Siddhartha (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

Siddhartha (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Siddhartha (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) by Hermann Hesse

Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works. One of the most widely read novels of the twentieth century, Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha explores the struggle of the soul to see beyond the illusions of humankind and achieve a deeper wisdom through spirituality. Born into wealth and privilege, Siddhartha renounces his place among India’s nobility to wander the countryside in search of meaning. He learns suffering and self-denial among a group of ascetics before meeting the Buddha and coming to realize that true peace cannot be taught: It must be experienced. Changing his path yet again, Siddhartha reenters human society and earns a great fortune. Yet over time this life leaves Siddhartha restless and empty. He achieves enlightenment only when he stops searching and surrenders to the oneness of all.  Rika Lesser’s new translation deftly evokes the lyricism and quiet beauty of Hesse’s novel, which first appeared in German in 1922. At once personal and universal, Siddhartha stands outside of time, resonating in the hearts of truth-seekers everywhere. Robert A. F. Thurman holds the first endowed chair in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies in the United States, the Jey Tsong Khapa Chair at Columbia University. The first American to be ordained a Tibetan monk, he has been a student and friend of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for forty years. Thurman is the author of numerous books, most recently Infinite Life: Seven Virtues for Living Well

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781411433168
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 06/01/2009
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 63,194
File size: 463 KB
Age Range: 3 Months to 18 Years

About the Author

Hermann Hesse (1877-1962) was a German-Swiss poet, novelist, and painter. Profoundly affected by the mysticism of Eastern thought, Hesse’s books and essays reveal a deep spiritual influence that has captured the imagination of generations of readers. His best-known works include Steppenwolf, Siddhartha, Demian and Magister Ludi. In 1946, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Read an Excerpt

From Robert A. F. Thurman’s Introduction to Siddhartha

 

I first read Siddhartha at the very start of the 1960s, and I can still remember the powerful inspiration it gave me. Why would a young person seeking to escape from wasp-hood at Harvard turn to India as the mother of inner exploration, when nothing in Western education would indicate that India was a source of great explorations in the quest for some transcendent truth? Clearly, Siddhartha was a model for my own journeys, for my own development of his vaunted skills at “fasting—waiting—thinking.”

Looking into Hesse’s personal life, I was astonished to discover many parallels between the troubled youth of this great psychic explorer, poet, critic, novelist, painter, and gardener who wandered the world before World War I and finally fled from the Rhineland down to southern Switzerland, and that of my own more humble and less accomplished self, hailing from Manhattan and traveling more or less on foot to India my first time out in 1961. At fifteen Hesse began to rebel against his strict Pietistic father and mother and the mission school they placed him in; he never felt comfortable in conventional German society of the time. Some of us—certainly myself, and I think Hesse, too—though born in the West, tend to wander as if doomed to exile and always feel like “a stranger in a strange land.” For both of us, forty-plus years and another World War apart, “Mother India” was a salve, a home, for our wandering spirits. Why? Is it because India’s civilization alone has had the wisdom to open itself up truly to embrace the naturally homeless? Hesse himself had this to say about India:

 

For example, with my Indian journey I had an unforgettable experience. At first it was a real disappointment, I returned completely downcast. But almost ten years later, as I was writing Siddhartha, suddenly the Indian memories were extremely precious and positive, and the little disappointment of earlier on was extinguished.1

 

Siddhartha was published in German in 1922. Its first English translation was published in 1951. Siddhartha’s quest was an important model for the whole postwar generation’s seeking of “Enlightenment in the East.” For Hesse himself, the book articulates a complex of strands in his character. It shows his rich appreciation for India conceived in a specific Western way, inherited from his missionary grandfather and parents. He says:

 

And this learned and wise grandfather had not only Indian books and scrolls, but also shelves full of exotic wonders, not only coconut shells and strange birds’ eggs, but also wooden and bronze idols and animals, silken paintings and a whole cabinet stuffed with Indian cloths and robes in all materials and colors. . . . All this was part of my childhood, not less than the fir-trees of the Black Forest, the Nagold river, or the Gothic chapel on the bridge.

 

Siddhartha is distinguished by Hesse’s consummate artistic, spiritual, and poetic sense of the high transcendent experiences and values accessible through the Indian “inner sciences” and “mind yogas.” At the same time, the book contains a certain European, world-weary cynicism and a sense of the inevitable faultiness of all religious paths. Hesse again: “At the age of thirty, I was a Buddhist, of course not in the church-sense of the word.” The book hums with Hesse’s pursuit of Christian, Tolstoyan nonviolence and the inner kingdom, all the while roiled from within by its opposite: his own driving inner violence, his volcanic sensuality, and his deep despair of fulfilling human relations—a despair that stemmed from his ambivalent struggles with his parents and his ups and downs with his first wife and three sons.

