Overview

This classic novel of self-discovery has inspired generations of seekers. With parallels to the enlightenment of the Buddha, Hesse's Siddhartha is the story of a young Brahmn's quest for the ultimate reality. His quest takes him from the extremes of indulgent sensuality to the rigors of ascetism and self-denial. At last he learns that wisdom cannot be taught–it must come from one's own experience and inner struggle. Steeped in the tenets of both psychoanalysis and Eastern mysticism, Siddhartha presents a ...
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Siddhartha

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Overview

This classic novel of self-discovery has inspired generations of seekers. With parallels to the enlightenment of the Buddha, Hesse's Siddhartha is the story of a young Brahmn's quest for the ultimate reality. His quest takes him from the extremes of indulgent sensuality to the rigors of ascetism and self-denial. At last he learns that wisdom cannot be taught–it must come from one's own experience and inner struggle. Steeped in the tenets of both psychoanalysis and Eastern mysticism, Siddhartha presents a strikingly original view of man and culture, and the arduous process of self-discovery that leads to reconciliation, harmony and peace.

A classic of 20th-century fiction, Hesse's most celebrated work reflects his lifelong studies of Oriental myth and religion.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Once the preferred marching song of '60s hippies, Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha has returned to its rightful high niche in world literature. This translation by Susan Bernofsky highlights the unblemished clarity of Hesse's tale of spiritual sacrifice and awakening.
From the Publisher
"James Langton, offers a measured, unhurried reading that's an effective rendering of the spare, lyrical prose Hesse crafted for this quiet novel." —-AudioFile
The Nation
The cool and strangely simple story makes a beautiful little book, classic in proportion and style; it should be read slowly and with savor, preferably during the lonely hours of the night.
Chicago Tribune
One could even hope that Hesse’s readers are hungrily imbibing Siddhartha, and that they will be so wisely foolish as to live by it.
San Francisco Chronicle
Hermann Hesse is the greatest writer of the century.
Washington Post Book World
In Siddhartha the setting is Indian and we encounter the Buddha, but the author’s ethos is still closer to Goethe.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307423696
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/22/2009
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 391,903
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Nobel Prize-winner Hermann Hesse was a German-Swiss poet, novelist and painter who is best-known for his seminal novels Siddhartha, Steppenwolf, and The Glass Bead Game. A child of missionaries, Hesse’s writings are heavily influenced by Eastern mysticism, spirituality and the search for self-knowledge, themes that resonated with the hippie culture of the 1960s and which contributed to a resurgence in interest for Hesse’s work following his death in 1962.

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Read an Excerpt

Translator's
Preface

At
the time Hermann Hesse was composing his famous short novel
Siddhartha,
around 1920, he wrote the following words:


We
are seeing a religious wave rising in almost all of Europe, a wave of religious
need and despair, a searching and a profound malaise, and many are speaking of
. . . a new religion to come. Europe is beginning to sense . . . that the
overblown onesidedness of its intellectual culture (most clearly expressed in
scientific specialization) is in need of a correction, a revitalization coming
from the opposite pole. This widespread yearning is not for a new ethics or a
new way of thinking, but for a culture of the spiritual function that our
intellectual approach to life has not been able to provide. This is a general
yearning not so much for a Buddha or a Lao-Tze but for a yogic capability. We
have learned that humanity can cultivate its intellect to an astonishing level
of accomplishment without becoming master of its soul.

These
passages sound the call for a sort of "journey to the East," to which
Siddhartha
is the answer. The present-day reader, encountering them undated, might be
inclined to place them in a more recent time, in the 1960s and 1970s, when
perceptions similar to those described became the germ of a major
countercultural groundswell.
Siddhartha
spoke to the seekers of those decades; the novella was in great vogue then.

In
fact, pangs of spiritual loss and the desire to cure them by means of "a
journey to the East" have seized us recurrently since science and
technology—and especially their shocking large-scale manifestation in World
War I—seriously began shaking the West's perennial culture. Over the last
forty years, in the train of the spiritual shake-up of the sixties and
seventies, we have seen the rise of many sorts of "yogic" culture in
our society. In the end, it was the East that journeyed to the West. Indian,
Tibetan, and Japanese spiritual teachers in particular exerted themselves to
transplant their meditative traditions to this hemisphere. This movement had a
broad influence on Western societies and the images with which they inspire and
entertain themselves, but on the whole its impact has been shallow.
"Yogic" insights have petered out into the vague and diluted
phenomena of the New Age, and this has now largely run out of energy. Of late,
we see life and vitality pouring on a grand scale into a new endemic rapture,
the headlong intoxication with new communication technologies and the
prosperity they have engendered. More and more American high schools and
elementary schools now boast voluntary extracurricular clubs of avid
Internet-wise students of the stock market. Young people of both sexes in large
numbers are identifying with cell-phone-and-laptop-toting traders and
businesspeople who represent the ultimate cool in a coming world of electronic
supercommunication. I have seen fourteen-year-old boys going to business
meetings in suits.

