Narcissus and Goldmund
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Narcissus and Goldmund

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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  21,284 ratings  ·  830 reviews
Hesse's novel of two medieval men, one quietlycontent with his religion and monastic life, theother in fervent search of more worldly salvation.This conflict between flesh and spirit, betweenemotional and contemplative man, was a life study forHesse. It is a theme that transcends all time.The Hesse Phenomenon "has turned into a vogue,the vogue into a torrent. . .He has app...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 1984 by Bantam (first published 1930)
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14th out of 121 books — 25 voters
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Erik Graff
May 15, 2011 Erik Graff rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Rachel Nelson
Shelves: literature
At the time of reading, this was my favorite Hesse book and, indeed, it is probably his quintessential novel, the one to recommend for anyone wanting to check him out. I have given away copies of it for this purpose to several persons over the years.

Contrary to the description in Wikipedia, I read the novel from the perspective of Goldmund being lost and then found. Seduced by the snares of the world, he leaves the peace of the monastic life for a life of trial and error, ultimately, as an old m...more
Hans
Can I just say that I absolutely love Hermann Hesse. For me his words speak directly to my soul. I have never exclusively followed an author except Hesse. He is absolutely brilliant and his works are so nuanced to the point where they only mean anything to the reader unless they can relate in some profound way. I have now finished all of his major works and I must say "bravo".

All of his books are about the turmoil and duality of the human soul. He speaks my language. My next goal is to learn Ge...more
Frances
This is not a review. This is an expression of gratitude.

Enlightened does not begin to describe the feeling one gets when eyes see, mind is set in motion, and images are processed into thoughts that seed the way we look at everything. We SEE everything in a new light, at least for as long as we remember what is important, what makes a difference. The beginning of our true life. I suppose all we can ask of our mind is for a few moments of enlightenment at a time. And, to remember. Too much would...more
Lorenzo Berardi
When I was a child my parents used to punish me for my bad actions in their own way: I often had the prohibition of reading for a week.
Of course I wasn't so nerd at that time and together with reading there could be no tv, no bmx rides with friends, no late night awake and all sorts of "normal" don'ts.
But the worst one was definitely the "no reading week".

Later in my teenage years, I remember how my mum was very glad about my reading activity, but not particularly interested in influencing that...more
Leonard
Goldmund could not fit into the Mariabronn Monastery anymore than a square peg could fit into a round hole and soon left the cloister for the vagrant life. By sleeping in the woods, killing Viktor the thief, meeting the plague, studying under Meister Niklaus and romancing with Lydia and Julie, Lene and Agnes, he explored the sensual life as an artist. When Agnes rejected the old man that he was, he returned to the monastery to meet his friend and mentor Narziss before leaving the world.

On the o...more
Marco Tamborrino
"Noi pensatori cerchiamo di avvicinarci a Dio staccando il mondo da lui. Tu ti avvicini a lui amando e ricreando la sua creazione. Sono entrambe opere umane e inadeguate, ma l'arte è più innocente."

Questo non è un libro che andrebbe letto a diciannove anni. Diciannove sono già troppi. Andrebbe letto prima, a quattordici o a quindici, quando il mondo lo si vede ancora in modo diverso. Io, da ragazzo, ci leggo qualcosa di diverso rispetto a quello che avrei potuto leggerci da ragazzino. O rispett...more
Zeek
Philosophical? Definitely. Novel Entertainment? oh yes. What the author meant by this writing? Well, like any true art- that depends on the audience. I can go into all the philosophical existential yakkity yak that a lot of other people might get from Narcissus and Goldmund, but instead I'm gonna give you the nuts and bolts (ie pared down yakkity yak) of what I saw in it.

Goldmund is a born artist with a innate bent toward the agony and bliss of wanting to eat life- not just watch it parade on by...more
Patrick Gibson
If you have a penchant for poetic language, a love for new experiences, and a sensitivity to life's struggles, you will find hope and deep beauty in this story. I recommend finding a place of solitude and spiritual transcendence before delving into this as you will inevitably flip back to the beginning once finished and have to read it again.