Rereading Siddhartha now, I can clearly see its influence on my decision at twenty to leave college and the study of Western literature, philosophy, and psychology, and seek a higher enlightenment in India. More than forty years later, I have gone back and forth from “the West” to “the East” so many times I can hardly tell the difference anymore, though I observe certain groups still struggling to maintain the “never the twain shall meet” sort of attitude. Having trod a little bit in both of the Siddharthas’ footprints in my own small way, I appreciate the book even more. I can now unravel the tangled threads of Hesse’s mixing of Hindu and Buddhist worldviews, his entrapment in some of the stereotyped views of “the East” that were almost inescapable for a man of his time and culture, and his romantic depiction of Buddhist/Hindu enlightenment as a kind of return to nature, a resignation to the flow of the great river of life. In spite of this creative Hindu/Buddhist mixing, I enjoy the book much more now than I ever could have in my youth.

Hesse seems to have been haunted by a keen insight into the human condition, and his work seems to mark a great turning point in the growth of a genuine European respect for the civilization of enlightenment that developed in ancient India. He himself loved nothing more than to leave hearth and home and wander south to Italy with artistic friends, the European version of a sadhu (Hindu ascetic). He slept in bed-and-breakfasts or camped alfresco, contemplated nature and art, and took a break from the routine chores of householding in northern Europe (very likely overburdening his high-strung wife with their three sons). But it was hard to wander with open mind and heart and intellect in the Europe of that time, so he also went to India and southeast Asia. His keen artist’s perception saw there that the complex fabric of the culture of India was rich enough and its weave loose enough to accommodate all manner of eccentrics, wandering here and there, always on some spiritual pilgrimage or other, seeking beauty or peace, magical energy or complete transcendence.

At this moment in my journey, I am very pleased to have the chance to introduce Siddhartha to a new generation, since I think it still has the power to inspire the seeker of higher truth. I do not pretend to evaluate Hesse’s great achievement from some higher vantage of supposed enlightenment, which I do not claim for myself. But I have put in a bit of study of enlightenment’s various forms and levels, the institutions and cultural orientations it has supported in various countries, and the high civilizations it ultimately created. And following Siddhartha’s inspiration more than forty years ago, I did make a bit of progress—just enough to know that, as elusive as it continues to be, enlightenment is still highly worth pursuing.

