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Siddhartha (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) d edition Edition

79 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0142437186
ISBN-10: 0142437182
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Winner of the 2012 Fifty Books/Fifty Covers show, organized by Design Observer in association with AIGA and Designers & Books

Winner of the 2014 Type Directors Club Communication Design Award

Praise for Penguin Drop Caps:

"[Penguin Drop Caps] convey a sense of nostalgia for the tactility and aesthetic power of a physical book and for a centuries-old tradition of beautiful lettering."
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—Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

"The Penguin Drop Caps series is a great example of the power of design. Why buy these particular classics when there are less expensive, even free editions of Great Expectations? Because they’re beautiful objects. Paul Buckley and Jessica Hische’s fresh approach to the literary classics reduces the design down to typography and color. Each cover is foil-stamped with a cleverly illustrated letterform that reveals an element of the story. Jane Austen’s A (Pride and Prejudice) is formed by opulent peacock feathers and Charlotte Bronte’s B (Jane Eyre) is surrounded by flames. The complete set forms a rainbow spectrum prettier than anything else on your bookshelf."
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About the Author

In the 1960s, especially in the United States, the novels of Hermann Hesse were widely embraced by young readers who found in his protagonists a reflection of their own search for meaning in a troubled world. Hesse’s rich allusions to world mythologies, especially those of Asia, and his persistent theme of the individual striving for integrity in opposition to received opinions and mass culture appealed to a generation in upheaval and in search of renewed values.

Born in southern Germany in 1877, Hesse came from a family of missionaries, scholars, and writers with strong ties to India. This early exposure to the philosophies and religions of Asia—filtered and interpreted by thinkers thoroughly steeped in the intellectual traditions and currents of modern Europe—provided Hesse with some of the most pervasive elements in his short stories and novels, especially Siddhartha (1922) and Journey to the East (1932).

Hesse concentrated on writing poetry as a young man, but his first successful book was a novel,Peter Camenzind (1904). The income it brought permitted him to settle with his wife in rural Switzerland and write full-time. By the start of World War I in 1914, Hesse had produced several more novels and had begun to write the considerable number of book reviews and articles that made him a strong influence on the literary culture of his time.

During the war, Hesse was actively involved in relief efforts. Depression, criticism for his pacifist views, and a series of personal crises—combined with what he referred to as the “war psychosis” of his times—led Hesse to undergo psychoanalysis with J. B. Lang, a student of Carl Jung. Out of these years came Demian (1919), a novel whose main character is torn between the orderliness of bourgeois existence and the turbulent and enticing world of sensual experience. This dichotomy is prominent in Hesse’s subsequent novels, including Siddhartha (1922), Steppenwolf (1927), and Narcissus and Goldmund (1930). Hesse worked on his magnum opus, The Glass Bead Game (1943), for twelve years. This novel was specifically cited when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946. Hesse died at his home in Switzerland in 1962.

Calling his life a series of “crises and new beginnings,” Hesse clearly saw his writing as a direct reflection of his personal development and his protagonists as representing stages in his own evolution. In the 1950s, Hesse described the dominant theme of his work: “From Camenzind to Steppenwolf and Josef Knecht [protagonist of The Glass Bead Game], they can all be interpreted as a defense (sometimes also as an SOS) of the personality, of the individual self.” 

Joachim Neugroschel has won three PEN translation awards and the French-American translation prize. He has also translated Thomas Mann's Death in Venice and Sacher-Masoch's Venus in Furs, both for Penguin Classics. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Ralph Freedman, Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at Princeton University, is acclaimed for his biographies Hermann Hesse: Pilgrim of Crisis, and Life of a Poet: Rainer Maria Rilke

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; d edition edition (December 31, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142437182
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142437186
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.5 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

98 of 100 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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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Caraculiambro on April 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
Seriously, if you're gonna read Siddhartha, this is certainly the edition to get -- the slightly oversized Penguin Classics one.

