William Buck

Here is William Buck, the son of Frank Buck, who translated two books that Ram Dass endorses. This might be the spiritual base that Beryl Buck wanted applied to her establishment of the Buck Foundation that should give me a grant for my Bohemian newspaper, Royal Rosamond Press.

“I believe he was a very early bohemian in the San Francisco scene. His wife, Jane Hamner Buck also died young as did his father. Frank Buck,jr.”

The Mahabharata, the Ramayana and the Mystique of William Buck (litkicks.com)

William Benson Buck
Birthplace:California, United States
Death:1970 (35-36)
Marin County, California, United States
Place of Burial:Vacaville, Solano County, California, United States
Immediate Family:Son of Frank Henry Buck, Jr. and Eva M Buck
Brother of Carol F Buck
Half brother of Christian Brevoort Zabriskie Buck and Edward Zabriskie Buck
Managed by:Private User
Last Updated:June 30, 2018

William Buck (translator)

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William Benson Buck (April 20, 1934 – August 26, 1970)[1] was an American writer who produced novelized translations into English of the Sanskrit epic poems Mahabharata and Ramayana. A translation of Harivamsa was unfinished at his death.

Buck was born in Washington, D.C., one of six children of U.S. Congressman Frank H. Buck. He had a sister and four half-siblings. He was a member of the wealthy Buck family of Marin County, California. His great-grandfather was Leonard W. Buck, a politician and businessman.[2] His father died in Washington, D.C. in 1942 while still in office.[3] His mother, Eva Benson Buck, was born to Swedish parents and was Buck’s second wife. After her husband’s death, she moved back to Vacaville, California with William and his younger sister Carol Franc Buck, who grew up at the family’s mansion at 225 Buck Ave.[4]

According to the publisher’s preface to the 2012 republication of Buck’s translations of Mahabharata and Ramayana, Buck was in 1955 inspired by reading a 19th-century translation of Bhagavad Gita, in a state library in Carson City, Nevada. He discovered that a proposed 11-volume Indian publication of Mahabharata was at risk for lack of funds, and subsidized it. He began to study Sanskrit, and to make his own translations. He later wrote:

My method in writing both Mahabharata and Ramayana was to begin with a literal translation from which to extract the story, and then to tell that story in an interesting way which would preserve the spirit and flavor of the original.[5]

Buck’s translations have been praised by Levi Asher[6][Note 1] and others.[7]

In 1961, he was sued for paternity by Jane Hammer Buck, who had lived with Buck “as husband and wife” in Bolinas, California, for six years. She stated that William acknowledged paternity of the boy, Paul Buck, who was born in San Francisco in 1958,[8] but was seeking monthly child support payments.[2]


I recently heard about a British Library project to reassemble and digitize a 17th century illustrated edition of the Ramayana, a classical Hindu epic. This sounds pretty cool, and it reminded me of a different edition of the Ramayana that I once owned myself.

This was just a cheap pocket paperback, a novelization of the great poem, published alongside a similar edition of the other great Hindu epic, the Mahabharata. These two books, the life work of a young American translator named William Buck, were designed to be accessible and enjoyable versions of their extremely long and complex originals. Of course the great epic poems had to be condensed and simplified to fit into these forms, but the popular paperbacks provide a rich reading experience that must capture at least some of the significance of their gigantic counterparts.

William Buck’s Mahabharata is the one I read all the way through and remember most vividly, because it’s a colorful, wise and beautiful long tale that begins with the household altercation that resulted in an elephant head being placed on the body of a boy named Ganesha, the son of Shiva, who is noted (in the story that surrounds the story) as the scribe who is writing the text:

Listen —

For three years Vuasa composed the Mahabharata in his mind, and when it was finished, he summoned Ganesha to be his scribe.

Shiva’s son came and asked, “Why call me?”

Vyasa replied, “Do you not remove all obstacles and barriers? You are the god of thieves and writers. Write down my book as I tell it to you.”

