• Narcissus and Goldmund

  • By: Hermann Hesse
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 10 hrs and 37 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (1,049 ratings)

Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks, and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Audible Plus auto-renews for $7.95/mo after 30 days. Upgrade or cancel anytime.
Narcissus and Goldmund  By  cover art

Narcissus and Goldmund

By: Hermann Hesse
Narrated by: Simon Vance
Try for $0.00

$7.95 a month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Buy for $15.56

Buy for $15.56

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's summary

Narcissus and Goldmund is the story of a passionate yet uneasy friendship between two men of opposite character. Narcissus, an ascetic instructor at a cloister school, has devoted himself solely to scholarly and spiritual pursuits. One of his students is the sensual, restless Goldmund, who is immediately drawn to his teacher's fierce intellect and sense of discipline. When Narcissus persuades the young student that he is not meant for a life of self-denial, Goldmund sets off in pursuit of aesthetic and physical pleasures, a path that leads him to a final, unexpected reunion with Narcissus.

©1957 Herman Hesse (P)2009 BBC Audio

What listeners say about Narcissus and Goldmund

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    774
  • 4 Stars
    186
  • 3 Stars
    60
  • 2 Stars
    14
  • 1 Stars
    15
Performance
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    718
  • 4 Stars
    140
  • 3 Stars
    23
  • 2 Stars
    7
  • 1 Stars
    2
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    662
  • 4 Stars
    151
  • 3 Stars
    54
  • 2 Stars
    15
  • 1 Stars
    9

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

My favorite of Hesse's novels, wonderfully read.

In my college years, Hermann Hesse was one author considered required reading by my peers. I read and reread all of his better known novels and found them all worthwhile. But of all of Hesse's work, it is Narcissus and Goldmund that moved me most deeply and it is the novel (of Hesse's) to which I have returned to most often.

Like all of Hesse's novels, it is about the the pursuit of the meaning of life, but here the writing is less self-conscious, simpler in some ways, but deeper in the exploring the range of human experience. It has drama, insight, poetic vision and covers a wide range of experiences. It is very Existential in some ways, but touches on the mystical in the arts with a more profound effect than the more "metaphysical" manner of the earlier novels.

This novel is about two medieval men with a very deep friendship but with very different temperaments. The meet in a monastery (after the death of Goldmund's mother). They appear to be complete opposites each seeks to bring meaning to their existence; Narcissus seeks peace and salvation (purity of mind) within a religious life in a monastery, while Goldmund is burning with the desire to experience life and throw himself into the world.

The story is about finding one's way and being true to one's inner nature. Narcissus lives a life of constraint but one that has purpose for him. Goldmund is unhappy in the monastery, and Narcissus tells him "be yourself, try to realize yourself" and encourages him to find his own way. The men separate to following their own paths. We follow the lives of both of these men, and in their contrasting experiences.

Goldmund then wanders the world in search of adventure, love and self-discovery . He has fantastic adventures, experiences the best and worst of humanity surrounded by the Black Plague; and in the mist of all these hardships, he finds meaning and beauty. After being profoundly touched by the beauty of wooden statue of the Madonna, the artist within himself awakens giving a new purpose and direction for his life. He seeks out the artist and becomes his apprentice. He develops his own skills, sacrificing the wild experiences and settling down to work (at least for the duration of the work) and he creates a sculpture of great merit.

Hesse writes powerfully and beautifully on the conflict between the Apollonian (understanding; form, order, restraint, conforming, the world of the intellect/mind) and the Dionysian (experience; passion, frivolity, lust, expression, the world of images/symbol/beauty). Hesse is able to bring out the conflict between flesh and spirit, emotion and control, ambition and modesty. This is a novel about the dilemma of life, and two possible paths that of spiritual pilgrims and that of artistic souls on the road of life. This was perfectly timed for me, in my early twenties, this book seems to express artistically and poignantly the central conflict of my life.

