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Siddhartha
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PAST Group Reads 2018 > Siddhartha- August- General Discussion

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message 1: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Aug 03, 2018 07:21PM) (new) - added it

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
This is our SHORT BOOK Bonus Group Read for August. We had a tie vote, so you can choose to read one or both. You can start early if you'd like to fit one in between longer reads. We'll open up a spoiler thread if needed after August 1. In the meantime, please use spoiler warnings if you'd like to discuss the ending or Siddartha's final conclusions.

ADDED 8/3/18 - Joy (J.) is the facilitator for this discussion, AND our newest moderator. Thank you Joy!!!!


message 2: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
I read Siddhartha last week. It was a quick read and I enjoyed it.


Ella (ellamc) | 300 comments Yay. I want to read this too, so I will get my act together and go dig in the Hesse box (I'm having my bedroom and office remodeled - they're switching places, and shelves are being built, but first I had to pack everything up & I'm now in a holding pattern...) Luckily I did label and divide the boxes of books.


Linda  | 915 comments Yay! Something new!
I´ll get a copy from the library!


message 5: by Zoe (new) - rated it 4 stars

Zoe (mstrahanache) | 52 comments I’m in. I have two hard copies actually one that I bought and one I received as a gift I think but never got around to read.


message 6: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - added it

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
My son loved this book, and I hope he still has a copy.


message 7: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
Free on Kindle, just in time for the group read!

https://www.amazon.com/Siddhartha-Wis...


message 8: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - added it

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Who is planning to read this book?


Linda  | 915 comments I am, but work reading is gearing up, and PT and I may have hit the wall (=extra appts w/ doctors). So thanks to J, was gonna get it from the library, but may download the free copy to the Kindle. Atm, finishing a book for the f2f club on Sat. 200 pages to go.


Codie | 61 comments I have started it, and it feels very dry to me. It’s a “self-finding” or “higher purpose finding” journey type that reminds me of Pilgrim’s Progress or Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.


message 11: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
Codie wrote: "I have started it, and it feels very dry to me. It’s a “self-finding” or “higher purpose finding” journey type that reminds me of Pilgrim’s Progress or Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man."

I'd agree with you that it's the story of a journey to find purpose. I related it more to the Alchemist, perhaps because I read them so close together.

I never finished Portrait of the Artist, because it was so awful, but this one I flew through once he left the woods.


message 12: by Tammy (new) - added it

Tammy I listened to this one a few months ago. If you can do audio I recommend it. The language washes over you. It is very repetitive, meditative, and fluid...kind of like water washing over you. Gorgeous little book.


Jerome (tnjed01) | 21 comments I am re-reading this book after a few decades, having first read this following a return from a year in Germany, while overlooking a river, and it resonated powerfully for me. Certainly one of my favorite books. As Tammy mentioned, the literary style of description using multiple predicates produces an increased depth and meditative quality that is both spiritual and sensual. Knowledge of Hesse's life helps deepen the personal meaning of this novel.


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NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
J. volunteered to facilitate this discussion. Thank you J.!!!!

I'll move this thread over to the current folder soon. Enjoy!


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NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Tammy wrote: "I listened to this one a few months ago. If you can do audio I recommend it. The language washes over you. It is very repetitive, meditative, and fluid...kind of like water washing over you. Gorgeo..."

Tammy, do you remember who narrated the one you liked? I found several versions online, and listened to some samples. The one I liked best sounded like he might be from India.


message 16: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (last edited Aug 02, 2018 03:23AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
Has anyone else finished the book yet? What did you like or dislike about it?


message 17: by Tammy (new) - added it

Tammy Nancy...I don't remember the version, but yes, the narrator did sound like he could be from India.


Linda  | 915 comments I just got the book yesterday and while I'm prepping for a family visit, will hopefully get to it in the next couple of days. I never know when "this book for Aug 1" means "finish it before Aug 1", or "We'll start reading it Aug 1". But hopefully, will be able to chip in before the fam gets here next week.


message 19: by Zoe (last edited Aug 02, 2018 05:20PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Zoe (mstrahanache) | 52 comments I started it and I just realized once again how subtly different it sounds according to who the translator is. Case in point: the two editions I have are translated by Hilda Rosner and Joachim Neugroschel. The first version sounds more direct, “ dry-er” if you could call it that than Joachim’s who’s more “lyrical”; however, in my opinion, the second is definitely falling into the capital sin of wordiness and confusion. Take the first paragraph for example:
Rosner translation: “In the shade of the house, [...] Siddhartha, the handsome Brahmin’s son, grew up with his friend Govinda.”