Ganesha swished his trunk around. “OM! But there are books and books. Is yours a very good one?”


Ganesha laughed, and his huge belly shook. “Well just let me get rid of all these things …” He set down the conch shell and the lotus, the discus and axe that he held in his four hands. “… and I shall write for you; but if once you stop the story, I will leave and never return.”

Vyasa said, “On this condition: if you don’t understand what I mean, you must write no more until you do.”

“Done! The very day I was born I made my first mistake, and by that path I have sought wisdom ever since.”

Buck began translating the Mahabharata in 1955, the year Allen Ginsberg wrote Howl, and his production seems to reflect a nascent Beat sensibility. This can be seen in the fresh and bright language, in phrases like “you are the god of thieves and writers”, in the idea that the entire Mahabharata must be proclaimed in a single burst of breath, and in the idea that Ganesha must completely understand the story as he is writing it down. I don’t know if Jack Kerouac ever read William Buck’s translations, but he would have approved.

The Mahabharata is a morality tale about a war that was fought between two family clans in the north India region between the Ganges and Yamuna rivers. Its most well-known scene is that of the apparition of Krishna in a chariot occupied by Arjuna, a heroic soldier who suffers a Hamlet-like moment of hesitation before going into battle. This scene provides the setting for the Bhagavad Gita, the most famous section of the work. The rest of the tale, as told by William Buck, is the legend of the family that fought this war. It includes creation myths, encounters with nature, romantic confusions and sexual escapades, journeys into forests, cosmic games of dice.

I can’t remember where I obtained my own copies of these paperbacks, but I know I read them while I was studying philosophy and religion in college in the 1980s, and that I recognized the secondhand paperbacks as relics from the Summer of Love, clearly designed to appeal to hippies who listened to Ravi Shankar and George Harrison and to fit into bookshelves alongside Trout Fishing in AmericaCatch-22Slaughterhouse FiveSteal This BookSoul on IceJonathan Livingston SeagullA Child’s Garden of GrassThe Joy of SexThe Tao of PhysicsZen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Siddhartha. The strange and short life story of William Buck seemed to add to the sense of a hippie mystique.

Every edition I have ever seen of these books (I lost my first pair, which looked like the ones pictured above, but was able to purchase new editions of Buck’s Mahabharata and Ramayana on Amazon) contains the same short introductory story, which relates that William Buck was a 22-year-old in Carson City, Nevada when he discovered an ancient Bhagavad Gita in a library. He became a Sanskrit expert in order to translate these books, struggled to find original texts to translate, toiled to nearly insane dimensions to untangle the obscure narratives and characters encapsulated within, and died in 1970 at the age of 37 while working on a third epic, the Harivamsa. That is the only information about William Buck I have ever been able to find.

I’ve tried hard to find more information about William Buck. What did he look like? (No photograph, as far as I know, has ever accompanied the books.) How did he get such a cool name, and why did he die so young? The biggest question of all is this: how did a 22-year-old in Nevada manage to learn Sanskrit, and how did a non-professional translator manage to do such a great job with these two impossible texts?

Other readers must have asked the same question, because a Google search brings up several admiring mentions of William Buck, all containing the same sparse facts listed above and none beyond. It reminds me of an old joke about Homer: “Did you hear the news? They discovered that Homer did not write The Oddysey and The Iliad. It was a different Greek blind poet with the same name.” The joke, of course, is that we know nothing about Homer except that he was a Greek blind poet who wrote The Oddysey and The Iliad.

