Tuesday, 30 March 2010
180. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
What is the connection between Ray Bradbury and Robert Pirsig? We tend to think of Pirsig’s novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974) as having a title of unique quirky brilliance. But it drew for inspiration on a whole corpus of earlier books, many of which had been extremely well-known and successful. They included Zen in the Art of Archery (Eng trans. 1953) by Eugen Herrigel, a German philosophy professor who popularized Zen in the West; Zen in the Art of Flower Arrangement (Eng trans. 1958) by Gustie Herrigel; Zen in the Art of Photography (1969) by Robert Leverant; and several others. These are all ‘Zen in’ rather than ‘Zen and’ titles: but Pirsig was not first in this either, since Ray Bradbury had written an influential and frequently-anthologized essay on the craft of fiction, ‘Zen and the Art of Writing’, as long before as 1958.
Posted by Gary at 11:32