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Siddhartha (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

Siddhartha (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview


Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.


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.

Robert A. F. Thurman holds the first endowed chair in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies in the United States, the Jey Tsong Khapa Chair at Columbia University. The first American to be ordained a Tibetan monk, he has been a student and friend of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for forty years. Thurman is the author of numerous books, most recently Infinite Life: Seven Virtues for Living Well.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593083793
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 11/01/2007
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 436
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Hermann Hesse (1877-1962) was a German-Swiss poet, novelist, and painter. Profoundly affected by the mysticism of Eastern thought, Hesse’s books and essays reveal a deep spiritual influence that has captured the imagination of generations of readers. His best-known works include Steppenwolf, Siddhartha, Demian and Magister Ludi. In 1946, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Read an Excerpt


From Robert A. F. Thurman’s Introduction to Siddhartha

I first read Siddhartha at the very start of the 1960s, and I can still remember the powerful inspiration it gave me. Why would a young person seeking to escape from wasp-hood at Harvard turn to India as the mother of inner exploration, when nothing in Western education would indicate that India was a source of great explorations in the quest for some transcendent truth? Clearly, Siddhartha was a model for my own journeys, for my own development of his vaunted skills at “fasting—waiting—thinking.”

Looking into Hesse’s personal life, I was astonished to discover many parallels between the troubled youth of this great psychic explorer, poet, critic, novelist, painter, and gardener who wandered the world before World War I and finally fled from the Rhineland down to southern Switzerland, and that of my own more humble and less accomplished self, hailing from Manhattan and traveling more or less on foot to India my first time out in 1961. At fifteen Hesse began to rebel against his strict Pietistic father and mother and the mission school they placed him in; he never felt comfortable in conventional German society of the time. Some of us—certainly myself, and I think Hesse, too—though born in the West, tend to wander as if doomed to exile and always feel like “a stranger in a strange land.” For both of us, forty-plus years and another World War apart, “Mother India” was a salve, a home, for our wandering spirits. Why? Is it because India’s civilization alone has had the wisdom to open itself up truly to embrace the naturally homeless? Hesse himself had this to say about India:

For example, with my Indian journey I had an unforgettable experience. At first it was a real disappointment, I returned completely downcast. But almost ten years later, as I was writing Siddhartha, suddenly the Indian memories were extremely precious and positive, and the little disappointment of earlier on was extinguished.1

Siddhartha was published in German in 1922. Its first English translation was published in 1951. Siddhartha’s quest was an important model for the whole postwar generation’s seeking of “Enlightenment in the East.” For Hesse himself, the book articulates a complex of strands in his character. It shows his rich appreciation for India conceived in a specific Western way, inherited from his missionary grandfather and parents. He says:

And this learned and wise grandfather had not only Indian books and scrolls, but also shelves full of exotic wonders, not only coconut shells and strange birds’ eggs, but also wooden and bronze idols and animals, silken paintings and a whole cabinet stuffed with Indian cloths and robes in all materials and colors. . . . All this was part of my childhood, not less than the fir-trees of the Black Forest, the Nagold river, or the Gothic chapel on the bridge.

Siddhartha is distinguished by Hesse’s consummate artistic, spiritual, and poetic sense of the high transcendent experiences and values accessible through the Indian “inner sciences” and “mind yogas.” At the same time, the book contains a certain European, world-weary cynicism and a sense of the inevitable faultiness of all religious paths. Hesse again: “At the age of thirty, I was a Buddhist, of course not in the church-sense of the word.” The book hums with Hesse’s pursuit of Christian, Tolstoyan nonviolence and the inner kingdom, all the while roiled from within by its opposite: his own driving inner violence, his volcanic sensuality, and his deep despair of fulfilling human relations—a despair that stemmed from his ambivalent struggles with his parents and his ups and downs with his first wife and three sons.

Rereading Siddhartha now, I can clearly see its influence on my decision at twenty to leave college and the study of Western literature, philosophy, and psychology, and seek a higher enlightenment in India. More than forty years later, I have gone back and forth from “the West” to “the East” so many times I can hardly tell the difference anymore, though I observe certain groups still struggling to maintain the “never the twain shall meet” sort of attitude. Having trod a little bit in both of the Siddharthas’ footprints in my own small way, I appreciate the book even more. I can now unravel the tangled threads of Hesse’s mixing of Hindu and Buddhist worldviews, his entrapment in some of the stereotyped views of “the East” that were almost inescapable for a man of his time and culture, and his romantic depiction of Buddhist/Hindu enlightenment as a kind of return to nature, a resignation to the flow of the great river of life. In spite of this creative Hindu/Buddhist mixing, I enjoy the book much more now than I ever could have in my youth.

