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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Those that seek will not find
Siddhartha is the eponymous tale of a Nepali man's journey to spiritual "enlightenment"--if that is what you wish to call it-for what Siddhartha attained is beyond conception and language. The beginning of the book captures the default mental state of man: restlessness. This restlessness derives from our need for existential consequence--an explanation for being--and a...
Published 18 months ago by David D. Metcalf

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Full of typos
There is nothing wrong with the original, however this version, published by Simon & Brown, is full of typos and mispellings. For instance, the word "the" will be written twice in a row, or the word "nit" instead of "not." It makes me wonder if the translation is bad also, since I don't have another version to compare it to.
Published on January 18, 2012 by Grace B.


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Full of typos, January 18, 2012
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This review is from: Siddhartha (Paperback)
There is nothing wrong with the original, however this version, published by Simon & Brown, is full of typos and mispellings. For instance, the word "the" will be written twice in a row, or the word "nit" instead of "not." It makes me wonder if the translation is bad also, since I don't have another version to compare it to.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful novella, but this edition is unreadable due to many, many typos, February 5, 2013
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By all means, buy the book, it's incredible, but don't buy this one. Hesse's words and W.K. Marriott's classic translation are butchered in this Simon & Brown printing -- "if" for "of", "nit" for "not", "heard" instead of "head" -- all in one paragraph. Yeesh.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Those that seek will not find, February 20, 2013
This review is from: Siddhartha (Paperback)
Siddhartha is the eponymous tale of a Nepali man's journey to spiritual "enlightenment"--if that is what you wish to call it-for what Siddhartha attained is beyond conception and language. The beginning of the book captures the default mental state of man: restlessness. This restlessness derives from our need for existential consequence--an explanation for being--and a good one at that. To see what would meaning would suffice, one need only look to the artful contrivances of conventional religion. We want a purpose to our life, and a death that does not nullify it.

But when the mind strips all idealisms of their all too convenient ideals, as secular western culture has, man becomes no more than the bastard son of a cosmos deaf to--as Shakespeare famously said--our "bootless cries" for a purposeful explanation of our birth. For an existence wanting an objective absolute, man is simply insufficient to answer that question--the only question-- and thereby fill the intrinsic void of the human condition. We attempt to medicate that void with various existential salves - religion, drugs, hobbies, jobs, romance. But all such resorts touch the symptoms of the disease: the selfish longing. The self--with the mind as its principal agent--prevents recognition of the emptiness and apprehension of its import.

So is all empty? Not in the sense the cynic supposes. Is there a reality, an immaterial divine that eludes material cognition? Siddhartha supposes. He cedes that nothing in material existence can give us happiness or peace, as we are afflicted by the intuition that "I am not enough." Siddhartha feels the tasking pangs of this longing. He notices the sacrifices, the prayers, and the "supplications to the Gods" are but sterile rituals masking the referent: "Were not the gods forms created like me and you, mortal, transient?": Every Christ, cross, Koran, shrine, Vishnu, veda, are nothing more than material ceremony¬--symbols of the supreme spirit. They are but clothes man has put on the flesh of the spirit--they manifest the spirit, they give it form, but when people worship the messenger over the message, the instrument over the sound, and gods over spirit--these cultural renditions disguise rather than illuminate the oneness. This oneness has many faces--clumsily depicted by many cultures and religions--that fail to render it. And The self cannot find it. As the Rig Veda stated, "The gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe. Who then knows whence it has arisen?"

Siddhartha sensed that his devotion to Hinduism was just that.: a devotion to yet another "ism" - a distractant on the path to discovering the only God - the only self - the only spirit that lies within Atman and all things: "To whom else should one offer sacrifices, to whom should one pay honor, but to Him, the Atman, the Only One?" So Siddhartha foregoes a pilgrammage for a peregrination--to confront the self and the longing that even the most pious devotees such as his father- a good, learned man - still suffer: "Was he not also a seeker, insatiable?" He first attempts to realize the self--the Atman--by joining the ascectic band of Samanas. But ascetism is pure escapism--avoidance of suffering and material longing. Neither avoiding (ascetism) nor indulging (materialism) the Self can reconcile it with the Divine. One must confront the grand question - the grand internal oneness within the self : "One must find the source within one's own Self, one must possess it. Everything else was seeking--a detour, error."

