The Glass Bead Game The Glass Bead Game discussion

Just can't figure it out

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message 1: by Aaron (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:26AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Aaron I love this book. I can't figure out why it ends the way it does. It's bugged me for years.

message 2: by Joe (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:37AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joe I think this ends the way all Hesse's novels do: the hero progresses beyond the environment built to help him progress. Knecht is just like Siddhartha; but in Magister Ludi, it's as if Siddhartha's story is written from the perspective of the Buddhist monastery.

David Yeah, I think the ending has the Hesse trademark stamp. However, I guess the question is more aimed toward why it ended the way that it did. That's up for anyone's interpretation. Too bad we can't ask Hermann himself!

Daniel Are you addressing why Knecht left Castalia or how Hesse ended the last two pages? There was no surprise in the former – I see it as the point of the book.

Was it transcendence? He had just entered the real world from Castalia; was Hesse pushing him through it so quickly?

Was it in jest? The forward pointed out that much of the tone was ironic.

The final scene was full of symbols, but I can't fit them together such that the end feels appropriate.

Bill Eger My feeling is that the book expresses our world's serious faults and demonstrates how they are most harmful for mankind's efforts toward making a better society. It is pessimistic to the extreme and, these days, offers a deep understanding to "what's wrong with our world."

message 6: by Anna (new) - rated it 1 star

Anna Couldn't read it. Too boring (first pages)

message 7: by Judyta (last edited Aug 08, 2011 04:09PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Judyta Szaciłło I read it years ago, but I remember the strange feeling after reading the end of Knecht's story. To me it seemed such a pointless and insignificant death that for a moment I felt somehow cheated. But then I realised that that might exactly be the point. Symbolism and significance of death is something we artificially create, death itself is simply - meaningless and insignificant. It just happens, no matter who we are and what our achievements were. Had Knecht's death been impressively symbolic, the ending would have been satisfying but trivial. The way it happens is not satisfying, but thought-provoking.

Bill Eger I don't think the book ended with Knecht's death. For me, it ended with the realization by his new student of the significance of Knecht's life and elected to follow his obligation to be the best person possible.

That may be the most benefit any of us could seek. I'm emboldened frequently by memories of the great people I have known and their example is at the ready when confused or discouraged. Many, but not all of those, were teachers and I think -- at best -- they wanted their lives to be remembered and honored in that way.

Lysergius All deaths imagined or real are pointless. Death is pointless. It is fine to say that it is part of the natural cycle, but that does not detract from its pointlessness. Its final and marked only by absence.

message 10: by Bill (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bill Eger There are two translations of The Glass Bead Game. If you have read the volume with the cover shown at the top of this forum, that is the more recent one. And you might want to look at the Foreward in that book which says pretty clearly that the first translation was inadequate. And I agree. It's a subject that deserves some consideration here and any other discussions about this good book.

The Nobel Prize was possibly won by the original language!

Tracy Gibson Knecht by dying, made a profound and life altering experience for his student. He became what he always felt was the highest calling, a teacher. A teacher who alters his students path for the better. This is what the highest calling becomes after one achieves transcendence. It was the point of all three of his written "lives". He achieved his final and highest calling by dying. It was not pointless, and it was not insigifigant.

message 12: by Paul (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Kieniewicz I suspect that the book's ending surprised even Herman Hesse. While reading the book, I felt that is has a "stream of consciousness" aspect to it. Begins as a satire, becoming more bitter and dystopian by progression. THe ending appears unavoidable --- even Jospeh Knecht's death. Where else was the story to go?

message 13: by Inez (new) - rated it 1 star

Inez Hamilton-Smith My brother bought me this book declaring it was his favourite. Someone's favourite book - well that ought to be worth reading! I tried, I tried, I tried. I just didn't get it! Maybe I am too dumb. Maybe in my next life I will come back with enough brain cells to read books like this.

message 14: by Bill (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bill Eger Inez, Consider that you are not at all "dumb." But you might be trying too hard to create a "typical" story line where such doesn't exist. Hesse -- as I read it -- is charting a course through a period of great change in the world, a change that is clearly continuing today. He illustrates his path with a sternly unappreciative view of academia or, at least, a type of classic academic form where there seems very little point in the knowledge held in such high esteem. Knowing a lot about nothing, perhaps.