“If I know what love is, it is because of you.

It is not our purpose to become each other; it is to recognize each other, to learn to see the other and honor...more
Monique
Please, give me back the hours devoted to reading this book which, had it not been this month's selection for my book group, would have been thrown against a wall long ago.
The premise was interesting enough, i.e., two young men in medieval Germany, one a monk, the other an artist, used to show the dichotomy between intellect/art; Apollo/Dionysus; father/mother. We get it, mostly because we are beat over the head with the "philosophy". What should have been an essay or, perhaps, a short story, is...more
Ivana
I see this book as a meditation on the beauty and the power of Art. Any flaws that appear in the narrative therefore I find to be irrelevant. I think that I don't even experience Narcissus and Goldmund as a novel. It's more philosophical in nature, more a novel of ideas, more like reading a religious text than anything else, and that is the beauty of it... or at least that is what I have found in it.

I loved the contrast between the two main characters, Narcissus and Goldmund and the true friend...more
Ana
Shamefully, I only started reading this because I had a competition that took it as a subject. I was told I had to read this in order to compete. It was already on my reading list, I already loved Hesse, so I knew I was in for a treat.

Surprise surprise, the competition had no connection to the book whatsoever. The text in there was by Miller and in no way related to this.

Nonetheless, let's get back to the review.

It's one of my favorite books of 2013. About that - I will post a list of them an...more
Branko Jovanovski
The book is spectacular and extremely thought provoking. Out of all, probably the following paragraph left the adequate impression.

“All existence seemed to be based on duality, on contrast. Either one was a man or one was a woman, either a wanderer or a sedentary burgher, either a thinking person or a feeling person – no one could breathe in at the same time as he breathed out, be a man as well as a woman, experience freedom as well as order, combine instinct and mind. One always had to pay for...more
Rich
Inspired by Narcissus and Goldmund (01/16/12):

The greatest thing about life is mystery. All the great things in life have mystery.

Life itself, love and romance, dreams, and purpose.

Mystery leads to discovery. Discovery leads to enlightenment. Discovery is empowering and gives purpose.

This is my meaning of life right now. To enjoy the mystery. To discover. To ebb and flow and think and grow. To love alive.


Some people are borne from their mothers, other from their fathers. People borne from their...more
Rebecca
Perhaps this book is interesting as an example of the dichotomization of body/mind, angel/whore, ascete/wayfarer. Put the dicktalk aside (which is no small task here) and you still have an enormous vine from which to swing back and forth from pole to pole. At best woman is subject here, at worst she so thoroughly blends into the background she's invisible. More than bleak considering this is a meditation on the roles of the artist and thinker (and never the twain shall meet mind you) in a modern...more
David S.
Jul 08, 2008 David S. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: passionate people, artists, lusties.
Shelves: recommended
Great book, incredibly sad and so beautifully written. Really, the book could have been called Goldmund and his friend Narcissus. It focuses so much more on Goldmund's travels through the world and through many women (the book is a huge turn on). It's a journey of the senses and experience, and along the way he encounters death and is forced to examine the transitory nature of life, all life, forcing him to embrace it much more fully.

