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The Glass Bead Game, for which Hesse won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946, is the author's last and crowning achievement, the most imaginative and prophetic of all his novels. Setting the story in the distant postapocalyptic future, Hesse tells of an elite cult of intellectuals who play an elaborate game that uses all the cultural and scientific knowledge of the Ages. The Glass Bead Game is a fascinating tale of the complexity of modern life as well as a classic of modern literature.

This edition features a Foreword by Theodore Ziolkowski that places the book in the full context of Hesse's thought.

Published: Macmillan Publishers on
ISBN: 9781466835023
List price: $9.99
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An astonishing book, combining many of the aspects which made Hesse great.more
I first read Hesse about 40 years ago, "Beneath the Wheel" in high school. I progressed to "Siddhartha" and then to "Steppenwolf." Now I have completed his final work "The Glass Bead Game." As I read him I often question why I am taking the time. When I finish though I am vaguely tuned into the symbolism and message of his work and I know it was important to read him. Deep psychology, mysticism, and meaning in life is how I describe him and worth the time spent.more
The Glass Bead Game takes the reader into the academic utopia world called Castalia by following the development of its hero Joseph Knecht from the time of his childhood all the way through his career. One overarching theme of this book was the constant battle between "the world" and Castalia. While the students at the communal Castalia were able to concentrate on their studies free from the worries of worldly problems, the rest of the country had to deal with politics, war, and poverty. Why should some chosen few get to live lives that are free of these issues when in fact it is the people who are dealing with the problems who are supporting the welfare of Castalia? Knecht devotes and sacrifices his life to bridge this gap. Much of the beginning of the book dwells on the power of the Glass Bead Game, which I understood it to be a battle of wits in which the game's language allowed opponents to use any means of knowledge to counter another's logic. The language of the game has been developed so that a mathematical equation might be use to argue a musical interpretation. The Glass Bead Game was used to show just how unworldly this Castalia had become as people devote lifetimes to the pursuit of this purely academic profession.There was also a lot of time spent on meditation in the book. Meditation and aura. The Musical Master was an important character who provided mentorship for Knecht. He was a sage character who reaches an enlightened state by the end of his life yet it seems only Knecht understands that the master is on another plane. Knecht makes his way through the order of Castalia to the highest rank, Magister Ludi, but finds discord within himself as the "Ivory Tower" of this culture is too out of touch with reality for him. In fact, he has never known what outside reality is. He takes on the tutorship of a student and by the end of this life, he becomes elevated into sainthood or enlightenment, and as he drowns in a lake his spirit is passed on to the student in which he hadn't even begun to tutor. There are several incarnations of Knecht that take place at the end of the book and yet occur in the past. In one story he is a tribe's rainmaker, one who is so in touch with the world that he can affect the weather. In another he is an Indian prince who passes through an entire lifetime during a meditation only to find out that the entire life had never even occurred. Then there is the his life as a shahman who outwardly has not a judgment nor a selfish feeling and only hears others sins. However, he deals with issues of happiness and needs to fight against a depression.more
Can't believe that Hermann Hesse's "The Glass Bead Game" won a Nobel Prize for literature! (I've since learned it was not for this book in particular but for his work in general.) I guess I just didn't get it because the whole story bored me to tears. In fact, the only part I really enjoyed was the three stories at the end, which were supposedly written by the book's main character.The novel is a biography of Joseph Knecht, one of the elite, whose education gives him the right to sit penned up from society and basically think about the connections between things. All of these educated folks play the Glass Bead Game to show how connected things are while they themselves are completely apart from the rest of the world.My major problem with the book was that it was very dry -- almost like a lecture and Hesse did a lot of telling rather than showing. Knecht was a thoroughly boring individual and it was hard to read more than 30 pages of this dense prose without falling asleep. This is the only book by Hesse I've read... I'm not sure if I just started with the wrong one or he is an author that just doesn't click with me. Given that I disliked this book, which is considered his magnum opus, I'm guessing it's the latter.more