Hesse seems to have been haunted by a keen insight into the human condition, and his work seems to mark a great turning point in the growth of a genuine European respect for the civilization of enlightenment that developed in ancient India. He himself loved nothing more than to leave hearth and home and wander south to Italy with artistic friends, the European version of a sadhu (Hindu ascetic). He slept in bed-and-breakfasts or camped alfresco, contemplated nature and art, and took a break from the routine chores of householding in northern Europe (very likely overburdening his high-strung wife with their three sons). But it was hard to wander with open mind and heart and intellect in the Europe of that time, so he also went to India and southeast Asia. His keen artist’s perception saw there that the complex fabric of the culture of India was rich enough and its weave loose enough to accommodate all manner of eccentrics, wandering here and there, always on some spiritual pilgrimage or other, seeking beauty or peace, magical energy or complete transcendence.

At this moment in my journey, I am very pleased to have the chance to introduce Siddhartha to a new generation, since I think it still has the power to inspire the seeker of higher truth. I do not pretend to evaluate Hesse’s great achievement from some higher vantage of supposed enlightenment, which I do not claim for myself. But I have put in a bit of study of enlightenment’s various forms and levels, the institutions and cultural orientations it has supported in various countries, and the high civilizations it ultimately created. And following Siddhartha’s inspiration more than forty years ago, I did make a bit of progress—just enough to know that, as elusive as it continues to be, enlightenment is still highly worth pursuing.