Today, one might say “Did you hear the news? William Buck did not translate the Mahabharata and Ramayana. It was a different 22-year-old in Carson City, Nevada with the same name.” Indeed, the name of William Buck seems to rise to epic proportions itself. The Mahabharata, like many great epics, is a tale within a tale within a tale. The mysterious William Buck has always felt to me like a character in the story that surrounds the story that surrounds the story — scribbling madly like Ganesha but never failing to understand.4016 Responses to “The Mahabharata, the Ramayana and the Mystique of William Buck”by Gary Sides on Thursday, April 3, 2014 10:59 am

William Buck was a very wealthy man. He once owned the Anchor Steam Brewery, but I believe sold it to Fritz Maytag in the early 1960’s. His family, the Bucks, were early fruit dealers in California who sold out to Pacific Fruit in 1933. His mother, Eva B Buck died in 1990 and is buried beside her son William Buck at the Vacaville Elmira Cemetery. I believe he was a very early bohemian in the San Francisco scene. His wife, Jane Hamner Buck also died young as did his father. Frank Buck,jr.

Ground Hog Day At Zabriskie Point

Posted on February 4, 2020by Royal Rosamond Press

There is a old photo of the Borox building that was in downtown Eugene. I believe it was part of the Buck Monopoly. My mind is still blown after discovering Henry Brevoort is in John Astor’s family tree – that meets in Oregon. Then, Sir Walter Scott employs my Lee kindred in his Woodstock. I feel like Rip Van Winkle. We could have seen a remake of West Side Story at the Super Bowl, that brings the Jets and the Sharks together – with love – to usher in the Peace and Love of the Woodstock Generation, but, we didn’t.

“The location was named after Christian Brevoort Zabriskie, vice-president and general manager of the Pacific Coast Borax Company in the early 20th century. The company’s twenty-mule teams were used to transport borax from its mining operations in Death Valley.”



I have been preaching the Bohemian Philosophy in this blog – till I am blue in the face! Now we got Fremont wanting to go to war with Mexico. It’s the same ol merry-ground. We haven’t gotten anywhere. It’s back to Zabriskie Point, one of the worst hippie-radical-like flicks ever made.

I want to premiere my Bohemian Musical at the Buck Institute. I want Halprin to do the choreography. We got to stop dicking around and get back to the traditions that Henry and Washington Irving lay down for us – forever! When you are a Jet….you are a Jet all the way!

Has anyone compared Washington Irving to Bret Harte, who spent time with my Fremont kindred out at Black Point. Yes, some have. But don’t tell Meg Whitman and her staff writers for Quibi, this, because they have already run out of ideas – if they ever had one.

Fitser called me yesterday. They want to help me do a webpage for the California Barrel Company.  I think I’m going to promote myself. I want to make money – now – because morons don’t want free ideas. They want to pay other morons millions for a good idea, and, they don’t have even one. The spectacle on the fifty yard line – was the last straw for me!

I had a wonderful conversation with my niece, Shannon Rosamond, yesterday. We are the only family members – speaking to one another! We had an Art Talk.

John Presco

President: Royal Rosamond Press






In 1868, after publishing a series of Spanish legends akin to Washington Irving’s Alhambra, he was named editor of the Overland Monthly. For it he wrote “The Luck of Roaring Camp” and “The Outcasts of Poker Flat.” Following The Luck of Roaring Camp, and Other Sketches (1870), he found himself world famous. His fame only grew with the poem “Plain Language from Truthful James” (1870), better known as “The Heathen Chinee,” although it attracted national attention in a manner unintended by Harte, who claimed that its satirical story—about two men, Bill Nye and Ah Sin, trying to cheat each other at cards—showed a form of racial equality. Instead, the poem was taken up by opponents of Chinese immigration.







Zabriskie – The Musical

Posted on August 26, 2017by Royal Rosamond Press

“I say hello to Nancy and the artists. I think about the Chicano Artist Sanctuaries I am thinking of founding.”

I wrote the above two days ago. I am seeing into the future. Trump’s good squad own guns and see themselves as cowboys. He is supplying them with targets. Hippies were a favorite target of the Republican-right. We were ‘The Savage Indians’.  We were hunted!