This is Hesse's last novel, which won him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948. The story is set several hundred years in the future where the intellectual elite study and live their lives out in Castalia, a group of utopian villages set in an unnamed country. Specifically, the novel describes the life of Joseph Knecht, whose love of learning and talents eventually land him the ultimate leadership position in Castalia, that of Magister of the Glass Bead Game. Knecht, as described by the narrator, becomes one of the most successful leaders of this abstract game, which attempts to synthesize art, music, philosophy and scientific law. Ultimately, his “awakening” during his leadership tenure allows him to see the dangers of a purely intellectual or aesthetically oriented existence without commitment to the world around it. For Knecht, Castalia and the Glass Bead Game have, over time, become too far removed from the world that ultimately funds and support this intellectual utopia. The last chapters of the novel tell of Knecht’s decision to resign his position and leave Castalia. Hesse also includes several poems and three wonderful short stories, The Rainmaker, Father Confessor and the Indian Life, supposedly written by Knecht during his school days.more
The Glass Bead Game is about a future society called Castalia in which the most highly regarded cultural institution, almost a religion, is the game of the title, in which players relate ideas to one another in a sort of cabalistic exercise but encompassing every field of human knowledge (but especially mathematics and music) rather than just scripture. The Game, however, has little connection to real life but operates in a sort of Platonic world of Forms, as the relations between ideas it establishes are generally superficial rather than based on real, essential or fundamental similarities.The story follows one past (to the narrator) Magister Ludi, or Master of the Game, and tells of his eventual disillusionment as he learns more of history and the outside world. "I regarded it as my mission," as he puts it, "to expand Castalian life and thought"---but ultimately, he resigns his post and leaves Castalia altogether.His resignation ties the story, which seems a bit disjointed up to that point, together: "But I must also tell you the meaning that the word 'transcend' has had for me since my student years and my 'awakening.' It came to me, I think, while reading a philosopher of the Enlightenment...and ever since then it has been a veritable magic word for me, like 'awakening,' an impetus, a consolation, and a promise. My life, I resolved, ought to be a perpetual transcending, a progression from stage to stage; I wanted it to pass through one area after the next, leaving each behind, as music moves on from theme to theme, from tempo to tempo, playing each out to the end, completing each and leaving it behind, never tiring, never sleeping, forever wakeful, forever in the present."The Glass Bead Game is a great novel and probably Hesse's masterpiece, certainly better than Demian or Siddhartha, though personally I probably enjoyed Narcissus and Goldmund more. It starts off a bit slowly, but builds and builds and is ultimately fascinating and quite satisfying. Definitely worth a read.If you enjoyed The Glass Bead Game, you might want to check out James Beckel's Pulitzer-prize nominated horn concerto of the same title, inspired by and loosely based on the novel (all the more appropriate given the important role of music in the story).more
I consider this Hesse's greatest work. It is a celebration of intellectual topics. It reveals a truth that most intellectuals begin to discover: various topics that seem unrelated still have some connection that can bring them together. It is intense, but worth reading.more
The Times reviewed this as "one of the most important books of the century, in any language". I have no reason to disagree. Rich in scope yet simply humane, Hesse weaves a pattern from the threads of a life which helps us understand the tapestry of our own. The person who cannot gain some morsel of insight from this book is functionally incomplete. Except for the fact that forced study of cultural touchstones invariably kills them instantly, I would recommend that it be added to the curriculum of all schools (both for pupils and more importantly teachers). As it is, it will remain a gem to be discovered serendipitously, its value all the more radiant when faced one-to-one.more
For my money, and there isn't a lot of it, this is Hesse's greatest achievement. Sure, the weird abrupt ending, the lack of real description of the game itself, all the things that critics of the book hoot about... it all, for me, adds to its greatness. Steppenwolf will always have my heart since it was the first Hesse novel I read, but this is my favorite.more
