Siddhartha

Siddhartha

by Hermann Hesse

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Overview

Siddhartha is an allegorical novel by Hermann Hesse which deals with the spiritual journey of an Indian boy called Siddhartha during the time of the Buddha. The book was written in German, in a simple, yet powerful and lyrical style. It was first published in 1922, after Hesse had spent some time in India in the 1910s. The story revolves around a young man who leaves his home and family on a quest for the Truth. Embarking on a journey that takes him from the austerities of renunciation to the profligacy of wealth. That leads him through the range of human experiences from hunger and want, to passion, pleasure, pain, greed, yearning, boredom, love, despair and hope. A journey that leads finally to the river, where he gains peace and eventually wisdom. This is the story of Siddhartha as told by Nobel Laureate Hermann Hesse in his most influential work. Hermann Hesse: Hermann Hesse (b. 1877) was a German-born Swiss poet and author, best known for writing the novels 'Steppenwolf', 'Siddhartha', and 'The Glass Bead Game'. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946. His themes focus on man's struggle to break away from the rigid structures of civilization and follow his essential and inner spirit. For this, Hesse became a literary cult figure.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9789897786921
Publisher: Pandora's Box
Publication date: 10/18/2019
Sold by: De Marque
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 631,681
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Hermann Hesse (1877–1962) was a German poet and novelist. Hesse spent time writing in Europe and later traveled to India to study ancient Eastern cultures and religions, forming the foundation for several of his works. His writing tends to focus on the quest of the individual for authenticity, spirituality, and understanding of the inner self. Best known for his novels Siddhartha and Steppenwolf, Hesse received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1946.

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Chapter 1
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Excerpted from "Siddhartha"
by .
Copyright © 2013 Hermann Hesse.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction
PART 1
Chapter 1: The Brahmin's Son
Chapter 2: With the Samanas
Chapter 3: Gotama
Chapter 4: Awakening
PART 2
Chapter 1: Kamala
Chapter 2: With the Child-People
Chapter 3: Sansara
Chapter 4: By the River
Chapter 5: The Ferryman
Chapter 6: The Son
Chapter 7: Om
Chapter 8: Govinda

What People are Saying About This

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

Reading Group Guide

Hermann Hesse’s short novel Siddhartha has sometimes been called a work of reverse missionary activity, bringing to the West the lessons of a typically Eastern story of spiritual searching and fulfillment. However, this deceptively simple and episodic tale of the title character’s progress through life provides no conventional resolutions to the questions it poses. In emphasizing Siddhartha’s self-assertive individuality, Hesse makes plain that his book is as much a product of Western as well as Eastern intellectual traditions.
The story of the Brahmin’s son who leaves home to seek deep and lasting satisfaction appears to end where it began: beside a river with Siddhartha and Govinda united in friendship. But the first words of the novel are a hint that it will proceed and find its momentum through a series of opposites: “In the shade of the house, in the sunshine near the boats on the riverbank” (p. 3). Immediately, light is contrasted with shade, and the stability of home is contrasted with the vehicles that ply the river’s flow, foreshadowing Siddhartha’s future life with the ferryman Vasudeva. Each of the novel’s twelve chapters, divided into two parts, finds Siddhartha simultaneously facing a crisis and a new beginning in his search.
One of the important questions to consider is whether Siddhartha’s search is driven more by discontent with his current state or by a vision of where he is going. In succession, he rejects the intellectual and ritualistic teachings of his father and the other Brahmins; the self-abnegating rigors of the ascetic samanas; the opportunity to become a disciple of Gautama, the Buddha; the world-weary existence of material success; and even the futile role of protective father to his son. As Siddhartha reflects early on, the stages of his life are like “the old skin that leaves the serpent” (p. 35). The image of the rejuvenated snake sharpens the contrast between his deliberate intentions and the natural course of things through the stages of life. If we believe that Siddhartha achieves progress and not merely a change of circumstances in his lifelong search, it can be asked what part his own will plays in achieving the enlightenment that he finally comes to by the end of the story. To an observer, the scene of Govinda gazing raptly at the face of his old friend beside the river might appear to be simply their reunion after many years of separation. However, we are told that what Govinda sees reminds him of the smile of Gautama, the universally acknowledged “Sublime One,” the Buddha, whose lifelong disciple Govinda had been.
In finally identifying Siddhartha with the Buddha, Hesse suggests that the story he is telling is both more and less than an original work of fiction. It is important to keep in mind that Siddhartha is the given name of the person who came to be known as the Buddha. The early events in the life of the novel’s protagonist closely parallel the traditional story of the Buddha’s life. In the third chapter of the book, the fictional character, Siddhartha, meets Gautama, a portrayal of the historical Buddha and, during their dialogue, rejects the idea of following him as a disciple among all the other disciples, including his friend Govinda. In having Siddhartha set off on his own, Hesse raises searching questions about the nature of the relationship between a teacher and a disciple, about how a teaching that reflects the experience of a teacher can instill that experience in a follower.
This is one of a series of encounters with individuals who profess to have something to teach Siddhartha, and whose teachings he comes to find inadequate in various ways—the scholarship of the Brahmins that leads to intellectual prowess but not happiness, the asceticism of the samanas that creates a stoic perseverance but nothing more, the art of love from Kamala that never results in a loving spirit, and the mercantile expertise of the merchant Kamaswami that leads only to unsatisfying entanglement in possessions. Through a movement from extreme to extreme, Siddhartha finally comes to the silent, listening Vasudeva, the ferryman. Vasudeva’s expert ability to navigate the opposite banks of the river and all they represent becomes an emblem of the unity of spirit that Siddhartha has sought, and the almost wordless communion between the two leads to the culmination of Siddhartha’s search. As Hesse has told the story, the apparent resolution of opposites that occurs at the end seems to embody a teaching, though perhaps not one that can be easily verbalized apart from the telling of the incidents of the story itself. At the same time, and in the spirit of Siddhartha’s own search, Hesse has raised questions for us about whether words can communicate the deepest truths or can only prepare us to experience them.

