Robert Pirsig Letter to Ted DuPont, September 16, 1974

Overview of the Collection

Pirsig, Robert M.
Robert Pirsig Letter to Ted DuPont
September 16, 1974
1 item
Collection Number
Collection 2642, MtBC, us (collection)
The Robert Pirsig Letter to Ted DuPont details Pirsig’s response to a visit made by DuPont and his co-traveler Jim Vavrinchik in 1974. Also included are photographs of DuPont and Vavrinchik during the trip.
Montana State University Library, Merrill G. Burlingame Special Collections
Montana State University-Bozeman Library
Merrill G Burlingame Special Collections
P.O. Box 173320
Bozeman, MT
Telephone: 4069944242
Fax: 4069942851
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Ted DuPont is a technology public relations/corporate communications professional from Hammond, Indiana. He attended the University of Chicago where he graduated in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. After graduation, DuPont worked as a newspaper and magazine writer and editor before launching a career in public relations with a variety of firms including Burson-Marsteller and Amdocs. He has also worked in public education as a teacher.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The description of the Robert Pirsig letter received by Ted DuPont is best told in his own words: In the spring of 1974 I was a 20-year old college student at the University of Chicago (where, perhaps not coincidentally, Pirsig studied for his PhD.) In the throes of an existential crisis, I left school, but without a plan. In short order I met another U of C ex-student named Jim Vavrinchik, and we hit it off. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance had just been published, and that was all we needed. In short order, we bought a 1973 1/2 BMW R75/5, outfitted it for long-distance touring and formed a mad plan to do a road trip from Chicago to San Francisco and back again. We decided to retrace part of Pirsig's route west. Our first stop was Minneapolis, and we decided to pay him a visit for his spiritual blessing. Robert Pirsig was listed in the phone book so his house wasn't hard to find. We pulled up in front of a tidy white suburban house. There was no answer at the door, so we went around back. We met Chris, Pirsig's son, who was very friendly and told us his dad was out doing errands. And that was that. Following a diversion up to Hibbing to see Bob Dylan's stomping grounds (that's another story), we gunned the bike west, having the time of our young lives, The Black Hills...the plains...sleeping in our pup tent and sleeping bags. Nearing Yellowstone, we decided to take the Bear Tooth Highway, which Pirsig described so luminously. It was exhilarating moving through all the changes of altitude and topography in just a few hours. We treated ourselves to a hotel soon after, and decided to write to Pirsig to tell him what it meant to us. We continued on our 5-week trip, miraculously arriving back in Chicago in early September without any hitches but with a million stories to tell. Soon after I got back to Hammond, I got a small letter with Pirsig's return address stamped on it.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Acquisition Information

An original 1974 letter from Robert Pirsig, along with digital copies of three photographs, were donated to Montana State University by Ted DuPont of Upper Montclair, New Jersey on December 6, 2018.

Processing Note

This collection was processed 2018 December 6

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top