Around the time I turned thirteen, my grandfather took me to the bookstore. Not for me to peruse and pick something to my own liking, but specifically to buy this book and have me read it. This is a novel that was very important to him. No doubt it was a major marker in his intellectual and spiritual development. He spoke often of Hesse, and particularly of The Glass Bead Game, of the Magister Ludi. At that time, I made a feeble attempt to read it, but soon lost interest. Perhaps the premise seemed boring to me, young as I was. Maybe I was intimidated by the book’s length. One year later, I came across Siddhartha. It was there that my own love affair with Hesse began. I soon devoured Steppenwolf, and then a few years later read Demian, and then Narcissus and Goldmund only two summers ago. It is true I have taken long breaks, but each time I return I feel as though I am stepping through the door to home. I am with friends. My grandfather passed three years ago, and The Glass Bead Game has remained unread on my shelf all that time since. I felt that I have continually postponed a commitment, a sort of duty, by not reading it. Perhaps the daunting length was still a factor. Maybe the personal importance I have placed upon the work deterred me in some way, as though to encounter it was a great task or a rare privilege to be taken up with caution. Maybe so. Despite this, I am fairly sure that any sentimental value I place upon the work does not too drastically affect my opinion of it.It is Hesse's magnum opus, truly. Here again, he explores duality. The duality between the intellectual life and the worldly life. In the end, it is shown that the intellectual life, fully realized, must have as its goal some service to the greater human community. It is a clever joke then that the book is written in the form of an indulgent scholarly biography, as Joseph Knecht ultimately rejects such a life. To simply restate the overarching themes of this book does little good. It is quite unlike any other, even among Hesse's own work. I now wonder how my experience of reading the book might have changed if I first read the appended posthumous writings attributed to Knecht. They hint at the ideas that are more fully elaborated upon in the main work.Some may yawn at the prospect of being cast into some elite province of the far future (which, in turn, feels wonderfully ancient) that is cut off from everything worldly to trace the purely cerebral life of an austere and confident man. Let them not be fooled. Hesse makes us feel attachment and concern for Knecht and his companions, crafting a tale that in all its headiness and calm, never bores. Joseph Knecht learns much, and so do we. A reader might be more gratified, perhaps, with the mysticism of Siddhartha or the tale of chaotic transformation found in Steppenwolf. Though Demian or Narcissus and Goldmund might be my favorite of his, I can say without hesitation that this is the most intricate and fully realized among Hesse's major works. I didn't mark up this book as I have his others, but if it is not necessarily quotable it is memorable. It is not so much here about the structure of a phrase, but the structure of the overall narrative and the depth of characterization. It is a journey, and one I am so glad to have taken. Thanks Grandpa.more
A thought provoking account of the academic life & the dichotomy between individual & state, intellectualism & practicality.more
The Glass Bead Game is a book of ideas, specifically of a purely intellectual elite cloistered from society and the schools at an early age. These elite elaborate on and develop relationships of all the classical arts and sciences with an emphasis on music prior to the 1800's. Lots of use of Oriental and Pythagorian Philosophy. More a Philosophical treatise than a story but if you are interested in these subjects you might find it fascinating. Having read it 30 years ago and now rereading it was astounding. To the reviewer that commented Hesse was blind to feminism. He is either blind or unbelievably observant.more
The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse is in many ways a strange novel. It tells the story of the man who is to become The Game Master (Magister Ludi) in a future society,but you never gets to know him. The novel is more about ideas, history, philosophy, music and mathematics. It´s about how to live our lives. I found it quite boring at times, and it is a demanding novel. It´s not easy read. I, at least, had to struggle with it. Still it gave me something, it made me think and I´m very glad I finally read it after having it collecting dust so many years in my bookshelf.more
