

    Chris and I are traveling to Montana with some friends riding up ahead, and maybe headed farther than that. Plans are deliberately indefinite, more to travel than to arrive anywhere. We are just vacationing. Secondary roads are preferred. Paved county roads are the best, state highways are next. Freeways are the worst. We want to make good time, but for us now this is measured with emphasis on "good" rather than "time" and when you make that shift in emphasis the whole approach changes. Twisting hilly roads are long in terms of seconds but are much more enjoyable on a cycle where you bank into turns and...

About the Author-
  • Robert M. Pirsig (1928-2017) studied chemistry and philosophy (B.A., 1950) and journalism (M.A., 1958) at the University of Minnesota and also attended Benares Hindu University in India, where he studied Oriental philosophy. He is also the author of this book's sequel, entitled Lila.

Reviews-
  • The New Yorker "The book is inspired, original. . . . The analogies with Moby-Dick are patent."
  • New York Times "Profoundly important...full of insights into our most perplexing contemporary dilemmas."
  • Baltimore Sun "It is filled with beauty. . .a finely made whole that seems to emanate from a very special grace."
  • The Village Voice "A miracle . . . sparkles like an electric dream."
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  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

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Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
An Inquiry Into Values
Robert M. Pirsig
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