Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name




Committee Chair

Jaffe, Aaron


Snyder, Gary, 1930-; Buddhism in literature


Gary Snyder's poetry conveys Zen states of consciousness through unconventional grammar and syntax. From his first book Riprap in 1959 to his last collection of poems, Mountains and Rivers Without End in 1996, he has confronted the challenge of transforming Buddhist philosophy and discourse into Western poetics. Snyder's syncretism pertaining to Buddhist and Native American beliefs form a unique view of Zen that suggests his precise involvement with the meditative self-discipline may be unstable and elusive. A close reading of Snyder's idiosyncratic Buddhist poetics reveals an impasse between a "non-verbal" realm, where the Cartesian duality of subject and object dissolves, and the Western outlook that consciousness can't escape language and thought; Snyder's term "razoredge" corresponds to this juncture. Viewing his works from a Buddhist perspective, which emphasizes Eastern forms such as haiku and the Zen koan, shows how the disruption of ordinary "dualistic" thinking potentially improves the aesthetic of "nonduality."