Time it took me:
Review of the book:
Overall this is a good, quick read with ample lessons to learn. For anyone that is interested in simplicity, minimalism, or Eastern religions I highly recommend it. You see the development of a character very clearly. The obvious motif I gathered from the book is opposites. Knowledge is contrasted with experience, depravation with exuberance, the wise and the foolish. Hesse cleverly suggests through Siddhartha that enlightenment comes when opposites are one and simply loved as is.
At one point, after leaving the ferryman and on his way through the forest, he comes upon a village woman. They nearly have sexual relations, yet his inner voice says “No.”
How odd it was to reread that interaction. But I looked again at Siddhartha’s movements between stages of life. When he’s traveling he’s always introduced to the thing on which his life will dwell before it comes in full fruition. As for the village woman, it was foreshadowing of his intimacy with Kamala. As for the river, it was life as a ferryman. And so on…
There is no foreshadowing when Siddhartha becomes enlightened. There is not a movement, physically speaking, wherein his travels are met with something to overcome or about which to learn. He just enters enlightenment.
Quotes I highlighted:
“When someone is searching,” said Siddhartha, “then it might easily happen that the only thing his eyes still see is that what he searches for, that is unable to find anything, to let anything enter his mind, because he always thinks of nothing but the object of his search, because he has a goal, because he is obsessed by the goal. Searching means: have a goal. But finding means: being free, being open, having no goal. You, oh venerable one, are perhaps indeed a searcher, because, striving for your goal, there are many things you don’t see, which are directly in front of your eyes.”
Siddhartha to Govinda on his incessant searching.