Zen and the Art of the Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert M. Pirsig’s worldwide bestseller, holds a unique and unforgettable place in modern Western literature. Now in Lila, he brings us a new voyage, a poignant journey and a passionate philosophical exploration.
Phaedrus – a character familiar to readers of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – is sailing down the Hudson River when he meets Lila Blewitt, an unapologetically sexual, psychologically unstable woman whom a mutual friend warns him against. But Phaedrus is drawn to her physically, and interested in her intellectually, finding her “a culture of one” in whom he discerns an unexpected “Quality”. Sailing with him to Manhattan, where her mental state deteriorates further, Lila prompts Phaedrus to explore conflicts of values, such as those between Native Americans and Europeans, or between the insane and the normal. Finally, after years of struggling, he formulates his “Metaphysics of Quality”, which offers a system of understanding – and evaluating – actions according to a hierarchy of four evolutionary realms (natural, biological, social and intellectual). Lila remains elusive to Phaedrus’s penetrating intellect, and her destiny remains a mystery, but Pirsig’s wide-ranging philosophical explorations will provoke and engage readers in the memorable experience of pursuing the journey started by Pirsig in the 1970s to its final end.
'The compendious and digressive qualities… keep you bumping through the pages… the voice of the narrator carries some of the folksy weight and salty wisdom of a Mark Twain.'
'Pirsig peppers the narrative with intriguing insights and provocative propositions.'
'This is a book I’ll come back to and read again… another one to be grateful for...'
'There’s still this terrible sense of madness and reality behind it which makes you realize it was written because it had to be written... the journey’s very much worthwile.'
'Lila is unmistakably Pirsigian in style and content… this author is a Great Thinker.'
'Written in everyday language, with searing disrespect for academia, this meandering holiday was a life-changer for me, both as a novel and a thesis.'
Read an excerpt from Lila
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