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Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
Transcript of Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
1). Ennui (p. 87) - a feeling of dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement
- He was full of ennui, full of misery, full of death; there was nothing left in the world that could attract him, that could give him pleasure and solace.
2). Besmirch (p. 88) - damage the reputation of (someone or something) in the opinion of others.
- Was there any kind of filth with which he had not besmirched himself, any sin and folly which he had not committed, any stain upon his soul for which he alone had not been responsible?
3). Asceticism (p. 96) - severe self-discipline and avoidance of all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons
- As a boy I was occupied with the gods and sacrifices, as a youth with asceticism, with thinking and meditation.
4). Ardent (p. 114) - enthusiastic or passionate
- For a long time he looked intently at the pale face, at the tired wrinkles and saw his own face like that, just as white, also dead, and at the same time he saw his face and hers, young, with red lips, with ardent eyes and he was over-whelmed with a feeling of the present and contemporary existence.
5). Pyre (p. 115) - a heap of combustible material, esp. one for burning a corpse as part of a funeral ceremony
- We shall also build Kamala's funeral pyre on the same hill where I once built my wife's funeral pyre.
6). Ablutions (p. 3) - a cleansing with water or other liquid, especially as a religious ritual
- The sun browned his slender shoulders on the river bank, while bathing at the holy ablutions, at the holy sacrifices.
7). Tepid (p. 79) - moderately warm; lukewarm
-He loved this feeling, and continually sought to renew it, to increase it, to stimulate it, for in this feeling alone did he experience some kind of happiness, some kind of excitement some heightened living in the midst of his satiated, tepid, insipid existence.
8). Insipid (p. 79) - without distinctive, interesting, or stimulating qualities
-He loved this feeling, and continually sought to renew it, to increase it, to stimulate it, for in this feeling alone did he experience some kind of happiness, some kind of excitement some heightened living in the midst of his satiated, tepid, insipid existence
9). Transitory (p. 93) - not lasting enduring, permanent or eternal
-Our hair and our bodies are themselves transitory.
10). Pallid (p. 113) - faint or deficient in color; pale
-Siddhartha read the pain on her mouth, in her pallid face.
Structure of Siddhartha
The novel Siddhartha is divided in three parts
In every part there is a main character next to Siddhartha
The three parts mirror the three steps to his way to wisdom
He is Siddhartha’s best friend from his childhood who also accompanies him on his journey to realize who he truly is and understand himself. The description Govinda uses to describe Siddhartha connotes that he is in love with him and that he wants to be with him all the time. He always followed Siddhartha around as if he was his shadow and it pained him to see his friend leave him to go one his own way. Govinda didn’t even recognize Siddhartha when they met again which could show how Govinda finally was able to separate himself from Siddartha and move on to focus on his own life.
Siddhartha meets Kamala on his travels to find enlightenment. She isn't the best influence for Siddhartha because she shows Siddhartha the different parts of the city that before he wouldn't have gotten involved in. She does however like all the other main characters teach Siddhartha one important lesson that will lead him to enlightenment.
He is the ferryman who leads Siddhartha to his enlightenment. He shows him the way to find peace within himself. The ferryman stares at the river so much that he claims that it has given him his own enlightenment so the River could represent the way to lose ones self and find your own true meaning.
The whole novel is focus around his travels and all the people he meets that help him learn the truth about who he is and why he exists. His hunger for knowledge could represent his want to be the perfect being. He is the symbol of knowledge and peace as seen whenever he meets someone new he talks to them with the utmost respect and he talks with all the wisdom he has learned in his travels.
Siddhartha leaves home with Govinda to become a Samana
Leaves the Samanas to meet Buddha
After meeting the Buddha, he feels awake
Siddhartha becomes a rich man and is taught about love by Kamala
After a dream he recognizes that he doesn't belong in the "materialistic world"
Siddhartha leaves his house to become a pilgrim again
After leaving everything he feels newborn
The ferryman Vasudeva
Siddhartha lives with him at the river
The river brings him wisdom
He says: "the river is not just water, but also the voice of life, the voice of being, and the voice of coming."
Hermann Hesse (1877 to 1962)
Born in Calw, Germany
1904: First Novel
Wrote Siddhartha in 1922, but translated into English and published by 1951
Much relation between author and story
Same birth place of author and story setting
Hesse did not follow traditions
Hesse had a religious crisis
Hesse attempted suicide
Siddhartha was a great success and remains Hesse's most famous and influential work
Relation to Buddhism
Nagold River through Calw
1. Plot Summary
3. Context and Background Information
A religion of eastern and central Asia growing out of the teaching of Gautama Buddha that suffering is inherent in life and that one can be liberated from it by mental and moral self-purification.
Relation to Buddhism:
Siddhartha also attains Nirvana
Siddhartha is also Gautama Buddha's birth name
Siddhartha also leaves his family to learn salvation and understanding
Siddhartha also meditates under a tree
Context and Background Information
• "Buddha Story." Buddha Story. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Sept. 2013. <http://www.ancientindia.co.uk/buddha/story/sto_set.html>.
• "Buddhism New Feature! Some Definitions Now Include a "quick Definition" in the Blue Area. The Full Definition, from Our Collegiate Dictionary, Appears Directly below It. We Hope You Find the Quick Definitions Useful." Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 14 Sept. 2013. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/buddhism>.
• "Hermann Hesse." Wikipedia. Wikipedia Foundation, Web. 14 Sept. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermann_Hesse>.
• Hesse, Hermann. Siddhartha;. New York: New Directions, 1951. Print.
• "Siddhartha (novel)." Wikipedia. Wikipedia Foundation, 09 Sept. 2013. Web. 14 Sept. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siddhartha_(novel)>.
