The idiosyncratic life and bleak philosophical outlook of Arthur Schopenhauer has long been a source of fascination for me. I first encountered him when researching his influence on the work of Samuel Beckett (and Ludwig Wittgenstein). In a recent article for the Times Literary Supplement, Julian Young acknowledges Schopenhauer’s profound influence on writers of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century; Young defines it as an influence “greater than that of any other philosopher”, which can be traced through the work of “Tolstoy, Turgenev, Zola, Maupassant, Proust, Hardy, Conrad, Mann, Joyce and Beckett”. (more…)

Author Robert Pirsig and his son Chris in 1968
Author Robert Pirsig and his son Chris in 1968

Sad to hear that Robert M. Pirsig, the American writer and philosopher best known for his “novelistic autobiography” Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, has died at the age of 88. Laurel Wamsley reports for NPR:

“Zen was published in 1974, after being rejected by 121 publishing houses. ‘The book is brilliant beyond belief,” wrote Morrow editor James Landis before publication. “It is probably a work of genius and will, I’ll wager, attain classic status.’

Indeed, the book quickly became a best-seller, and has proved enduring as a work of popular philosophy. A 1968 motorcycle trip across the West with his son Christopher was his inspiration.”

Pirsig was also the author of Lila: An Inquiry into Morals, published in 1991.

A new title from Harper Perennial
The Essential Ginsberg
The Essential Ginsberg, ed. Michael Schumacher

Featuring the legendary and groundbreaking poem “Howl,” this remarkable volume showcases a selection of Allen Ginsberg’s poems, songs, essays, letters, journals, and interviews, and contains sixteen pages of his personal photographs.

One of the Beat Generation’s most renowned poets and writers, Allen Ginsberg became internationally famous not only for his published works but also for his actions as a human rights activist who championed the sexual revolution, gay liberation, Buddhism and Eastern religion, and the confrontation of societal norms—all before it became fashionable to do so. He was also the dynamic leader of war protesters, artists, Flower Power hippies, musicians, punks, and political radicals. (more…)