Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen, the Merle Curti and Vilas-Borghesi Distinguished Achievement Professor in the UW-Madison Department of History, explores Robert Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” in the Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB).
“Even though this is a travel narrative, most of the novel’s episodes take place in the narrator’s head,” she writes.
“There are no crashes, no dramatic tire blow-outs, no scenes with the father and son being chased by coyotes from their camp grounds. It’s the narrator working through problems of philosophy, which he learned within and without the university, that drives the narrative. The thinking is the action.”