A young man, blessed with loving parents and a safe home in a world where want and neglect abound, leaves this haven in search of himself. He joins the Samanas, a band of wandering ascetics without possessions or earthly ties. His quest unfulfilled, he descends into a life of unbounded luxury and indulgence. Where is truth? Where will his soul find true ease? In denial? In decadence? Or in some truth far greater than himself, so simple, so close to him, yet so obvious that only clear eyes may see it?
Siddhartha reawakens questions most of us have long ceased asking ourselves and opens paths to spirituality many of us have never traveled.
Translated by Joachim Neugroschel.
Originally published in 1922. Translation ©1999 Joachim Neugroschel; (P)2006 Recorded Books, LLC.
The narrator is very expressive. The story itself
is simple but extra ordinary in the vivid descriptive passages.
For the impatient and for those curiously after the twist and turns,
it would turn out to be outright boring. But for those
in a spiritual path, it is time worth spent.
This presentation of one of my favorite books, is nothing short of excellent.I enjoyed listening very much. The narrators vocals were pleasantly soothing and harmonious with the the story of Sidhartha. The story is told without revision, silly soundtrack, or irritating sound effects. There is an informative lecture and commentary after the reading about Herman Hesse, and this classic tale of Sidhartha.
I liked how this went through the ups and downs of a persons life... it has hidden meanings and provokes thought and reflection in ones own life. This is a great addition to a persons collection of self help books, the meaning of life, people searching for something more. It is easy to listen too in a story book fashion. Nice change of pace from the "do this, do that" type self help books
To cut to the chase:
The narrator of this version of Siddhartha isn't one whose other work I'll be chasing down. I had hoped to be swept back to the place I landed when I first read the book (decades ago), but with this reader and a translation that struck me as anything-but-lyrical, I finished the recording hugely unsatisfied.
It's a shame that Audible offers only an abridgement of Sherab Chodzin Kohn's translation -- widely considered sensitive and poetic.
Letting the rest of the world go by
One can either listen to a long boring Great Course Lecture series on Buddhism and Eastern Thought or one can listen to this fairly entertaining book and come away with the same depth of understanding on how the introspective path can lead towards enlightenment.
The author clearly wants to share a reasonable interruption of Eastern Thought, and does it quite cleverly by looking at the life of one fictional person, Sidhartha, and how he learns enlightenment through his many phases of his life.
In the end (for me) there is no Eastern Solution for enlightenment but I find the doubt from introspection to be much more worthwhile than the certainty that comes from the revealed religions of the West. I keep meaning to finish that Great Course Lecture I have, but just have never found the time. Perhaps this book will urge me towards that.
In short, I don't understand why this is a classic and so loved by others. It's a about 3 hours too long and it didn't tell me anything new or even anything old in a new way. I guess at the time this book was written it may have been unique and thought provoking . Given the amount of information available today about spirituality of all kinds, this made me wonder when it was going to give me that I've-never-thought-of-it-that-way moment. It never happened.
I normally like mystery/thrillers but I have enjoyed other books in this and other genres and wasn't expecting action and adventure - but this book, particularly the first part, was a little too much pontification by a man who comes across as a little arrogant. Perhaps it was the narrators tone and not the words giving me this impression so reading may be different than listening. Having said that, the narrator was expressive and I did like him overall.
I initially thought this was a version of the life story of the Buddha (one of whose names was "Siddartha"). But it's the story of a contemporary who crosses paths with the Buddha in the story, but who carves his own path to enlightenment. It's like "The Life of Brian", but with philosophy and poetic wording rather than that great Monty Python humour.
I found the story of Siddharta compelling, poetic at times, and well-narrated. I was not completely convinced by Sid's philosophy ultimately, but I still really enjoyed the story. I would have docked the story one star for it's philosophical conclusions, but that that didn't seem justified.
So, I highly recommend the book for its twisty-turny story, the lyrical writing, and the interestng ideas it sets out. Don't worry about it if you're exactly not on all fours with Sid's conclusions by the end. The narration is really excellent as well.
PS: You will need some basic info about Buddhism though. I'm no expert, but here goes. The most important thing is that the goal of the religion is to meditate long and hard until you finally achieve the ultimate truth of the universe at which point you're on your way to Nirvana. If you fail, you are reincarnated and get another chance. And know that Brahmans are the the priest/upper class of that society.
This book will always be one of my favorites. I really admired the narration and the way in which Hermann Hesse wrote this novel. I look forward to reading more of his work in the future.
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