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on 12 April 2017
I bought this new copy for myself as I had given my old copy away to my aunt and decided that I would probably like to read the novel again. This book is a masterpiece, beautifully crafted, intelligent and soulful. A story of two contrasting lives. And perhaps a story of "brotherly" love. I know that it affected and touched me very strongly- so much so that I can remember its effects after all of this time.
I hope I will read it again.
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on 22 July 2015
If you like the 'man who travels and find himself" type of book this is a good one. A bit too long in descriptions it might seem at first, aaand through the whole book. But trust me, get to the end and it'll all make sense. Even the way it's written. Genius
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on 21 June 2016
And what one suppose to do when one finish the book? Surely there isn't any book which could surpass the story of Narcissus and Goldmund...Is there?....
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on 30 January 2014
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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on 7 October 2016
A book to come back to over the years and take some time over - just brilliant and makes you think about the paths life presents.
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on 2 May 2017
Great book
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on 29 March 2003
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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on 11 November 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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on 21 June 2016
NOT written by Geoffrey Dunlop. I am part way through this book. It's a long time since I read Hesse and I'm enjoying the story but this Kindle edition is shoddy. It contains no introduction and has a number of unedited typographical mistakes plus some very odd phraseology which makes one wonder about the quality of the translation. I wish I'd bought a decent paperback edition from a book shop.
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on 1 July 2016
I have two translations of Narziss (Geoffrey Dunlopp, the first English translation; and Leila Vennewitz, much more current, there is a good review of her on ABC Bookworld). I have read the Dunlop translation twice. It would seem I should therefore give Vennewitz a go, but that's not the point. I read Hesse to read Hesse in the best way, whatever that may mean. I like immersing myself in his worlds, including Glass Bead Game, Steppenwolf and Siddhartha.

I am about to read Narziss again and am weighing up these two translations. I can’t say I remember it that well in order to compare how a new translation would favour. Part of me says Dunlopp is probably the best as he is of Hesse’s time, they would thus share a more common literary world. Some people state older translations can tend towards being stuffy, I don’t agree with this. Usually the great translations that have become classics in English stand the test of time, examples being the Maude translations of Tolstoy and Moncrieff’s and Kilmartin’s Proust. I recently read a ‘fresh, new’ (American) translation of Madame Bovary and I had to put it down, the style was off-putting and too overtly American for its content. There are some translations that are so poor they destroy any chance of the book being appreciated in other languages.

But the Leila Vennewitz translation of Narziss (or Narcissus!) is highly regarded. I have compared corresponding paragraphs, and was surprised at how much they differ. Taking the first paragraph, what Dunlopp treats as one sentence, Vennewitz divides into more sentences. The main words all seem to correspond, so the general meaning all seems to be retained. The flow and style are both good. How the two styles progress cumulatively I would have to read more to discover and if I have to do that it can’t differ that much.

Then I looked at the beginning of Chapter three, paragraph one, a sentence, Dunlopp translates: ‘To him all was thought, even love.’ Leila Vennewitz translates as ‘To him all was spirit, including love; . . .’ Well, here, I think there is quite a difference in meaning, this is exactly what I didn’t want to find and I would have to go to the original German to discover more.

I’m interested if anybody has a preference between these two translations?

Notes
With the Amazon reviews they often have reviews included for other editions translated by a separate translator. I noticed this because for one edition a reviewer described the cover and I thought well that corresponds to a separate edition with a different translator.
It’s worth googling (Owen Witesman + Narziss). He writes a good article on translation, On the Rocky Road to a Good Translation; there are some interesting responses, particularly one by David (though his name isn’t stated in the thread) who compares Dunlopp’s (superior) translation to Ursule Molinaro word for word.
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