Saturday, 17 August 2013

SIDDHARTA by Hermann Hesse

I suppose it's just fitting that as a German native, I start with a German author, Hermann Hesse, and one of his influential works, Siddharta. -- Yes, I know, he became Swiss but give me a break.

I had read other Hesse novels before growing up, like Steppenwolf and Roßhalde but hadn't tackled this one until just recently. Hesse published this one in 1922.

For those unfamiliar with this work, I provide the brief description from Goodreads
"The novel deals with the spiritual journey of self-discovery of a man named Siddhartha during the time of the Gautama Buddha, who leaves his family for a contemplative life, then, restless, discards it for one of the flesh. He conceives a son, but bored and sickened by lust and greed, moves on again. Near despair, Siddhartha comes to a river where he hears a unique sound. This sound signals the true beginning of his life -- the beginning of suffering, rejection, peace, and, finally, wisdom."

The book was an interesting read but is probably more enjoyable for those interested in spiritual exploration as in Siddharta, the main character has a fundamental desire to understand his life through spirituality, seeks to do this by reaching Nirvana, and starts with the conviction that finding Nirvana is possible. Not an easy topic and even the Buddha plays somewhat of a side role in this plot.

What I liked most about the book was the variations of the exploration of love, as the many ways love appears and the difficulties love poses are vital to the eventual success of Siddhartha’s quest. Love for his father, which Siddharta rejects; love for the Buddha, which is based on teaching and he cannot follow; love for a woman-the character Kamala, which includes its physical aspect and overall meaning, which he is incapable of reciprocating; love to his son, he had with Kamala, which becomes a test of his wisdom he gained. Ultimately, through Kamala and his son he has learned to love the world and accept it, not resist it, in its entirety.

Overall, the book is an interesting read that showed Hesse's versatility as an author at a time (inter-war period in Europe), where most themes were very focused or gloomy. I enjoyed reading it despite some sometimes overly mythical prose.

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive a free copy of this book for review.

No comments:

Post a Comment