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New Meetup: Hermann Hesse's "Siddhartha"

From: Emlyn C.
Sent on: Thursday, March 25, 2010 12:43 PM
Announcing a new Meetup for Ann Arbor Classics Book Group!

What: Hermann Hesse's "Siddhartha"

When: Wednesday, May 26,[masked]:30 PM

Dues: $1.00 per person

Borders Books
612 E Liberty St
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

In my ongoing efforts to select brief yet meaningful novels for our weeknight selections, I have landed upon Hermann Hesse's "Siddhartha". Most active members are aware that I have married into the Hindu faith; perhaps fewer are aware of the widespread belief that Buddha is an incarnation of the Hindu God Vishnu. Though I have yet to read this classic, I am certainly intrigued. I have even gotten Hitesh (my husband) to agree to read this book in a timely manner so that he may come to the group's discussion and share with us how his faith and upbringing feed into the themes presented by Hesse. This should be a good one!

The review:
In the shade of a banyan tree, a grizzled ferryman sits listening to the river. Some say he's a sage. He was once a wandering shramana and, briefly, like thousands of others, he followed Gotama the Buddha, enraptured by his sermons. But this man, Siddhartha, was not a follower of any but his own soul. Born the son of a Brahmin, Siddhartha was blessed in appearance, intelligence, and charisma. In order to find meaning in life, he discarded his promising future for the life of a wandering ascetic. Still, true happiness evaded him. Then a life of pleasure and titillation merely eroded away his spiritual gains until he was just like all the other "child people," dragged around by his desires. Like Hermann Hesse's other creations of struggling young men, Siddhartha has a good dose of European angst and stubborn individualism. His final epiphany challenges both the Buddhist and the Hindu ideals of enlightenment. Neither a practitioner nor a devotee, neither meditating nor reciting, Siddhartha comes to blend in with the world, resonating with the rhythms of nature, bending the reader's ear down to hear answers from the river. In this translation Sherab Chodzin Kohn captures the slow, spare lyricism of Siddhartha's">Siddhartha's">Siddhartha's">Siddhartha's search, putting her version on par with Hilda Rosner's standard edition.

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