Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Fiction: Narcissus and Goldmund by Hermann Hesse

Publisher: Bantam
Translator: Ursule Molinaro
Date: 1930 (1971)
Format: paperback
Source: OU Honors College
Read: as part of an Honors College informal reading group
Pages: 312

From GoodReads: Hesse's novel of two medieval men, one quietly  content with his religion and monastic life, the  other in fervent search of more worldly salvation.  This conflict between flesh and spirit, between  emotional and contemplative man, was a life study for  Hesse. It is a theme that transcends all time.  

My review: One of the reading groups in which I've participated this semester has been slowly reading its way through Narcissus and Goldmund and a selection of Hesse's poems. I've concluded that Hesse's work is deeply introspective and personal, like a glimpse into his thoughts and musings. Because of this, I think it's difficult to enjoy his writing unless you personally identify with his way of thinking. I don't identify with his themes and philosophizing, so Narcissus and Goldmund, while not a book I disliked, was also not one I greatly enjoyed reading. I didn't feel like I could really appreciate and understand the meaning of the novel. In my case, at least, it's one of those books that you read but don't absorb much from; it doesn't leave the reader with much unless he or she was able to personally connect to it.

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