The Glass Bead Game
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The Glass Bead Game

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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  14,373 ratings  ·  692 reviews
The final novel of Hermann Hesse, for which he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946, The Glass Bead Game is a fascinating tale of the complexity of modern life as well as a classic of modern literature

Set in the 23rd century, The Glass Bead Game is the story of Joseph Knecht, who has been raised in Castalia, the remote place his society has provided for the intellect
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Paperback, 558 pages
Published December 6th 2002 by Picador (first published 1943)
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Ben Winch
There's a scene in Antonio Tabucchi's Indian Nocturne in which the narrator meets an Indian intellectual who asks him, among other things, what he thinks of Hermann Hesse. The narrator, resenting the interruption and perhaps with a sense he is being mocked, heaps scorn on the German 'spiritualist', calling him sentimental and likening him to some kind of sweet liqueur, and only after the conversation is over does he realise he has not said what he really thought of Hesse at all. In some way, the...more
Robin Tell
A tremendous disappointment, especially given the shimmering praise the book garners on all sides. I realize I’m at odds with the world in judging this book harshly, and I realize there may yet be some dimension of brilliance here that I’m just not seeing, but grant me this, it’s not for lack of trying. No other novel have I ever laid down without a backward glance within a few dozen pages of the end, certain at last that the great payoff for my eight hundred pages of patience was never going to...more
John
This is Hesse's epic novel that tells the story of Joseph Knecht, a boy who passes through the system of the Castalian Order to become the Glass Bead Game Magister. If the last sentence made any sense to you, chances are you have already read the book. Though once the book is read, that is about all it is about. The book is written by an unknown member of the Castalian Order who is retelling the story of Joseph Knecht. The Glass Bead Game is an intellectual game played encompassing all major are...more
أحمد أبازيد Ahmad Abazed
هذا كتاب هيرمان هيسه الأشهر و الأكبر , كُتب على مدار تسع سنين , و يضمّ معظم أفكار هيرمن هيسه التي عُرف بها فيما بعد
إنّها النزعة نحو الذات , و التأمّل و اليقين الموجود هناك في داخلك ,
وحدة الوجود , التي تقاوم ماديّة العالم و سببيّته الصلبة , الطبيعة تتكلّم معك و بك , و الكائنات كلّها كينونة متنافمة ضمن اللحن نفسِه .
الموسيقى .. أرقّ ما يروي الإنسان و تنطق به الحقيقة
إنّها الحقيقة الواحدة , التي تتراقص ضمنها سيرورة العالم بتبدّياته المختلفة ... و هنا عبقريّة الرواية و فكرتها المذهلة
الحقيقة الواحد...more
Chloe
I feel that I must open this review by stating that I am an unabashed fanboy of Hermann Hesse. I read everything that he had ever written at a whirlwind pace several years ago and still return to my favorites, Steppenwolf, Siddhartha and Demian, on a rotating yearly basis. That said, I have often heard that The Glass Bead Game is the magnum opus of Hesse's career. The purest expression of the themes that he had highlighted in his other works. If one were to read only one book by Hesse it should...more
Darwin8u
[a review in progress]

I remember reading Hesse's Siddhartha and Narcissus and Goldmund right out of high school. There was something both disquieting and uniquely calming about these strange little books that Hesse wrote detailing his love and fascinating with Eastern thought and philosophy. I figured this year I would read the Glass Bead Game (and later Steppenwolf). It is in many ways Hesse's subtle answer to the growing Fascism in his country. But, at its heart, it isn't an anti-Fascist book....more
Salma
إضافة هذه القراءة العتيقة التي وجدتها عندي من عام 2006
ربما لو أتيح لي إعادة قراءة الرواية الآن بعد أن زاد في روحي كم كبير من الكتب و السنوات لكنت نظرت إليها بعين أخرى، و ما كنت لأدري ما أقول عنها الآن
بأية حال هي رواية تميل لتكون مسنة و حكيمة
---