Glass Bead Game is the most complex of Hesse's work. I think the mistake people make is taking the characters, plot, setting in literal terms. Ultimately, Glass Bead Game is best appreciated as metaphor -- an elaborate, detail-rich metaphor of the unconscious struggle with the world of conception and idea, and the world of actual experience. It is also revealing to look into the book's subtleties. Hesse doesn't come out directly and tell us what he's doing, he intends for us to earn it. We must remember that the book is about the famous Joseph Knecht (the perspective implies a future wholly influenced by him). The setting is an intellectual community, reaching it's zenith of thought. Castalia is presented in overwhelmingly positive terms--a harmonized utopia of art, music, and science. The focus on such an idealistic setting is often misplaced; rather, the focus should be on Joseph Knecht's famous act: rejecting, or more accurately--fulfilling the role of Castalia, and leaving the world of symbols, thoughts, and dualistic study of the external, and experiencing the world, free of the dependence of thought. This one act, seemingly has enormous consequences. We must take a step back and imagine the repercussions: a world thoroughly free of the domination of conception, both in the lives of individuals and society in general; a world which is constantly taking creative leaps of faith, and constantly becoming rather than mere witnessing or studying. Looked at in metaphorical terms, the Glass Bead Game is not a piece of literature, but rather a spiritual road map intended to influence well into the future. It is also worth noting that this is the last major work of Hesse. Is it quite easy to draw the comparison between Hesse and Knecht. The Glass Bead Game was that final leap from thought into the calm, engulfing waters of sheer being. Hesse went to the forest never to come back, but he left this special little book as a helpful guide.more
I love Hermann Hesse. I've read at least 3 of his other novels maybe 4 or 5. This one - not so much.This book starts off very scholarly sounding and really doesn't change. I thought the "intro" was really just an intro and that it might even be talking about something that was factual. But the whole story is fictional and about a fictional game and group of scholars.If this wasn't on audio I would have never finished. It's just too dry and long. There really was no "climax". There was social commentary and some interesting parts but overall it seemed like a waste of time. I ended up liking the short stories at the end better than the actual novel.I'm not swearing off Hesse or anything I just wish this is one I would have never got to.more
I read this in my senior year of high school for my class, Western Thought. I thought it was one of the most fascinating books I had ever read. It is a book I've thought about a lot and I've always intended to read it again.more
It has been decades since I last read this book. It pulled me in again. When I'm not actually reading I see a lot of problems with it - first and foremost, of course, that women aren't real people in it. The whole idea of the game is unrealistic ... But when you are reading, none of this matters.more
Although many people claim this book to be the best of all he wrote (it is supposed to be the book for which he was granted the Novel Prize), the truth is, and in my humble opinion, it is an overrated book.On one hand, Hesse manages to resume in this book all his career, not only as novelist, but also as a poet an painter. Almost all the different types of literature gathers in this book: there are poems, letters, dialogues, descriptions,...It's, in fact, the result of a highly developped "craftmanship" (and I say craft beacause we could think of this book as beautiful jewel).On the other, the book lacks the instropection, the emotional point of view of Demian, Sidhartta or "El lobo estepario": the main character is human, but lacks of the emotions of a normal human. It seems more a machine than a man...more
One of those books that, if read as an adolescent, becomes defining and will influence the cultural and spiritual development of the individual. The tenter-hook creation of a game about you always hear about, and read pages after pages, without being able, not even at the end, to know it. Such a demanding game, requiring thinking and knowledge, discipline and application. I do not know if such a book and such a world has any more appeal nowadays, where things need to come quickly and clear...more
probably the slowest going of his works, still worth the time.more
A deep novel from a master author.more
This was the last prose fiction of Hesse's I read, and I read it over 20 years ago. Much of it is dim memory now, but I do remember my impression: this was the best of Hesse's books. Long, slow, thoughtful, brilliant -- a strange utopia, or dystopia. It seemed the most mature book by the author perhaps because Hesse finally allowed some irony to stand not as humor, but as a philosophical point.But then, I could very well be wrong. I was no more than 22 when I read it; probably much younger. I had read through the Usual Suspects of Hesse's oeuvre quickly, in a mad rush. Perhaps I stopped here because I saw that Hesse was no longer mad, but in repose. He'd finally found his major statement. And I didn't need to read on.Knowing that this was Hesse's last book may have added spurs to this judgment, which was probably to my misfortunte; I never did read "Narcissus and Goldmund."more
After Bernie Dodge mentioned The Glass Bead Game in his presentation about gaming, I decided to read it. If I'd been assigned this book in high school, I probably would have been overwhelmed. However at his point in my life I found the book fascinating. Although it dragged a little in the middle, the ending and particularly the appendix was worth the wait. This 1946 Nobel Prize winner is one of those books that can be read at many levels. A mixture of science fiction, biography, philosophy, irony, history, humor, and more... The Glass Bead Game should be on everyone's "classics" list.more
