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Narcissus and Goldmund Mass Market Paperback – 1 Oct 1982


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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Bantam Books (1 Oct 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553244132
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553244137
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 10.2 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 647,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 29 Mar 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hesse was a popular favorite of the youth generation in the 60's and 70's. I myself loved him back then, but had never read "Narcissus and Goldmund". Actually, I am glad that I saved this until later in life because I don't think at 17 I had the emotional depth to appreciate the expansiveness and sheer stylistic elegance of this beautiful classic. Echoes of the philosophy of Carl Jung, which pervade most of Hesse's novels, show us that the two main characters may be viewed as archetypal aspects that co-exist within each one of us---Narcissus being the embodiment of spirituality, discipline and ascetism, and Goldmund being the embodiment of emotion, sensuality and aesthetic delight. While the two may appear to be diametrically opposed at first, Hesse shows us that they are actually intrinsically a part of each other and neither cannot flourish without the influence of the other. Ostensibly a sweet, touching and exciting story about the lives and inner development of two dear friends in medieval Germany (itself a very interesting time in history), "Narcissus and Goldmund" is actually a metaphor for the joyful union of seeming opposites within the human heart. Even though most of Hesse's works deliver a captivatingly beautiful descriptive writing style (kept beautiful by Molinaro's delicious translation), I think "Narcissus and Goldmund" stands out as one of the best of Hesse's novels.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Luke Dunn on 9 Oct 2004
Format: Paperback
Set in medieval Germany, the book is about two men who both have a kind of greatness though in very different ways. The love between Narziss and Goldmund lasts from beginning to end of the book. This book will make you want to be a wandering vagabond. (Well, maybe not if you are a cautious type). I went wandering round the cliffs, bays and marshes where I live (Thanet) to taste freedom. I tried chatting up local peasant's daughters but that seemed somewhow wrong here in South East England. (I think you'd get chased off pretty fast). Narziss is totally square and Goldmund is totally, like, hip. Narziss dreams only of boys but Goldmund dreams of girls. (which also carries a different implication in modern times !) That seems to mean that Narziss is intellectual, where Goldmund is a man of the emotions. Its more complex than that, Narziss is a platonist, Goldmund is probably more of a pantheist or goddess worshipper.
Herman Hesse was read widely in the hippie era, due to a kind of a personal discovery, self fulfilment, anti establishment, anti bourgeois thing. I met a guy in a pub once who said that N and G was Hesse's best book. I now agree with him, because it's got more meat in it than "The Glass Bead Game". (Steppenwolf is right up there too of course).
Reading about Goldmund's wandering through the world has given me more of an attunement with the lives of the long term homeless people I see locally, the hobos and wanderers. My friend Martin completely romanticised being homeless, mainly becasue he loves cracking a can of beer with some dude on a park bench. This book is a bit rosy spectacled about being homeless too.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A challenging book inviting the reader to examine two approaches to life, the ascetic and the sensual, while showing the consequences to the characters involved of their choice. It's a book you can re-read over and over again without tiring of it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 132 reviews
66 of 67 people found the following review helpful
An unjustly neglected masterpiece 5 Sep 2002
By D. C. Cannon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Like most people, I read Hesse's better known novels like Damien and Steppenwolf first. I found a copy of this at a used book store, bought it, and let it sit on the bookself for a while before actually reading it. Was I surprised - this is one of Hesse's greatest novels.
Hesse takes two young men - one devoted to the hermetic religious life and another more into the decadent artistic life - and follows them through adulthood. There are some amazing scenes here - scenes of great artistic creation, a journey through a plague ravaged world, the reunion of the two friends - that rank among the best things Hesse ever wrote.
True the characters are more "types" than real three dimensional characters. It is obvious that Hesse wants to examine the spiritual/cerebral approach to existence versus the more artistic/physical approach to life, and to find them both wanting. This is less a slice of life novel than a modern parable. Taken on those terms, this novel is Hesse at the height of his powers and deserves to be better known and read than it currently is.
48 of 48 people found the following review helpful
Hesse's finest novel 1 Nov 2004
By Mark in Maquoketa - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having read all of Hesse works, I find them all fascinating and profound, but none more so than Narcissus and Goldmund. This masterpiece explores the balance between living for yourself and living for others. These two characters and how they relate and understand the other is just beyond words. I first read this book in High School and over the next 20 years have re-read it many times. It never grows old as it invokes our innermost desires and failures. Do miss out on this great read.
