Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values

Mass Market Paperback | April 25, 2006

byRobert M. Pirsig

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One of the most important and influential books written in the past half-century, Robert M. Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a powerful, moving, and penetrating examination of how we live . . . and a breathtaking meditation on how to live better. Here is the book that transformed a generation: an unforgettable narration of a summer motorcycle trip across America's Northwest, undertaken by a father and his young son. A story of love and fear -- of growth, discovery, and acceptance -- that becomes a profound personal and philosophical odyssey into life's fundamental questions, this uniquely exhilarating modern classic is both touching and transcendent, resonant with the myriad confusions of existence . . . and the small, essential triumphs that propel us forward.

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From the Publisher

One of the most important and influential books written in the past half-century, Robert M. Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a powerful, moving, and penetrating examination of how we live . . . and a breathtaking meditation on how to live better. Here is the book that transformed a generation: an unforgettable narr...

Robert M. Pirsig was born in 1928 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He 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, entitledLila.

other books by Robert M. Pirsig

Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals
Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals

Mass Market Paperback|Nov 1 1992

$11.50 online$11.99list price
see all books by Robert M. Pirsig
Format:Mass Market PaperbackDimensions:560 pages, 6.75 × 4.19 × 1.12 inPublished:April 25, 2006Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0060589469

ISBN - 13:9780060589462

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Customer Reviews of Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Still a classic Interesting introduction to certain aspects of philosophy with some comments on academia.
Date published: 2014-11-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mr. If you like philosophy and can relate to the feeling of being engrossed by vehicle maintenance, this is ans exceptional book.
Date published: 2014-09-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Doppelganger If you can get through the often less than coherent narrative there are moments of real insight in this book that is at best only peripherally about motorbikes and even less focused on Zen. Best tackled with some background in philosophy.
Date published: 2013-09-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Zen and the Art of Me I have experienced this story twice. And both times they effected me. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a journey written by Robert M. Pirsig. It was released in 1974 after facing rejection from over 100 publishers. And now it a cultural milestone and modern philosophical classic that have spawned a sequel and multiple guidebooks. My first discovery of this book was over 20 years ago and it still resides in me. The Chautauqua, as the author calls it, of this story is a simple motorcycle trip across America. He and his son are trying to sort out the father's issues. And there are many. Being a lifelong philosopher, Pirsig has spent insurmountable time pondering the question of Quality. What is Quality? His family and his life take a backseat to this quest, causing disruptions to his psyche. A nervous breakdown and time in a mental institution follow, coupled with slight memory loss. Now, on this motorcycle trip with his younger son Chris, he is desperately trying to recover his lost past and reconnect with his child. It does not go well. Veering between three strands, all parts of the story accelerate to a scary ending. One part of the tapestry is the motorcycle trip itself. Where they go and with whom. The places they visit and the people they meet. All contribute to Pirsig's musings on Quality. You feel this is simply the backdrop, a collage with which to hang the other threads on. This person reminds Pirsig of this idea, so now he will expound on it. Whether the events of ride are completely accurate is left for the reader to decide. The next thread of the tapestry is Pirsig's voyage into his fractured past. Memory fragments surface from years gone by, all tied to his thoughts on Quality. His quest on this idea becomes all consuming, all burning, and very scary. What began with a thought trip when a young man translates into terror at this later age. As these memory fragments bob and weave up through the murk, Pirsig is desperately trying to piece them together, to find out what happened to him and to continue his work. Even if it costs him his sanity again. Pirsig calls his other, younger, pre-shock therapy identity Phaedrus. It is a personage that is sometimes treated as a separate being, someone he used to know, and whom might now be coming back. The chronicles of Phaedrus and his descent into pain becomes more and more pervasive, leading you to wonder why his wife did not get Pirsig/Phaedrus committed earlier. The tale of the car trip that never seemed to end is excruciating to read. Multiple flashbacks to being put in the mental asylum are scaring. The final tread of the tapestry