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The Journey to the East Paperback – February 1, 2003
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What insight Hesse had, to be able to see that endless searching can blind us to what we already know, to be able to express the often-neglected value of humility and faithful servitude. Hesse's feel for communal and individual values shines forth in this brilliantly simple story, all of 117 pages.
And so I invite you to read this short tale in the hope that you, too, will find what you are looking for.
Almost from the beginning the reader is forced to conclude that neither the league itself, nor the attempt to write about it, can be taken literally. Clearly Hesse wants the league of travelers to the east to be seen in a symbolic light. But what is it meant to represent? Given that this is the author of Siddhartha, one might suppose that the league represents a group of individuals in search of eastern mysticism. Yet the book says little or nothing about Buddhism, Hinduism or Islam. The league could also be taken as an allegory for the community of artists, and though there are numerous references in the book to support this point of view, it seems too shallow an interpretation to explain the entire text. For instance, there are clear and repeated references to religion, usually in a Christian context. These references belie a simple interpretation of the book as being about the life of an artist.
The book also spends considerable time wrestling with the idea of whether or not it is appropriate to attempt to use a novel as means of exorcising one's personal demons, or whether such an undertaking is fundamentally selfish.Read more ›
At the begining H.H. has no doubt what-so-ever in the existance or purpose of the ancient League. He sets forth on the journey to the East with his brother members in pursuit of the Tao, Kundalini, and the other Eastern mysteries. In short, they are seeking union with the divine. Even when some member drops out during the quest and "takes the railroad back" to the mundane world, they simply bid him farewell and continue on, unshaken in their own faith. They travel on through time, myth, poetry, and magic towards their goal.
It is at the gorge of Morbio Inferiore that everthing unravels. It is here that the loyal servant Leo suddenly departs and the expedition falls apart in squabbling over trifles. Morbio Inferiore is the dark night of the soul. It is also the historical cataclysm of WW1. You see, before the Great War Germans could still believe in magic, Mozart, and Goethe, after the war all magic and innocence were dead. All that remained was cynicism, machines, and monsters.
H.H. is suddenly left alone wondering if the League ever really existed or if it was a dream. He searches and searches for the lost servant Leo- only to be surprised at what he eventually finds....
Ultimately we end up at the realization that despair serves a purpose in our own journey through life. For if we are still capable of despair then we must still, deep down, still believe in innocence, virtue, and justice. You cannot deeply mourn what never existed- somewhere, sometime!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not light reading. I found it difficult to "get into" the story, but the message is very compelling and thought provocative. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Robert D. Armstrong
Not my favorite Hesse, but short enough that it doesn't feel like a waste of time reading.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
One of my favorite books and written by my favorite author, Journey To The East is a quick read. It is an allegory about man's spiritual journey. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Miss Demeanor
Evocative stirring story of the journeys of one person, but a metaphor for us all. Weaves magic and realism in artful storytelling.Published 2 months ago by Jack Ferrell
A quest for one's self, a journey into the abyss of the soul, the alienation and loss of belief on the way, the tragic realization. The real self has always been there. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
I found a new author I thoroughly enjoy. Hope to find many more of Hermann Hesse's books in English. This book really surprised me. It's greatPublished 7 months ago by Amazon Customer