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Narcissus and Goldmund - Hermann Hesse

Narcissus and Goldmund is the story of a young man, Goldmund, who wanders around aimlessly throughout Medieval Germany after leaving a Catholic monastery school in search of what could be described as "the meaning of life", or rather, meaning for his life. Narcissus, a gifted young teacher at the cloister school, quickly makes friends with Goldmund, as they are only a few years apart, and Goldmund is naturally bright. Goldmund looks up to Narcissus, and Narcissus has much fondness for him in return. After straying too far in the fields one day, on an errand gathering herbs, Goldmund comes across a beautiful Gypsy woman, who kisses him and invites him to make love. This encounter becomes his epiphany; he now knows he was never meant to be a monk. With Narcissus' help, he leaves the monastery and embarks on a wandering existence. Goldmund finds he is very attractive to women, and has numerous love affairs. After seeing a particularly beautiful carved Madonna in a church, he feels his own artistic talent awakening and seeks out the master carver, with whom he studies for several years. However, in the end Goldmund refuses an offer of guild membership, preferring the freedom of the road. When the Black Death devastates the region, Goldmund encounters human existence at its ugliest. Finally he is reunited with his friend Narcissus, now an abbot, and the two reflect upon the different paths their lives have taken, contrasting the artist with the thinker.

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  • Betsy S.

    Great!

    December 1, 2013

  • Randy S.

    I read this book about 20 years ago and liked it. But I had seemed pre-occupied with type-casting myself: am I more like Narcisuss or Goldmund, and what does that mean about me. But for this read, I have experienced the book much differently. I was somewhat frustrated with Goldmund's wandering -- perhaps because I am older and more settled now. But I must say I was quite taken by how the story turned when the Black Plague was introduced. One really sees Goldmund come to life while all the death is occurring around him. I've read about the 1918 flu pandemic but my guess is the Black Plague was worse.

    November 30, 2013

    • Rick O.

      "Everywhere he felt the same quiet passion to participate, to walk through hell with wide-open eyes."

      December 1, 2013

  • Rick O.

    Not very surreal - even better

    Favorite sentence "Sine the day I took my vows, my name has been John."

    Or, how to sum up a book in a sentence.

    yummy

    November 30, 2013

  • Genevieve

    Loving this so much so far...

    November 24, 2013

    • Rick O.

      curious in what way? - I will start today - I reeeally liked Steppenwolf, mostly for the surreal - I'm worried this one may be more literal (ugh) and I won't like it. - Guess I'll find out in a bit...

      November 24, 2013

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