Jack Kerouac’s classic novel about friendship, the search for meaning, and the allure of nature
First published in 1958, a year after On the Road put the Beat Generation on the map, The Dharma Bums stands as one of Jack Kerouac’s most powerful and influential novels. The story focuses on two ebullient young Americans–mountaineer, poet, and Zen Buddhist Japhy Ryder, and Ray Smith, a zestful, innocent writer–whose quest for Truth leads them on a heroic odyssey, from marathon parties and poetry jam sessions in San Francisco’s Bohemia to solitude and mountain climbing in the High Sierras.
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. This book is a must-read for any serious Kerouac fan.