Books

Narcissus and Goldmund

Herman Hesse

'One of his masterpieces . . . without doubt a great novel' Guardian

One of Hermann Hesse's greatest novels, Narcissus and Goldmund is an extraordinary recreation of the Middle Ages, contrasting the careers of two friends, one of whom shuns life in a monastery and goes on the road, tangled in the extremes of life in a world dominated by sin, plague and war, the other staying in the monastery and struggling, with equal difficulty, to lead a life of spiritual denial.

An superb feat of imagination, Narcissus and Goldmund can only be compared to such films set in medieval Europe as Bergman's The Seventh Seal and Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev. It is a gripping, profound reading experience - as startling, in its different way, as Hesse's Siddhartha and Steppenwolf.

Steppenwolf

Herman Hesse (and others)

A modernist work of profound wisdom that continues to enthral readers with its subtle blend of Eastern mysticism and Western culture, the Penguin Modern Classics edition of Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf is revised by Walter Sorell from the original translation by Basil Creighton.

At first sight Harry Haller seems a respectable, educated man. In reality he is the Steppenwolf: wild, strange, alienated from society and repulsed by the modern age. But as he is drawn into a series of dreamlike and sometimes savage encounters - accompanied by, among others, Mozart, Goethe and the bewitching Hermione - the misanthropic Haller discovers a higher truth, and the possibility of happiness. This blistering portrayal of a man who feels himself to be half-human and half-wolf was the bible of the 1960s counterculture, capturing the mood of a disaffected generation, and remains a haunting story of estrangement and redemption.

Herman Hesse (1877 - 1962) suffered from depression and weathered series of personal crises which led him to undergo psychoanalysis with J. B. Lang; a process which resulted in Demian (1919), a novel whose main character is torn between the orderliness of bourgeois existence and the turbulent and enticing world of sensual experience. This dichotomy is prominent in Hesse's subsequent novels, including Siddhartha (1922), Steppenwolf (1927), Narcissus and Goldmund (1930) and his magnum opus, The Glass Bead Game (1943). Hesse was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946.

If you enjoyed Steppenwolf, you might like Hesse's Siddhartha, also available in Penguin Classics.

'A savage indictment of bourgeois society ... the gripping and fascinating story of disease in a man's soul'
The New York Times

Steppenwolf

Herman Hesse (and others)

'The unhappiness that I need and long for . . . is of the kind that will let me suffer with eagerness and die with lust. That is the unhappiness, or happiness, that I am waiting for.'

Alienated from society, Harry Haller is the Steppenwolf, wild, strange and shy. His despair and desire for death draw him into an enchanted, Faust-like underworld. Through a series of shadowy encounters, romantic, freakish and savage by turn, Haller begins to rediscover the lost dreams of his youth.

Adopted by the Sixties counterculture, Steppenwolf captured the mood of a disaffected generation that was beginning to question everything.

Siddhartha

Herman Hesse (and others)

Hermann Hesse's moving and inspirational chronicle of spiritual evolution, Siddhartha, includes a new introduction by bestselling author Paulo Coehlo in Penguin Classics.

Siddhartha is perhaps the most important and compelling moral allegory our troubled century has produced. Integrating Eastern and Western spiritual traditions with psychoanalysis and philosophy, this strangely simple tale, written with a deep and moving empathy for humanity, has touched the lives of millions since its original publication in 1922. Set in India, Siddhartha is the story of a young Brahmin's search for ultimate reality after meeting with the Buddha. His quest takes him from a life of decadence to asceticism, from the illusory joys of sensual love with a beautiful courtesan, and of wealth and fame, to the painful struggles with his son and the ultimate wisdom of renunciation.

Hermann Hesse (1877-1962) suffered from depression, endured criticism for his pacifist views, and weathered series of personal crises which led him to undergo psychoanalysis with J. B. Lang; a process which resulted in Demian (1919), a novel whose main character is torn between the orderliness of bourgeois existence and the turbulent and enticing world of sensual experience. This dichotomy is prominent in Hesse's subsequent novels, including Siddhartha (1922), Steppenwolf (1927), Narcissus and Goldmund (1930) and his magnum opus, The Glass Bead Game (1943). Hesse was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946.

Paulo Coelho was born in Brazil and has become one of the most widely read authors in the world. Especially renowned for The Alchemist and Eleven Minutes, he has sold more than 100 million books worldwide and has been translated into 66 languages.

If you enjoyed Siddhartha, you might like Hesse's Steppenwolf, also available in Penguin Classics.

Steppenwolf

Herman Hesse (and others)

Harry Haller is the Steppenwolf: wild, strange, shy and alienated from society. His despair and desire for death draw him into a dark, enchanted underworld. Through a series of shadowy encounters – romantic, freakish and savage by turn – the misanthropic Haller gradually begins to rediscover the lost dreams of his youth. This blistering portrayal of a man who feels himself to be half-human and half-wolf was the bible of the 1960s counterculture, capturing the mood of a disaffected generation, and remains a haunting story of estrangement and redemption.

The Glass Bead Game

Herman Hesse

In the remote Kingdom of Castalia, the scholars of the Twenty Third century play the Glass Bead Game. The elaborately coded game is a fusion of all human knowledge - of maths, music, philosophy, science, and art. Intrigued as a school boy, Joseph Knecht becomes consumed with mastering the game as an adult. As Knecht fulfils his life-long quest he must contend with unexpected dilemmas and the longing for a life beyond the ivory tower.

Biography

Hermann Hesse was born in southern Germany in 1877. His most famous works are Siddhartha (1922), Journey to the East (1932), Demian (1919), Steppenwolf (1927), and Narcissus and Goldmund (1930). Hesse died at his home in Switzerland in 1962.