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Narcissus and Goldmund (Peter Owen Modern Classics) Paperback – 6 Jul 2006


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Peter Owen; New edition edition (6 July 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0720612918
  • ISBN-13: 978-0720612912
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 12.7 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 102,009 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

A novel that dramatises Nietzsche's conception of the Apollonian and the Dionysian. At the medieval monastery of Mariabronn, the restless Goldmund realises he isn't cut out for a cloistered life under the tutelage of his friend and mentor, the ascetic Narziss, and so begins a series of travels that see him work his way through most of the seven deadly sins before finding a psychic resolution of sorts in an apprenticeship to a master sculptor. Only by feeding his appetite for worldly experience does Goldmund finally find the courage to face death. --The Guardian 1000 Novels Everyone Must Read

His greatest novel --New York Times

One of his masterpieces . . . without doubt a great novel --Observer

His greatest novel --New York Times

One of his masterpieces . . . without doubt a great novel --Observer

His greatest novel --New York Times

One of his masterpieces . . . without doubt a great novel --Observer

About the Author

Counted among the leading thinkers of the twentieth century, HERMANN HESSE was born in 1877. Rebelling against a stern monastic education, he worked as a locksmith and a bookseller before embarking on a 65-year writing career. Having travelled as far as India, he settled in Switzerland in 1911 in opposition to German militarism. Awarded the Nobel Prize in 1946, he died in 1963 aged eighty-five.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By L. Pumfrey on 3 Jun 2007
Format: Paperback
I'll begin by saying that I haven't read any other of Hesse's books. After reading Narcissus and Goldmund, I can hardly wait. However, I find it hard to imagine how anything he has written could possibly surpass the singing, joyously spiritual prose that lies on every page of this effort. A book that positively resounds with the twin elements of ecstasy and grief, of life and death, of light and dark, it is the ultimate tribute to life and all its incredible avenues. Sprawling yet succinct, philosophical yet free spirited, it is, in two words, life affirming.

It is unusual for such a modestly sized book to tackle such large, important themes so effectively, and so excitingly. In Goldmund, we can all see ourselves, or can all see what we might be, if we had the gumption. He is one the best illustrated characters, best illustrated concepts, to ever grace our pages. His artistic and amorous wanderings are delightfully redolent of the very joy of being. A primitive, soulful vagabond, blessed with an artist's mind, and cursed with an artist's depression, he wheels through life, from woman to woman, from valley to valley, from light to dark. Narcissus, his mentor and the thinker, bookends the book in a pleasingly structural manner, his brooding intellectualism, and peaceful scholarly outlook providing the perfectly balanced contrast, to impetuous, free-spirited Goldmund.

A veritable mine of inspiration awaits the sensitive reader, in what is surely Hesse's crowning achievement. To read the poetic, fable-like prose is to gain insight like no other, to be inspired time and time again, to be uplifted and to be guided. It is a book to which doubtless you will return.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 July 2003
Format: Paperback
This tale is essentially a diagnosis of human existence and the way individuals respond to it. Without death, says Hesse, life is either an impossibility or an absurdity. It is death that gives value to life and life that gives value to death and the shortness and brevity of life gives it both its absurd insignificance and its amazing importance. The genius of Hesse lies in his ability to capture both the horror and the beauty of life within the same novel: to conjure with the lyricism of a magician the hope out of hopelessness, the joy out of despair and the will to live out of the seeming absurdity of beings born to die and return to dust. Life is indeed meaningless but it is this very meaninglessness that gives life a meaning, as being aware of the finite and absurd nature of life we are, instead of being constrained by a pre-ordained “meaning”, forced to find value in our lives. Life is a series of (seeming) contrasts: sadness to happiness, life to death (the absence of life), masculine to feminine…etc, etc. This is the conception of existence that Narziss attempts to shun by withdrawing into the realm of the mind and Goldmund the world of non-rationalised passion. Both are attempts to escape the essential reality of existence. In this sense Narziss lives like an ascetic – fasting and learning to overcome and negate his sensual nature – and Goldmund the hedonist – sleeping with gipies, wandering roads and plagued towns – and allowing himself to be governed by his senses, seeking no overreaching logic for sheer, unmitigated pleasure and pain.Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Danny Boy on 11 Nov 2011
Format: Paperback
Taking the reader back to medieval Germany, Hesse's beautiful picaresque story renders the suffering and search for meaning of Goldmund, a young man who's aesthtical and wordly sensiblities prompted him to leave his education at Catholic monastery school under the influence of his devoted and wise teacher, Narcissus. Goldmund's wayward journey leads him to a series of extreme pleasures (mostly sexual) and unforgettable pains (hunger, guilt and plague). Once he comes across a carved wooden statue which spiritually alluded him to his long deceased mother, Goldmund discovers the wonders of creating and the power of art...

Hesse's contemplative prose flows assuredly with a glowing aptitude to conjure complicated feelings and images without betraying the fluidity of the storytelling. More than just another fine bildungsroman, "Narcissus and Goldmund" leaves us knowing the world and accepting its ceaseless vicissitude as it is and our place within it. For those of you who got hooked on the works of Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Jung and wished to extend to a more creative literature, I recommend picking up this book for it's intensely emotional impact. As for the cinephiles I would compare the book to Bergman's THE SEVENTH SEAL and Tarkovsky's ANDERI RUBLEV, both of which share many similarities with this particular novel by Hesse. Read, feel, think and enjoy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By K. Derra on 10 May 2012
Format: Paperback
Personally i loved this book, i found it quite cathartic!

An easy read yet quite intense at parts; gripping. I found the ending bitter-sweet yet wholesome...which is why this is one of my favourites. I found that the aim was not to impress or wow the reader with absurdities as many current books intent to, in my opinion. It was rather a growing process for both the reader and the characters.

If you feel like going on an adventure that will leave you wanting more then this may just be the book for you!
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