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Siddhartha Mass Market Paperback – December 1, 1981
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In the shade of a banyan tree, a grizzled ferryman sits listening to the river. Some say he's a sage. He was once a wandering shramana and, briefly, like thousands of others, he followed Gotama the Buddha, enraptured by his sermons. But this man, Siddhartha, was not a follower of any but his own soul. Born the son of a Brahmin, Siddhartha was blessed in appearance, intelligence, and charisma. In order to find meaning in life, he discarded his promising future for the life of a wandering ascetic. Still, true happiness evaded him. Then a life of pleasure and titillation merely eroded away his spiritual gains until he was just like all the other "child people," dragged around by his desires. Like Hermann Hesse's other creations of struggling young men, Siddhartha has a good dose of European angst and stubborn individualism. His final epiphany challenges both the Buddhist and the Hindu ideals of enlightenment. Neither a practitioner nor a devotee, neither meditating nor reciting, Siddhartha comes to blend in with the world, resonating with the rhythms of nature, bending the reader's ear down to hear answers from the river. In this translation Sherab Chodzin Kohn captures the slow, spare lyricism of Siddhartha's search, putting her version on par with Hilda Rosner's standard edition. --Brian Bruya --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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.
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Top customer reviews
To my great pleasure, Hermann Hesse delivers, and more. I was not fully captivated by the novel until the last four chapters (starting with "The River"). I love how Hesse chronicles the stages of life that Siddhartha undergoes and the purity that revolves around the spiritual individuals he encounters. And at times, I felt an embarrassing resemblance to Siddhartha's son.
This novel, at its barest minimum, leaves the reader pondering of what it means to live his/her own life. I look forward to rereading Siddhartha multiple times in different stages of my life.
So I read Siddhartha. Again. As a designer and as a theologian, despite being very much into symbol, meaning, sign, and word, I still don't quite get the profound import of this book. I clearly remember my German Professor's "I am humanist" declarations; I also recall a friend telling me how much she'd enjoyed reading Siddhartha in English, and envied that I'd read it in German. I fully expected being a few years older would increase my appreciation, but it didn't. However, I'm still happy to own this digital edition, and I encourage you to read Siddhartha for yourself, in either a good translation or in Hermann Hesse's original German.
Hermann Hesse is a masterful writer who deservedly won the Nobel Prize in 1946. Many of his novels revolve around the quest for knowledge and wisdom, yet all differ greatly in their setting and tone. Siddhartha is written in deceptively simple prose. It reads almost like a fairy tale, yet Hesse's economy of words masks a rich depth of philosophical insight and spiritual understanding. It is a very short novel, easy to read, and accessible to readers of all levels from junior high to PhD, though the deeper philosphical concepts may escape younger readers. Due to its brevity and the inherent ambiguity in its spiritual subject matter, this novel can be enjoyed again and again, with new discoveries made in each rereading. It provides a good introduction to the philosphy of eastern religions, Hinduism and Buddhism in particular, though one may also recognize in the text elements from schools of western philosophical thought like pantheism, stoicism, and cynicism (in the Greek sense of the word). But a big part of the message of the novel is that enlightenment cannot be reached by labeling movements or perusing texts. One can only find inner peace by living life, by experiencing. Wisdom can be learned but cannot be taught. For those engaged in their own quest, this book does not provide a treasure map with a big red X where lie all the answers to your metaphysical queries. It's more like one solitary signpost along a winding path, with a simple arrow pointing the way.