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Siddhartha [Paperback]

Hermann Hesse
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (315 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 16 2008
Written and published in German in 1922, this simple and lyrical tale of a young man's path to enlightenment wasn't translated into English until the 1950's. It deeply influenced the spiritual movements of the 1960's, including the New Age movement. The name Siddhartha means one who has attained his goal or, every wish fulfilled. The mythical journey of Siddhartha, during the time of the Great Buddha, has served as a guide and inspiration to generations of seekers whose goal has been the attainment of Enlightement. Siddhartha treads paths we are all familiar with; faithful child, rebellious son, successful businessman, passionate lover, and finally, Wisdom, and Oneness with the river of Life. Come with Siddhartha on his journey.... through thickets, and gardens, fields of grain and along the river. It is a soul journey that will remain with you always.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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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 the Audio Cassette edition.

Review

"No living English-speaking actor outshines Derek Jacobi, nor any audiobook reader for that matter. He sings, rather than speaks, with extraordinary lyricism, expressiveness and depth...Jacobi approached the text with a direct, childlike fervor. He brings home the subtleties of Siddhartha's inner journey with amazing clarity and resonance, which he makes more exciting than the most thrilling thriller." -- AudioFile, October/November 1998 --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A life-changing read for me March 22 2010
By Samantha TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I was only seventeen when I read this book, more than thirty years ago. I wasn't searching for anything. I certainly had no interest in Buddhism. In fact, I wasn't even aware that the story was about The Buddha until after finishing it. My older sister's boyfriend loaned it to me because he wanted to see my reaction. I was stunned by the book. The reading of it was like a meditation, the story deeply felt. I can still hear the river speaking to Siddhartha...It had a powerful impact on me, my life. Within a couple of years of reading it, I was meditating, doing yoga, practicing mindfulness--in a small town where such things were unheard of. I believe it was the influence of this piece of literature that was working away at me, at my very depths. Looking back, I would have to say that Siddartha informed many of my life choices, even though I didn't realize it until recently.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A lifelong spiritual journey June 16 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book is a brilliant work, teeming with symbolism within characters, plot, and various events that take place during the lifelong spiritual journey of Siddhartha, a Brahman's son. One may say this self-disovery search would categorize this novel in the coming of age genre. Yet it goes beyond that. We see a young boy, though wise beyond his years at a tender age, transform into an ageing man who has been through every phase and stage of life. He's grown and developed. We come to understand how various events play out in his life, molding him and shaping him into the person he becomes.
Though this book is a mere 160 pages, it is no easy read. You need to decipher it by each threading sentence to understand the semi-complex symbolism - and it doesn't always jump right out at you, either. And if you're looking for a book with realistic characters who think the thoughts and feel the emotions of average people, look elsewhere. Often times, this is what I prefer in my reads, but this was a nice change from my usual teen fluff of high school angst and turmoil. I'd recommend it for ages 13 and older.
I used this book to parallel with my history lesson. Siddhartha's journey of self-discovery is said to be based on the life of Buddha, who set out to search for enlightenment. He wished to come to understand the causes of human suffering and he achieved his goal. It appears Siddhartha came to see the main cause of misery in human beings just like Buddha - that one thing happens to be desire. The stages and phases of Siddhartha's life lead him from a beggar to one who lives the overprivileged life, filled with material riches and wealths. During this period, Siddhartha gets high off the adrenaline rush of gambling, gambling, gambling...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and Special Oct. 24 1997
By A Customer
Format:Audio Cassette
I read this book when I was 19. I am now 51. Having just discovered Amazon Books, I was "surfing" and searching out titles that came to memory. I also read the lyrical version in German in those now distant days, and spent much time looking for "Suleika", or "Zuleika". It brought me great peace of mind at that time, as I had to interrupt my college days in order to enter the Army and go to Vietnam. The book reads like the flowing river, and is in some ways an eternal story of search for meaning in life and realization. Like Sidhartha our search for meaning often ends at the beginning. Ultimately, we return to the basic and simple truths that were there when we were born. Growing up is a kind of struggle. Sidhartha is a story of idealism and virtue that survives ignorance, futility and evil. If in the end, we retain that idealism, our lives can be heroic and our conscience pure. Sometimes, I remember and recall the words: "From Sidhartha to Sidhartha is my coming and my going." It is a book of haunting beauty and depth of meaning. W. H. L./Bellevue
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book will change your life! July 26 2013
By Tessa
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Wonderful story with beautifully written characters that you come to care about very much. It's a full-circle story that transcends space and time, and there is a eloquently told life-lesson for every person that reads this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Captivating March 1 2012
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Hesse takes the reader on a fictional journey that parallels the life of the Buddha. However, profound human truths are at the core of the story. Very male-centred with little consideration of the female perspective, but interesting nonetheless.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intruction to the spiritual path Dec 30 2010
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Some of us learn through teachers; others choose the experiential path. Siddhartha, written by Hermann Hesse in 1922, is a fictional account of the latter. A moving and revelatory work made more personally profound by my own life experiences, I reread Hermann Hesse's little novel with greater insight and maturity after three readings in as many decades.

