Om

Review: Siddhartha

Type Fiction , Philosophy
Author Hermann Hesse
Release Date1922
PublisherDover Publications

Herman Hesse’s novel is a wonderful mixture of Eastern and Western philosophy all put together in a poetically written tale of Siddhartha, a Brahman who strives to find his purpose in this world. On the surface level, the Buddhist and Hindu influences are impossible to miss. However, as I kept reading, I could find references to other strains of thought like Marxism and strains of psychoanalysis. Somehow, the story manages to weave components from all these fields into a beautiful story of enlightenment.

The story is short, concise, and to the point. The print copy I read was only 80 “short” pages. However, this work prides itself on quality over quantity, and even though I had only read 80 pages by the end of my journey the philosophical insights I gleamed from it were equivalent to reading a large tome. Philosophical concepts are intertwined seamlessly in character interaction and development, so no time ever feels like it’s been wasted. Concepts are explained both in reference to the Eastern concepts they’re based on (Brahman) but then explicated via interaction and dialogue. Even if you’re not well versed in certain philosophical propositions, they’re presented in comprehensive ways. This helps create a rich tapestry where every element of the story augments the others, creating a torrent of emotions and epiphanies.

The writing style makes the piece feel magical. Very rarely was a sentence ever a singular independent clause. Commas are used abundantly because the piece is more akin to poetry. Descriptions feel natural and flow with ideas rapidly becoming interconnected. It sounds strange, but it makes the themes of the book more palatable and made the reading experience feel akin to a genuine “ride”. I became lost in the contours of what the characters were thinking and still can’t stop picturing the way the ending plays out.

Rating

TLDR: This work was beautiful and moving and I know I’ll come back and read it again. It’s a perfect blend of character development, storytelling, and philosophical ingenuity. You may need to read a page or two again, but that’s because of the sheer magnitude of the words on the page.

Final Rating: 10/10. If you’ve ever wrestled with existential doubt, read this book. It’s for literally anyone. Props if you’re familiar with Daoist/Taoist, Buddhist, and/or Hindu thought.

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