I own dozens of audiobooks, and none are better performed than this one. The narrator, Simon Vance, has the perfect voice, expression and pacing for such a meaningfull story. He varies the pitch and style of his speech to clearly portray each of the characters and expresses the difference between the thoughts and the words of the characters. He never over-acts nor does he ever rush the delivery. I've read the book several times, but in my listening to the audiobook I heard details that I'd never noticed before. As a result of the enjoyment of this performance, I've now purchased many other audiobooks narrated by Simon Vance, they are all well-read. Most highly recommended.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

61 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Typical Germanic "depth of soul" novel

I frankly found this novel a bit tedious. It's quintessentially Germanic. Set rather vaguely in a pre-industrial stylized world of monks, craftsmen, blacksmiths, gypsy women, etc., it tells the story of the life of Goldmund. The life is fairly implausible. There are long, long, sections in which his mind and feelings and relationships are described in depth. The author's outlook, when it comes right down to it, is that the only thing that has real value in the world is aesthetic experience. THe deeper your soul, the deeper, and hence more valuable this will be. EVen when Goldmund is having sex with every girl he meets, this is still understand as essentially aesthetic--or as the foundation for something aesthetic. I think if I'd read this when I was 19 I'd have been very impressed; but not being 19, I found it often tiresome. The narration is very good.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A True Classic

This is the single most valuable book I have ever read in my life thus far. Long, but worth the time.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

One of the greatest novels I've ever read

Superb, beautifully written (and well-translated!) and splendidly read by Simon Vance. I'd read most of Hesse's novels, but always avoided this one for some reason, thinking it was a minor work. Not at all! It's one of the greatest novels by a great writer. Spiritually and psychologically profound, it's mostly about Goldmund, one of the most engaging characters I've ever encountered. The large amount of introspective material is not boring for a second, and is seamlessly woven into the action and descriptions. One of the best Audible experiences I've had.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Riveting Masterepiece

One of the most amazing stories I have ever heard. So profound in its depth and breath of the human journey. Perhaps the best narrator I have ever heard. It's no wonder that the author Was recognized as a Nobel laureate.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

All that a good book should be

Would you consider the audio edition of Narcissus and Goldmund to be better than the print version?

Simon Vance's delivery is just spectacular. He brings out every detail of Hesse's beautiful prose and has allowed me to discover the beauty of passages that I missed while reading the print version.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I cannot help but to identify with Narcissus. He is all that I seek to emulate, a man devoted to the life of the mind who seeks transcendence through the wisdom that humanity has stored in text.

Which scene was your favorite?

The final scene shows the essence of what Hesse was trying to communicate, the importance of living before one can achieve a good death.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

It is perhaps cliche to say that death was what moved me the most in the novel but I can't emphasize the beautiful sadness with which Hesse paints the tows ravaged by the Black Death.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

excellent !

i extremely enjoyed this book. the narrator has the voice for herman hesse works. my most memorable moment here is when goldmund is pursuing the mistress of the count and the second visit gets found in their castle by the guards. as if he were set up. the moment actually had my heart pounding as if i were in the moment.

second most memorable moment was when goldmund enters the cabin full of dead family members. such a moment takes one a while to accept if at all. even for the reader let alone being there. hesse paints an etchingly vivid canvas for what death looks like in person. that chapter struck me. goldmund analyzes the scene in such a romantic and artistic manner. it opens a door for new ways to look at death. it also left a heavy feeling of awe and confusion and rejection of the scene. you dont want to believe it but here it is. in your face. and goldmund shows you a sense of glory with his imagery.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Existentialist essential!

Hesse once again explores with much depth the values, and inner forces that drives man. Religion, sex, behavior, friendship... Hesse's books are a guide to the appreciation of life.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

this book is referenced in The Catcher in The Rye

Thie is referenced in the political allegory called The Catcher In The Rye by J. D. Salinger. i think to gain an even clearer understanding of the philosophy in this book i highly recommend the book The Light and The Cave. To see what i mean by The Catcher being a political allegory see on Goodreads "Breaking the Code To The Catcher in the Rye"

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Beautiful, stirring, elegiac, provocative

I was totally transported and transfixed by this story and the telling of it. A book truly enhanced in the audio format, thanks to this beautiful narration. It felt like sitting by the fire and being told a story from long ago. The ideas explored are not novel, but are beautifully rendered, given flesh, and made fresh in this parable-like story. Also of interest as an historical novel, recreating in great detail a particular time and place long ago. Lovely.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

2 people found this helpful