That is why the key moment of this book is Siddhartha's meeting with the Buddha. Siddhartha eschews embracing the Buddhist ideology and following the Buddha as a disciple. In doing so, he does not reject the teaching but the teacher: "I heard your teachings. That is why I am going on my way. Not to seek another and better doctrine, for I know there is none, but to leave all doctrines and all teachers and to reach my goal alone-or die." Accordingly, perhaps the most salient lesson of Siddhartha is that there are no lessons. The oneness, the Tao, the way -- cannot be taught. Experience is not the best pedagogy, it is the only one. After abandoning the Buddha, the Samanas, the merchants, the beggars, Siddhartha arrives to a great river alone and realizes that "too much knowledge hindered him; too many holy verses, too many sacrificial rites, too much doing and striving . . . Now he understood it and realized that the inward voice had been right, that no teacher could have brought him salvation."

It is at the river that Siddhartha meets the ferryman Vesudeva. There Siddhartha finally engages the vast oneness--the Atman--not by learning but by listening. Siddhartha recognizes that enlightenment is a passive, not an active, phenomenon. The seeker will not find--seeking is the product of selfishness, desire, and yearning for a satiation that requires the self to die, not to feed. All pursuits - material or spiritual - lead to attachment, and attachment to suffering. So Siddhartha becomes a passenger rather than the driver of his salvation, a student of the river, not of Vesudeva.

In doing so, "he learned from it how to listen, to listen with a still heart, with a waiting, open soul, without passion, without desire, without judgment, without opinions." Eventually Siddhartha recognizes that the river signifies the timelessness of existence--flowing changelessly without moment: "Nothing was, nothing will be, everything has reality and presence...Was then not all sorrow in time, all self-torment and fear in time? Were not all difficulties and evils in the world conquered as soon as one conquered time, as soon as one dispelled time?" All that is belongs to the Atman. Life and death are but an affair of the material, the concern of the living in space and time--all subsumed by the running river. Life needs death to close the fundamental circle. But while the forces of the finite command that you and I die., you and I are false terms exposed by the infinite river. It is this essence of the self that death returns to the transcendental oneness. But the spiritual self in the conscious energy of Atman - the all-powerful, all-present, all-knowing self - is not returned to the transcendental oneness, because it never left it. Transcending the space and time rendering of it, the soul transcends death. Birth and death are merely a matter of matter. The flesh experiences both, the soul experiences neither. Life hides the infinite self - knowing and being all - beneath the material. Death merely unveils the infinite oneness. It neither cancels nor redeems, and the thief we think steals all - steals nothing. River run.

And as it did, "the river flowed on towards its goal. . . All the waves and water hastened, suffering, towards goals, many goals, to the waterfall, to the sea, to the current, to the ocean and all goals were reached and each one was succeeded by another. The water changed to vapor and rose, became rain and came down again, became spring, brook and river, changed anew, flowed anew. But the yearning voice had altered. It still echoed sorrowfully, searchingly, but other voices accompanied it, voices of pleasure and sorrow, good and evil voices, laughing and lamenting voices, hundreds of voices, thousands of voices . . . He could no longer distinguish the different voices--the merry voice from the weeping voice, the childish voice from the manly voice. They all belonged to each other: the lament of those who yearn, the laughter of the wise, the cry of indignation and the groan of the dying. They were all interwoven and interlocked, entwined in a thousands ways. And all the voices, all the goals, all the yearnings, all the sorrows, all the pleasures, all the good and evil, all of them together was the world. All of them together was the stream of events, the music of life. When Siddhartha listened attentively to this river, to this song of a thousand voices, when he did not listen to the sorrow or laughter, when he did not bind his soul to any one particular voice and absorb it in his Self, but heard them all, the whole, the unity; then the great song of a thousand voices consisted of one word: Om-perfection."

