Born: 6 September 1928
Birthplace: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Best known as: Author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Robert Pirsig wrote the 1974 bestseller Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The book was Pirsig's account of a cross-country motorcycle trip with his 11-year-old son Chris, with Pirsig using the trip as a springboard for meditations on religion, philosophy and the meaning of life. (Pirsig previously had undergone electroshock therapy, and in the book he refers to his former self as "Phaedrus," after the character created by Plato.) According to Pirsig, 121 publishers turned down Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance before it was published by Morrow in 1974; the book became a surprise hit and a perennial favorite in high school and college English classes across America. In 2001 Pirsig published his second book, Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals.
Extra credit: Pirsig's son Chris was murdered in a street mugging in San Francisco in 1979... According to the publisher HarperCollins, Pirsig "studied chemistry and philosophy (B.A., 1950) and journalism (M.A., 1953) at the University of Minnesota and also attended Benares Hindu University in India where he studied Oriental philosophy."
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