I wanted to like this book and kept trying but I just couldn't get into it at all.more
Read all 26 reviews

Reviews

An astonishing book, combining many of the aspects which made Hesse great.more
I first read Hesse about 40 years ago, "Beneath the Wheel" in high school. I progressed to "Siddhartha" and then to "Steppenwolf." Now I have completed his final work "The Glass Bead Game." As I read him I often question why I am taking the time. When I finish though I am vaguely tuned into the symbolism and message of his work and I know it was important to read him. Deep psychology, mysticism, and meaning in life is how I describe him and worth the time spent.more
The Glass Bead Game takes the reader into the academic utopia world called Castalia by following the development of its hero Joseph Knecht from the time of his childhood all the way through his career. One overarching theme of this book was the constant battle between "the world" and Castalia. While the students at the communal Castalia were able to concentrate on their studies free from the worries of worldly problems, the rest of the country had to deal with politics, war, and poverty. Why should some chosen few get to live lives that are free of these issues when in fact it is the people who are dealing with the problems who are supporting the welfare of Castalia? Knecht devotes and sacrifices his life to bridge this gap. Much of the beginning of the book dwells on the power of the Glass Bead Game, which I understood it to be a battle of wits in which the game's language allowed opponents to use any means of knowledge to counter another's logic. The language of the game has been developed so that a mathematical equation might be use to argue a musical interpretation. The Glass Bead Game was used to show just how unworldly this Castalia had become as people devote lifetimes to the pursuit of this purely academic profession.There was also a lot of time spent on meditation in the book. Meditation and aura. The Musical Master was an important character who provided mentorship for Knecht. He was a sage character who reaches an enlightened state by the end of his life yet it seems only Knecht understands that the master is on another plane. Knecht makes his way through the order of Castalia to the highest rank, Magister Ludi, but finds discord within himself as the "Ivory Tower" of this culture is too out of touch with reality for him. In fact, he has never known what outside reality is. He takes on the tutorship of a student and by the end of this life, he becomes elevated into sainthood or enlightenment, and as he drowns in a lake his spirit is passed on to the student in which he hadn't even begun to tutor. There are several incarnations of Knecht that take place at the end of the book and yet occur in the past. In one story he is a tribe's rainmaker, one who is so in touch with the world that he can affect the weather. In another he is an Indian prince who passes through an entire lifetime during a meditation only to find out that the entire life had never even occurred. Then there is the his life as a shahman who outwardly has not a judgment nor a selfish feeling and only hears others sins. However, he deals with issues of happiness and needs to fight against a depression.more
Can't believe that Hermann Hesse's "The Glass Bead Game" won a Nobel Prize for literature! (I've since learned it was not for this book in particular but for his work in general.) I guess I just didn't get it because the whole story bored me to tears. In fact, the only part I really enjoyed was the three stories at the end, which were supposedly written by the book's main character.The novel is a biography of Joseph Knecht, one of the elite, whose education gives him the right to sit penned up from society and basically think about the connections between things. All of these educated folks play the Glass Bead Game to show how connected things are while they themselves are completely apart from the rest of the world.My major problem with the book was that it was very dry -- almost like a lecture and Hesse did a lot of telling rather than showing. Knecht was a thoroughly boring individual and it was hard to read more than 30 pages of this dense prose without falling asleep. This is the only book by Hesse I've read... I'm not sure if I just started with the wrong one or he is an author that just doesn't click with me. Given that I disliked this book, which is considered his magnum opus, I'm guessing it's the latter.more
