Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Author Robert Pirsig Has Passed Away

The Best-Selling Author Was 88 Years Old

We are sad to report that author Robert Pirsig, best known for his 1974 philosophical novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, died at his home in South Berwick, Maine yesterday.

Pirsig’s best-selling debut tracks a 1968 motorcycle road trip across the American West that the author took with his son Chris. It also includes flashbacks to the elder Pirsig’s hospitalization for Schizofrenia earlier in the decade. Despite being rejected by 121 publishers, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance went on to sell over five million copies. It's composed of meditations that, as the author put it, “set out to resolve the conflict between classic values that create machinery, such as a motorcycle, and romantic values, such as experiencing the beauty of a country road." The book made Pirsig a seminal voice in American culture during the turbulent 1970s.

He published a sequel, Lila: An Inquiry into Morals, in 1991. According to The Guardian, Pirsig had been experiencing “after a period of failing health.” He was 88 years old.

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