Neugroschel translation: “ In the shade of the house, [...] Siddhartha grew up- the beautiful son of the Brahmin, the young falcon, together with Govinda, his friend, the son of the Brahmin.”

Is this the same Brahmin? Are they brothers? How many Brahmins are we talking about here? Etc. needless to say I’m reading the Rosner translation.


message 20: by Zoe (last edited Aug 02, 2018 05:20PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Zoe (mstrahanache) | 52 comments Since I post alway from the mobile app, I cannot see the rest of the post, so I cut and pasted this observation that refers to what I’ve read so far:

Extremely interesting the part where Siddhartha notices how similar in their end result both asceticism and drunkenness are: both ascetic and drunk person lose the Self, but both find it again once the cycle phase ends. Poor Govinda. That observation from his friend was a bit of a blow to his high opinion of the learning experience with the Samanas.

Onward to Gotama / Buddha now.


message 21: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "I just got the book yesterday and while I'm prepping for a family visit, will hopefully get to it in the next couple of days. I never know when "this book for Aug 1" means "finish it before Aug 1",..."

I usually take it to mean that we'll start the book and dialog on the first, but sometimes I happen to read it earlier because it comes available so it seems like a finish by the first scenario!


message 22: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (last edited Aug 02, 2018 06:08PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
Zoe wrote: "I started it and I just realized once again how subtly different it sounds according to who the translator is. Case in point: the two editions I have are translated by Hilda Rosner and Joachim Neug..."

The translation I read was by Susan Bernofsky. I thought that it kept the poetry of the text without getting verbose. It sounded similar to your Rosner. I agree that you second translation would have gotten confusing pretty fast if that was only the first sentence.


Linda  | 915 comments J. wrote: "Zoe wrote: "I started it and I just realized once again how subtly different it sounds according to who the translator is. Case in point: the two editions I have are translated by Hilda Rosner and ..."

Trying to skip over any spoilers here, but happy to hear that, J, because my public library's edition was out, and I went to the next town over, and that's the one they had! I could have checked at work, but was trying to spend as little time at work in the last few weeks as possible.


message 24: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (last edited Aug 02, 2018 06:12PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "J. wrote: "Zoe wrote: "I started it and I just realized once again how subtly different it sounds according to who the translator is. Case in point: the two editions I have are translated by Hilda ..."

I don't think there are a lot of spoilers in the text! It's basically philosophy at each stop of his life journey, which I don't think knowing what's coming takes away from the story, but we'll try our best to be cognizant of those who are still reading!


message 25: by Kim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kim (skullfullofbooks) Ill be reading it! Got it on my kindle and I have time off from work soon so that means reading time.


message 26: by Jackie (new) - added it

Jackie I will be reading this one next week.


message 27: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - added it

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Zoe wrote: "Since I post alway from the mobile app, I cannot see the rest of the post, so I cut and pasted this observation that refers to what I’ve read so far:

Extremely interesting the part where Siddharth..."


Oh, that's really interesting. It's like when people do drugs and think they're having deep insights into the secrets of life, but they all disappear by the next day. (I grew up in the 60's/70's with Timothy Leary from Harvard, talking about LSD. )


message 28: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - added it

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
J. wrote: "Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "I just got the book yesterday and while I'm prepping for a family visit, will hopefully get to it in the next couple of days. I never know when "this book for..."

There is usually a mix. Some will start reading on the first, and others will start discussing it. It's all OK. Some might not start until the last week. For me, every month is different, depending on other books and other responsibilities.

If someone already read a book, it's great when they post early. With Lonesome Dove, I think it helped many of us get past the beginning. I'm so glad I kept with it.

When possible, I like to get first impressions early on.

This discussion of translations is very helpful. The nice thing about this book is that there are plenty of free versions online, so you can switch with no cost. Amazon has multiple version. I think Project Guttenberg does too.


message 29: by Zoe (new) - rated it 4 stars

Zoe (mstrahanache) | 52 comments @NancyJ: lol it really is! I get it. My grandmother used to fast for 40 days during a Lent (cannot remember which one exactly, but it is the longest). She fasted for all the religious required periods during the year, but this one it was the tough strict one, with Wed and Friday of complete fast and no animal products at all but fish on specific days etc.