This
new fertility dance with the microchip and the genome is wondrous and colorful
beyond words. It is making true a future of which the last century only
dreamed. Yet the chances of its expunging or rendering irrelevant the yearning
of which Hesse spoke are small; in fact as the materialistic romp reaches
extremity, it must surely provoke a further acute outbreak of spirituality. If
the yearning for spiritual awakening is an inalienable part of the human
spirit, how could it be otherwise?

Thus
Hesse's brilliant offering to the human spirit, the spiritual journey of
Siddhartha, the brahmin's son, cannot really go out of style. True, Hesse's
grasp of Buddhist thinking was imprecise. He did not escape touches of theism
and thoughts of sin, being the offspring, as he was, of two generations of
Christian missionaries. Doctrinally,
Siddhartha
is not sharp, but sweetly and naively eclectic. But this hardly matters, for in
Siddhartha,
Hesse captured the truth of the spiritual journey.

Hesse
began with a stereotypic, perhaps even corny paradigm. His style was archaic,
recalling scripture; he was dealing with a legendary scenario, beyond time,
larger than life. But as he proceeded to develop his formula, the story became
increasingly real, desperately real—too real for Hesse. His insights cost him
heavily. He suffered a major depression and had to stop writing
Siddhartha
for more than a year. His exploration had uncovered a process in which layer
after layer of conventional and conceptual reference points have to be stripped
away; through inspiration, but also profound disappointment and loss, the
seeker relentlessly approaches naked mind. First to come and go for Siddhartha
is orthodox religion. This is supplanted by life-denying asceticism, which in
turn proves inauthentic and has to be given up. The next patch that will not
hold is affirmation of self and enjoyment of sensuality and the material world;
next, rejection of that approach proves groundless too. At last, understanding
at all, any analysis or intellectual grasp, shows itself as ludicrous
one-upsmanship in the face of reality's flow; the brilliant seeker's last rag
has to be surrendered. The process culminates in the final heartbreaking loss
of the spiritual project altogether. Seeking is exhausted at its root—and
confusion with it. Hesse does not quite give us the "return to the market
place" found in the last of the ten Zen ox-herding pictures,

but
the utter excoriation of ego—all one's world of hopes and fears—is vivid
enough. As is the desolate fulfillment inseparable from the seeker's final
forlornness. There is total dignity and freedom, surety and cosmic correctness,
in not having to attend one's own funeral.

This
is where buddhas begin.

Boulder,
Colorado

March
2000



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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 266 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(146)

4 Star

(63)

3 Star

(36)

2 Star

(10)

1 Star

(11)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 267 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    2nd time around

    I had to read this book for a literature class in high school. Lately, I've been returning to some of my high school assignment books to see how they read now that I'm older and in a different mind-set. The first time I read this, I wouldn't say that I hated it, just rather indifferent to it. I just re-read it and......wow! What a great story about the search for wisdom and enlightenment. It makes the very valid point that while knowledge can be taught from one person to another, wisdom simply cannot. It is acquired through one's own experiences. No truer words were ever spoken and I think it is a point that not everyone recognizes.
    A wonderful and relatively easy reader, Siddhartha contains messages that can be appreciated by anyone who questions the hardships and meaning of life.

    23 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2008

    The most beautiful book I've ever read.

    This book is short, but packed with so much power. Its prose is simple, but it's what's written between the lines that is so thought provoking. I would actually say that this book changed my life every time I am going through a rough time, I think back to Siddhartha and I'm calmed a bit. Pure wisdom.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2012

    Excellent read

    Thought provoking and profoundly moving. I really loved the language and the subtle and nuanced writing. Great to read and reread

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 25, 2013

    A quick but powerful read

    This is not a long book, but you'll read every word, and many paragraphs twice. It's filled with insight, drama and high emotion. Tons of introduction before and notes after to set up the story and author, then explain references. A true "Classic."

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 21, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Brilliant Vision of Life

    This book-length tale may be the finest of its kind. It's a book about life, about finding out how to live it properly.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting, But...

    This is a classic for anyone interested in Eastern religions/ways of life, but don't expect a real epic adventure. The book is as slow moving as its characters. I was more excited to start reading it than I was actually reading it. However, it holds multiple life-long messages, all extracted from an author who has respectfully learned them first-hand. It's short & precise, and reminds us how cool monks are, even if it's not original (it's nearly identical to the acclaimed story of the Buddha). Read it, learn from it, move on!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 27, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    This book is about a man's journey seeking the ultimate truth. For me, three points stand out. First, the journey is long and hard. It takes a life time to reach. Second, it is hard for everyone, even those who are supposed to be superior in spirituality. Third, humbleness and love for all are the necessary conditions for achieving that ultimate goal.