This is Hesse's last novel, which won him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948. The story is set several hundred years in the future where the intellectual elite study and live their lives out in Castalia, a group of utopian villages set in an unnamed country. Specifically, the novel describes the life of Joseph Knecht, whose love of learning and talents eventually land him the ultimate leadership position in Castalia, that of Magister of the Glass Bead Game. Knecht, as described by the narrator, becomes one of the most successful leaders of this abstract game, which attempts to synthesize art, music, philosophy and scientific law. Ultimately, his “awakening” during his leadership tenure allows him to see the dangers of a purely intellectual or aesthetically oriented existence without commitment to the world around it. For Knecht, Castalia and the Glass Bead Game have, over time, become too far removed from the world that ultimately funds and support this intellectual utopia. The last chapters of the novel tell of Knecht’s decision to resign his position and leave Castalia. Hesse also includes several poems and three wonderful short stories, The Rainmaker, Father Confessor and the Indian Life, supposedly written by Knecht during his school days.more
The Glass Bead Game is about a future society called Castalia in which the most highly regarded cultural institution, almost a religion, is the game of the title, in which players relate ideas to one another in a sort of cabalistic exercise but encompassing every field of human knowledge (but especially mathematics and music) rather than just scripture. The Game, however, has little connection to real life but operates in a sort of Platonic world of Forms, as the relations between ideas it establishes are generally superficial rather than based on real, essential or fundamental similarities.The story follows one past (to the narrator) Magister Ludi, or Master of the Game, and tells of his eventual disillusionment as he learns more of history and the outside world. "I regarded it as my mission," as he puts it, "to expand Castalian life and thought"---but ultimately, he resigns his post and leaves Castalia altogether.His resignation ties the story, which seems a bit disjointed up to that point, together: "But I must also tell you the meaning that the word 'transcend' has had for me since my student years and my 'awakening.' It came to me, I think, while reading a philosopher of the Enlightenment...and ever since then it has been a veritable magic word for me, like 'awakening,' an impetus, a consolation, and a promise. My life, I resolved, ought to be a perpetual transcending, a progression from stage to stage; I wanted it to pass through one area after the next, leaving each behind, as music moves on from theme to theme, from tempo to tempo, playing each out to the end, completing each and leaving it behind, never tiring, never sleeping, forever wakeful, forever in the present."The Glass Bead Game is a great novel and probably Hesse's masterpiece, certainly better than Demian or Siddhartha, though personally I probably enjoyed Narcissus and Goldmund more. It starts off a bit slowly, but builds and builds and is ultimately fascinating and quite satisfying. Definitely worth a read.If you enjoyed The Glass Bead Game, you might want to check out James Beckel's Pulitzer-prize nominated horn concerto of the same title, inspired by and loosely based on the novel (all the more appropriate given the important role of music in the story).more
I consider this Hesse's greatest work. It is a celebration of intellectual topics. It reveals a truth that most intellectuals begin to discover: various topics that seem unrelated still have some connection that can bring them together. It is intense, but worth reading.more
The Times reviewed this as "one of the most important books of the century, in any language". I have no reason to disagree. Rich in scope yet simply humane, Hesse weaves a pattern from the threads of a life which helps us understand the tapestry of our own. The person who cannot gain some morsel of insight from this book is functionally incomplete. Except for the fact that forced study of cultural touchstones invariably kills them instantly, I would recommend that it be added to the curriculum of all schools (both for pupils and more importantly teachers). As it is, it will remain a gem to be discovered serendipitously, its value all the more radiant when faced one-to-one.more
For my money, and there isn't a lot of it, this is Hesse's greatest achievement. Sure, the weird abrupt ending, the lack of real description of the game itself, all the things that critics of the book hoot about... it all, for me, adds to its greatness. Steppenwolf will always have my heart since it was the first Hesse novel I read, but this is my favorite.more
