The Dharma Bums
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The Dharma Bums (Duluoz Legend)

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  50,145 ratings  ·  1,699 reviews
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 inte...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 27th 1971 by Penguin Books (first published 1958)
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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee1984 by George OrwellThe Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienThe Catcher in the Rye by J.D. SalingerThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Best Books of the 20th Century
428th out of 5,706 books — 37,995 voters
On the Road by Jack KerouacHowl and Other Poems by Allen GinsbergThe Dharma Bums by Jack KerouacNaked Lunch by William S. BurroughsJunky by William S. Burroughs
Beat Lit
3rd out of 145 books — 108 voters


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Paul
Apr 23, 2011 Paul rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: novels
That's a completely nostalgic four stars of course. Has there been a writer whose reputation has plummeted quite so much between the 70s and now as jolly Jack and his tales of merry misogynism? But like Bob Dylan says

While riding on a train goin’ west
I fell asleep for to take my rest
I dreamed a dream that made me sad
Concerning myself and the first few friends I had

With half-damp eyes I stared to the room
Where my friends and I spent many an afternoon
Where we together weathered many a storm
Laughin...more
Lynne King
Enfant terrible, a unique individual, jazz lover and a poet; this book, was written when Jack Kerouac was thirty-six years old. He was at the forefront of the Beat Generation in California in the fifties, through to his death in 1969, at the age of forty-seven.

I kept on telling myself this is not my kind of book and I’m not enjoying myself but who was I trying to kid. Yes, it’s “raw in thought” but spirituality flows throughout, even though the catholic faith is viewed through the eyes of (Zen)...more
Leile Brittan
This was really a pleasant surprise. After making my way through "On the Road" and a few other things by Kerouac, I had come to the conclusion that the dude is a hack, and that the other Beats were really on some way better shit. I just couldn't feel that "rambling" ass style that he writes in, even though I acknowledge that it was a conscious decision of his to write that way.

I get it -- he writes the way he travels, making quick decisions and trying to be spontaneous and spiritual. But to me...more
Joan
Too much bum, not enough dharma.
Nate D
Apr 24, 2009 Nate D rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: buddhist hobos
Recommended to Nate D by: Everyone
So I only just started this, but just look:

"And who am I?"
"I dunno, maybe you're Goat."
"Goat?"
"Maybe you're Mudface."
"Who's Mudface?"
"Mudface is the mud in your goatface. What would you say if someone was asked the question 'Does a dog have a Buddha nature?' and said 'Woof!'"

Fortunately Kerouac's Proxytagonist du jour acknowledges this as "silly Zen Buddhism", but even so, the koan-lobber is a character being presented as enlightened. Of course, I'm going to see where this is going, but if I hav...more
Selena
Dec 06, 2008 Selena rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Philosophers, Poets, Catholics,Nomads
I got my copy in Chicago for a dollar
My friends frienzied onward toward the train
I had the whole thing read by Indiana
and I had been forever changed.

I started, for some time, to weep
about the beauty in a lonely life
stumbling back to his shade tree, Jack found
a magic trap door in his mind.

The nature, she beckons, relententlessly
dewy sweaters on sweet, green leaves
taste like tripping the child right out of me
to dance mercilessly among the marching trees

push, pull, shove, stop step the hell around
l...more
Ms. Fenn
Dharma Bums is for the hiker/outdoorsman, the aspiring buddhist sage, and the lover of beautifully woven syntax. Ray thumbs his way across the continental U.S. two, almost three times. In his travels, he meets hobos, family, friends, yabyum partners, Zen Lunatics but mostly he discovers a love for the essence of nature and the power of it's awesomeness. Ray overcomes some personal demons with the help and guidance of Japhy Ryder. Eventually, he decides to take a post as a fire watcher on top of...more
tony
Apr 19, 2007 tony rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everybody
consistently one of my favorite reads. i've bought this book three times now and i still haven't been able to hold on to it. the kerouac estate will forever be the recipient of my hard earned dough.

i have to say, it's one of my top ten. not for its far-reaching insights, kerouac's intimate style, or it's lively presentation of a man who was the embodiment, precursor, exemplification, and antecedent to all those to follow dubbed 'heads' or less acurately 'hippies,' but for it's depiction of a ma...more
Iz
Nov 20, 2008 Iz rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: travel
So this is what started the "backpack revolution". Great. Except it was less backpacking, more Buddhism preaching. The main character (Ray?) comes across as a patronizing nutcase with his combination of drunken bumhood, Christianity, and Buddhism.

