Friday, September 24, 2010

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse - Book Review #87

Friday, September 24, 2010
by Hermann Hesse

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 &, 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 son of a Brahmin, Siddhartha was blessed in appearance, intelligence & 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 & titillation merely eroded away his spiritual gains until he was just like all the other "child people," dragged around by his desires.

I started to read Siddhartha only because of… let’s say a reason (it is too long to explain and, besides, it is irrelevant). The important thing, I would probably never read it if that reason didn’t arise. Unfortunately, that reason turned out to be not a reason at all, but a big misunderstanding. However, since I’ve started reading the book already and it was a tiny one, I decided to stick with it and finish it.

Before starting reading Siddhartha, I had a vague understanding that it was about eastern philosophy or based on eastern philosophy. And this is precisely why I wasn’t planning to read this book. I’m either too smart or too stupid for the eastern philosophy (maybe both at the same time) or I’m too western and materialistic for that. Either way, half of the time it makes me laugh and another half of the time I’m rolling my eyes, thinking that it is too obvious and wondering why it has to be even mentioned.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, I didn’t change my opinion after finishing Siddhartha. I can’t say I hated it. No, I was completely indifferent towards it. I heard a lot of people saying that it was a challenge for them to go through this book. It wasn’t the case for me. Siddhartha seemed too simple and too predictable to me; too obvious. I was bored through the whole book, with the exceptions when big revelation moments happened. At these points I was laughing, because I couldn’t bring myself to share the hero’s astonishing enlightenments.

In conclusion, my suspicions were confirmed – this book just isn’t for me. I somewhat envy people who see this book as eye-opening. For me, it read like same old same.


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