Around the time I turned thirteen, my grandfather took me to the bookstore. Not for me to peruse and pick something to my own liking, but specifically to buy this book and have me read it. This is a novel that was very important to him. No doubt it was a major marker in his intellectual and spiritual development. He spoke often of Hesse, and particularly of The Glass Bead Game, of the Magister Ludi. At that time, I made a feeble attempt to read it, but soon lost interest. Perhaps the premise seemed boring to me, young as I was. Maybe I was intimidated by the book’s length. One year later, I came across Siddhartha. It was there that my own love affair with Hesse began. I soon devoured Steppenwolf, and then a few years later read Demian, and then Narcissus and Goldmund only two summers ago. It is true I have taken long breaks, but each time I return I feel as though I am stepping through the door to home. I am with friends. My grandfather passed three years ago, and The Glass Bead Game has remained unread on my shelf all that time since. I felt that I have continually postponed a commitment, a sort of duty, by not reading it. Perhaps the daunting length was still a factor. Maybe the personal importance I have placed upon the work deterred me in some way, as though to encounter it was a great task or a rare privilege to be taken up with caution. Maybe so. Despite this, I am fairly sure that any sentimental value I place upon the work does not too drastically affect my opinion of it.It is Hesse's magnum opus, truly. Here again, he explores duality. The duality between the intellectual life and the worldly life. In the end, it is shown that the intellectual life, fully realized, must have as its goal some service to the greater human community. It is a clever joke then that the book is written in the form of an indulgent scholarly biography, as Joseph Knecht ultimately rejects such a life. To simply restate the overarching themes of this book does little good. It is quite unlike any other, even among Hesse's own work. I now wonder how my experience of reading the book might have changed if I first read the appended posthumous writings attributed to Knecht. They hint at the ideas that are more fully elaborated upon in the main work.Some may yawn at the prospect of being cast into some elite province of the far future (which, in turn, feels wonderfully ancient) that is cut off from everything worldly to trace the purely cerebral life of an austere and confident man. Let them not be fooled. Hesse makes us feel attachment and concern for Knecht and his companions, crafting a tale that in all its headiness and calm, never bores. Joseph Knecht learns much, and so do we. A reader might be more gratified, perhaps, with the mysticism of Siddhartha or the tale of chaotic transformation found in Steppenwolf. Though Demian or Narcissus and Goldmund might be my favorite of his, I can say without hesitation that this is the most intricate and fully realized among Hesse's major works. I didn't mark up this book as I have his others, but if it is not necessarily quotable it is memorable. It is not so much here about the structure of a phrase, but the structure of the overall narrative and the depth of characterization. It is a journey, and one I am so glad to have taken. Thanks Grandpa.more
A thought provoking account of the academic life & the dichotomy between individual & state, intellectualism & practicality.more
The Glass Bead Game is a book of ideas, specifically of a purely intellectual elite cloistered from society and the schools at an early age. These elite elaborate on and develop relationships of all the classical arts and sciences with an emphasis on music prior to the 1800's. Lots of use of Oriental and Pythagorian Philosophy. More a Philosophical treatise than a story but if you are interested in these subjects you might find it fascinating. Having read it 30 years ago and now rereading it was astounding. To the reviewer that commented Hesse was blind to feminism. He is either blind or unbelievably observant.more
The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse is in many ways a strange novel. It tells the story of the man who is to become The Game Master (Magister Ludi) in a future society,but you never gets to know him. The novel is more about ideas, history, philosophy, music and mathematics. It´s about how to live our lives. I found it quite boring at times, and it is a demanding novel. It´s not easy read. I, at least, had to struggle with it. Still it gave me something, it made me think and I´m very glad I finally read it after having it collecting dust so many years in my bookshelf.more
Glass Bead Game is the most complex of Hesse's work. I think the mistake people make is taking the characters, plot, setting in literal terms. Ultimately, Glass Bead Game is best appreciated as metaphor -- an elaborate, detail-rich metaphor of the unconscious struggle with the world of conception and idea, and the world of actual experience. It is also revealing to look into the book's subtleties. Hesse doesn't come out directly and tell us what he's doing, he intends for us to earn it. We must remember that the book is about the famous Joseph Knecht (the perspective implies a future wholly influenced by him). The setting is an intellectual community, reaching it's zenith of thought. Castalia is presented in overwhelmingly positive terms--a harmonized utopia of art, music, and science. The focus on such an idealistic setting is often misplaced; rather, the focus should be on Joseph Knecht's famous act: rejecting, or more accurately--fulfilling the role of Castalia, and leaving the world of symbols, thoughts, and dualistic study of the external, and experiencing the world, free of the dependence of thought. This one