One of the best and most popular of Kerouac's autobiographical novels, The Dharma Bums is based on experiences the writer had during the mid-1950s while living in California, after he'd become interested in Buddhism's spiritual mode of understanding. One of the book's main characters, Japhy Ryder, is based on the real poet Gary Snyder, who was a close friend and whose interest in Buddhism influenced Kerouac.
Two ebullient young men search for Truth the Zen way: from marathon wine-drinking bouts, poetry jam sessions, and "yabyum" in San Francisco's Bohemia to solitude in the high Sierras and a vigil atop Desolation Peak in Washington State. Published just a year after "On the Road" put the Beat Generation on the map, "The Dharma Bums" is sparked by Kerouac's expansiveness, humor, and a contagious zest for life.
The book largely concerns duality in Kerouac's life and ideals, examining the relationship that the outdoors, mountaineering, hiking and hitchhiking through the West had with his "city life" of jazz clubs, poetry readings, and drunken parties. The protagonist's search for a "Buddhist" context to his experiences (and those of others he encounters) is a recurring theme throughout the story. The Book had a large influence on the Hippy counterculture of the 1960s.
Jack Kerouac(1922-1969), the central figure of the Beat Generation, was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1922 and died in St. Petersburg, Florida, in 1969. Among his many novels are On the Road, The Dharma Bums, Big Sur, and Visions of Cody.
Author: Jack Kerouac
Paperback: 244 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books; Reissue edition (May 27, 1976)
Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.8 inches