    It is a book of great inspiration. For anyone who is interested in spirituality, this book is a must read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2012

    A Book Worth Reading

    I picked up this Hesse classic on my Nook after a recommendation from a friend. I had never read Hesse and knew nothing of the book's history before reading although I had studied some basic Buddhism in college. In a sense the college work gave me a nice base from which to think a little deeper about some of the concepts Hesse presents through this wonderful story. But, I think one with no prior knowledge of Buddhist beliefs could still stand to gain much from this book. The book is a nice read, well written and just the right length I think for Hesse to present his story. Not too complex and yet not too simple. I highly recommend it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2007

    A guidebook for spiritual awakening

    I've loved this book ever since I first came upon it in high school. It is a thoroughly lyrical work that is at once strange and comforting. I've read it very slowly at least four times, almost meditating with each page on the depths of another soul's struggle for enlightenment. It is one of those rare books that not only touches your soul but leaves you changed and for the better afterwards. I'd recommend everyone with an open heart to read it or to re-read it again.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2012

    One of the most enlightening stories ever written. A very intros

    One of the most enlightening stories ever written. A very introspective
    book that can make one re evaluate ones own self

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 24, 2011

    AP World History Review: a description of my opinion of the book

    "Siddhartha" was a great book. My favorite part about this book is how the author used symbolism. The author used symbolism to express greater thoughts. An example of this is the river that Siddhartha reflects in his own life. Siddhartha learns to understand through the rivers' "om". Om is a representation of meditation and when Siddhartha finds om in the river then he finds unity in his self. The river also represents the flowing of Siddhartha's life. The river is always moving and doesn't stop for anything, like life. Another example is the songbird. When Siddhartha travels to the sinful city of Samsara, he meets Kamala. Kamala has a rare song bird that she keeps caged up. After 20 years, Siddhartha has a dream that the song bird dies and sees it as his inner self dieing. He decides to leave the city. After he leaves, Kamala sets the bird free because she is heart broken. After leaving and being away for awhile, Siddhartha realizes that the "song bird" within his self is still alive. After seeing the affect that symbolism had on the book, I think the author completed his purpose well. The authors' purpose was to show how the world altered the mind of Siddhartha. The author expresses this by symbolism and conflict. Throughout the book Siddhartha is going through different kinds of conflict, internal and external. By going through different kinds of conflict, Siddhartha realizes the struggles within himself and the world. After realizing how difficult the world is, Siddhartha realizes that he must make himself happy to reach Nirvana. He must keep himself happy by moving on and never stopping or allowing someone to stop him in his path, like the river. He realizes that he must be free and not have anyone hold him back, like the songbird in the cage. This book was a good book and I would recommend it to anyone who is not just learning about the life of Siddhartha, but to anyone who is learning about life itself.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2014

    Very hard to understand, extremely boring!

    Very hard to understand, extremely boring!

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  • Posted March 7, 2014

    loved it

    I had to read this for class yet I ended up loving it. It kept me interested. Makes you think a little and reflect on your own life

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2013

    Okay

    Long winded...its about lifes lessons

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  • Posted June 2, 2013

    Siddhartha is not a very good book. I was more excited to read i

    Siddhartha is not a very good book. I was more excited to read it than when I was reading it. This is probably one of the worst books I have ever read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2012

    Great Read!

    I really didnt expect to like this book so much, but it is so worth it! So much meaning! For all you people who say it is boring, you people need to take a deeper look inside yourselves.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 21, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Not just for buddhas

    There aren't many books that beckon a second or third reading. Siddhartha has to be read again and again, partially because it's a good book, but mostly because its lessons are so easy to forget. If I told you that the book's main teaching is 'Go with the flow', that would be a vast oversimplification, but it wouldn't be too far off the mark. I've seen it compared to 'Don't Worry, Be Happy'. Now that makes me take offense. Probably the best analogy to Hesse's book comes from the movie Van Wilder, of all things. The protagonist in that awful story says: 'Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn't get you anywhere.'

    Incredibly, that movie, surely without knowing it, offers both a summation and a critique of Siddhartha. Hesse's protagonist learns and therefore advises us not to let even major problems get to us. However, Hesse's solution seems to be to let go of materialism and many worldly (secular) values, in return for mental and emotional satisfaction. I'm not sure that's the best way to go. It seems a bit like the flip side of the rocking chair problem. Worrying may indeed get us nowhere, but letting go of a significant part of our hold on the world probably wouldn't get us any further. After all, as satisfied as our minds may be without material desires, they are themselves made of material, and in reading one of the few passages where the Bible got it right, we find that we will return to the dust of the earth, with or without nirvana, salvation, or any other kind of 'spiritual' satisfaction.

    There is great value to be had from this book, though, and within the material world (the only world) at that. Tempering our worries with perspective and context is a valuable lesson that can be teased from this book, and it's also easy to forget, making return trips to Siddhartha worth it, despite the infinite spiral of unanswerable questions it so easily draws from us.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2012

    Alright

    Its more of a adult read than a high school read

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2011

    Spiritual adventure.

    One of my top 5 favorite books of all time.

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  • Posted July 25, 2011

    Oh

    You need to be high to understand it. Unfortunately, I do not do drugs.

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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