It's a quick and easy read I found, something surprisingly ca...more
Maryam Shahriari
نارتسیس و گلدموند
کتابی که اینقدر از خوندنش لذت بردم که واقعاً نمی دونم چطوری باید توضیحش بدم. شاید کتابی باشه که بد نباشه هرکسی بخوندش. شاید با خوندنش راه زندگی خیلی ها تغییر کنه. شاید با خیلی از شک و تردید های خودشون کنار بیان و بتونن جسارت تغییر و مواجه شدن با اون رو در خودشون ایجاد کنند...
نارتسیس و گلدموند کتابی بود که برای من همین نقش رو ایفا کرد. یه روزگاری با خوندن ماهی سیاه کوچولو و بعدتر انجمن شاعران مرده خط سرنوشتم تغییر کرد و جدی تر شد، و الان هم این کتاب باعث شد گلدموند درونم بیدار ب...more
Stephen
I'm not going to make any pretense of conducting criticisms of this book, and I pursue nothing else other than to write extensively about the experience I've lived through reading it and what is immediate of my personal growth. The reason for this is I find this novel by Hesse, the second of his I've read, to be among those works, lacking in today's fiction, that deserves to be read as a work in progress, a work to be lived more than anything else there is, one which to say something about it,...more
Salma
رواية جميلة و عميقة أخرى من روائع هرمان هسه...
نرسيس أستاذ غولدموند و صديقه في الدير... نرسيس ينفذ لأعماق الروح و رأى أن تلميذه غولدموند ذا روح شاعر حرة و لا ينبغي أن يعيش حياة الرهبان مثله... و هكذا يحثه لينطلق و يبحث عن طريقه عبر الحياة، فينطلق و يعيش حياة متشرد فاسق منغمس بالمتع الدنيوية... بينما يتابع نرسيس في طريق الفكر المجرد و حياة الدير الصارمة...
ثم بعد سنوات طوال يلتقيان... على اختلاف طريقيهما و على اختلاف كل منهما ما يمثله يخلصان لنفس النتيجة تقريبا...
مع أن هسه رجح كفة غولدموند في النه...more
Michael Pinson
This is a book I picked up and began to read several times. Finally after reading several other Hesse novels and craving more I seriously opened this book which after getting through a tedious groundlaying first chapter, I was swept up into the heartbreaking story of the two friends that met in a monastery during the medieval times. Narcissus, was destined to be a monk from the beginning, knowing as a very young man that he was resigned to live a monastic life filled with religion and ritual. Go...more
حازم
هذه هي أولى تجاربي مع الأدب الألماني، وتحديداً هسّة أديب نوبل. الرواية قرأتها على مراحل، ورافقها أشياء جديدة ولطيفة عليّ، فعلى سبيل المثال هذه هي المرة الأولى على الإطلاق التي اقرأ بها بي دي إف. الرواية في المجمل تشكّل الصراع بين الروح الهائمة والتي تسعى دوماً إلى التجوال وسبر أغوار الفن، وكشف ماهية الخلق والإحاطة بالمعنى الإلهي للكون ويتمثّل ذلك في جولدموند، وعلى الجانب المقابل للصراع نقابل نارسيس، ذلك الذي يمثّل الجانب الفكري الذي يعتنق الفلسفة، وينظر إلى الكون من منطق تحليل كل شيء، والإيمان ب...more
Hadrian
Another excellent work by Hesse. The duality of spirit and the contrast between the artistic and intellectual selves.
Λουκιανὸς
Extremely glad I managed to slog through the slow-going middle part; a beautifully heart-wrenching novel.

"Aber heut weiß ich nicht mehr, was ich eigentlich will und wünsche. Früher war alles einfach, so einfach wie die Buchstaben im Lesebuch. Jetzt ist nichts mehr einfach, nicht einmal mehr die Buchstaben. Alles hat viele Bedeutungen und Gesichter bekommen. Ich weiß nicht, was aus mir werden soll, ich kann jetzt nicht an solche Sachen denken." 77

"Ach, alles war unverständlich und eigentlich trau...more
Suzie
I really enjoyed the narrator who read this on the audio book - his transformation of Goldmund's voice throughout the book was pure brilliance.

As for the book itself, hmmm . . .