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Siddhartha (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 318 reviews.
wmorin76 More than 1 year ago
I had to read this book for a literature class in high school. Lately, I've been returning to some of my high school assignment books to see how they read now that I'm older and in a different mind-set. The first time I read this, I wouldn't say that I hated it, just rather indifferent to it. I just re-read it and......wow! What a great story about the search for wisdom and enlightenment. It makes the very valid point that while knowledge can be taught from one person to another, wisdom simply cannot. It is acquired through one's own experiences. No truer words were ever spoken and I think it is a point that not everyone recognizes. A wonderful and relatively easy reader, Siddhartha contains messages that can be appreciated by anyone who questions the hardships and meaning of life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is short, but packed with so much power. Its prose is simple, but it's what's written between the lines that is so thought provoking. I would actually say that this book changed my life every time I am going through a rough time, I think back to Siddhartha and I'm calmed a bit. Pure wisdom.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thought provoking and profoundly moving. I really loved the language and the subtle and nuanced writing. Great to read and reread
HANKinCarlsbad More than 1 year ago
This is not a long book, but you'll read every word, and many paragraphs twice. It's filled with insight, drama and high emotion. Tons of introduction before and notes after to set up the story and author, then explain references. A true "Classic."
Lockhart7 More than 1 year ago
This is a classic for anyone interested in Eastern religions/ways of life, but don't expect a real epic adventure. The book is as slow moving as its characters. I was more excited to start reading it than I was actually reading it. However, it holds multiple life-long messages, all extracted from an author who has respectfully learned them first-hand. It's short & precise, and reminds us how cool monks are, even if it's not original (it's nearly identical to the acclaimed story of the Buddha). Read it, learn from it, move on!
seekerWA More than 1 year ago
This book is about a man's journey seeking the ultimate truth. For me, three points stand out. First, the journey is long and hard. It takes a life time to reach. Second, it is hard for everyone, even those who are supposed to be superior in spirituality. Third, humbleness and love for all are the necessary conditions for achieving that ultimate goal. It is a book of great inspiration. For anyone who is interested in spirituality, this book is a must read.
AdamZ1 More than 1 year ago
This book-length tale may be the finest of its kind. It's a book about life, about finding out how to live it properly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I picked up this Hesse classic on my Nook after a recommendation from a friend. I had never read Hesse and knew nothing of the book's history before reading although I had studied some basic Buddhism in college. In a sense the college work gave me a nice base from which to think a little deeper about some of the concepts Hesse presents through this wonderful story. But, I think one with no prior knowledge of Buddhist beliefs could still stand to gain much from this book. The book is a nice read, well written and just the right length I think for Hesse to present his story. Not too complex and yet not too simple. I highly recommend it.
soccerkitten214 More than 1 year ago
"Siddhartha" was a great book. My favorite part about this book is how the author used symbolism. The author used symbolism to express greater thoughts. An example of this is the river that Siddhartha reflects in his own life. Siddhartha learns to understand through the rivers' "om". Om is a representation of meditation and when Siddhartha finds om in the river then he finds unity in his self. The river also represents the flowing of Siddhartha's life. The river is always moving and doesn't stop for anything, like life. Another example is the songbird. When Siddhartha travels to the sinful city of Samsara, he meets Kamala. Kamala has a rare song bird that she keeps caged up. After 20 years, Siddhartha has a dream that the song bird dies and sees it as his inner self dieing. He decides to leave the city. After he leaves, Kamala sets the bird free because she is heart broken. After leaving and being away for awhile, Siddhartha realizes that the "song bird" within his self is still alive. After seeing the affect that symbolism had on the book, I think the author completed his purpose well. The authors' purpose was to show how the world altered the mind of Siddhartha. The author expresses this by symbolism and conflict. Throughout the book Siddhartha is going through different kinds of conflict, internal and external. By going through different kinds of conflict, Siddhartha realizes the struggles within himself and the world. After realizing how difficult the world is, Siddhartha realizes that he must make himself happy to reach Nirvana. He must keep himself happy by moving on and never stopping or allowing someone to stop him in his path, like the river. He realizes that he must be free and not have anyone hold him back, like the songbird in the cage. This book was a good book and I would recommend it to anyone who is not just learning about the life of Siddhartha, but to anyone who is learning about life itself.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've loved this book ever since I first came upon it in high school. It is a thoroughly lyrical work that is at once strange and comforting. I've read it very slowly at least four times, almost meditating with each page on the depths of another soul's struggle for enlightenment. It is one of those rare books that not only touches your soul but leaves you changed and for the better afterwards. I'd recommend everyone with an open heart to read it or to re-read it again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My criticism is not of the beautiful story, but of the poor translation of what is Hesse's usually lyrical prose.  At times the sentences are clunky and  often ungrammatical.  I bought this as a bargain deal - fuess it wasn't such a bargain, after all.  From now on I will check out print translations before I buy an ebook.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Let me tell you straight...one of the best book i have ever read. Very well written, almost written like a long poem, and an insightful story that has alot to say about life. You won't be disappointed.
391 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I feel very ambivalent about this book. I neither loved it nor hated it - it was a quick read, for which I was thankful, and I found some parts interesting. That is about all I can think of to say about it.
mdtwilighter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Siddhartha was a good book, despite my first thoughts about it. It was more than just about relgion,it was about the fundamentals of life.
AryckRussell on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse, is by far one of the best novels I have ever read. It is such an amazing story that truly touches your spirit. In the story, the main character, Siddhartha, is on the quest to achieve enlightenment. He leaves his parents at a young age to become a Samana, but he soon finds out that the doctrines aren¿t as true as he thought they would be. He then begins to travel to different towns to listen to other spiritual leaders, including The Illustrious One. He contently listens to their teachings, yet he always finds some kind of contradiction with them. In the end, Siddhartha uses his life experiences as his own doctrine. He realizes that to achieve enlightenment, you must know how life is from all aspects, a Samana, a dice player, a Merchant, a man of great wealth.Some things that I learned are that great things come to those who wait. It takes Siddhartha an entire lifetime to finally become enlightened. That to me is such an inspiration and an encouragement to never give up on anything in life. Some things that I learned about the culture of the story are that there are a lot of different religions. It seems that with every ¿Holy¿ person that Siddhartha comes in contact with, there¿s always a different belief system. The main goal in all these religions is to reach a state of Nirvana; it just seems each group has a different way of achieving it. I would recommend this book t anyone that loves to be really engaged in their reading. In the course of reading this book, I myself felt apart of it as if I too were on a journey and meeting the people and experiencing the struggles. Absolutely amazing book.
