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Narcissus and Goldmund: A Novel Paperback – February 1, 2003
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“A poetic novel unique in its fascination.” ―Thomas Mann
“Hesse was a great writer in precisely the modern sense: complex, subtle, allusive; alive to the importance of play, to the desperate yet frolicsome game of writing....Narcissus and Goldmund is his very best....What makes this short book so limitlessly vast is the body-and-soul-shaking debate that runs through it, which it has the honesty and courage not to resolve: between the flesh and spirit, art and scientific or religious speculation, action and contemplation, between the wayfaring and the sedentary in us.” ―The New York Times Book Review
“One of the most profound and magical novels published in our age.” ―Kirkus Reviews
Original Language: German
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Top Customer Reviews
Hesse takes two young men - one devoted to the hermetic religious life and another more into the decadent artistic life - and follows them through adulthood. There are some amazing scenes here - scenes of great artistic creation, a journey through a plague ravaged world, the reunion of the two friends - that rank among the best things Hesse ever wrote.
True the characters are more "types" than real three dimensional characters. It is obvious that Hesse wants to examine the spiritual/cerebral approach to existence versus the more artistic/physical approach to life, and to find them both wanting. This is less a slice of life novel than a modern parable. Taken on those terms, this novel is Hesse at the height of his powers and deserves to be better known and read than it currently is.
Now, at 42, I have reread this book. I never appreciated the first time 'round that Hess was describing a completed life. I was too fixated on Goldmund's emancipation through travel. But in the end, after his return to the cloister to create true art, Goldmund hit the road again. He tried in vain to recapture youth only to be spurned by Agnes, the woman he considered to be the most beautiful - and the most like himself. This was a classic description of what we now call the "mid-life crisis".
Neither Narcissus nor Goldmund ended up truly happy, I believe. But that is not the point at all. There was a mutual recognition of the richness in their separate lives. And there was a love and a respect for those differences.
As we all grow up it is these deeper lessons that Hess seeks to impart to us. I'm glad I picked up this excellent book once again and am not surprised to see other reviewers who have done the same with similar results.
A book for living dangerously, and fully.
That was five years ago and to this day, there hasn't been a book that's touched me as deeply nor have I experienced an epiphany as huge as the one I was struck with when I finished the book. The theme that comes across all of Hesse's novels is the road to self-discovery and frankly, having read other popular books by Hesse, none seem to match the profoundness of "Narcissus and Goldmund" or as eloquently written. This book epitomizes the struggle between the mind and the heart. Hesse forces the reader to come to terms with this inevitable conflict and realize that neither is above the other. Actually, both need each other to survive. I will admit that Narcissus and Goldmund are presented as two types of characters - literally. BUT the dimensionality that comes to define the two types as two individuals, are their journeys which, leads to their eventual reunion. It's what wasn't said between Narcissus and Goldmund that allows the reader to analyze and interpret accordingly.
Some reviewers have stated that they found this book disappointing because Hesse didn't delve further in defining the essence of life or that it's didactically written.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent writing, heart felt characters full of truth, serenity, violence , lust, murder, and true love. Goldmund and Narcissus become best of friends at Mariabonn Cloister. Read morePublished 7 days ago by Lee
This is the best Hesse. My second read and still remarkably beautiful. That is all I can say, read it.Published 17 days ago by Captain Spin
Published in 1930, this is Herman Hesse's brilliant story of two friends in medieval Germany. Largely metaphorical, this has the feel of a cautionary fairy tale with no true... Read morePublished 21 days ago by W Perry Hall
Beautiful, inspiring and a lesson in life. Herman Hesse has inspired me for many years with many books and l highly recommend them. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Eileen Burrowes
After reading Siddhartha and Steppenwolf, I expected something more from Hesse. This book doesn't live up to his reputation.Published 2 months ago by River
For those who are also looking for their own "meaning of life", you might just be able to find yours after reading this masterpiece by Hesse.Published 2 months ago by MP Hulbert
This is an excellent book with many psychological undertones and nuances. The writing is excellent and the book is intellectually challenging. One of Hesse's best, in my opinionPublished 4 months ago by Richard