Aside from the fact that I read this in a lousy state of depression, which might not have been too wise, I don't have much of a mind for philosophy. What Hesse has done is taken two philosophical extremes and personified them in his characters. I understood his meaning and purpose, but the characters just didn't speak to...more
Kitty
I may have read this over 40 years ago, but read this over Christmas before passing it on to my son.
Goldmund's search, his exploration of being in the world, survival and witnessing of horrors is as apropos to the human condition today as it was over a hundred years ago. I was particularly drawn by the description of emptiness he suffers after creating art . Both his statue of St. John and his big work at the cloister -- and the reflection about how what might have made him happy, working with M...more
Daniel
I was disappointed by this book. I expected a thoughtful meditation on the appetites of a young man; instead, this is a travel story with a lot of sex. Nothing about either title character is explained in the literary sense: each of them just is, and events fit their personalities. Thus, Goldmund wanders around and gets laid a lot. This got old fast, and if it wasn't for the section that deals with the Black Death, I might have given up on the book.

I should have read this when I was younger - sa...more
Bookmaniac70
Прекрасна като всичко, излязло изпод перото на Хесе! Темата е една от любимите на автора- противопоставянето на активния и съзерцателния живот. Подобно приятелство като това на Нарцис и Голдмунд виждаме в "Игра на стъклени перли" между Йозеф Кнехт и Плинио Десиньори. Там, обаче, то е вплетено в структурата на нещо много по-голямо, по-мащабно като идея. Хесе отново споделя дълбокото си вътрешно убеждение, че чрез изкуството човек може да намери смисъла на живота и да примири противоположностите в...more
globulon
I read Siddhartha when I was a teenager and it was pretty formative for me. I also read Demian but don't remember as much about it. I tried reading Steppenwolf several times but it wasn't till I was older that I finished it. I guess I kind of felt I was over Hesse by now, but my wife recommended this one strongly. I'm glad she did. Hesse can be a bit heavy handed with his theories and in some ways the story is very directly an allegory for spiritual paths. Still, it's enjoyably done and thought...more
Wavegenerator
Hesse has always been one of my favorites, and it is difficult to rank the books in terms of quality, but this one is near the top. It is set in the middle ages and concerns two friends, one of whom chooses the chaste religious path through life, becoming a monk, and the other who chooses the worldly path of seeking money, sexual pleasure and personal freedom. All of Hesse's books concern this sort of dichotomy in the individual, and here he breaks the components into two different characters wh...more
Andrew
Hesse was such a formative influence on me... Steppenwolf and Demian, when I read them in my late teens, seemed to contain whole universes I'd never even been aware of.

But Narcissus and Goldmund was such a disappointment. First of all, it was complete and utter treacle, its treacliness augmented by how brutally predictable it was. Moreover, it was predictable treacle with hints of misogyny and an absurd reliance on the big puppet show that is Jungian "psychology." Eff this.
Kenny
Hermann Hesse is one of my favorite writers, and this is my favorite of his books.
It's about two boys (Narcissus and Goldmund) who grow up together in a convent/monastery, and they become good friends. However, as they get older, Narcissus decides he wants to stay at the monastery and become a monk dedicated to religion. Goldmund, on the other hand, desires very much to move away from the convent, to discover the great "out there," to fall in love, and find life's true meaning.
The book mostly f...more
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Paradigm Shift 8 124 Sep 23, 2012 10:40PM  
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Hermann Hesse was a German-Swiss poet, novelist, and painter. In 1946, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature. His best known works include Steppenwolf, Siddhartha, and The Glass Bead Game (also known as Magister Ludi) which explore an individual's search for spirituality outside society.

Hesse was born in the Black Forest town of Calw to a Christian missionary family. Both of his parents served...more
More about Hermann Hesse...
Siddhartha Steppenwolf Demian The Glass Bead Game Beneath the Wheel

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“We are sun and moon, dear friend; we are sea and land. It is not our purpose to become each other; it is to recognize each other, to learn to see the other and honor him for what he is: each the other's opposite and complement.” 442 likes
“Because the world is so full of death and horror, I try again and again to console my heart and pick the flowers that grow in the midst of hell.” 175 likes
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