The Dharma Bums

The Dharma Bums

by Jack Kerouac


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140042528
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/01/1971
Series: Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition Series
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 83,670
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.72(h) x 0.43(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

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.

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The Dharma Bums 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 103 reviews.
DStan58 More than 1 year ago
This is not the place to start with Kerouac. If you are a newbie, then you need to start with On the Road. Dharma Bums makes sense if you've read OtR first. If not, it is difficult to make sense of this book. However, Dharma Bums is interesting to read. Kerouac's take on Buddhism may not be straight out of the Shambala Center but it is close to how many Westerners are introduced to Buddhism. Plus, the story is fun to follow. The guy can tell a story.
seanbrustuen More than 1 year ago
I read this book because I wanted to have a basic understanding of Jack Kerouac’s style of writing and I came away from it enlightened on the big ideas of Buddhism. Recognized as one of Jack Kerouac’s most famous books, The Dharma Bums chronicles the Buddhist wanderer Raymond Smith as he travels around the country searching for spiritual truth and wisdom. Smith Hitchhikes his way from San Francisco to his hometown in North Carolina and all along the way breaking away from the conformity of middle-class America. Through the practice of spending as little money as possible, Smith learns that it is unnecessary to slip into the average everyday routines and grows deeper into his understanding that his role on Earth is only temporary. Once spring time came around, Smith began his trek westward to the shores of California to reunite in a small cabin with his spiritual mentor Japhy Ryder. I found it very interesting to get into the mind of Jack Kerouac and have a glimpse into how he was living in the 1950s. The Buddhist perspective presented in this book offers insight into how simply a life can be lived. This book is a great book to take your time on and enjoy slowly while learning the simple lessons that is offered throughout the book. What I took from this story is that God is found in the simplest forms. The closer you can get to the raw elements of nature, the more real the truth becomes.
Trey Bailey More than 1 year ago
Spiritually a little over the top, for me. Philosophically, on par. The adventures that led Smith to 'freedom' keep the reader focused, and have a wonderful way of building on themselves. I just have one burning question, 'Are Smith and Japhy the same person?'
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read Kerouac¿s novel The Dharma Bums & I must say I liked it very much! The story is about two young men as they set out in search of truth. They are Ray Smith and Japhy Ryder (Jack Kerouac & Gary Snyder). These two meet up in San Francisco, California at Berkeley. They attend a bohemia party and poetry jamming (The Gallery Six Reading). This was the beat generation of the 50s & 60s. Japhy Ryder liked reading Zen books such as Diamond Sutra and also works by D.T.Suzuki. He was seeking his Bodhisattvas in everyone he met. Japhy would often quote Buddha: (¿All life is suffering'.) Their goal was to climb Desolation Peak. The solitude was their Satori. Dharma Bums is a great story of adventurer. I also recommend On The Road by Jack Kerouac as well.
391 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first book of Kerouac's I've ever read, and I think I'm going to go out and pick up some of his poetry as soon as I can. He has so much joy and reverence for the world he lives in, and it's so moving to read his works and take a part in that profound delight.
ragwaine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hippies wandering the US searching for the truth. Very cool, makes me wish I was born back then.
momei on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I had to read this book for a college course. For me it was hard to follow and boring.
ldallara on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's a good read... I'm enjoying it will add more later.. I've finished it, it's a wonderful book, I know because I'm sad, looking forward to reading "On The Road" by Jack Kerouac.
ofstoneandice on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Never before has a book made me want to climb a mountain.
NickFG on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I see in the comments a complaint I've heard more often for "On the Road," -- that it's too meandering, no solid plot, difficult to follow, is he really driving across the country again? I argue that Dharma Bums is more linear (and thus perhaps easier to follow) than On the Road, and I encourage folks not to take it as a traditional story in order to enjoy it most. Think of it more like a collection of short sketches with little provoking thoughts and beautiful lines thrown in. Yes, there is a story arc, but why I find this book so incredible, why I try to read it every year, is because I can open up to any old page, read any old line or two, and come away from it feeling misty-minded, slightly confused, slightly wiser, and inspired in some vague way that I can never quite describe. In this way it is almost like a book of Zen koans.
princessponti on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love the poetry in Kerouacs writing, however as a novel, I found this difficult to get on with. I enjoyed his writing so much, however this conflicted for me with a story that I was searching for.
sadfootsign on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the books that got me through high school. Such a profound sense of calmness in it
Djupstrom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another great sample out of the exceptional mind of Kerouac. Jack takes us on a trip that satisfies our need for fresh, cool dialogue and new experiences. Better than all the other Beat generation poet/writers.
tjbotting on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The overall theme I liked and there were a few redeeming chapters, but overall just too philosophical and too 60's for me. I had a hard time motivating myself to finish this book.
gazzy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Little Tramp finds religion. To me a more cohesive ramble than On the Road. Precursor (blueprint?) to whole hippie movement of the 1960's.
tedmahsun on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Likeable, but hard to read. I have a feeling that Spontaneous Prose is an acquired taste, like wasabi or sambal belacan. On the whole, it is an okay book. I liked Ray's hitch-hiking and freight hopping journeys across the US as well as his musings on life and people. But it's very unlikely I will be reading this again any time soon.
pbirch01 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In "The Dharma Bums", Kerouac has written another great book about the search for truth and meaning throughout the American countryside. The story is narrated by Ray Smith and is effectively Kerouac telling his own story. Smith and his friend Japhy are wanderers (or bums) in search of the True Meaning or Dharma. The trip covers one year of travels in the life of Smith. His frantic narrative style seems to be fueled by his frequent poorboys of cheap red wine as well as his sheer excitement to be in pursuit of the truth. The story starts in Berkeley, California and visits the Californian desert, Mexico, North Carolina, Seattle and finally ends at Desolation peak in the North Cascades of Washington state. All of these places are reached by hopping on trains, hitchhiking or shelling out a few cents for a bus ride. Interspersed within the descriptions of travel and characters are Zen musings such as "It's all different appearances of the same thing" as well as meditation on different ideals and places. Kerouac never lets the story slow down and regardless of how accurate the Buddhist ideals are, the rambling, jangly story is quite a ride.
szarka on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My favorite of Kerouac's novels, probably because of the tension between aceticism and... not.
Arctic-Stranger on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Where On the Road showed me the transient side of life, Dharma Bums took me on a spiritual journey. Kerouac had a love of Buddhism (see All the Dharma) but never really left his Catholic faith. To this day I have a hard time being in the woods without thinking of the fire tower.
melissathelibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My favorite of all Kerouac's writings, this book is about friendship between men, family, and inner peace.
realsupergirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book changed my life in high school. Growing up in a right-to-work state like Texas, it was the account I read railing against the "system of work-produce-consume" that erodes our humanity.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My favourite Kerouac book by far, even if I'm slightly biased by the more mystical content of this book than his others, but it's also one of the best written. I can read it again and again,,,
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not as good as on the road, in fact its more like leftovers from the authors files. If you like kerouac or are interested in era check out this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago