Author: Hermann Hesse, Hilda Rosner
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Summary: I loved the beautiful, lyrical writing, but the plot was too focused on the divine for my taste.
I picked this book up based on a glowing recommendation from a friend. It’s the story of a young man in ancient India on a spiritual quest to find enlightenment. He tries dedicating his life to various pursuits, from contemplation to love, from self-deprivation to hedonism. Even encountering Gautama Buddha fails to bring him peace until after he’s discovered more of life himself.
Because of the spiritual focus on this book, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up on my own. Unsurprisingly, that was my least favorite part of the story. Not only were we focused on Siddhartha’s quest for spiritual enlightenment, he often made progress on his quest by waking up with an epiphany. It felt as though the story was being guided by divine intervention, rather than character growth.
Despite not loving the plot, this was a great read for me. The writing was incredibly beautiful. The cadence of the sentences reminded me of flowing water, which fit well with the fact that a river played a large role in the end of the book. The lyricism was enough that even without loving the plot, I enjoyed every moment of this book.
Yes I recall reading this in high school and loving it. Gave me a broader perspective!
That makes sense! I did really like that it was about religious beliefs I was unfamiliar with 🙂
I was assigned to read this for one of my Religious Studies minor classes. I can definitely see how if I wasn’t reading it with the express purpose of analyzing it from an academic Religious Studies viewpoint that the spiritual aspect could be irritating. Put another way, I wouldn’t recommend picking it up for funsies. 😉
Haha, yeah, me either! It was beautiful, but definitely not a fun read.
It’s really telling that you enjoyed this book despite the spiritual focus. Must be some amazing writing!
It was! The way it flowed made for a very relaxing, enjoyable reading experience.
Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy
This is a book I’ve heard of, but never really knew what it was all about. The spiritual quest aspect doesn’t appeal to me too, so I don’t think I would read this, but I’m glad the lyrical writing made this a much more worthwhile read for you! It’s fantastic when words can evoke a sense of movement and beauty.
It’s true! I don’t know that I’d recommend it that strongly to anyone with my reading taste because it was only an OK story, but I did have fun reading it because of the writing 🙂