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on 26 July 2017
Fascinating and captivating book - spell-bouund by its analysis of humanity
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on 6 October 2017
Interesting but too long in parts.
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on 29 December 2017
Great book.
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on 12 January 2018
A great classic - highly recommend everyone to read it
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on 11 December 2017
Good
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on 6 September 2000
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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on 19 October 2014
This is a deeply detailed and complex story. I'm simply not clever enough nor do I have enough time to read it all in one day. The bit I read before I passed out was amazing.
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on 18 November 2015
why dont i read herman hesse all the time?
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on 6 April 2016
Brilliant read.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 18 August 2017
This imposing book has been on my "to be read" list for many years - so long, in fact, that I inadvertently bought a second copy of the same translation (by Richard and Clara Winston). The game of the title is mental synthesis of human learning, which is the focus of a intellectual elite located in a fictional European province called Castalia. This stands for any human institution exclusively devoted to affairs of the mind; one of the things the story is about is the tension between such blue-sky thinking and the practical realities of the world in which the ivory tower is embedded (and which has to support it financially). Such tension is personified in Joseph Knecht, who rises to the most exalted office in Castalia (an alternative title for the novel is Magister Ludi, or Master of the Game) and his attempts to bridge the growing gap between his exalted intellectual community and an increasingly indifferent world. These are inspired by his conversations with Plinio Designori, who represents the political world, and the historian Father Jacobus, who challenges his spiritual outlook.

The central part of the book describes Knecht's life, but there are appendices which include what purports to be his poetry and three short stories ostensibly written by Knecht in which he imagines what his life would have been had he been born in another time and place, but still seeking the same reconciliation between the life of the mind and spirit, and the demands of the physical world. Perhaps because these are more tightly focussed than the main story, I found them the most enjoyable part of the book. However, I liked the novel overall: a thought-provoking and stimulating reading experience.

[I read this book in the Penguin Modern Classics edition, but the Bantam Books edition also includes an illuminating forward by Theodore Ziolkowski which I found very helpful in understanding the background and aims of the author; I'd strongly recommend seeking it out].
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