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The Dharma Bums (Duluoz Legend)

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  61,822 Ratings  ·  2,065 Reviews
Two ebullient young men search for Truth the Zen way: from marathon wine-drinking bouts, poetry jam sessions, and "yabyum" in San Francisco's Bohemia to solitude in the high Sierras and a vigil atop Desolation Peak in Washington State. Published just a year after On the Road put the Beat Generation on the map, The Dharma Bums is sparked by Kerouac's expansiveness, humor, a ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published 1986 by Penguin Books (first published 1958)
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Best Books of the 20th Century
454th out of 6,478 books — 44,139 voters
On the Road by Jack KerouacThe Dharma Bums by Jack KerouacBig Sur by Jack KerouacThe Subterraneans by Jack KerouacDesolation Angels by Jack Kerouac
Jack Kerouac's Best
2nd out of 19 books — 84 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Paul Bryant
Apr 23, 2011 Paul Bryant rated it really liked it
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
Joan
Aug 07, 2008 Joan rated it did not like it
Too much bum, not enough dharma.
Leile Brittan
Apr 06, 2007 Leile Brittan rated it really liked it
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
Jason Koivu
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.

In The Dharma Bums he takes the reader from city-drop-outs to mountain solitude, the mind-fuck excitement and shit of civilization to the glorious simplicity and utter loneliness of a retreat back to nature.

Even though he cheats the reader with some quick-fix adverbs in place of the proper description owed his audience, Kerouac still deserv
...more
Lynne King
Jul 11, 2013 Lynne King rated it it was amazing
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
Nate D
Apr 24, 2009 Nate D rated it did not like it
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 really liked it
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
Oct 23, 2010 Ms. Fenn rated it really liked it
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 it was amazing  ·  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 it was ok
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
Antonomasia
The cruellest thing you can do to Kerouac is reread him at thirty-eight. From The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi

Spotting the problematic - some people assume it's what you're meant to do with art now. Paraphrase from a comment by Wastrel in a recent Goodreads discussion.

I chose this because, in my tsundoku-reading, I'd recently read 3 short books on Buddhism, and it fit right in. Also, sort of like All Time Popular Goodreads Reviewer Karen and the seasonal avatars. Summer! Time for books s
...more
Keleigh
Nov 26, 2008 Keleigh rated it really liked it
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
Alireza
فکر می کردم این کتاب می تواند آن چیزی باشد که لازم داشتم. کتابی از جنسی دیگر و متفاوت. شاید هم باشد. اما قطعاً این کتابی که به فارسی توسط فرید قدمی ترجمه شده آن نبود که می خواستم.
مشکل اصلی من، همینطور که مشخص است، با ترجمه این کتاب است. مشکلی که وقتی بزرگتر می شود که هجده هزارتومن قیمتِ کتاب می اندیشم. و اینکه مخاطب، با این قیمت، چه ارزشی برای ناشر و مترجم دارد؟ خیلی نمی توانم به ناشر خورده بگیرم، چون سیستم نشر در ایران، کماکان قدیمی و ناکارآمد است. ولی اگر حداقل یک ویراستار درست حسابی برای این
...more
Brad
Feb 15, 2009 Brad rated it liked it
Shelves: classic
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
Joseph
Nov 08, 2015 Joseph rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Suzanne
Took some time to get used Kerouac's style but once you do it is an excellent read. One of my favorites, simply a joy to read and reread. My favorite Kerouac.

Re-read four years later and its still one of my favorite Kerouacs.
Andy Miller
Nov 25, 2012 Andy Miller rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Feb 17, 2012 Lawrence FitzGerald rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1950-s, literary
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
Judy
May 24, 2011 Judy rated it it was amazing
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
Parthiban Sekar
"Then I added 'Blah,' with a little grin, because I knew that shack and that mountain would understand what that meant, and turned and went on down the trail back to this world."
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
Joel Lacivita
Apr 09, 2015 Joel Lacivita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had read an article, a few weeks ago in the Tampa Tribune, about the Kerouac house in St. Petersburg, Florida being up for sale. It talked about how he had died in 1969 at the age of 47. His last drink was consumed at the Flamingo Sports Bar, later he was rushed to the hospital where he died of cirrhosis. The article stated that he was overweight and not doing well at the time of his death and did not produce much, from a writing standpoint, while he lived there. They mentioned the Dharma Bums ...more
Janet
Feb 10, 2015 Janet rated it it was amazing
Shelves: california
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
Sofi Mdivnishvili
Aug 22, 2015 Sofi Mdivnishvili rated it it was amazing
როდესაც კერუაკის პირველი წიგნი ,,გზაზე" წავიკითხე მივხვდი ,,დჰარმის მაწანწალები" დიდხანს დარჩებოდა ჩემს თაროზე გადაუშლელი, მაგრამ შემიძლია ვთქვა რომ ჯეკმა ამ წიგნით თავისი დანაშაული გამოისყიდა ჩემს თვალში ;დდ ეს ის წიგნია, რომელიც ნამდვილად გააღვიძებს შენში დაკარგულ მარცვალს და აღგიძრავს სურვილს შენც გაიზიარო იგივე ბედნიერება, თავგადასავლები, რომლებითაც აღსავსე იყო რეი სმიტის მთავარი პერსონაჟის ცხოვრება. ალბათ ყველას, ვისაც ექნება ბედნიერება წაიკითხოს ეს წიგნი, ექნება სურვილი განვლოს იგივე გზა, ...more
Michael
I was charmed and uplifted by this reflective, poetic vision of a life of rambling in California and the Pacific Northwest, a thinly veiled fictional portrayal of Kerouac’s friendship with poet Gary Snyder in the 50’s. While “On the Road” felt like a portrait of America and the key characters often felt a bit lost and self-centered, here the action is more attuned to connections with nature and an exultant exploration of Buddhist outlooks. Like the other book it reads more like a memoir and trav ...more
Daniel
Jun 25, 2007 Daniel rated it really liked it
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
Rebecca
Jul 02, 2009 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
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
Robert Mitchell
May 15, 2013 Robert Mitchell rated it it was amazing
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
Andre
Dec 06, 2010 Andre rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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
Jaimal
Nov 22, 2009 Jaimal rated it it was amazing
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
Erika B. (SOS BOOKS)
Feb 03, 2016 Erika B. (SOS BOOKS) rated it liked it
Shelves: adult-read
A journey about going up a mountain while learning how to Buddhist - and a journey away from the mountain into drinking and some crazy partying. I love Jack Kerouac's poetic moments, but other times I want him to just stop talking...writing. :) Cheers to being Beat.
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The Perks Of Bein...: The best Kerouac 1 20 May 15, 2013 09:00PM  
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Born on March 12, 1922, in Lowell, Massachusetts, Jack Kerouac's writing career began in the 1940s, but didn't meet with commercial success until 1957, when On the Road was published. The book became an American classic that defined the Beat Generation. Kerouac died on October 21, 1969, from an abdominal hemorrhage, at age 47.
Early Life

Famed writer Jack Kerouac was born Jean-Louis Lebris de Keroua
...more
More about Jack Kerouac...

Other Books in the Series

Duluoz Legend (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • Atop an Underwood: Early Stories and Other Writings
  • Visions of Gerard
  • Dr. Sax
  • The Town and the City
  • Maggie Cassidy
  • Vanity of Duluoz: An Adventurous Education, 1935-46
  • On the Road
  • Visions of Cody
  • The Subterraneans
  • Tristessa

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“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” 6591 likes
“It all ends in tears anyway.” 699 likes
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