So he is a buddhist - correction: he thinks he is Buddha - and he also thinks he is a "crazy saint". He believes he can perform miracles, namely cure his mother of allergies, but then decides he won't perform miracles anymore because that will make him...more
Jason Koivu
Slap a few rhyming words together vaguely associated with your intended meaning and call it philosophical poetry. That's my problem with some of the beat poets, whom I blame for the crap classic rock songwriters of the 60s and 70s passed off as lyrics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0iuax...

But I digress.

Kerouac can spin an enjoyable yarn, as long as you don't mind rambling along with him on directionless paths with no real goal in mind but to spin that yarn. Even though he cheats the reader w...more
Brad
So many people I trust and respect love Jack Kerouac. They consistently praise his work to me, recommend books that I should read and even buy me his books, hoping I'll love him like they do, but try as I might I still haven't found what they find in Kerouac's work.

But I do try. Every couple of years I crack out another one of his books that I've started and never finished (which is all but The Dharma Bums and Mexico City Blues), and start reading it again. I rarely get very far.

I did get throu...more
Keleigh
Kerouac is innocent and rowdy and loco, unjaded and earnest, a real goodfellow. I tried reading On the Road as a high schooler and was unimpressed, I was too serious and uptight. I lacked experience. This time around I get the Zen stuff, yo, I was put off at first by his attempts at telling what is impossible to tell, but he reveals himself, he risks ridicule to show how sincere he feels, and how arrogant too, like when Rosie dies and he thinks if only she had listened to him, if only she knew w...more
Andy Miller
Dharma Bums is set in the late fifties, in Jack Kerouac's life shortly after the events chronicled in On the Road. It focuses on his relationship with poet Gary Snyder and his exposure to Snyder's love of the outdoors and study of Buddhism. I know that some have criticized Kerouac's treatment of Buddhism, but I think those purists have missed the point, what I found compelling was the effect of Buddhism on the lives and lifestyles of the Beat poets and writers.

Reading this 50 years after publica...more
Lawrence FitzGerald
Don't read Kerouac when you're too young. Read him as you join that long death march called steady employment. Then look back. Look back to all the people you knew, those people who went here and there, those people who knew odd patches of philosophy and poetry. They fucked. They doped and boozed in desperate self medication. Look back at yourself.

Jack travels here and there. He knows people with Odd Knowledge. They have plumbed the breadth and depth of human existence. They get laid in the era...more
Madeleine
My introduction to Kerouac came in college, when my New York City internship offered lots of reading time via hours spent riding public transportation. "On the Road" was my book of choice during the transitional phase when spring break in Florida drove home the sad reality that I need greenery far too much to ever live happily in in The Big Apple. Such an unwelcome intrusion of honest self-assessment crushed my plans of making a beeline for the city immediately after graduation, but at least I h...more
Judy
May 24, 2011 Judy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: writers, artists, and seekers
I first read The Dharma Bums in about 1969. It was our instructional manual on "how to be a hippie." The long, late-night drug and alcohol fueled parties, the disdain for money and suburbia and middle class life, the simple foods and hanging out on the floor. Hiking in the woods, free love, earth mothers and footloose uncommitted men.

As soon as my first husband and I reached San Francisco after driving and camping our way across America from Michigan, we climbed up to Mount Tamalpais and got hi...more
Andre
"You don't realize it's a privilege to practice giving presents to others." -Japhy Ryder

For the last year I've carried this book with me everywhere I've went. Once, I picked up the book and read the first 30 pages and put it back in my bag that holds my laptop. But that was months ago and I was a different person, probably more optimistic about where I was at and where I was headed.

Lately, I've decided to start reading again. Now that I look back on it, I didn't want to read The Dharma Bums in g...more
Daniel
So we unpacked our packs and laid things out and smoked and had a good time. Now the mountains were getting that pink tinge, I mean the rocks, they were just solid rock covered with the atoms of dust accumulated there since beginningless time. In fact I was afraid of those jagged monstrosities all around and over our heads.

'They're so silent!' I said.

