Alan Watts is best known as an interpreter of Zen Buddhism in particular and of Indian and Chinese philosophy in general. He earned the reputation of being one of the most original and unfettered philosophers of the twentieth century. He was the author of more than twenty books, including The Way of Zen, The Wisdom of Insecurity, The Meaning of Happiness, Psychotherapy East and West, The Book, This Is It, The Joyous Cosmology, In My Own Way, and Tao, the Watercourse Way (with Chungliang Al Huang). He died in 1973.
In this new, never before published book The Collected Letters of Alan Watts, a treasure trove of letters are lovingly curated with photos and drawings by his dauthers Joan Watts and Anne Watts. The book reveals the remarkable arc of Watts’s colorful and controversial life, from his school days in England to his priesthood in the Anglican Church as chaplain of Northwestern University to his alternative lifestyle and experimentation with LSD in the heyday of the late sixties. His engaging letters cover a vast range of subject matter beginning with letters he wrote home from boarding school as a teenager, highlighting his flowering interest in Zen Buddhism. As Watts comes into his own, foregoing traditional education to create his own “self-imposed university” and eventually leaving the priesthood, he corresponds with High Church clergy to high priests of psychedelics, government officials, publishers, critics, family, and fans, such as luminaries Joseph Campbell, Henry Miller, Gary Snyder, and Aldous Huxley. Throughout the book, there is fascinating commentary by his daughters that adds to the letters. Tonight his granddauther and local Santa Fean, Myra Krein, will read from the book and talk about her memories of her grandfather.