The nearly total lack of significant women for the deep work should give you a clue about the lack of humanity involved. As a reader, you might want to wonder more about the sterile atmosphere Hesse constructs than about the substance of the study and "knowledge" those who follow the "path" attain. That's the glass bead game, transparent and without use or merit.

Our 'hero' dies as he witnesses a wonderful and -- allow me -- beautiful youth with his future before him but the youth seems to be less interested in the future than he is in the icy cold water of his retreat in the mountains, a chill that heightens every physical sense with the intensity the cold, a physical intensity that robs the hero of the story of his life.

Therefore, his life is wasted. Has been all along. But there has been the undercarriage of support by fellow savants and the rich tapestry of financial and community play at life.

For many there is no "deeper" meaning in the book and there need not be. Hesse puts up a massive scaffold that has no real significance except the game part of the book's title.

And life should be much more than a simple game with no value to enrich all society.

Jelle Anna wrote: "Couldn't read it. Too boring (first pages)"

Your Loss, Anna. :-)

message 16: by Gary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gary Bonn This ending can be seen both in prosaic and poetic terms. Prosaic, because Hesse had to finish somewhere and death made it final.
Poetic, because Knecht had shed his past and undergone an enlightenment in which he felt serving the next generation - even a single person was more important than anything else he could do.
He makes a point that the youth is inspired, albeit by feelings of guilt, to aspire to greater things.
OK, it's not as mind-blowing as the last words of Goldmund - but I'm not complaining.
A wonderful book.

message 17: by Daniel (last edited Jan 18, 2013 11:14PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Daniel Hoffman With the death of Knecht, Hesse suggests that at the highest stage of human life we must affirm our mortality. The final transformation in life is to die, and Knecht, the "servant", jumps to his death, a commonplace one for someone so highly praised in the novel. Hesse's powerful ending highlights the fact that death is inevitable, unbeatable, and yet, these moments of 'awakening' are shared in us all, regardless of temporarily. Those moments are what compose eternity, and that all of Knecht's actions within the Order, all of his achievements which were denoted as "great" in the official texts of the Castalia were of no consequence to Knecht, and fittingly so, his most significant action, his death, was not even cataloged. He would not die as his predecessors had before him, serving his ambitions, but rather die a sacrificial death, a death that brings eternal life, an 'awakening' shared between him and the boy. His sacrifice contradicts the demands of the Order to serve the whole; Knecht gave his life for just one person, an almost stranger. His death in many way mimics the death of Christ and the mythic transformation through sacrifice.

Roxanne Hesse and his doomed heroes. They choose a path early on, and always turn away from it... If you've ever read his WANDERING written on his trek over the Italian Alps following his divorce, you will see that they are all Hesse, himself. He passes a farm house, sketches it - admires the farmer, but cannot be him... the perfect pathos Hesse is the perfect author for someone finding their way

message 19: by Luke (new) - rated it 5 stars

Luke Bill wrote: "Inez, Consider that you are not at all "dumb." But you might be trying too hard to create a "typical" story line where such doesn't exist. Hesse -- as I read it -- is charting a course through a pe..."

There's your answer, well put Bill.

ἀρχαῖος (arkhaîos) In Lockdown Bill wrote: "Inez, Consider that you are not at all "dumb." But you might be trying too hard to create a "typical" story line where such doesn't exist. Hesse -- as I read it -- is charting a course through a pe..."

I have read the book twice, two different translations. I kept looking for a validation of the life of Knecht in the book and just didn't understand why he died like that. Thanks for making sense of it for me. Perhaps you should be reading more and giving us more reviews like that. Wonderful.

Brian Wadman Agree with others, Knecht proving to his student he was willing to die for him was the first step in getting him to trust - We can only hope the student will learn from Knecht, but the story ends - no guarantees for anyone who sacrifices whether parent or teacher or another role in a community that they will get a return, and yet this is in Hesse's opinion the greatest purpose of our lives.

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