12-18-2007 01:57 PM
Hermann Hesse and Siddhartha
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.
About Hermann Hesse: Hermann Hesse was born in 1877 in Calw, Germany. He was the son and grandson of Protestant missionaries and was educated in religious schools until the age of thirteen, when he dropped out of school. At age eighteen he moved to Basel, Switzerland, to work as a bookseller and lived in Switzerland for most of his life. During this period Hesse married and had three sons.
During World War I, Hesse worked to supply German prisoners of war with reading materials and expressed his pacifist leanings in antiwar tracts and novels. Hesse's lifelong battles with depression drew him to study Freud during this period and, later, to undergo analysis with Jung. His first major literary success was the novel Demian (1919). When Hesse's first marriage ended, he moved to Montagnola, Switzerland, where he created his best-known works, including Siddhartha.
Hesse won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946. He died in 1962 at the age of eighty-five.
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