Robert Pirsig Biography

Philosopher, Journalist, Educator(1928–)
American author Robert Pirsig is best known for his philosophical novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values (1974).

Synopsis

Born in Minnesota in 1928, Robert Pirsig rose rapidly to fame with his autobiographical novel, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974). The book chronicled the motorcycle journey of the narrator who ruminates on philosophical approaches to life, arguing that motorcycle maintenance is a metaphor for life. The book became a cult classic, selling more than 4 million copies over the next 25 years.

'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance'

Robert Maynard Pirsig was born on September 6, 1928, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the son of a Minnesota law professor. Pirsig rose rapidly to fame with his autobiographical novel, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974). The book chronicles the motorcycle journey of the narrator, a former philosophy professor who underwent involuntary electrical shock treatment for alleged insanity, across the country with his 11-year-old son. During his journey, the narrator ruminates on philosophical approaches to life, arguing that motorcycle maintenance is a metaphor for life. Along the way, he heals a deep emotional rift with his son.

The book was rejected by more than 120 publishing houses before it was published by William Morrow and Company in 1974. Robert Pirsig received only a $3,000 advance and was warned that the book would probably bomb.

'Lila' and Later Years

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance became a cult classic, selling more than 4 million copies over the next 25 years. Tragically, Pirsig's son was stabbed to death in a mugging 10 years after the book came out.

After the book's publication, Pirsig spent several years living on a boat and traveling the world. In 1991, he published Lila, another deeply philosophical novel.

Fact Check

We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!