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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. 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.
Siddhartha's life takes him on a journey toward enlightenment. Afire with youthful idealism, the Brahmin joins a group of ascetics, fasting and living without possessions. Meeting Gotama the Buddha, he comes to feel this is not the right path, though he also declines joining the Buddha's followers. He reenters the world, hoping to learn of his own nature, but instead slips gradually into hedonism and materialism. Surfeited and disgusted, he flees from his possessions to become a ferryman's apprentice, learning what lessons he can from the river itself. Herman Hesse's 1922 Bildungsroman parallels the life of Buddha and seems to argue that lessons of this sort cannot be taught but come from one's own struggle to find truth. Noted actor Derek Jacobi interprets this material wonderfully, and the package, despite abridging a Nobel prize winner's prose, can be highly recommended.ÄJohn Hiett, Iowa City P.L.
A subtle distillation of wisdom, stylistic grace and symmetry of form * The Sunday Times * A writer of genius * The Times *