She always said how peaceful all is and how she sometimes feels this out of body experience that makes her feel closer to divinity. It truly sounded like she was on drugs.


Linda  | 915 comments Zoe wrote: "I started it and I just realized once again how subtly different it sounds according to who the translator is. Case in point: the two editions I have are translated by Hilda Rosner and Joachim Neug..."

Brahmins are a class, the highest, and usually, educated class, mostly priests and teachers. So they hung out together because they were both of the same class, similar families and backgrounds, etc. I think that they were more progressive, too.

Funny story. Locally (I'm on the East Coast), "Brahmin" refers to a group of families from Boston, Philly and New York, the elite families (many of them "Mayflower" families). They are called "Brahmins" because of their charity work, because they saw themselves as steering this new project that was the U.S. at the time of its origin, and because later, they also took an interest in philosophy and transcendence (think Thoreau and Emerson). Well, because of them there's a brand of handbags called "Brahmin".....I was in there one day with a friend who was visiting, who pays way more attention to brand names than I do, and an Indian family walked in, commenting that they'd found the name of the store funny. Cultural appropriation? Guilty, as charged.....


Linda  | 915 comments So I finished it today.........I think that, given a little more time to linger on it, I might have appreciated the lyrical qualities a bit more. As it was, and interesting work, but it didn't "suck me in". Good, but not great. Thanks to this group, or else I might not have read it. I do have to say that the intro was one of the best book intros I've ever read, short and fun. Loved it, and am going to consider reading something of his.


message 32: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (last edited Aug 06, 2018 06:01PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "So I finished it today.........I think that, given a little more time to linger on it, I might have appreciated the lyrical qualities a bit more. As it was, and interesting work, but it didn't "suc..."

It was a short book and usualky would be a fast read for me, but I ended up reading it over a couple days. I find it fascinating that a German with a Christian background wrote this book. I'd be interested to hear from someone who identifies with that culture and religion to see what/if any criticisms or critiques they have.

Also, to see see if his other works are similar or if this is a one off inspiration.


Linda  | 915 comments J. wrote: "Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "So I finished it today.........I think that, given a little more time to linger on it, I might have appreciated the lyrical qualities a bit more. As it was, a..."

I got a little bit of a sense of whether or not it was a "one off", but have left the book downstairs, in the car. (library copy, I couldn't find the free Amazon Kindle download)


Jerome (tnjed01) | 21 comments There are some similarities in content in the passages describing the passage to death of characters in Siddhartha and a much overlooked book by Hermann Hesse called Klein and Wagner that was only translated and published recently. There are many autobiographical aspects in both, with Siddhartha pursuing a spiritual journey, leaving and coming back to a father figure.


message 35: by Zoe (new) - rated it 4 stars

Zoe (mstrahanache) | 52 comments Linda wrote: “Brahmins are a class, the highest, and usually, educated class, mostly priests and teachers. So they hung out together because they were both of the same class, similar families and backgrounds,”
Oops, I may have created confusion myself! So sorry. I wasn’t confused about what Brahmin is. I knew they were a caste in the Hindu system (though I didn’t remember which). I was just rhetorically asking questions regarding that weird sentence (at least weird for me). We don’t know how many Brahmins are in that village and if maybe Govinda really is a friend and at the same time brother to Siddhartha.

J. wrote: Has anyone else finished the book yet? What did you like or dislike about it?”
I finished yesterday and felt a bit sad though I enjoyed the book a lot. Lots of common sense ideas on top of Hindu philosophies like flow, unity, impermanence, cycle of life, samsara, suffering and search of Nirvana. The one I truly liked and I think most can relate to, no matter the culture, is the concept of letting go of your kids and realize they have to make their own way, learn their own lessons. That is a hard lesson to apply.


message 36: by Kim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kim (skullfullofbooks) I made it to Part 2 today, and have to say that it is interesting. I like the way that it tells a story as if it is a folk tale, one to teach the reader a lesson. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman is written in much the same, enjoyable yet slightly confusing fashion.

