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About the Author

Robert Maynard Pirsig was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on September 6, 1928. While serving in the Army, he visited Japan on a leave and became interested in Zen Buddhism. After his service, he received bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from the University of Minnesota. He later show more studied philosophy at the University of Chicago and at Banaras Hindu University in India. He taught writing at Montana State University in Bozeman and the University of Illinois at Chicago. He was also a freelance writer and editor for corporate publications and technical magazines. His first novel, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values, was published in 1974. His follow-up novel, Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals, was published in 1991. He died on April 24, 2017 at the age of 88. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: (c) Ian Glendinning 2005 http://www.psybertron.org

Works by Robert M. Pirsig

Associated Works

Coffee with Plato (Coffee with...Series) (2007) — Foreword — 68 copies
Lila's Child: An Inquiry into Quality (2002) — Introduction — 32 copies


20th century (104) American (97) American literature (110) autobiography (113) biography (119) Buddhism (300) classic (68) classics (58) ebook (57) ethics (93) fathers and sons (39) fiction (1,073) goodreads (68) literature (162) memoir (286) metaphysics (71) motorcycles (196) non-fiction (609) novel (201) own (75) owned (42) paperback (69) philosophy (2,495) Pirsig (43) psychology (135) quality (94) read (210) religion (155) road trip (126) Robert M. Pirsig (43) Roman (54) self-help (61) spirituality (235) to-read (768) travel (286) unread (101) USA (85) values (127) zen (428) Zen Buddhism (58)

Common Knowledge



I appreciated the first half of the book more than the second. I liked the autobiographical elements interspersed with philosophical asides there. The second half, however, is bogged down by aimless ranting about quality which I scanned more than anything else, I didn't find the philosophizing on the meaning of quality interesting at all. I'm not sure I would recommend this one to anybody because you can find better introductions to philosophy elsewhere. I'm also sure there are better road trip stories out there as well. Although I'm not mad I read it, so there's that.… (more)
Ranjr | 284 other reviews | May 6, 2024 |
An interesting peek inside the way philosophers and deep thinkers think, all told through the narrator's deep personal retelling. Although the premise of the motorcycle trip linked the deeper philosophic passages together, I thought it was a bit too wordy and unnecessary. Digging deeper, most fascinating to me was how the narrator's sense of genius was in direct conflict with both academia and his own mental health - two factors that caused the destruction of "Phaedrus."
The duality of both technical thinking and artistic thinking continues to exist in our world - and I do believe that they can harmonize. It brings to mind the way Steve Jobs synthesized these approaches in the computer world.… (more)
ericheik | 284 other reviews | Mar 29, 2024 |
This book is a fantastic philosophical read, from start to finish. It combines both scientific and artistic schools of thought and is explained deeply in a way that makes sense to the reader, while also presenting a physical narrative of a journey and the relationship between the narrator and his son.

Pirsig's unification of technological and spiritual ways of thought speaks to me and appears important, particularly for someone in the field of IT as I am. The narrative is brilliantly framed in the reality of his 1968 motorcycle trip, and the recurring idea of heights (with Pirsig discussing going "up" or "down" in the hierarchy of ideas he means to discuss; with the ups and downs of the motorcycle trip itself; with the "top of the mountain" and "bottom of the ocean" promises by Phaedrus to Chris in the latter half of the book) serves to illustrate a kind of spiritual mood that threads throughout.

The appendices feature a correspondence between Pirsig and his editor, James Landis, where one of Landis' memos notes that George Steiner, a brilliant academic and literary critic, hailed the book as a "very major work;" Landis states that it would come as one of the most important books of their time in the early 70s. I cannot help but agree and solidly recommend this to any who wish to gain a broader spiritual and philosophical perspective that applies not only to technology but to the act of living itself.
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VerixSilvercrow | 284 other reviews | Mar 27, 2024 |



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