It features a useful (35-page!) introduction by Ralph Freedman, which includes suggestions for further reading.

The translation by Joachim Neugroschel -- a new one -- also reads swiftly and naturally.

There are no footnotes for the text itself, however.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bill Gallagher on May 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Maybe I'm a bit slow on the uptake, but when I first saw the Drop Cap series I was confused about what the point was. In case you're wondering too, it's a handsome way to organize your library--yes, your physical library (you'll notice no digital edition here.) And the assumption is to choose books that every reader would want in their library. Now that I get it, it's a clever idea well executed.

That said, I have some doubts about some of the Penguin choices for letters, but NOT for this book. Siddhartha is one of many favorite books of all time. I have read or listened to it at least three times. Happily, Penguin has chosen an excellent translation, which flows well, is consistent, lyrical, and gets the wisdom of Hesse's words. I haven't read all the translations, but I'm happy to report Joachim Neugroschel's as an excellent one.

So if you're looking to organize your library in a fun way or don't own a copy of Siddhartha, this is an excellent edition to get. And if not this edition, if you haven't already, do yourself a favor and read Siddhartha.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Farzana T. Ali on September 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
Herman Hesse's Siddhartha poeticizes the truth-seeking endeavors of a protagonist who overthrows convention and becomes more religious. Ultimately, Siddhartha abandons Brahmin, ascetic, and materialistic pursuits. Siddhartha's eventual enlightenment, by crystalizing his conversion journey, mirrors Hesse's Western perspective - which revels in the vital role of individualism in achieving religious fulfillment. Siddhartha expresses that regardless of a person's past sins or social status, any person can have a continued personal experience or an embodied understanding of his or her role in the world. Across a Buddhist, Hindu, post-World War I, philosophically-vibrant, and Western canvas, the nearly-biographical story paints a final deeply intimate connection with an immaterial force.

Herman Hesse's Siddhartha is a portrait of a man seeking self-knowledge and in the process; he is seeking a new transcendental, universal, and spiritual framework that is communal in content and individual in conquest. Ultimately, Siddhartha's humbleness, awareness and empathy -coupled with his escape from materialistic misery- enable him to attain an enlightened lifestyle, a unity with the universe, and an entrance into a greater community of humanity. This fulfillment is the result of independent seeking and living, as well as the mastery of collective Brahmin, ascetic, and practical teachings. The story imbues the Western notion of self-teaching. Siddhartha becomes more religious, as a result of the author's introspection. Hesse's individual spiritual success creates an inspired literary piece that compels readers to attempt to either establish or appreciate a continued personal experience or an embodied understanding of his or her role in the world.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Red Pineapple on December 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
Like many people, I first read Siddhartha in high school as a part of my study of Buddhism and Hinduism. It wasn't until this second reading that the book made an impression on me. Siddhartha is a young man who spends his life looking for the way to Nirvana. He begins in the forest, living a life of a samana, a wandering ascetic, begging for food and spending his days in meditation. His eventual meeting with the Buddha has an unexpected effect on him: he realizes that teachers cannot really teach him anything. Therefore, it is up to him to find his own way to salvation.

The book is short, and is made up of two parts, before the Buddha, and after the Buddha. Each chapter has a very particular meaning, and the plot is very well contained within. This adds to the story and gives it the feeling of a sacred text. Although most of the minor characters are not well-developed, it is very clear that their very existence is only to help Siddhartha on his journey. Otherwise, they are not important. Each character has something to give Siddhartha, and each adds to his understanding of the world and of himself.

This book will appeal to anyone interested in Eastern religions and philosophies, or to anyone who is themselves a spiritual pilgrim. It is very similar to Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist in its plot and feeling. It's also easy for even a reader who is not familiar with religious doctrines or language - Hesse does a beautiful job of making the spiritual and philosophical content very clear and easy to understand. However, this does not mean that it has been "dumbed down" in any way. In fact, the writing is intelligent and evocative, and the story is wholly engrossing.
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