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The Glass Bead Game: (Magister Ludi) a Novel Paperback – Dec 2002


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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


Product details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Clearway Logistics Phase 2-3; Reprint edition (Dec. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312278497
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312278496
  • Product Dimensions: 15 x 2.5 x 20.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,340,754 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"One of the truly important books of the century, in any language" (The Times)

"Sublime" (Thomas Mann)

"A massive novel set out to explore the positive side of human nature, the fullness of man's capacity as a thinker and as a prober into scared mysteries...Touching and impressive" (Observer) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

Hermann Hesse's magnum opus and a twentieth-century classic --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

94 of 96 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 6 Sept. 2000
Format: Paperback
The Glass Bead Game is set in Castalia, an intellectual utopia of the future, where scholars, having cut themselves off from the rest of the world, are free to immerse themselves in the unadulterated pursuit of knowledge.
The Glass Bead Game itself is the embodiment of this community's ideology. It is a game in which contestants attempt to establish patterns of commonality between seemingly disparate intellectual fields. Although the emphasis within the novel is that it is an essentially aesthetic pursuit, it is a fascinating idea that is increasing relevant in modern science with physicist search for the 'theory of everything' and the application of chaos theory to increasing number of apparently unrelated systems.
Although Herman Hesse was something of a sixties icon, and despite its frequent reference to Eastern mysticism, to my mind the sentiments of this book are decidedly anti-hippie. The author is warning us that any community that doggedly pursues it ideology at the expense of the world at large is at risk of becoming stagnant, inward looking, and ultimately decadent and irrelevant. It is a call to pragmatism, as valuable today as it has ever been.
After reading Steppenwolf, which I found a turgid and difficult read, I came to this novel with some trepidation. However, despite it's philosophical overtones and being written in the style of a biography, The Glass Bead Game is far from a struggle to read and you quickly find yourself being drawn into the life of the protagonist. Consummately written, the Glass Bead Game is a fascinating and thought provoking book which will stay with you long after you've put it down for the last time.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 21 Jan. 1998
Format: Hardcover
The Glass Bead Game should be required reading for anyone interested in the price of pursuing a "life of the mind." Bringing together all of the aspects of the aesthetic life in the growth of the main character (Knecht), the book asks the central question: shall one give up living in the world as a result? The demands of chasing wisdom while addressing the needs of day to day living pre-occupied Hesse throughout his literary life. This predominant theme of his work reaches its culmination in The Glass Bead Game. It is a novel of exrtaordinary beauty and life...few pieces have ever reached deeper into the wellsprings of what it means to be "alive in two worlds."
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By jlchurch@callnetuk.com on 5 Jan. 2001
Format: Hardcover
More complex than his earlier books. Read 'Narziss & Goldmund' first, where similar themes are developed as separate characters, and this will make much more sense. The other main books: 'Damian', 'Steppenwolf', 'Siddartha', explore/describe singular ways of living rather than the deep personal conflict here - read them before or after, as you like. This is the greatest novel about the pursuit of the aesthetic life, its rewards and cost, ever written - I think.
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55 of 59 people found the following review helpful By N. Clarke on 6 April 2006
Format: Paperback
The Glass Bead Game (1943) is a confounding but fascinating SF novel/biography/spiritual treatise.
Hesse (1877-1962) was born in Germany, a rebellious - and, for a period, apparently mentally-ill - son to a pair of missionaries who rejected theological education in favour (eventually) of becoming a bookseller's apprentice and writer. He became alienated from his homeland during WWI, attracting opprobrium for writing an essay in protest at German militarism and calling upon his fellow writers to stop supporting the war. In 1919 he left Germany for Switzerland, and never returned. He was fascinated by Jung and by Eastern spiritual thought (specifically Buddhism, I think), and travelled in Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
The Glass Bead Game, widely seen as his greatest work, is a fictional biography set at some unspecified point in the future. It deals with the life and death of Joseph Knecht, one of the greatest players of the titular Game that the world has ever known, and who rose to become its Magister Ludi (master of the Game).
The Game, we are told in the (narrator's) preface, arose out of an impatience with the frivolity and shallow nature of pseudo-scholarship and mass media/entertainment during the "Age of the Feuilleton" (broadly, an extrapolation of Hesse's own). It was a drive for a purer, higher use of intellectual energy, influenced by Eastern thought; an attempt to find a universal symbolic language through which all scholarly pursuits could be expressed, explored and, ultimately, harmonised: music, maths, philosophy, religion.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jo Bennie VINE VOICE on 16 Oct. 2010
Format: Paperback
Like nothing I've ever read before. The presumably fictional but utterly convincing biography of Joseph Knecht, the man who in the 23rd Century becomes Magister Ludi (Master of the Game) in the Kingdom of Castalia, an elite community who preserved the integrity of humanity when it dissolved into anarchy and dangerous superficiality centuries earlier. Castalian's are the intellectual elite of their society but they no longer create, rather they study earlier cultural achievement and play the Glass Bead Game, a game that is never completely defined but appears to be an intellectual exercise in pure brilliance of the mind. The Glass Bead Game taught me a lot both about the need for me to become more centred and the value of meditation, and also the implicit dangers of intellectualism and seperatism.
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