K find it interesting that this is a book to be read in silence for me. Typically i can have a tv show or background noise and not worry about the noise affecting me, but this syyle of writing requires my full attention.


Jessica I'm really digging Siddhartha's curious, desperately inquisitive character. He's seeking an unquestionable answer, but that just seems to be impossible. I'm really interested in seeing more of his progress through life.


message 38: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
Zoe wrote: "Linda wrote: “Brahmins are a class, the highest, and usually, educated class, mostly priests and teachers. So they hung out together because they were both of the same class, similar families and b..."

You mentioned letting kids make their own way. One of my biggest take aways from the book is that everyone is on their own journey and not everyone is journeying to the same destination. Seems simple and obvious now that I lend voice to thought.


message 39: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
Jerome wrote: "There are some similarities in content in the passages describing the passage to death of characters in Siddhartha and a much overlooked book by Hermann Hesse called [..."

Thank you! I am not familiar with any of Hesse's other work.


message 40: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "I made it to Part 2 today, and have to say that it is interesting. I like the way that it tells a story as if it is a folk tale, one to teach the reader a lesson. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman is writ..."

Yes! It very much has the quality of wanting to leave the reader with a greater understanding or purpose without seeming, to me at least, too preachy.


message 41: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
Jessica wrote: "I'm really digging Siddhartha's curious, desperately inquisitive character. He's seeking an unquestionable answer, but that just seems to be impossible. I'm really interested in seeing more of his ..."

I really enjoy "journey" stories. And getting to the point in the journey where it becomes less about finding the answers and more about enjoying the path.


Elizabeth A.G. Have finished this story and enjoyed the lyricism of Hesse's writing. Siddartha sets out on his journey to seek enlightenment and a true understanding of life with his friend Govinda. They find the "noble buddha," Gotama, who speaks to his followers. While both pilgrims realize the holiness and wisdom of Gotama's teachings, it is Siddartha who decides he must discover true enlightenment through his own path and thus his journey begins. Govinda remains with Gotsama. It perhaps is not surprising that Siddartha wishes to seek his own path of self discovery to understanding and enlightenment as he is described as being from a privileged background, well educated and very intelligent.


message 43: by Kim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kim (skullfullofbooks) I finished it and did like it. I'm glad this was on the GAR list, as I doubt I would have read it otherwise.


message 44: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "I finished it and did like it. I'm glad this was on the GAR list, as I doubt I would have read it otherwise."

I had the opportunity to read it years ago, but never did. I would have never picked it up again if it wasn't on this list! I enjoyed it immensely.


message 45: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
Elizabeth A.G. wrote: "Have finished this story and enjoyed the lyricism of Hesse's writing. Siddartha sets out on his journey to seek enlightenment and a true understanding of life with his friend Govinda. They find the..."

I also enjoyed the lyricism, even reading a translation. I have to assume it reads that way in the original text as well.


Linda  | 915 comments Zoe wrote: "Linda wrote: “Brahmins are a class, the highest, and usually, educated class, mostly priests and teachers. So they hung out together because they were both of the same class, similar families and b..."

sorry, partially a translation issue, then? :)


Linda  | 915 comments Zoe wrote: "Linda wrote: “Brahmins are a class, the highest, and usually, educated class, mostly priests and teachers. So they hung out together because they were both of the same class, similar families and b..."

Even beyond the kids, just to life in general. We write a narrative in our heads, and when life doesn't go that way, we have to let go and re-write another life dream/narrative. Decide to be someone who looks forward instead of spending our time "what-iffing".


Linda  | 915 comments Kim wrote: "I made it to Part 2 today, and have to say that it is interesting. I like the way that it tells a story as if it is a folk tale, one to teach the reader a lesson. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman is writ..."

I've been thinking about reading Anansi Boys.


Codie | 61 comments I just finished this last night, half awake, fighting to stay awake, just to finish it. Definitely not my favorite. I think I need to find a more lyrical translation. This book just seemed so utterly dry to me.


message 50: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
Codie wrote: "I just finished this last night, half awake, fighting to stay awake, just to finish it. Definitely not my favorite. I think I need to find a more lyrical translation. This book just seemed so utter..."

What translation did you read? We touched on it earlier in the thread. I read Bernofsky and found it pretty easy to get through.

Somene else had commented that a Rosner translation was dry to them as well.


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