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Narcissus and Goldmund (Peter Owen Modern Classics) [Paperback]

Hermann Hesse
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
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Book Description

6 July 2006 Peter Owen Modern Classics
Narcissus is a teacher at Mariabronn, a monastery in medieval Germany, and Goldmund his favourite pupil. While Narcissus remains detached from the world in prayer and meditation, Goldmund runs away from the monstery in pursuit of love. Thereafter he lives a picaresque wanderer s life, his amatory adventures resulting in pain as well as ecstasy. His eventual reunion with Narcissus brings into focus the diversity between artist and thinker, Dionysian and Apollonian. This new edition features a foreword from the musician and artist Graham Coxon: 'The clean simplicity of Hesse s writing offers a vast space in which to push your weightless mind, and, although you can see the universe between the lines, he never forces you to venture too deeply but rather leaves it entirely up to you as to how far in you might like to travel. This is not just a story. This book is a gentle arm around the shoulder.'

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Narcissus and Goldmund (Peter Owen Modern Classics) + Siddhartha (Penguin Modern Classics) + The Glass Bead Game (Vintage Classics)
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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: 12.4 x 18.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 32,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


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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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful 1 July 2003
By A Customer
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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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic 3 Jun 2007
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The journey of the soul 11 Nov 2011
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Two sides of the same coin 25 Nov 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Purchased to replace a lost copy, it is sad to say I feel complete as I have read this book several times, and am happy that it is on my book case for me to return to again. Pre-loved but in good condition...
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars unexpected joy 13 Mar 2008
As with the other comment on this book, this is also the first Hesse i've read, but surely not the last. Really impressed, if i had read a page at random in Whsmith's i think might have put it back down, as a times it reads like a fairytale and you do need to suspend everything you know about the modern age to fully get into the spirit of the book,

but then when you do that, you find a resonance in everything that happens to our trusted wayfarer, Goldmund, and you start to scratch beneath the surface of Hesse's story, and its sentiment keeps unfolding before you on the page. Then you're at the end, and you need to go back and check for what you missed.

And Graham Coxon's introduction is really sweet as well.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars cool
Published 1 month ago by Mr. Harish Lathia
5.0 out of 5 stars Two sides of the coin
Great book about two brothers leading opposite lives, but coming to the same end (?)
Written in Germany ('30-ies) where the tendencies of the upcoming WWII are seen, but only... Read more
Published 3 months ago by NicN
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
Beautifully written - almost poetic, I found it a fascinating study into the spiritual versus the worldliness and good was attained in both
Published 13 months ago by Mary F.
1.0 out of 5 stars Not to my taste at all
I bought this book by mistake and tried to make the best of my error by reading it but soon gave up
Published 15 months ago by Chris Briggs
5.0 out of 5 stars Goldmund
One of the best books I have read. Other people say the same too! So much detail and keeps the reader engrossed.
Published 15 months ago by Diana Mann
5.0 out of 5 stars just read it...
I bought this book as a present for a friend because this is my favorite Hesse book after DEMIAN ...
Published 16 months ago by MR HAPPY
4.0 out of 5 stars Awesome
One of the best books I have read. Absorb every beautifully crafted word and be transported into a world of such descriptive genius your mind will be dancing with delight.
Published 19 months ago by Mr Toby B Sillence
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greats!
This is a great book that takes a careful and caring look at two fictional people struggling with belief and life decisions--one a monk and one an ex monk! Beautifully written
Published 23 months ago by P. S. Donlan
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect
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... Read more
Published on 10 May 2012 by K. Derra
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest love story ever told
I'm afraid I tend to grimace at the thought of rating great works of literature. It's fine and dandy to mark popular culture from 1 to 5 ... Read more
Published on 30 May 2011 by S. D. Nunn
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