Writer(s): Hermann Hesse.
Translator(s): Hilda Rosner.
Publisher: Bantam Books.
Format: Mass Market Paperback.
Release Date: 1981 (First Published in 1922).
Genre(s): Classics, Philosophy.
My Overall Rating:
Knowledge is fundamental to our development as individuals. With it, we imagine, we innovate, and we grow. But when can we ever feel like we know enough of anything? How do we set ourselves on a course towards further illumination regarding whatever knowledge the world has left to offer? While a state of absolute certainty is inevitably unattainable, a state of acceptance is. And sometimes, it is only by experiencing it for yourself that you will ever decipher this eternal life enigma. Known for writing Steppenwolf, Narcissus and Goldmund, and The Glass Bead Game, German-Swiss writer Hermann Hesse also wrote the grandly influential story of the young man Siddhartha and his hunt for eternal enlightenment.
What is Siddhartha about? The story follows the young man Siddhartha as he leaves his Brahmin family, convinced that they have nothing left to teach him, in search of knowledge. Frustrated by a sense of status quo, convinced that he must break free from the doctrines that the elders hammer onto every new generation, he embarks on a journey to achieve spiritual fulfillment. Despite potential avenues through peculiar entities who could steer him towards the answers he craves, it is only once he reflects on the path he’s chosen, the consequences of his actions, and the ultimatum that he has to face, that he can ever understand what he was truly looking for. In fact, from a clash of visions to trials of vice and virtues, the truth he seeks can only ever be achieved once he finally learns to look beyond his own individual desires.
“Wisdom cannot be imparted. Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else … Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.”— Hermann Hesse
There is something fundamentally inspiring in individuals who casts off a life of privilege and convenience to search for true meaning. The expedition paves the way to a heightened experience void of conventional filters and barriers that thus allow them to imbibe their environment and their emotions in their rawest form. However, a virulent conviction of undiscovered knowledge can have a perverse effect on such a virtuous pilgrimage, orienting one’s thoughts in such a direction that the answer itself goes unnoticed until much more tragic events are witnessed and embraced. For the young Siddhartha, his own life sees dramatic transformation as he attempts to achieve his spiritual fulfillment but the journey only serves as an enlightening lesson once he finally arrives at his figurative destination.
Written with an elegant flow that allows readers to effortlessly follow Siddhartha’s search for self-knowledge, writer Hermann Hesse brilliantly captures the purity of his characters and the force of their existence as they each affect Siddhartha’s Self in a myriad of ways. Drawing upon Eastern regions, Jungian archetypes, and Western individualism, he also harmoniously explores ideas of serenity, salvation, compassion, and belonging to allow Siddhartha to grow before the readers’ eyes. Despite the character’s underlying arrogance deriving from the value given to his journey, his character exudes grandiose qualities that allow readers to grasp fundamental concepts about self-discovery, acceptance, and love that make his journey thoroughly engrossing as he tries to achieve peace and emancipation.
Siddhartha is an eye-opening spiritual journey of a young man’s quest for knowledge and self-fulfillment.