• "Siddhartha." Prezi.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Sept. 2013. <http://prezi.com/5o92k_og9cfr/siddhartha/>.
• SparkNotes. SparkNotes, n.d. Web. 14 Sept. 2013. <http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/siddhartha/context.html>.
What do the critics think?
“Beautifully translated, evoking the majesty in the simple story of a man in his lifelong journey towards the attainment of Enlightenment. Melodic in its tone but true to the original German Susan Bernofsky's translation has set a new standard among the various English translations currently available. As many times as I have read and enjoyed Siddhartha over the years (about 10 or so readings) never have I enjoyed a translation as much as Ms. Bernofsky's - a truly remarkable effort."
-– Modern Library
"Overall, Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha is a very well written novella. His talent lies in his ability to consolidate the very complex emotional transformation of the protagonist, Siddhartha, into only 152 pages, without losing any of the story’s potency...."
The River- It represents time, life and the path to enlightenment. The river is like an instructor to Siddhartha. He is able to understand what the river is telling him without the river saying anything.
The Ferryman- He is a symbolism for wisdom. Ferrymen help people find their path that takes them to enlightenment. Before Siddhartha meets the Ferryman he has many wise teachers, but none of them are able to send him on the right path. However the ferryman is able to send him on this path.
Siddhartha- He himself is a symbol of predestination. Before Siddhartha ever left on his path to enlightenment his future was chosen. It was to become a Brahmin like his father. But Siddhartha changes his future by leaving and going on his journey.
The story takes place in ancient India. Siddhartha, the son of a Brahmin, decides to leave behind his home in the hopes of gaining spiritual enlightenment by becoming an ascetic wandering beggar of the Samanas. Joined by his best friend Govinda, Siddhartha fasts, becomes homeless, renounces all personal possessions, and intensely meditates, eventually seeking and personally speaking with Gautam, the famous Buddha, or Enlightened One. Afterward, both Siddhartha and Govinda acknowledge the elegance of the Buddha's teachings. Although Govinda hastily joins the Buddha's order, Siddhartha does not follow, claiming that the Buddha's philosophy, though supremely wise, does not account for the necessarily distinct experiences of each person. He argues that the individual seeks an absolutely unique and personal meaning that cannot be presented to him by a teacher; he thus resolves to carry on his quest alone.
Siddhartha crosses a river and the generous ferryman, who Siddhartha is unable to pay, merrily predicts that Siddhartha will return to the river later to compensate him in some way. Venturing onward toward city life, Siddhartha discovers Kamala, the most beautiful woman he has yet seen. Kamala, a courtesan of affluent men, notes Siddhartha's handsome appearance and fast wit, telling him that he must become wealthy to win her affections so that she may teach him the art of love. Although Siddhartha despised materialistic pursuits as a Samana, he agrees now to Kamala's suggestions. She directs him to the employ of Kamaswami, a local businessman, and insists that he have Kamaswami treat him as an equal rather than an underling. Siddhartha easily succeeds, providing a voice of patience and tranquility against Kamaswami's fits of passion, which Siddhartha learned from his days as an ascetic. Thus, Siddhartha becomes a rich man and Kamala's lover, though in his middle years realizes that the luxurious lifestyle he has chosen is merely a game, empty of spiritual fulfillment. Leaving the fast-paced bustle of the city, Siddhartha returns to the river and thinks of killing himself. He is saved only by an internal experience of the holy word, Om. The very next morning Siddhartha briefly reconnects with Govinda, who is passing through the area as a wandering Buddhist.
Siddhartha decides to live out the rest of his life in the presence of the spiritually inspirational river. Siddhartha thus reunites with the ferryman, named Vasudeva, with whom he begins a humbler way of life. Although Vasudeva is a simple man, he understands and relates that the river has many voices and significant messages to divulge to any who might listen.
Some years later, Kamala, now a Buddhist convert, is travelling to see the Buddha at his deathbed, accompanied reluctantly by her young son, when she is bitten by a venomous snake near Siddhartha's river. Siddhartha recognizes her and realizes that the boy is his own child. After Kamala's death, Siddhartha attempts to console and raise the furiously resistant boy, until one day the child flees altogether. Although Siddhartha is desperate to find his runaway son, Vasudeva urges him to let the boy find his own path, much like Siddhartha did himself in his youth. Listening to the river with Vasudeva, Siddhartha realizes that time is an illusion and that all of his feelings and experiences, even those of suffering, are part of a great and ultimately jubilant fellowship of all things connected in the cyclical unity of nature. After Siddhartha's moment of illumination, Vasudeva claims that his work is done and he must depart into the woods, leaving Siddhartha peacefully fulfilled and alone once more.
Toward the end of his life, Govinda hears about an enlightened ferryman and travels to Siddhartha, not initially recognizing him as his old childhood friend. Govinda asks the now-elderly Siddhartha to relate his wisdom and Siddhartha replies that for every true statement there is an opposite one that is also true; that language and the confines of time lead people to adhere to one fixed belief that does not account for the fullness of the truth. Because nature works in a self-sustaining cycle, every entity carries in it the potential for its opposite and so the world must always be considered complete. Siddhartha simply urges people to identify and love the world in its completeness. Siddhartha then oddly requests that Govinda kiss his forehead and, when he does, Govinda experiences the visions of timelessness that Siddhartha himself saw with Vasudeva by the river. Govinda bows to his wise friend and Siddhartha smiles radiantly, having found enlightenment.
Kamaswami is the one who shows Siddhartha how to integrate and work in society again and in the city. He turns Siddhartha into a businessman and he teaches him about the material world. Siddhartha learns that these lessons will only lead to unhappiness and will take Siddhartha further away from his goal of enlightenment