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.
Autobiographical novel by Jack Kerouac, published in 1958. The story's narrator, Raymond Smith, is based on Kerouac himself, and the poet-woodsman-Buddhist, Japhy Ryder, is a thinly disguised portrait of the poet Gary Synder. The book contains a number of other characters who are drawn from actual poets and writers. The plot unfolds when Smith, who is suffering spiritual conflicts amid the emptiness of middle-class American life, meets Ryder, whom he immediately recognizes as a spiritual model. The novel tells of the growth of their friendship and Smith's groping toward personal understanding. Much of the story occurs on the American West Coast. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature