Siddhartha (Herman Hesse, 1922)

4*

Written in an elegant, lyrical style (at times it really did feel like poetry), Siddhartha, by German author Herman Hesse, tells the story of a handsome and intelligent Brahmin’s son who abandons the comforts of his home and sets out on a spiritual journey of self-discovery. On a quest to seek enlightenment, he encounters a myriad of people and situations along the way, all leading up to his final realisation that the world must be loved in its completeness, and it is the totality of conscious experience that is the best approach to understanding the nature of reality.

This really read like a fairy tale for adults! Though the text is informed by tenets of Hindu and Buddhist philosophy, it should not be seen as a substitute for or guide to the principles of those religions. Published in 1922, long before the Hippie movement of the ‘60s, it was the first major work dealing with Eastern thought in the Western world. For this reason, it has influenced the works of many others ahead of its time, such as well-known Beat-era author Jack Kerouac.

There was both a loveliness and profundity present throughout the pages of Siddhartha, and the ending left me feeling uplifted, positive and to an extent, wiser. The final chapter was particularly touching, with its musings on love and life and meaning, and I put the book down feeling light and airy.

And all the voices, all the goals, all the yearnings, all the sorrows, all the pleasures, all the good and evil, all of them together was the world. All of them together was the stream of events, the music of life.

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