على كل هذه القراءة على ما كنت قضيته فيها سابقا، و الله وحده العالم ما كنت لأقضي حاليا فيما لو قرأتها
----

لمن لعب بالكريات الزجاجية: تعال شاركني
2006

حاولت عدة مرات أن ألاعب هيرمان هسه بكرياته الزجاجية و لكني كنت أفشل في كل مرة...0
إلى أن أتى اليوم الذي قررت ف...more
Joe
While Hesse's masterpiece has the same theme as Siddhartha, it's not the same short, simple work as that classic. Magister Ludi's inventive setting and method takes the basically unchanged storyline (gifted young man progressing, achieving, and finally discovering the true meaning of life), and creates a sort of historical biography of the protagonist.

One of the fun aspects of this work is The Glass Bead Game: he introduces an idea of representing ideas, mathematics, literature -- all knowledge...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
This is Harry Potter without its female characters, its magic and magicians. Here we have Castalia, a "province" [more like the seminaries of today] where it population of masters and students devote themselves to studies, or to the "things of the mind". Outside of Castalia is the practical world [the world which most of us live in] devoted to knowledge not for its own sake, but knowledge to better the physical aspects of living.

In Harry Potter, there's the battle between the good and bad magici...more
Becky
I like Herman Hesse. I like Siddhartha, I remember liking Steppenwolf, I like huge sagas that probe the mind. I usually like weighty wordy novels where nothing in particular happens.

I did not like the Glass Bead Game.

I really did not like the Glass Bead Game.

And I don’t understand how people did.

First of all, I’ve gone through a lot of reviews. I was about fifty percent through the book, bored out of my mind, and I started reading reviews trying to get some motivation to finish this tome. I did...more
عُلا
الجمال.... آسر قلوب الكثيرين ومالك أحلام الحالمين ... وغايةٌ عزَّ الوصول اليها لدى العديد من الساعين ....
لعبة هدفها التقاط ذلك النور وغايتها تقوية تلك الفقاعة البراقة وتغذيتها علَّها يوما تحتوي العالم في داخلها ... وهيهات لها ان تفعل....
والأضواء تخطف أنظار الناظرين ... وكلٌ يرى النور في ناحية فيظن انه النور كله....
description
وتأبى تلك الأضواء أن تكون شيئا وحده .... فتارة تُسمعُ ألحاناً وأخرى تُرى ألوانا ... وقد يطيش بها الهوى فتظهر معادلاتٍ وأرقاماً .... تعددت اليها المسالك.. واختلفت في وصفها الكلمات ....
و...more
Clark
This book was a really incredible meditation on accomplishment, ambition, finding peace and the breach between intellectuals and reality. Hesse creates a reality in which an intellectual elite has created an entire society that lives above and beyond the rest of the world playing an incredibly esoteric game that seeks to connect all knowledge as a series of symbols. There were a number of things that struck me in this world. First of all, the connections to modern science, with its own increasin...more
Patrick
I must admit that I am having a hell of a time digesting this one. I think I will get the negative stuff over with so I can move on to the the more positive aspects of this book. I am a big Hesse fan (esp. Siddhartha, Steppenwolf, and Narcissus & Goldmund) and I really wanted to give this one four stars instead of three. What stopped me was how much of a slog it ended up being. I have no problem with long books (or movies for that matter) but there needs to be some sort of justification for...more
Paul
I was disappointed when I re-read this book. I remembered it as very moving and very significant. Upon re-reading I found it tedious and preachy. Hesse is trying to write a new kind of novel, one based on ideas instead of conflict. He succeeds, but the end product is boring. I also was bothered by the assumption that the life of the mind was open only to men -- women are somehow not qualified to share the glorious world of ideas. Hrmph.
Riku Sayuj
a disappointment that demands reflection...
Cassandra Kay Silva
Hmmmm. This book was ponderously interesting. A world is created but ever so lightly as to leave much to the readers imagination. The glass bead game (unless I missed something) never seems to be played in epic battle proportions as described in this book, its never openly laid out other than just the basic idea. There is no real description of the differences that make up the world outside of what the main character is experiencing. Does that make sense? Its like you get this massive narrative...more
Eric
The Glass Bead Game is the least of all of the works by Hesse that I have have read. Set next to many of his other works, particularly Narcissus and Goldmund, it is atrocious. Hermann Hesse is certainly monomaniacal in his contemplations of human nature but the GBG is entirely recycled material presented with all the finesse of an expository sledgehammer. Rarely does something transpire that it's not mentioned three or four times in consecutive paragraphs. (Don't believe it? How many times is th...more
Katie
This may be my favorite Hesse book. Hesse sculpts a world that I've always wished to live in: An academic institution, or rather monastery, that instills in the student a love of beauty and truth (rather reminiscent of St. John's). A place where intellectual rigor is aimed at the classics texts but tempered through meditation excercises. Hesse also warns against the danger of such a place, as if to say that it represents only one half of man's soul. And so we are always drawn to the messiness of...more
Capsguy
Could have been 200 pages less. On a similar note, I received an email from a Chinese friend of mine today who is in Australia for student exchange. This email reverberated many things in Hesse's Glass Bead Game. Here's an extract from the email to show you:


.actually, since I was born, I have lived in the university I am studying now. My father also graduated from that school and now is a chemistry engineer . A wall will protect the university from outside world. In the university, there are hos...more
Keely
The Glass Bead Game is Hesse's final work, and is supposed to lay out his ideas and philosophies more completely than anything previously. According to my foreword by Ziolkowski, this book represents a progression beyond both the simplistic, egocentric spiritualism of Siddhartha and the Nietzschean misanthropy of Steppenwolf.

He also remarks on the book's form: a narration by a stodgy academic about the life of a luminary master. Like Carlsyle's 'Sartor Resartus', there is meant to be an ironic...more
Frances
Someone made me read this a long time ago. I don't remember why, but I'm sure they had a good reason. It kinda made my head hurt, but in a good way? Hermann Hess introduced me to a game as confusing as life, and as sexist as Charlie Sheen.

Apparently, at some point in the distant future (not specified, but assumed), we (guys with nothing to do but sit around and play games and think) will sit around and play games all day and think about stuff that makes our head hurt. I didn't understand the ru...more
Richard
Jan 17, 2014 Richard rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Richard by: The Nobel Prize Committee, 1946
It has been so many years that I read this that I really should revisit it. I recall it as a very difficult book that required effort to trudge through many very slow sections in order to glean the fascinating underlying conceit.

There are huge portions of the book I barely recall, including the personal travails of the narrator and the culture of the boardinghouses for the children being raised to play the Game. What I recall best is the Game itself.

Agreeing with Wikipedia, I recall the Game as...more
Ben
Jun 01, 2007 Ben rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone in a leadership role, aspiring to a leadership role, or interested in symbols and abstraction
This is my all-time favorite book. It combines two key themes for me: First, the role of the leader as a servant and second the idea of intellectual game-playing as a way to make meaning. His explorations and elaborations of those themes are perfect. I've read and enjoyed other books by Hesse, and I like the way he tells stories that span a person's entire life without missing the small details along the way. I think this is his masterpiece.
Patrick Gibson
The ‘Game’ is the pinnacle of intelligence, wisdom and learning that the 23rd century Castalia has to offer. Students are plucked from their families and lives at a young age to become 'elite' pupils, gradually inducted into the Order and the Game to carry on the traditions and ceremonies of Castalia. The Order's purpose is two-fold: One, to protect the sanctity and accuracy of knowledge from the current time down to antiquity, and two, to showcase the talents and minds of the elite with dazzlin...more
Lona
(view spoiler)...more
José-contemplates-Saturn's Aurora
A good Tratactus on Society; on what distinguishes the normal ones from the elite ones.