1. What does Siddhartha mean when he refers to the “path of paths” that must be found (p. 17)? Why is he so certain that neither the Brahmins nor the samanas have found it?

2. Does Gautama adequately answer Siddhartha’s contention that “no one is granted deliverance through a teaching” (p. 32)? Why doesn’t Siddhartha become one of Gautama’s followers?

3. What is the connection between Siddhartha losing his friend Govinda to Gautama and Siddhartha’s “awakening”? What does it mean that “the awakening man was on the way to himself” (p. 37)?

4. What is the meaning of Siddhartha’s dream in which Govinda becomes a woman?

5. Why does Siddhartha both love and despise the “child people”? How is it that having been a samana separates him from them?

6. After waking up by the river, why does Siddhartha say, “I have nothing, I know nothing, I can do nothing, I have learned nothing. How wondrous this is!” (p. 84)?

7. How is Vasudeva’s ability to listen so deeply related to his being “no friend of words” (p. 94)?

8. Why is seeing Siddhartha just as good for Kamala as seeing Gautama?

9. When Siddhartha can no longer distinguish the many voices he hears in the river, why does he feel that “he had now learned all there was to know about listening” (p. 118)?

10. Why does Vasudeva leave Siddhartha?

11. Why does Govinda think Siddhartha’s teaching sounds foolish?

12. Why does the story end with Govinda thinking about “everything that he had ever loved in his life,” when he had previously reminded Siddhartha that Gautama had “forbade us to fetter our hearts in love for anything earthly” (p. 132; p. 128)?

13. How can we know who is the right teacher for us?

14. Can wisdom be taught?

15. What is the relation of words to wisdom? Do words tend to enhance or limit wisdom?

Interviews

Word count: 35,200 (tbc).