rmckeown on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this back in the 60s when it was all the rage, and I failed to see the point. Of course, I have undergone countless changes since then, so I thought the time had come to give it another try. Good move. I have an enormous, new-found respect for this novel. It confirmed some things I believed and taught me quite a few new things. Every reader should bring something to the story and take away new insights.The Siddartha of the title, born into a Brahmin family around the time the Buddha first emerged in the 6th-5th century b.c.e., senses dissatisfaction with his life. Like Gautama Buddha, Siddhartha¿s family had amassed great wealth and lived a privileged lifestyle. However, both young men decide to leave all that behind and explore the world. Siddhartha becomes an ascetic and encounters Gautama Buddha shortly after he achieves enlightenment. He reveres the Buddha but does not become a follower. Rather, he leaves on another journey that will have profound effects on his life. Siddhartha meets a number of teachers along his journey, and each one adds lessons to his life. Numerous passages struck me, but this one had particular significance. ¿One can convey knowledge but not wisdom. One can find wisdom, one can live it, one can be borne by it, one can work wonders with it, but one can neither speak it nor teach it¿ (111). This statement represents Siddhartha¿s great discovery. He recognizes the achievement of Gautama Buddha, but he senses each person has to travel the path alone and discover -- for him or herself ¿ Nirvana. This idea mirrors an identical idea of Krishnamurti, who became a great teacher, and then walked away from his followers telling them they did not need him. My version of the book has extremely helpful introduction and notes by Robert A. F. Thurman, who teaches Buddhist studies at Columbia University. These long endnotes provide explanations for some of the more esoteric philosophical terms and ideas expressed by Hesse. Do not skip them!We all meet people, learn things, gather insights, experience epiphanies, but assembling these into a coherent personal philosophy can be elusive for many of us. Knowing what to accept, what to reject, what to hold for further examination is a complicated process that requires an open mind and a great deal of patience. This central lesson of Hesse¿s novel made my reading more than worthwhile. Deep down, I knew this, but seeing the effect it can have is an epiphany in itself. An inspiring and thought-provoking novel everyone can enjoy. 5 stars--Jim, 7/30/10
jpporter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Everything is One."I'm sorry, but that is vague, vacuous and obfuscatory. It seems to be some eternal truth, but it is gibberish. It is a paean to the Western Culture's romantic ideal of Eastern Mysticism. Like saying "Hey, I don't understand it, so it must be smart."Of Hesse's works, "Siddhartha" is most frequently cited as one of the more important. It hardly seems worth it. "Steppenwolf," for all the issues I might have with it, is a far more intelligent, intelligible, attempt at examining the inner self. Hesse seems to have been enraptured by the ineffability of Indic thinking, but he seems to equate ineffability with profundity. The two are not coextensive; indeed, in some ways they are mutually exclusive.This is not to deny that "Siddhartha" contains some illuminating insights into human nature, it's just that the attempt to move from those insights to some profound grasp of the essence of existence is presumptuous and pompous. It is also written in a very juvenile style, attempting a synthesis of prose and poetry that only highlights the unintelligibility of the fundamental "truths" Hesse seems so infatuated with.Sorry. This is high literature, not.
RoseCityReader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've been reading several books by Nobel Prize winners lately. Siddhartha was one of them. I can't say that it did anything for me. Siddhartha is the hero of this allegorical tale of an Indian man's development, from Brahmin student, to mystic, to successful business man and pleasure seeker, to wise ferryboat tender. Maybe back in 1922 when it was first published, or even in the 1960s and '70s when American hippies took it to heart, the examination of Indian mysticism and Buddhism would have been fascinating. But now, when Indian culture is more familiar, it just seems pretentious and overwrought.Many people love it. It just is not my cup of tea.
veneta09 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
tells a good story of siddartha and the journey to becoming a very enlightened man
Arctic-Stranger on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is, and is not the story of the Buddha. It is Hesse's attempts to find sanity, and we are glad he takes us along with him.
brianinbuffalo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Call me superficial or even spiritually shallow, but this revered classic penned by one of my favorite authors just didn't do much for me. The promotional blurb on the back cover says the book is "as astounding today as it was when it was first published nearly 80 years ago." What's astounding to me is that "Siddhartha" has landed on so many "best" lists over the decades. It's not an unpleasant read, and there are definitely some valuable messages. The characters are interesting, and the exploration of a different culture will pique readers' interest. But I just don't think the book lives up to eight decades of accolades.
supermanlver on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A very inspiring story about Siddhartha's transcendence to become the Buddha. This novel takes the reader through Siddhartha's entire journey starting from his decision, as a child, to trade in his life of luxury, for a more simplistic one as he sets off to reach enlightenment. A very intriguing book. I felt enlightened as i read it! Enjoy :)
copyedit52 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Generally, Hesse is one of those authors whose ideas I like but whose writing puts me off. (Aldous Huxley, Joan Didion, and Paul Goodman are others). But there are scenes in this particular Hesse book that recur to me so often that I have to at least give it four stars.
the_awesome_opossum on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
...At least it was short? The book gets readers thinking about the philosophies of Buddhism, which is good, but as a novel alone it's pretty underwhelming, with mediocre prose and an unengaging plot. But many readers will come to it as a look into Buddhism anyway, so it serves that purpose at least.
vivekp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When I first tried to read this book, I got bored within the first 4 pages. The writing style is so bland and boring that I couldnt imagine why this was such a highly recommended book. The last time I read something of this style is when I read sanskrit in 9th Grade. And then it struck me that this style could be a mirror of a literal sanskrit style. I then pressed on and then I realized that the author had chosen a style that would allow the user to focus more on the character and his problems than the writing style itself. What intrigued me the most is that this was written by a non-asian. He had obviously done a lot of introspetion and study such that this book felt like it was written in sanskrit. (At least to me.)Another thing I realized is how powerful a story can be in communicating ideas. The ideas in this book have been told since time immemorial (at least in India). But Hesse manages to compact so many concepts in such small a space.