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Siddhartha Paperback – Dec 4 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 357 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; Reprint edition (Dec 4 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812974786
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812974782
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 141 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 357 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #47,072 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

In the shade of a banyan tree, a grizzled ferryman sits listening to the river. Some say he's a sage. He was once a wandering shramana and, briefly, like thousands of others, he followed Gotama the Buddha, enraptured by his sermons. But this man, Siddhartha, was not a follower of any but his own soul. Born the son of a Brahmin, Siddhartha was blessed in appearance, intelligence, and charisma. In order to find meaning in life, he discarded his promising future for the life of a wandering ascetic. Still, true happiness evaded him. Then a life of pleasure and titillation merely eroded away his spiritual gains until he was just like all the other "child people," dragged around by his desires. Like Hermann Hesse's other creations of struggling young men, Siddhartha has a good dose of European angst and stubborn individualism. His final epiphany challenges both the Buddhist and the Hindu ideals of enlightenment. Neither a practitioner nor a devotee, neither meditating nor reciting, Siddhartha comes to blend in with the world, resonating with the rhythms of nature, bending the reader's ear down to hear answers from the river. In this translation Sherab Chodzin Kohn captures the slow, spare lyricism of Siddhartha's search, putting her version on par with Hilda Rosner's standard edition. --Brian Bruya --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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.

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Top Customer Reviews

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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I'm not rating the contents of the book itself, just that it's in French so don't order it if you don't speak French. It really wasn't obvious that it wasn't in English and I had to look pretty hard even after I knew it was French to find out where it said that. That being said, Amazon was AMAZING and gave me a full refund with no hassle. I've since placed an order for the English version.
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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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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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I read this book before I ventured out into the real world, and I read it again many years after I had returned from that world. After I read it, I wanted to kick myself for not learning more from it the first time.... But then, that is also covered in this story, Siddhartha's father could not protect him from the world, nor could Siddhartha protect his own son when the time came. You've got to go forth and learn these lessons yourself. It is the same archetypical patterns, with variations, over and over.

I remember that when I first read this story it confused me that the Buddha and Siddhartha were two separate persons. Then I came to realise the truth of archetypes, and immortal paterns that resonate in many different bodies at the same time- all seemingly separate, but all really sharing the same great life. All ultimately flowing together to form the great river of life.
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