In Castalia, the Elite (or the Order) pursues the Games of the Mind and its cultivation.An elite member renounces material wealth....and embraces poverty to become a Mandarin of the Mind.That is what Joseph Knecht did.

Ah!...at Castalia, they learn meditation (Hesse calls it,so appropriately,psychic hygiene)....and they're in the 23rd century.

Students of the Order,most often, renounce marriage; they are quite f...more
Mikey Gee
Reading the reviews for this book I am surprised that so many readers are amazed by the science fiction aspect of Hesse's utopian future. They are in awe of the setting as if that was what the story was really about. Ray Bradbury is not about rocket ships and this book is not about the glass bead game or Castalia. This book (like all books) is about the person reading the book.

It is not an easy read. Its length is not prohibitive but the paragraphs are all dense and descriptive. If this were mo...more
Laura
From BBC Radio 4 - Classical Serial:

Joseph Knecht is a rising star in the Castalian Order, a band of elite intellectuals who live a closeted life of study and Glass Bead Game playing. But Joseph's elevation to one of the highest and most respected ranks of the Order coincides with a crisis of conscience, as his ever deepening doubts about this idealistic and sanitised society threaten to topple its very foundations.

Joseph Knecht is singled out from an early age as one of the Castalian elite. As
...more
Mary Magdalene
Jul 17, 2012 Mary Magdalene rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mary by: Florin Zamfirescu, Sandrina
This book has had a great impact on me. It's one of those few books that made me love it deeply yet at the same time despise it entirely. It might sound surprising, especially since this is an unanimously loved and admired book -- even awarded with the Nobel prize; it might also seem awfully arrogant of me to compare my beliefs to the wisdom of a man like Hesse. But I have to. And I found many principles and ideas in this book, some of them only subtle insinuations, that I completely disagree wi...more
Caroline Donaldson
One of my favourite books. In particular, the introduction is extraordinarily thought-provoking in anticipating the inter-connectedness of the world post-internet. It takes place at an unspecified date, centuries into the future. Hesse suggested that he imagined the book's narrator writing around the start of the 25th century. The setting is a fictional province of central Europe called Castalia, reserved by political decision for the life of the mind; technology and economic life are kept to a...more
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1113469
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.

In his time, Hesse was a popular and influential author in the German-speaking world; worldwide fame only ca...more
More about Hermann Hesse...
Siddhartha Steppenwolf Demian Narcissus and Goldmund Beneath the Wheel

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“What you call passion is not a spiritual force, but friction between the soul and the outside world. Where passion dominates, that does not signify the presence of greater desire and ambition, but rather the misdirection of these qualities toward and isolated and false goal, with a consequent tension and sultriness in the atmosphere. Those who direct the maximum force of their desires toward the center, toward true being, toward perfection, seem quieter than the passionate souls because the flame of their fervor cannot always be seen. In argument, for example, they will not shout or wave their arms. But, I assure you, they are nevertheless, burning with subdued fires.” 68 likes
“Oh, if only it were possible to find understanding,” Joseph exclaimed. “If only there were a dogma to believe in. Everything is contradictory, everything tangential; there are no certainties anywhere. Everything can be interpreted one way and then again interpreted in the opposite sense. The whole of world history can be explained as development and progress and can also be seen as nothing but decadence and meaninglessness. Isn’t there any truth? Is there no real and valid doctrine?”

The master had never heard him speak so fervently. He walked on in silence for a little, then said: “There is truth, my boy. But the doctrine you desire, absolute, perfect dogma that alone provides wisdom, does not exist. Nor should you long for a perfect doctrine, my friend. Rather, you should long for the perfection of yourself. The deity is within you, not in ideas and books. Truth is lived, not taught. Be prepared for conflicts, Joseph Knecht - I can see that they already have begun.”
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