Siddhartha was sheltered his whole life until the day he went outside and for the first time saw sickness and old age. He wanted to try to find an escape from suffering, and so his religious journey began, a journey which comes full circle in this novel by Herman Hesse.
Reading the beautiful prose detailing cycles of life and waiting by a calming river is like a meditation in itself.
Although Siddhartha was written by a Westerner, Hesse managed to bring many elements of his studies of the Eastern Buddha and his teachings into one short volume. Thus, it is an excellent introduction to Siddhartha’s tale and Eastern philosophy for the teen reader.
An introduction of the story of Siddhartha, who left his life of material things and family and sought the answer to fulfillment, the eradication of suffering, and the negation of the self.
About the Author
Herman Hesse grew up influenced by Eastern Philosophy. His parents had been missionaries to India, his mother having been born in India of missionary parents. His family moved back to Calw, a small Black Forest town in Eurpose, to help Hesse’s maternal grandfather, Dr. Gundert, a famous Indian scholar and linguist. Hesse was surrounded by literature and songs of the East throughout his childhood(Malthaner, 2003).
Self-education is a theme found in Hesse’s work, as well as that of many German authors(Malthaner,2003).
This is the only religious text I included in my database of materials for young adults because of limited space, but this could be a problem if it were the only selection in a real library. Many different religions should be represented, and by many authors. Hesse’s version of the tale is definitely more representative of him than it is of an entire religion, but he himself is a historical figure.
Why Did You Include This Book?
Herman Hesse is the recipient of a Nobel Prize in literature. Siddhartha contains many of the characteristics of a young adult novel. In many ways, Siddhartha’s tale is a coming-of-age tale, and many readers will relate to his search for meaning in a world of suffering.