'Yeah man, you know to me a mountain is a Buddha. Think of the patience, hundreds of thousands of years just sitting there bein perfectly perfectly...more
Jaimal
Kerouac may be best known for On The Road, but this is by far my favorite of his books. Looking back, it has probably been the most influential book on my life. The story is just so fun and honest and original, it confirmed my desire to be a writer when I read it as a sophomore in high school. But not just a writer. It made me want to live my life without shackles, free like Kerouac's character Japhy (Gary Snyder), climbing mountains and writing poetry. It captures the Boho 50's era like no othe...more
Robert Mitchell
Rereading the Dharma Bums after probably a ten-year hiatus, I am struck by how foreign the beatniks seem to us today and how that impression must have been magnified tenfold for the Leave It To Beaver folks whom we are told ran the country back in the fifties. Then again Ray, Kerouac's protagonist, hitchhiked back and forth across America and found a surprising degree of tolerance if not admiration from the people stopping to give him a ride. Maybe that's just the nature of people on the move or...more
Luís Nunes
As an introduction to Buddhism, it seems interesting to review how Buddhism came to the United States by the desire of the hitchhikers of the beat generation. Some confusion is remarkable and one that feels totally void in Buddhism this book may seem rather esoteric. But as a book that describes a time and seeks to describe the small events of a journey, giving them a literary sense, and even spiritual, is a book that rejuvenates us. Looking at all this ingenuity around the Western Buddhism at t...more
Janet
Love this book. When I first read it, I read it for the sex and the late night bull sessions... had not had sex, was still living at home and had no idea who Japhy Ryder (Gary Snyder) was. REad it more recently--now I've had sex and a million late night bull sessions, so that wasn't the thrill it had been at 16. Now I find what I admire the most is Japhy Ryder, and especially, the liveliness of Kerouac's nature writing. I've done a lot of hiking and backpacking, and my god Kerouac's sense of nat...more
Ensiform
Ray Smith (a stand-in for Kerouac himself), an itinerant poet, and his friend Japhy Ryder (Gary Snyder) search for an affirmative way of life in the mindless bustle of the modern era. Preferring cabins and hiking to cities and desk jobs, the two live a Bohemian existence, getting drunk, bedding willing girls, and reciting haikus when inspiration strikes. Parties that last days and involve casual nudity and sex (though Ray seems to be eschewing sex, or simply can’t get lucky), hitch-hiking, poetr...more
Abailart
Also, read. A long time ago and I gave it five stars from memory. My stars are based on fondness and not literary judgment. I had an urge to read it again. It's a part of my youth reading, so maybe nostalgia takes me back to one of the key texts of that youth.
I'm nearing the end of it. I am not convinced at all that Kerouac is a great writer in some monolithic sense (which would be imbued with all sorts of dubious moral-aesthetic imperium) but he is very good at what he does well, very honest in...more
Tom Lombardo
Jack Kerouac died from alcoholism in 1969 at a young forty-seven, a tragic end to a glorious life, especially because it deprived him of enjoying his ascendancy from marginal hipster novelist to major American writer. He received very little critical fame before his death, even though his novels were fixtures in the popular consciousness. One of the founding members of the Beat generation, Kerouac embodied everything that happened between 1950 and 1969.

America built the modern version of itself...more
Claudia
"...abbiamo scelto di pregare per tutti gli esseri viventi e appena saremo abbastanza forti riusciremo davvero a farlo, come i santi dell'antichità. Che ne sai, il mondo potrebbe svegliarsi e sbocciare dovunque in un bellissimo fiore Dharma."

I vagabondi è il secondo libro di Jack Kerouac che leggo. Il primo è stato il suo capolavoro più noto, Sulla strada. Il confronto è inevitabile.
Entrambi i volumi sono narrati in prima persona: in Sulla strada la voce narrante era Sal, ne I vagabondi il nar...more
Rebecca
amazing. fantastic. run-on sentences galore. quotes that will change your life.

for example:

"one day i will find the right words, and they will be simple."

"i saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page and i could do anything i wanted."

"see the whole thing is a world full of rucksack wanderers, dharma bums refusing to subscribe to the general demand that they consume production and therefore have to work for the privilege of consuming all that crap they didn't really want anyway such as refrig...more
Jamie Bradway
Certainly not worthless - has it's place in American lit - but this just does not speak to me as it did to the 19 year old version of me. What a goofy kid I must have been.
Jen
Sometimes, books are far more important for the lens through which you read them than for the stories themselves. This was given to me as a gift for graduating from high school by my older brother's best friend, a wannabe Bohemian bum on whom I'd had a half-secret crush since the seventh grade. Nearly a decade after that, having clawed my way to other graduations and not seen him in several years, I've finally read it, and I can see so clearly his delight in the recognition that things can be be...more
Chris Jarred
This book is the perfect example of why I like book lists. It's a book I hadn't heard of, by an author I didn't like. I tried reading On the Road years ago, and absolutely hated the rambling, stream of conscious style of writing. Hated it. So this was a book I was actually dreading reading when I saw it on the Esquire 75 book list. If I hadn't looked right at it while perusing the library, I probably would have put if off until the end of the list. But it turned out to be one of those right boo...more
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Jack Kerouac was an American novelist, writer, poet, and artist. He is perhaps the best known of a group of writers and friends who came to be known as the Beat Generation, a term he himself created.

Kerouac's work was popular, but received little critical acclaim during his lifetime. Today, he is considered an important and influential writer who inspired others, including Tom Robbins, Lester Bang...more
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“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” 5048 likes
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