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Robert M. Pirsig Books In Order

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Publication Order of Phaedrus Books

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values (1974)Description / Buy at Amazon
Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals (1991)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Collections

On Quality: An Inquiry Into Excellence (With: Wendy K. Pirsig) (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon

Robert M. Pirsig was an American philosopher and writer, most known for the novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The novel is a best-seller and a classic staple of American literature for any reader, selling millions of copies.

Robert M. Pirsig was born on September 6, 1928, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His middle initial stands for Maynard. His parents were Maynard and Harriet Marie Pirsig. His father attended the University of Minnesota Law School and would teach there starting in 1934, moving on to become its dean and retire from teaching in 1970, teaching at William Mitchell College of Law until 1993, when he retired.

The author was a bright child, and was alleged to have an IQ of 170 when he was just 9 years old. He skipped grades in Minneapolis and graduated from high school with his diploma in May of 1943, receiving a diploma from University High School. There he also served as school yearbook editor. He would attend the University of Minnesota, where he studied bio-chemistry. He would become interested in the number of causes that could be pointed to for causing a phenomenon and was focused on the scientific method and the role that hypotheses play in it and where they come from, but his grades suffered and he was expelled.

Robert would then enlist with the U.S. Army in 1946. He would serve for two years in South Korea and was discharged from the Army in 1948. Robert would then move to Seattle for a few months before going back to get his degree from the University of Minnesota, receiving it in 1950. He would then go to India to study at Banaras Hindu University, studying philosophy. He would also go to the University of Chicago to study philosophy. He would also attend the University of Minnesota once more, graduating with his master’s degree in journalism in 1958.

Pirsig would teach at Montana State University starting the same year, teaching courses on creative writing. He would also teach for the University of Illinois at Chicago. In addition to teaching, he would also write. His “Zen” novel explores quality and its nature and is based on a real trip he took on motorcycles with his son Chris when he was younger, occupying a first-person narrative in a book that explores Western culture and the metaphysics within. It also touches on philosophy history.

The book had some initial difficulty making it to the market, but would eventually get there in 1974. The book was rejected by over a hundred publishers, and Pirsig finally found success with the 122nd publisher. They thought that the book was ‘genius’ but doubted that it would ever make a profit, publishing it regardless. The book defied expectations and sold five million copies around the world in its first run. The book has since been accepted as a classic and continues to sell copies and reach new readers.

Pirsig wrote his follow-up novel Lila based on a Guggenheim Fellowship. The book is about metaphysics based on value. The book is viewed as picking up from the first novel. The author would also serve for two years as Minnesota Zen Meditation Center’s vice-president and was also part of its board of directors.

Robert M. Pirsig would get married to his wife Nancy May 10, 1954. In 1956, Chris was born, with his brother Theodore following two years later. Chris would later be killed in a mugging turned fatal in California. The author would have difficulties, having a mental breakdown. He was in treatment at psych hospitals from for two years starting in 1961. He would eventually be diagnosed as schizophrenic and receive electro-convulsive therapy. His wife filed for divorce and it would be official in 1978. Later that year on December 28th, the author would get married again to Wendy Kimball in Maine. They would have a daughter Nell in 1980.

Pirsig passed away on April 24, 2017 at his South Berwick, Maine home. He has received an Outstanding Achievement Award from the University of Minnesota (1975), and an honorary doctorate of philosophy from Montana State University (2012). His Honda CB77F Super Hawk motorcycle is featured by the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a fictional novel that deals with philosophy and more. It first came out in 1974 and has become a true part of American required reading, with the book being part of the syllabus for many high school students in schools across the country.

The book has reached millions of readers who have delighted in following along with the journey that the character takes with his son, inspired by the real-life odyssey. His philosophical musings and quest to get to the heart of things, all while traveling in the summer on motorcycles, has inspired those who have read it and has continued to be an enduring part of the author’s legacy.

This original tale is considered to be one of the most influential books ever written. It is an exploration into the self and the mind and life itself. It is a meditation on what we can do to live better and how we live in general. As readers go along on a father-son motorcycle ride across the Northwest of the United States, they will also experience a philosophical and personal journey and a very real study of the human experience of life itself.

Check out Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and see why this best-seller is so beloved all around the world!

Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals is the second book to come out from Robert M. Pirsig. It reached best-selling status and could be viewed as an unofficial sequel to “Motorcycle Maintenance”.

In this novel, Pirsig takes the reader on yet another journey, this time following the main character of Phaedrus. The philosopher and narrator is this time on a sailboat on the Hudson River, making his way down the water way as the cold winter season slowly encroaches upon him.

While he is on this journey, he happens to pick up someone who ends up with traveling with him. Her name is Lila, and she has a lot going on. She’s sexual but desperate, can often be hostile, and even has a touch of what Phaedrus thinks could be madness. Can he find peace and keep Lila from disrupting his life? Read this incredible book to find out!

Book Series In Order » Authors » Robert M. Pirsig

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