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Siddhartha [Hardcover]

Hermann Hesse , Hilda Rosner
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,297 customer reviews)

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School & Library Binding $12.80  
Hardcover, 1997 --  
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Book Description

Siddhartha is a novel by Hermann Hesse that deals with the spiritual journey of a boy known as Siddhartha from the Indian subcontinent during the time of the Buddha. The book, Hesse's ninth novel, was written in German, in a simple yet powerful and lyrical style. It was published in the U.S. in 1951 and became influential during the 1960s. The word Siddhartha is made up of two words in the Sanskrit language, siddha (achieved) + artha (meaning or wealth). The two words together mean "he who has found meaning (of existence)" or "he who has attained his goals". The Buddha's name, before his renunciation, was Prince Siddhartha Gautama. In this book, the Buddha is referred to as "Gotama".
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Hermann Hesse (July 2, 1877 to August 9, 1962) was a German-born Swiss poet, novelist, and painter. In 1946, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature. His best-known works include Steppenwolf, Siddhartha, and The Glass Bead Game, each of which explores an individual's search for authenticity, self-knowledge and spirituality. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 122 pages
  • Publisher: MJF Books (1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1567310079
  • ISBN-13: 978-1567310078
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,297 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,707,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews
81 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars new rendition of timeless tale September 5, 2006
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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192 of 203 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Mystical Look at a Universal Problem August 8, 2000
By A Customer
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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174 of 187 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All Is Connected November 9, 2000
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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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Old Friend Revisited August 30, 2006
When I came upon a new translation of Siddhartha by the revered Susan Bernofsky, I was drawn to revisit this book from thirty years ago. Like many teens of the early seventies, I was affected deeply by Siddhartha. It offered me a way to find and embrace spirituality--spirituality that was more aligned with the Beatles, the anti-war movement, and my own peer culture than was my childhood Episcopalian upbringing. This new volume didn't disappoint. Bernofsky, whose translations I've long admired, pays careful attention to Hesse's musical prose and lyricism. The simple messages and Siddhartha's adventures were even more delightful that I remembered. This is a much more beautifully rendered version than the one I read in my youth. Bernofsky's mastery of German coupled with her understanding of and faithfulness to Hesse's pure and rather innocent lessons make this a refreshing read, like dipping one's feet into a cool brook on an August day. I'm glad I revisited this old friend. Siddhartha has stood the test of time. Bravo to Bernofsky, as well.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This book is very wonderful to read I really recommend it
Published 1 day ago by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars I really don't like the writing style of it
Had to read it for class. I really don't like the writing style of it. But the book physically was a nice paperback good quality.
Published 8 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great sole searching book a must read for everyone
Published 10 days ago by leroy
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 11 days ago by D. Rembert
4.0 out of 5 stars .
A very nice short read. This put in perspective how short life is and how the most important things in life haven't changed despite the world we live in today.
Published 11 days ago by Kindle Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed this book
I enjoyed this book. It was unlike other fiction novels I've read, in that it almost felt like non-fiction.
Published 13 days ago by Delta Stet
5.0 out of 5 stars Life Changing, A Book Filled With Knowledge.
Siddhartha is a book that has began to transform my life and see the better aide of the world. It teaches you that instead of trying to picture the world in a different way, to... Read more
Published 13 days ago by Mathew Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Have not read all of these books, but I am working on it. Thanks.
Published 13 days ago by A. E. Elliott
5.0 out of 5 stars graphic novel (somewhat by accident) and while the art of that story...
Bought this as a gift. Originally purchased the Deepak Chopra, graphic novel (somewhat by accident) and while the art of that story was good and well, the actual book lacked... Read more
Published 17 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great. thank you.
Published 18 days ago by O.
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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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Topic From this Discussion
Best translation?
I have compared a few versions - Shambala, Barnes & Noble Classics, and the New Directions edition translated by Hilda Rosner (which I own). I find the Rosner translation to be markedly superior. The other two seem to stumble over themselves, missing the powerful simplicity of the story. It is... Read More
May 27, 2009 by B. A. Newburn |  See all 9 posts
Siddhartha changes.
Karen, in each case Siddhartha reaches a saturation point, a point at which he comes to an abrupt realization that there is no more to learn in his current situation and that he is not progressing toward his goal. What is surprising is how long this takes in his material world phase; he becomes... Read More
Jan 20, 2007 by Inchanando |  See all 7 posts
Welcome to the Siddhartha forum
I just finished reading this book. I question what it was that Siddhartha was searching. Was it happiness, inner peace, freedom from temptations, self-satisfaction, mind control? And in the end did he really accomplish what it was he sought or did he just just wear himself out thinking? Did... Read More
Dec 28, 2005 by C. Masone |  See all 4 posts
Siddhartha changes. Be the first to reply
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