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Siddhartha (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 317 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.
391 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I feel very ambivalent about this book. I neither loved it nor hated it - it was a quick read, for which I was thankful, and I found some parts interesting. That is about all I can think of to say about it.
mdtwilighter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Siddhartha was a good book, despite my first thoughts about it. It was more than just about relgion,it was about the fundamentals of life.
AryckRussell on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse, is by far one of the best novels I have ever read. It is such an amazing story that truly touches your spirit. In the story, the main character, Siddhartha, is on the quest to achieve enlightenment. He leaves his parents at a young age to become a Samana, but he soon finds out that the doctrines aren¿t as true as he thought they would be. He then begins to travel to different towns to listen to other spiritual leaders, including The Illustrious One. He contently listens to their teachings, yet he always finds some kind of contradiction with them. In the end, Siddhartha uses his life experiences as his own doctrine. He realizes that to achieve enlightenment, you must know how life is from all aspects, a Samana, a dice player, a Merchant, a man of great wealth.Some things that I learned are that great things come to those who wait. It takes Siddhartha an entire lifetime to finally become enlightened. That to me is such an inspiration and an encouragement to never give up on anything in life. Some things that I learned about the culture of the story are that there are a lot of different religions. It seems that with every ¿Holy¿ person that Siddhartha comes in contact with, there¿s always a different belief system. The main goal in all these religions is to reach a state of Nirvana; it just seems each group has a different way of achieving it. I would recommend this book t anyone that loves to be really engaged in their reading. In the course of reading this book, I myself felt apart of it as if I too were on a journey and meeting the people and experiencing the struggles. Absolutely amazing book.
rmckeown on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this back in the 60s when it was all the rage, and I failed to see the point. Of course, I have undergone countless changes since then, so I thought the time had come to give it another try. Good move. I have an enormous, new-found respect for this novel. It confirmed some things I believed and taught me quite a few new things. Every reader should bring something to the story and take away new insights.The Siddartha of the title, born into a Brahmin family around the time the Buddha first emerged in the 6th-5th century b.c.e., senses dissatisfaction with his life. Like Gautama Buddha, Siddhartha¿s family had amassed great wealth and lived a privileged lifestyle. However, both young men decide to leave all that behind and explore the world. Siddhartha becomes an ascetic and encounters Gautama Buddha shortly after he achieves enlightenment. He reveres the Buddha but does not become a follower. Rather, he leaves on another journey that will have profound effects on his life. Siddhartha meets a number of teachers along his journey, and each one adds lessons to his life. Numerous passages struck me, but this one had particular significance. ¿One can convey knowledge but not wisdom. One can find wisdom, one can live it, one can be borne by it, one can work wonders with it, but one can neither speak it nor teach it¿ (111). This statement represents Siddhartha¿s great discovery. He recognizes the achievement of Gautama Buddha, but he senses each person has to travel the path alone and discover -- for him or herself ¿ Nirvana. This idea mirrors an identical idea of Krishnamurti, who became a great teacher, and then walked away from his followers telling them they did not need him. My version of the book has extremely helpful introduction and notes by Robert A. F. Thurman, who teaches Buddhist studies at Columbia University. These long endnotes provide explanations for some of the more esoteric philosophical terms and ideas expressed by Hesse. Do not skip them!We all meet people, learn things, gather insights, experience epiphanies, but assembling these into a coherent personal philosophy can be elusive for many of us. Knowing what to accept, what to reject, what to hold for further examination is a complicated process that requires an open mind and a great deal of patience. This central lesson of Hesse¿s novel made my reading more than worthwhile. Deep down, I knew this, but seeing the effect it can have is an epiphany in itself. An inspiring and thought-provoking novel everyone can enjoy. 5 stars--Jim, 7/30/10
jpporter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Everything is One."I'm sorry, but that is vague, vacuous and obfuscatory. It seems to be some eternal truth, but it is gibberish. It is a paean to the Western Culture's romantic ideal of Eastern Mysticism. Like saying "Hey, I don't understand it, so it must be smart."Of Hesse's works, "Siddhartha" is most frequently cited as one of the more important. It hardly seems worth it. "Steppenwolf," for all the issues I might have with it, is a far more intelligent, intelligible, attempt at examining the inner self. Hesse seems to have been enraptured by the ineffability of Indic thinking, but he seems to equate ineffability with profundity. The two are not coextensive; indeed, in some ways they are mutually exclusive.This is not to deny that "Siddhartha" contains some illuminating insights into human nature, it's just that the attempt to move from those insights to some profound grasp of the essence of existence is presumptuous and pompous. It is also written in a very juvenile style, attempting a synthesis of prose and poetry that only highlights the unintelligibility of the fundamental "truths" Hesse seems so infatuated with.Sorry. This is high literature, not.
RoseCityReader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've been reading several books by Nobel Prize winners lately. Siddhartha was one of them. I can't say that it did anything for me. Siddhartha is the hero of this allegorical tale of an Indian man's development, from Brahmin student, to mystic, to successful business man and pleasure seeker, to wise ferryboat tender. Maybe back in 1922 when it was first published, or even in the 1960s and '70s when American hippies took it to heart, the examination of Indian mysticism and Buddhism would have been fascinating. But now, when Indian culture is more familiar, it just seems pretentious and overwrought.Many people love it. It just is not my cup of tea.
veneta09 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
tells a good story of siddartha and the journey to becoming a very enlightened man
Arctic-Stranger on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is, and is not the story of the Buddha. It is Hesse's attempts to find sanity, and we are glad he takes us along with him.
brianinbuffalo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Call me superficial or even spiritually shallow, but this revered classic penned by one of my favorite authors just didn't do much for me. The promotional blurb on the back cover says the book is "as astounding today as it was when it was first published nearly 80 years ago." What's astounding to me is that "Siddhartha" has landed on so many "best" lists over the decades. It's not an unpleasant read, and there are definitely some valuable messages. The characters are interesting, and the exploration of a different culture will pique readers' interest. But I just don't think the book lives up to eight decades of accolades.
supermanlver on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A very inspiring story about Siddhartha's transcendence to become the Buddha. This novel takes the reader through Siddhartha's entire journey starting from his decision, as a child, to trade in his life of luxury, for a more simplistic one as he sets off to reach enlightenment. A very intriguing book. I felt enlightened as i read it! Enjoy :)
copyedit52 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Generally, Hesse is one of those authors whose ideas I like but whose writing puts me off. (Aldous Huxley, Joan Didion, and Paul Goodman are others). But there are scenes in this particular Hesse book that recur to me so often that I have to at least give it four stars.
the_awesome_opossum on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
...At least it was short? The book gets readers thinking about the philosophies of Buddhism, which is good, but as a novel alone it's pretty underwhelming, with mediocre prose and an unengaging plot. But many readers will come to it as a look into Buddhism anyway, so it serves that purpose at least.
vivekp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When I first tried to read this book, I got bored within the first 4 pages. The writing style is so bland and boring that I couldnt imagine why this was such a highly recommended book. The last time I read something of this style is when I read sanskrit in 9th Grade. And then it struck me that this style could be a mirror of a literal sanskrit style. I then pressed on and then I realized that the author had chosen a style that would allow the user to focus more on the character and his problems than the writing style itself. What intrigued me the most is that this was written by a non-asian. He had obviously done a lot of introspetion and study such that this book felt like it was written in sanskrit. (At least to me.)Another thing I realized is how powerful a story can be in communicating ideas. The ideas in this book have been told since time immemorial (at least in India). But Hesse manages to compact so many concepts in such small a space.