So what does the secular Westerner make of this? Critics see nothing more than just another unfalsifiable metaphysics (minus the fairy tales) contrived by a human condition starved for significance. Even worse, they say, its universal abstractions defy any meaningful debate. But turn your mind off and listen to the self, and what you will hear is not your self-- but the susurrations of a consciousness awakening to the monistic togetherness of all things. Critics will question whether this is a sensation more than a truth, a solipsism more than a monism. But the characterization cannot be dialectically resolved. It cannot be debated here. Enlightenment is the psychological denouement of jnana--a consciousness accepting, not contemplating. Go find your river. Let the transcendental aneosis come with time--and then wash way the time that came. What you find may not be taught--it will be beyond time, thought, and language--and therefore is meaningless absent the experience. Run river run.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, wisdom, October 19, 2012
This review is from: Siddhartha (Paperback)
My first experience with Hermann Hesse came in the fall of 2005 when I took Anthropology of Religion in my senior year at Texas A&M. We read an excerpt from The Glass Bead Game and I was deeply moved by the beauty of Hesse's writing, as were many people, thus earning him the Nobel Prize in 1946.

I don't remember when or where I purchased Siddhartha, but the appeal of the story of a spiritual journey and my desire to read more of Hesse's works were too tempting to deny. That being said, I don't know why I've held onto the book for so long without reading it, especially since it is not a very long novel.

Siddhartha is beautifully written and mirrors my own spiritual journey. I am of a different faith than the characters in the book, but that is irrelevant to my appreciation of the story. There is much wisdom in the story, and "Wisdom," Siddhartha says, "is not communicable." A wise statement, yes, which then makes it foolish.

Wisdom is communicable, but not always through pedagogical language. It is communicated through the sound of a river, a life lived, or a story. This book is a book of wisdom and it must be read carefully and reflectively to be received.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Try another Translation first, July 12, 2014
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This review is from: Siddhartha (Paperback)
This review is for the version of Siddhartha translated by W. K. Marriott and published in 2013. I have read "Siddhartha" by one translator or another every year starting in 1978 (it is now 2014). I try to find new translations hoping that it will stimulate my reading of the book. In recent years, there have been many. This one, however, as other reviewers has stated, has so many typos that it difficult to read - especially if this is your first try. Do NOT read this translation first. The New Directions translation, the only one available for many years, is not exactly in modern English, but it beats the heck out of this version.

I DO, however, strongly recommend reading a decent version of the novel. One of Hesse's best (and I've read them all).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful little book, November 30, 2012
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Togar (san diego ca) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Siddhartha (Paperback)
Siddhartha is a very personal story of one man's quest for peace and understanding, not Hesse's scripture or a re-telling of the Buddha's life. Hesse's Siddhartha is a sincere, intelligent, thoughtful, yet deeply flawed character (as most great characters in fiction are). This is a novel, a work of fiction, but unfortunately seems to be confused for a self-help manual.

I am not a believer in eastern traditions or religions, yet enjoyed Siddhartha as a piece of literature and as a insightful look into the complexity of mankind and our relationship with the world around us.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bon Idee, October 4, 2012
This review is from: Siddhartha (Paperback)
If you are looking for a book that will make you inexplicably sad and outrageously happy, filled with longing and in the tender wings of love, and will leave a completely everlasting impression, Siddhartha is definately the book for you.

The story follows a man named Siddhatha on his search for fullfillment. Although the book undoubtedly has some Buddhist over tones, this is surely a quest that every individual is on at some point in his or her life. This classic novel is one that everyone should read, because given the chance, it is universally connectable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars MIKER, May 2, 2012
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This review is from: Siddhartha (Paperback)
This is a pretty good book. Short but good. My friend and a Indian acquaintance told me about Sidartha. I first downloaded the audio book but shortly after made the decision to purchase it. Its a great book to lend out to people.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Siddhartha, November 6, 2012
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Although this book (Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse) is considered a literary classic, this particular translation was very poor with many typos and grammatical errors.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Story, Abhorrent Translation, January 7, 2012
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I have no doubt that Hermann Hesse would find this translation of his masterpiece insulting. The book is replete with grammatical errors, spelling errors, incorrect words, syntax errors, and various other anomalies that expose the amateurishness of the translator, remiss of the editor, and failure of the publisher. Read reviews and find a different version, but read the story nonetheless.
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Siddhartha
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (Paperback - October 11, 2013)
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