act, seemingly has enormous consequences. We must take a step back and imagine the repercussions: a world thoroughly free of the domination of conception, both in the lives of individuals and society in general; a world which is constantly taking creative leaps of faith, and constantly becoming rather than mere witnessing or studying. Looked at in metaphorical terms, the Glass Bead Game is not a piece of literature, but rather a spiritual road map intended to influence well into the future. It is also worth noting that this is the last major work of Hesse. Is it quite easy to draw the comparison between Hesse and Knecht. The Glass Bead Game was that final leap from thought into the calm, engulfing waters of sheer being. Hesse went to the forest never to come back, but he left this special little book as a helpful guide.more
I love Hermann Hesse. I've read at least 3 of his other novels maybe 4 or 5. This one - not so much.This book starts off very scholarly sounding and really doesn't change. I thought the "intro" was really just an intro and that it might even be talking about something that was factual. But the whole story is fictional and about a fictional game and group of scholars.If this wasn't on audio I would have never finished. It's just too dry and long. There really was no "climax". There was social commentary and some interesting parts but overall it seemed like a waste of time. I ended up liking the short stories at the end better than the actual novel.I'm not swearing off Hesse or anything I just wish this is one I would have never got to.more
I read this in my senior year of high school for my class, Western Thought. I thought it was one of the most fascinating books I had ever read. It is a book I've thought about a lot and I've always intended to read it again.more
It has been decades since I last read this book. It pulled me in again. When I'm not actually reading I see a lot of problems with it - first and foremost, of course, that women aren't real people in it. The whole idea of the game is unrealistic ... But when you are reading, none of this matters.more
Although many people claim this book to be the best of all he wrote (it is supposed to be the book for which he was granted the Novel Prize), the truth is, and in my humble opinion, it is an overrated book.On one hand, Hesse manages to resume in this book all his career, not only as novelist, but also as a poet an painter. Almost all the different types of literature gathers in this book: there are poems, letters, dialogues, descriptions,...It's, in fact, the result of a highly developped "craftmanship" (and I say craft beacause we could think of this book as beautiful jewel).On the other, the book lacks the instropection, the emotional point of view of Demian, Sidhartta or "El lobo estepario": the main character is human, but lacks of the emotions of a normal human. It seems more a machine than a man...more
One of those books that, if read as an adolescent, becomes defining and will influence the cultural and spiritual development of the individual. The tenter-hook creation of a game about you always hear about, and read pages after pages, without being able, not even at the end, to know it. Such a demanding game, requiring thinking and knowledge, discipline and application. I do not know if such a book and such a world has any more appeal nowadays, where things need to come quickly and clear...more
probably the slowest going of his works, still worth the time.more
A deep novel from a master author.more
This was the last prose fiction of Hesse's I read, and I read it over 20 years ago. Much of it is dim memory now, but I do remember my impression: this was the best of Hesse's books. Long, slow, thoughtful, brilliant -- a strange utopia, or dystopia. It seemed the most mature book by the author perhaps because Hesse finally allowed some irony to stand not as humor, but as a philosophical point.But then, I could very well be wrong. I was no more than 22 when I read it; probably much younger. I had read through the Usual Suspects of Hesse's oeuvre quickly, in a mad rush. Perhaps I stopped here because I saw that Hesse was no longer mad, but in repose. He'd finally found his major statement. And I didn't need to read on.Knowing that this was Hesse's last book may have added spurs to this judgment, which was probably to my misfortunte; I never did read "Narcissus and Goldmund."more
After Bernie Dodge mentioned The Glass Bead Game in his presentation about gaming, I decided to read it. If I'd been assigned this book in high school, I probably would have been overwhelmed. However at his point in my life I found the book fascinating. Although it dragged a little in the middle, the ending and particularly the appendix was worth the wait. This 1946 Nobel Prize winner is one of those books that can be read at many levels. A mixture of science fiction, biography, philosophy, irony, history, humor, and more... The Glass Bead Game should be on everyone's "classics" list.more
I wanted to like this book and kept trying but I just couldn't get into it at all.more
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