Introduction & Overview of Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

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Siddhartha Summary & Study Guide Description

Siddhartha Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

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Hermann Hesse referred to his novels as "biographies of the soul." In Siddhartha (1922), the title character is an exceptionally intelligent Brahman, a member of the highest caste in the Hindu religion, who seemingly has a well-ordered existence yet feels spiritually hollow. Siddhartha embarks on a journey of self-discovery that takes him through a period of asceticism and self-denial followed by one of sensual indulgence. An encounter with Buddha is intellectually meaningful but not spiritually affecting, and Siddhartha continues his own search, ultimately finding peace by a river. Siddhartha's search for truth and identity, the "inward journey" as Hesse referred to this recurring theme in his work, is reflective of the autobiographical and introspective nature of Hesse's writing. Hesse's works are distinctive, challenging, and unlike most of the works of Western writers. He has enjoyed periods of great popularity as well as periods of either neglect and even scorn. Although his receipt of the 1946 Nobel Prize for Literature spurred a flurry of translations, which included the 1951 English translation of Siddhartha, his works did not gain much recognition in the English-speaking world until the 1960s. Hesse excelled in the depiction of personal crisis and private agony; such literature seems to be particularly popular during periods of cultural crisis, which accounts by and large for Hesse's idolization in Germany immediately after two devastating wars. He was similarly venerated in the United States during the politically and socially chaotic 1960s and 1970s.

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This section contains 241 words
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Siddhartha from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.