is the meditation on Quality Pirsig, and in flashback Phaedrus, are actively involved in. The endless question of Quality and how it can described become fodder throughout the volume. Reaching back to ancient Greek philosophers and continuing with Zen mysticism, Pirsig tries to quantify the world and all it's passengers into some category or other. The sense that Quality can be felt, that you can sense it's presence, is an idea Pirsig adheres to. And does being graced with Quality before you bring you closer to God? And who invented Quality? The overwhelming sense That This Matters to Pirisg, the definition has to be filled, and filled now, and properly, becomes obsessive sometimes in the story. What starts as a very touching intellectual trigger to get you thinking about Quality and your life, relationships and existence becomes an enslaving psychological campaign. Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance ends with enough pieces of Phaedrus resurfacing to allow Pirsig to reassemble much of his Quality thoughts. This impacts the now of the motorcycle trip with Chris. Pirsig is slowly starting to surrender to Phaedrus. He knows this is bad, and tries to warn his son away, but the final revelation is made. Chris liked Phaedrus better. He was nicer, more fun. The car ride from hell was viewed by the child as being an interesting adventure. Chris thought Phaedrus had left intentionally and never come back. Pirsig had become so pre-occupied with rebuilding Phaedrus, the pain he was inflicting on Chris by ignoring him was never noticed. The catharsis of this discovery brings Pirsig and Phaedrus together for the love of their son. Together, they take Chris on a joyous motorcycle ride. As they write, things are better now, they can sort of just tell. Quality when you behold it. Scoopriches
Date published: 2011-08-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Zen and the Art of Me I have experienced this story twice. And both times they effected me. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a journey written by Robert M. Pirsig. It was released in 1974 after facing rejection from over 100 publishers. And now it a cultural milestone and modern philosophical classic that have spawned a sequel and multiple guidebooks. My first discovery of this book was over 20 years ago and it still resides in me. The Chautauqua, as the author calls it, of this story is a simple motorcycle trip across America. He and his son are trying to sort out the father's issues. And there are many. Being a lifelong philosopher, Pirsig has spent insurmountable time pondering the question of Quality. What is Quality? His family and his life take a backseat to this quest, causing disruptions to his psyche. A nervous breakdown and time in a mental institution follow, coupled with slight memory loss. Now, on this motorcycle trip with his younger son Chris, he is desperately trying to recover his lost past and reconnect with his child. It does not go well. Veering between three strands, all parts of the story accelerate to a scary ending. One part of the tapestry is the motorcycle trip itself. Where they go and with whom. The places they visit and the people they meet. All contribute to Pirsig's musings on Quality. You feel this is simply the backdrop, a collage with which to hang the other threads on. This person reminds Pirsig of this idea, so now he will expound on it. Whether the events of ride are completely accurate is left for the reader to decide. The next thread of the tapestry is Pirsig's voyage into his fractured past. Memory fragments surface from years gone by, all tied to his thoughts on Quality. His quest on this idea becomes all consuming, all burning, and very scary. What began with a thought trip when a young man translates into terror at this later age. As these memory fragments bob and weave up through the murk, Pirsig is desperately trying to piece them together, to find out what happened to him and to continue his work. Even if it costs him his sanity again. Pirsig calls his other, younger, pre-shock therapy identity Phaedrus. It is a personage that is sometimes treated as a separate being, someone he used to know, and whom might now be coming back. The chronicles of Phaedrus and his descent into pain becomes more and more pervasive, leading you to wonder why his wife did not get Pirsig/Phaedrus committed earlier. The tale of the car trip that never seemed to end is excruciating to read. Multiple flashbacks to being put in the mental asylum are scaring. The final tread of the tapestry is the meditation on Quality Pirsig, and in flashback Phaedrus, are actively involved in. The endless question of Quality and how it can described become fodder throughout the volume. Reaching back to ancient Greek philosophers and continuing with Zen mysticism, Pirsig tries to quantify the world and all it's passengers into some category or other. The sense that Quality can be felt, that you can sense it's presence, is an idea Pirsig adheres to. And does being graced with Quality before you bring you closer to God? And who invented Quality? The overwhelming sense That This Matters to Pirisg, the definition has to be filled, and filled now, and properly, becomes obsessive sometimes in the story. What starts as a very touching intellectual trigger to get you thinking about Quality and your life, relationships and existence becomes an enslaving psychological campaign. Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance ends with enough pieces of Phaedrus resurfacing to allow Pirsig to reassemble much of his Quality thoughts. This impacts the now of the motorcycle trip with Chris. Pirsig is slowly starting to surrender to Phaedrus. He knows this is bad, and tries to warn his son away, but the final revelation is made. Chris liked Phaedrus better. He was nicer, more fun. The car ride from hell was viewed by the child as being an interesting adventure. Chris thought Phaedrus had left intentionally and never come back. Pirsig had become so pre-occupied with rebuilding Phaedrus, the pain he was inflicting on Chris by ignoring him was never noticed. The catharsis of this discovery brings Pirsig and Phaedrus together for the love of their son. Together, they take Chris on a joyous motorcycle ride. As they write, things are better now, they can sort of just tell. Quality when you behold it. Scoopriches
Date published: 2011-08-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Riveting. “It will change the way you think and feel about your life.” Robert Pirsig tells an autobiographical (?) tale of a motorcycle trip taken with his younger son Chris. While grappling with his life and past, Pirsig delivers a dissertation on Philosophy and Quality, but at the stake of losing his sanity. Again. For on Pirsig’s last journey, delving into his meditation, a nervous breakdown resulted in “Phaedrus,” another personality that still pursues him. The motorcycle trip you go on with them, deals with all this and more. But the Chautauqua is not very factual on motorcycles. Or Zen. “The real cycle you’re working on is cycle called ‘yourself.’”
Date published: 2011-05-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Zen & The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance Part philosophical essay on values, part motorcycle road-trip novel. I have read this novel three times. Each time I get something more out of it, and each time I realize how flawed it is too. I appreciated the lessons in Zen thought and conciousness ; but Pirsig's extended image of a cultivated harmony between man and machine to illustrate the importance of "quality" as a transcendent goal of the human experience, sometimes falls a bit flat when he goes on his tangents. Many of the philosophical explorations are structured like Platonic dialogues, which to some readers may become tiresome. Personally, I enjoy the book alot. It is challenging and intelligent, even if I don't always fully agree with the author's views. Will this book stand the test of time ? Hard to tell, but it is definately a contemporary classic of sorts.
Date published: 2008-01-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A life-changing read. I really can't say anymore than this: this book has more sense to me than any other book I have ever read in my entire life.
Date published: 2006-08-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Breathtaking This novel (based on actual occurences) is a real gem. The intricate thoughts bring the reader to see that it isn't the actions that are important but everything else surrounding them. This "inquiry into values" is exactly that, and forces the reader to question and put into perspective his or her own behaviour and the direction of our society in general. A warning: there are long passages of philosophical theory in this book that would not be welcomed by all. But they are worth reading through, even if one only understands parts of it.
Date published: 2006-07-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from For those in search of something A unique book, a treasure. This book takes the reader by the hand and escorts him through an intricate realm of personal demons that haunts him from the present and the past. For those that are in pursuit of something not material. This book will not only expand the way you think and see the world, but help you to see the value in the simple things in life as well as perhaps lead you to a stronger understanding of what you yourself are like. An excellent book that took me completely by surprise. I've read it more times that I can remember and to this day it remains one of the best books I have ever read. It might not be the lightest read you've ever come across, but it may well be one of the most important.
Date published: 2005-09-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A master piece I have heard of this book for a while but never had the chance to read it. I finally did and it's probably one of the most thought-provoking and insightful book I've ever read. I would recommend this book for anyone, not just those with a philosophy background but anyone who wishes to contemplate and be inspired by a book. It has a sarcastic as well as serious tone and the author does not loose the readers by getting too wrapped up in a lot of philosophical jargons. The books asks a lot of questions that are relevant to our daily lives. The author also managed to provide a lot of answers which were not in themselves concrete and definite. The answers were meant to trigger a discourse instead of assuming any definite position. There are many layers to this book which can be enjoyed by both sexes despite its title. I have finished it within 2 week (and that was during my busy schedule between work and school) and I am reading the sequel, Lila. If this sounds like your kind of
Date published: 2002-05-16

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