A book—rare in our arid age—that takes root in the heart and grows there for a lifetime.
Here the spirituality of the East and the West have met in a novel that enfigures deep human wisdom with a rich and colorful imagination.
Written in a prose of almost biblical simplicity and beauty, it is the story of a soul's long quest in search of he ultimate answer to the enigma of man's role on this earth. As a youth, the young Indian Siddhartha meets the Buddha but cannot be content with a disciple's role: he must work out his own destiny and solve his own doubt—a tortuous road that carries him through the sensuality of a love affair with the beautiful courtesan Kamala, the temptation of success and riches, the heartache of struggle with his own son, to final renunciation and self-knowledge.
The name "Siddhartha" is one often given to the Buddha himself—perhaps a clue to Hesse's aims in contrasting the traditional legendary figure with his own conception, as a European (Hesse was Swiss), of a spiritual explorer.
About the Author
HERMANN HESSE was born in 1877 in Calw, Germany. He grew to become a celebrated author and the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1946. As the son of missionaries, he developed a fascination with self-discovery and spiritual explorations, an interest also likely due in part to his lifelong struggle with depression, which led him to study Sigmund Freud and, later, to undergo psychoanalysis with Carl Jung. In 1912 he moved to Switzerland, where he wrote his best-known books, including the classic Siddhartha; composed poetry; and painted landscapes. He passed away in 1962 in Montagnola, Switzerland. Hesse is one of the most widely translated authors of the twentieth century; his work continues to have influence worldwide.
Hilda Rosner is an author and translator.
The cool and strangely simple story makes a beautiful little book, classic in proportion and style; it should be read slowly and with savor, preferably during the lonely hours of the night. — The Nation
In Siddhartha the setting is Indian and we encounter the Buddha, but the author’s ethos is still closer to Goethe. — Washington Post Book World
One could even hope that Hesse’s readers are hungrily imbibing Siddhartha, and that they will be so wisely foolish as to live by it. — Chicago Tribune
Hermann Hesse is the greatest writer of the century. — San Francisco Chronicle