The pardon of Sheriff Joe checked so many boxes for what we know about how Trump views the world and operates that, in retrospect, it was utterly predictable.

This morning I awoke carrying a heavy load. I dreamed I was in a warehouse in New York choosing old props from a play that had failed, or, was never fully produced. Something went wrong. Now, I was the savior of this play. I heard someone say;

“This is an extremely difficult project. This guy gets his big break, and he’s going for this?”

I awoke with FAILURE staring me in the face. What is the play? I lie in bed half asleep and let my intuition look for the answer. Maybe it’s a musical? I thought about my friends in New York and ‘My Big Beautiful Blue Bicycle’ and my unfinished novel ‘The Gideon Computer’. I say hello to Nancy and the artists. I think about the Chicano Artist Sanctuaries I am thinking of founding. Then, I am looking at my next post I had in mind, and – BINGO!

In lest than an hour I am watching Darian Halsprin walking into a hole in the rocks where there is a waterfall in a grotto. it leads to a house designed by the famous architect – as a prop, that is going to be blown-up!

This movie was made in 1970, the year Rena and I went camping for fifty days in my 1950 Dodge. When Christine saw the painting I did of my muse in 1971, she took up art. Life imitates art. Life is a movie. Consider the real estate deal going on in the house.

Angela Davis is in this movie. My daughter’s mother had a son by a Black Panther, who knew Angela. It’s all here. It wrote itself, as if there is a God, and, Art is God.

Jon Presco

Copyright 2017

At the end of director Michelangelo Antonioni’s anti-capitalist, anti-life turkey of a film ‘Zabriskie Point,’ this house — designed by architect Paolo Soleri and (like several scenes in Antonioni’s film) based  on the house in Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘North by Northwest,’ which was itself inspired by  Frank Lloyd Wright’s desert houses — this house is ‘lovingly’ exploded in montage as the ‘climax’ of the film; destroyed in balletic slow motion with “a final destructive glee.”

As a director, Antonioni was for sure an accomplished artist.  His films were honest demonstrations — of essentially anti-life themes.  Antonioni’s original ending to this film, which was the perfect culmination of his film’s theme, was a shot of an airplane sky-writing the phrase “Fuck You, America,” which was cut by MGM president Louis F. Polk.

Never doubt that’s what he meant this replacement scene to say — “a series of slow-motion captures of capitalistic debris flying apart against a smoky blue background.”  Never doubt that he meant it.

That’s why the house needed to be so good.  Understand that, and you understand much of modern art.  Think about it.

And from the siting of the house you can begin to appreciate what it means to “integrate architecture with your site.”

Christian Brevoort Zabriskie (October 16, 1864 – February 8, 1936) was an American businessman and former vice president of Pacific Coast Borax CompanyZabriskie Point on the northeasternmost flank of the Black Mountains east of Death Valley, located in Death Valley National Park is named after him.


Maria Zabriskie (Brevoort)
Birthdate:April 10, 1779 (82)
Birthplace:New Barbadoes, Bergen County, New Jersey
Death:December 22, 1861 (82)
Hackensack, Bergen County, New Jersey, United States
Immediate Family:Daughter of Elias Brevoort and Maria Brevoort
Wife of Jacob Christian Zabriskie
Mother of Dr. Christian Brevoort ZabriskieElias Brevoort ZabriskieHenry Brevoort ZabriskieMaria Stoutenburgh Solomon and Col. James Cannon Zabriskie
Managed by:Michael M.van Beuren ©


About Elias Brevoort

Seems to have started as a Loyalist <see list. Not to be confused with another Elias Brevoort now on the DAR list and served under Major Goetchius (NJ) ref: DAR# A104082 . His younger brother Henry remained “loyal” in the Out Ward of New York and preserved the family farm just north of Washington Square.

One Elias Brevoort was granted land in Digby, NS as a Loyalist refugee. Evidently, he returned to the US just as many other refugees did.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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