40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
The Beauty that Aches 30 Jan 2002
By "philstud" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
_Narcissus and Goldmund_ by Hermann Hesse is the story of two men: one an ascetic scholar, the other a passionate student of life. The book chronicles their fateful meeting, Goldmund's pursuit of truth and beauty, and a final reunion of the two friends late in life. It is quite simply the best book I've read thus far. In it, I find artfully and poignantly demonstrated the central conflict of my life, perhaps of all life: the struggle between the intellect and the emotions. The book is best read as a juxtaposition of both of these motivators in our lives. Narcissus represents pure intellect and reason, while Goldmund represents pure emotion and passion. Neither one could truly exist in the world, but Hesse creates them as archetypes of these two motivators in all humans. The struggles they encounter in understanding each other, and the struggles Goldmund encounters in making sense of the world, help us to better understand these two sides of our own character. The struggle teaches us of the beauty that aches, and friendship that knows no bounds. In this conflict one can ultimately find the beauty of truth, and the truth of beauty.
63 of 68 people found the following review helpful
A voyage of re-discovery 1 May 2000
By David H - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I first read Narcissus and Goldmund when I was about 20. The conflicts between mind/heart, reason/passion, intellect/emotion were the fulcrum around which my personal voyage of self-discovery turned - at that age.
Now, at 42, I have reread this book. I never appreciated the first time 'round that Hess was describing a completed life. I was too fixated on Goldmund's emancipation through travel. But in the end, after his return to the cloister to create true art, Goldmund hit the road again. He tried in vain to recapture youth only to be spurned by Agnes, the woman he considered to be the most beautiful - and the most like himself. This was a classic description of what we now call the "mid-life crisis".
Neither Narcissus nor Goldmund ended up truly happy, I believe. But that is not the point at all. There was a mutual recognition of the richness in their separate lives. And there was a love and a respect for those differences.
As we all grow up it is these deeper lessons that Hess seeks to impart to us. I'm glad I picked up this excellent book once again and am not surprised to see other reviewers who have done the same with similar results.
A book for living dangerously, and fully.
DH
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOK - WAS A PROFOUND EPIPHANY 16 Nov 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was first introduced to Hermann Hesse through "Demian" which I enjoyed immensely - I felt as though he understood the mind of the artist. Then one day, I recalled a friend mentioning "Narcissus and Goldmund" in the past - not knowing what it was about, I bought it. Call it impulse or instinct - regardless of how I came across this novel...it made a tremendous impact on my life...how I perceived myself as well as those around me. It made me question what my artistic and physical approach to life was.
That was five years ago and to this day, there hasn't been a book that's touched me as deeply nor have I experienced an epiphany as huge as the one I was struck with when I finished the book. The theme that comes across all of Hesse's novels is the road to self-discovery and frankly, having read other popular books by Hesse, none seem to match the profoundness of "Narcissus and Goldmund" or as eloquently written. This book epitomizes the struggle between the mind and the heart. Hesse forces the reader to come to terms with this inevitable conflict and realize that neither is above the other. Actually, both need each other to survive. I will admit that Narcissus and Goldmund are presented as two types of characters - literally. BUT the dimensionality that comes to define the two types as two individuals, are their journeys which, leads to their eventual reunion. It's what wasn't said between Narcissus and Goldmund that allows the reader to analyze and interpret accordingly.
Some reviewers have stated that they found this book disappointing because Hesse didn't delve further in defining the essence of life or that it's didactically written. I strongly disagree with both notions - with this novel Hesse points out the subtleties we often miss and poignantly defines how our creative passion needs to be feed...how the love we develop for those we come across in our lives needs to be nurtured...as well as the necessity to be loved by another human being...but more importantly, the certitude in ourselves - to feed the very passion that drives us and ultimately defines us. In this novel, he punctuates things that most are aware of but don't fully recognize. And as simple as it sounds, I truly believe that that, is the philosophy he is trying to convey - nothing less, nothing more. He executes this theory throughout the book with a delicately intricate voice, but one with a deafening roar that will linger in your mind.
As much as I loved "Demian", I think "Narcissus and Goldmund" surpasses "Demian" mainly because it has the ability to relate to almost every individual, instead of the exclusiveness or isolation that can arise through one's road to self-discovery. This novel manages to juxtapose the intellectual thinker with the instinctual spirit in the simplest manner while evoking myriad thoughts, forcing you to question and engage yourself to your present surroundings.
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