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Siddhartha Paperback – November 23, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 76 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (November 23, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1440471045
  • ISBN-13: 978-1440471049
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (934 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #192,138 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Siddhartha's life takes him on a journey toward enlightenment. Afire with youthful idealism, the Brahmin joins a group of ascetics, fasting and living without possessions. Meeting Gotama the Buddha, he comes to feel this is not the right path, though he also declines joining the Buddha's followers. He reenters the world, hoping to learn of his own nature, but instead slips gradually into hedonism and materialism. Surfeited and disgusted, he flees from his possessions to become a ferryman's apprentice, learning what lessons he can from the river itself. Herman Hesse's 1922 Bildungsroman parallels the life of Buddha and seems to argue that lessons of this sort cannot be taught but come from one's own struggle to find truth. Noted actor Derek Jacobi interprets this material wonderfully, and the package, despite abridging a Nobel prize winner's prose, can be highly recommended.AJohn Hiett, Iowa City P.L.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"No living English-speaking actor outshines Derek Jacobi, nor any audiobook reader for that matter. He sings, rather than speaks, with extraordinary lyricism, expressiveness and depth...Jacobi approached the text with a direct, childlike fervor. He brings home the subtleties of Siddhartha's inner journey with amazing clarity and resonance, which he makes more exciting than the most thrilling thriller." -- AudioFile, October/November 1998 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Hermann Hesse (1877-1962) was born in Germany and later became a citizen of Switzerland. As a Western man profoundly affected by the mysticism of Eastern thought, he wrote many novels, stories, and essays that bear a vital spiritual force that has captured the imagination and loyalty of many generations of readers. In 1946, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature for The Glass Bead Game.

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Customer Reviews

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse is a story about a youth and his quest for enlightenment.
John H. Eagan
There is a wonderful description of what a rock is near the end of the book that is well worth reading, even if you get nothing out of the rest of the story.
Donald Mitchell
I read it again recently and realized just how much this book had affected the way I think about my life and priorities.
Carl A Olson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Kedar Deshpande on January 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
Siddhartha is both a western and eastern tale. Though it was written by a westerner, it has the soul and power of an ancient eastern myth. It is at once a timeless story and one that the reader will wish to continually revisit at different phases in his or her life.

Hesse does a remarkable job in capturing the tone, cadence and moral complexity of ancient Indian religious stories. His "revisionist" take on the life of Buddha is at once fresh and familiar to anyone who has read the sermons of the Buddha or who has studied ancient Hinduism and Buddhism. The themes of self-doubt, denial, asceticism and spiritual rejuvenation are both profoundly and cleverly handled in Hesse's superb narrative. In many ways, this is a book that serves as a summation, and improvement on, all of the religious texts one has read. The fictional aspect allows Hesse to interweave common literary devices, such as heroic journeys and coming-of-age revelations, to make the text, as a whole, much stronger and more impacting than a dry sermon.

Siddhartha's narrative works as a cycle, with each chapter offering commentary on the vices and victories of mankind and the ultimate futility of the material world. Like the river that Siddhartha comes to love, the book flows, and never missteps or hesitates in reaching remarkable insights into the nature and philosophy of humanity.

This is a book that will stay with the reader for a lifetime. Its simple structure belies a greater complexity; be sure that this book leaves the reader with no easy answers, but it is sure to inspire thought and joy.

*A note on translations:
-For readability, flow and consistency, I find the Joachim Neugroschel translation to be the best of the many options.
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164 of 175 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 8, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Set in India, Siddhartha is subtitled an "Indic Poetic Work" and clearly it does owe much to both Buddhism and Hinduism, however the philosophy embodied in Siddhartha is both unique and quite complex, despite the lyrically beautiful simplicity of the plot.
Siddhartha is one of the names of the historical Gautama and while the life of Hesse's character resembles that of his historical counterpart to some extent, Siddhartha is by no means a fictional life of Buddha and his teachings.
Siddhartha is divided into two parts of four and eight chapters, something some have interpreted as an illustration of Buddhism's Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path to Enlightenment.
Elements of Hinduism can also be found in Siddhartha. Some critics maintain that Hesse was influenced largely by the Bhagavad Gita when he wrote the book and that his protagonist was groping his way along a path outlined in that text. Certainly the central problems of Siddhartha and the Gita are similar: how can the protagonist attain a state of happiness and serenity by means of a long and arduous path?
Hesse's protagonist, however, seeks his own personal path to fulfillment, not someone else's. It is one of trial and error and he is only subconsciously aware of its nature. Although many see Siddhartha's quest as embodying the ideals of Buddhism, Siddhartha objects to the negative aspects of Gautama's teaching. He rejects Gautama's model for himself and he rejects Buddhism; Siddhartha insists upon the right to choose his own path to fulfillment.
The primary theme of Siddhartha is the individual's difficult and lonely search for self-fulfillment.
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55 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Joseph H. Hartmann on September 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Beautifully translated, evoking the majesty in the simple story of a man in his lifelong journey towards the attainment of Enlightenment. Melodic in its tone but true to the original German Susan Bernofsky's translation has set a new standard among the various English translations currently available. As many times as I have read and enjoyed Siddhartha over the years (about 10 or so readings) never have I enjoyed a translation as much as Ms. Bernofsky's - a truly remarkable effort.
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149 of 159 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Siddhartha is that most unusual of all stories -- one that follows a character throughout most of his life . . . and describes that life in terms of a spiritual journey. For those who are ready to think about what their spiritual journey can be, Siddhartha will be a revelation. For those who are not yet looking for "enlightenment," the book will seem pecular, odd, and out-of-joint. That's because Hesse was presenting a mystery story, also, for each reader to solve for herself or himself. The mystery is simply to unravel the meaning of life.
As the son of a Brahmin, Siddhartha would naturally have enjoyed access to all of the finest lessons and things of life. Knowing of his natural superiority in many ways, he becomes disenchanted with teachers and his companions. In a burst of independence, he insists on being allowed to leave home to become a wandering Shramana (or Samana, depending on which translation you read). After three years or so, he tires of this as well. Near the end of that part of his life, Siddharta meets Gotama, the Buddha, and admires him greatly. But Siddharta continues to feel that teachers cannot convey the wisdom of what they know. Words are too fragile a vessel for that purpose. He sees a beautiful courtesan and asks her to teach him about love. Thus, Siddhartha begins his third quest for meaning by embracing the ordinary life that most people experience. Eventually, disgusted by this (and he does behave disgustingly), he tires of life. Then, he suddenly reconnects with the Universe, and decides to become a ferryman and learn from the river. In this fourth stage of his life, he comes to develop the wisdom to match the knowledge that direct experiences of the "good" and the "sensual" life have provided to him.
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