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Siddhartha (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 287 reviews.
wmorin76 More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thought provoking and profoundly moving. I really loved the language and the subtle and nuanced writing. Great to read and reread
HANKinCarlsbad More than 1 year ago
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."
Lockhart7 More than 1 year ago
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!
seekerWA More than 1 year ago
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.
AdamZ1 More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
soccerkitten214 More than 1 year ago
"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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My criticism is not of the beautiful story, but of the poor translation of what is Hesse's usually lyrical prose.  At times the sentences are clunky and  often ungrammatical.  I bought this as a bargain deal - fuess it wasn't such a bargain, after all.  From now on I will check out print translations before I buy an ebook.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Let me tell you straight...one of the best book i have ever read. Very well written, almost written like a long poem, and an insightful story that has alot to say about life. You won't be disappointed.
yogipoet on LibraryThing 4 hours ago
read this a long time ago, good book, worth the time.
xicanti on LibraryThing 4 hours ago
The story of one man's spiritual growth.This is a remarkable little book. It's readable, concise and incredibly thought-provoking. I often found that I had to stop and seriously consider what I'd just read. I underlined like mad. The ideas are both accessible and intangible. So many of them depend on the reader's own reaction to the material. There are some semi-answers here, yes, but ultimately Hesse tells us that no one can answer these sorts of questions for you. You need to arrive at your own conclusions. You need to find your own way to Nirvana.The book really spoke to me. I'm very glad I read it, and urge you to do so as well. It certainly isn't the sort of thing that fits into everyone's worldview, but I really believe that it's worth considering.
kdwade on LibraryThing 4 hours ago
I don't think there's a wasted word in this book; it's everything Hesse did in his other novels, condensed into a very slim story full of beautiful prose and mesmerizing passages. I read it twice in one day, you should probably try it at least once.
jlelliott on LibraryThing 4 hours ago
Although I can understand the longing to separate oneself from the frustrations and hypocrisy of human life, it does seem like an abandonment rather than an accomplishment to me. Maybe because of this, and because I had been exposed to the tenets of both Buddhism and Hinduism prior to reading this novel, I didn¿t find it as life-altering and uplifting as many others find it.
figre on LibraryThing 4 hours ago
I am convinced that there are certain types of books that you have to read at certain parts of your life for them to have the same impact felt by the rest of the world. I am sure that The Catcher in the Rye did nothing for me because I didn¿t read it until I was 40. I am also convinced there are also certain books (and events) that have their impact because of when they occurred. They were the first, and all others were followers. In a non-literary example, Jimi Hendrix does nothing for me, primarily because I just wasn¿t old enough to hear him when he first came out, I never understood the slam against sensibility that was his music, I don¿t understand the impact, and the music is just okay.So, I am guessing both are why this book, while a nice read and an interesting opportunity for introspection, did little to move me. At 50, I do not do the same soul searching that college-age individuals do, and that is where much of this book¿s impact would hit. And I feel like I¿ve read it many other times. I fully realize that the other books I read ¿ the ones I think as predecessors to this book ¿ are most like the true rip-offs. But by coming to this party late, I lose the impact. For me, in my current space and time, it was a nice enough book, with a pleasant story and some deep thoughts. But it didn¿t move me. It didn¿t make me a different person. It didn¿t make me feel as though I went to the mountaintop. Other readers (young readers) will feel it more than me I am sure. But, all I can say is I read this classic, and that is about all.
chetanv on LibraryThing 4 hours ago
The one lesson which I took from this book is that in the search of peace and truth, every person is alone. Everyone has to make the journey alone - he has to search for his own answers alone.None of this can be taught - no amount of reading scriptures or teachings is going to help.What fascinates me is that such personal quests were not uncommon in ancient India. I am not sure if there are still people who go boldly in search of answers like that.
MorHavok on LibraryThing 4 hours ago
Siddhartha is a life story, detailing a young mans journey through his life and spirituality. As a young man Siddhartha excels at everything and begins to question his beliefs. He sets out with his friend later and explores the world through many different frames of being. He becomes a Shramana, a merchant, a drunk, a beggar, a boatman, and finally as an old man enlightened. His journey through this is poignant because he believes you cannot achieve any meaningful spirituality in life without actually living life. The story of Siddhartha¿s life is interesting in he does not take the easy route, but rather trail blazes his own life, and spirituality. Moving through a jungle of opinions and experiences he eventually reaches his destination of enlightenment. There are really only two important characters in Siddhartha, Siddhartha himself and Govinda. Govinda is Siddhartha¿s shadow in the beginning in the book, but eventually decides to strike out on his own by following the Buddha¿s teachings. His journey through life is in direct contrast to Siddhartha¿s, but remains a shadow of Siddhartha, while not actually following him. Govinda, Instead of forging his own path to enlightenment, tries to follow the teachings of the Buddha. When they meet again at the end of their lives, and Govinda sees that Siddhartha has found enlightenment, and he has not you realize that simply complying, and following people will not lead you to a fulfilling life. One must think, experience, and become enlightened. It is not something you can just learn from a book or teaching.Herman Hesse¿s writing style in Siddhartha is relatively easy reading. You shouldn¿t read this when tired or distracted, as it would be easy to miss some very relevant points. But coming in a couple hundred pages you don¿t get mired in a story so complex that you cannot remember the book. This is a big advantage for this text as it focuses more on getting to the point of the stages of his life. Siddhartha is definitely a book worth a read, probably a few times throughout one¿s life, as it might ring differently each time.Favorite Quote:¿¿the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere, and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past, nor the shadow of the future¿ I reviewed my life and it was also a river, and Siddhartha the boy, Siddhartha the mature man and Siddhartha the old man, were only separated by shadows, not through reality.¿
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is both an easy read and very very deep. One of my favorites.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Short and easy enough to read, but the words aren't important as the introspection and understanding that one should try to reach. This version is often considered the best translation. I have not read other versions, but the text and story flowed well. It seemed to me the language was authentic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A story of a simple quest, told with the bravery of leaving conclusions to the reader.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A true philosophical classic. It might open your eyes to new possibilities. ~*~LEB~*~
Kristi-Reads More than 1 year ago
I would say this is my first audiobook, but I checked out a cassette tape of Harry Potter when I was ten. Outside of that, this is my first audiobook! I got my copy of Siddhartha from Librivox via booksshouldbefree.com. We opened the book on the river, and I think somehow the fact I was listening to this book made the description and scenery mean more. I was so moved by Siddhartha's passion for finding bliss and the meaning of life. His standoff against his father, his deep conversations with his friend Govinda. He journeys with his friend to live with Samanas, alleged masters off reaching nirvana. Siddhartha comes to a troubling conclusion that for all they learned and did there, none of the masters have nor will actually reach nirvana. He doesn't find what he's looking for, so he keeps looking. This spiritual allegory has many parallels to religion as a whole. Thinking of my own religion, I found the allegory of Siddhartha had its parallels to Christians desperately searching for God, leaving the whole religion out of frustration, only to grow into wanting what was again. Those reborn (or reborn for the third time) are sometimes much closer to God and Heaven than those who were literally born into the religion and went to church every week but never learned anything (like the Samanas in this book).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Eye opening to the true oneness of all things