Set in sixth century India circa 500 BCE, the novel's protagonist, Siddhartha, the son of an Indian Brahmin, is a contemporary of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha. Reluctantly accompanied by his close childhood friend, Govinda (representing his spiritual shadow side), Siddhartha departs from the orthodoxy of brahminic (Hindu) belief to experience deprivation as a wandering sadhu. Yet Siddhartha chafes as a student and yearns to learn experientially. After three years as mendicant monks, Govinda and he encounter the Buddha; Govinda embraces the Illustrious One's teachings about suffering as the result of cause and effect and becomes a disciple. Siddhartha, who encounters the Buddha by himself, rejects further spiritual tutelage and departs alone to experience the world, where he shortly experiences an epiphany that creation is more than shadow and illusion; it is beautiful in itself. It is on this first stage of his solitary journey that he encounters a ferryman, Vasudeva (Charon), who together with his river (Styx) later become significant in Siddhartha's life.

No longer a sadhu, Siddhartha encounters a courtesan, Kamala, through whom he intends to learn about carnal knowledge.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book.
Buy this. It doesnt run out of battery. and you'll never need to charge this. Also, I havnt read this yet. But this is one of the books everyone should read before 30.
Published 1 month ago by luqman
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
One of the best books I've ever read, in its short story it teaches many life lessons. I strongly recommend to everyone.
Published 2 months ago by Roberto Orozco
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic
I had read Siddhartha when I was young and bought this new copy for my daughter to read. She loved it as much as I did at her age. A classic.
Published 8 months ago by Sandra
5.0 out of 5 stars An old friend transformed
For those who have reached a certain age, returning to this book, read in youth, can be a wonderful experience. The final scene of the story illustrates this perfectly. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Don Nelson
5.0 out of 5 stars Like the river everything returns
Siddhartha a Brahmin's son and his friend departs his fathers house in search of a different life than the sedate environment of home. Read more
Published 10 months ago by bernie
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, inspiring and lyrical
Do not let the book's shortness mislead you: Hesse managed to pack more beauty, inspiration and faith in those 100 pages than some people write in an entire lifetime. Read more
Published on June 19 2012 by G. Larouche
4.0 out of 5 stars poor publishing job
The story is great! Very thought provoking and inspirational. Hesse is a genius. The only negative is the publishing is very poor - many spelling and grammar mistakes. Read more
Published on Feb. 24 2011 by Archi
4.0 out of 5 stars A book to read and reread
This book is a little difficult to get into but once you keep reading you'll understand it's magic. If you're looking for a book about life and philosophy this is the one. Read more
Published on Aug. 26 2007 by Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Lifes Journey
What a beautiful story. I have gained much from this book, its very thought provoking and teaches many life lessons. A definite read!
Published on March 19 2006 by Mike
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