Narcissus and Goldmund

Narcissus and Goldmund

by Hermann Hesse

Narcissus and Goldmund tells the story of two medieval men whose characters are diametrically opposite: Narcissus, an ascetic monk firm in his religious commitment, and Goldmund, a romantic youth hungry for knowledge and worldly experience.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Fiction
  • Rating: 4.20
  • Pages: 320
  • Publish Date: 1997 by The Noonday Press / Farrar, Straus Giroux
  • Isbn10: 0374506841
  • Isbn13: 9780374506841

What People Think about "Narcissus and Goldmund"

At the time of reading, this was my favorite Hesse book and, indeed, it is probably his quintessential novel, the one to recommend for anyone wanting to check him out. Given the intellectual influences obtaining in Hesse's circles and the nature of his missionary family it is likely that both were considered. What I really like about Hermann Hesse, here and elsewhere, is that he really cared, cared about people, cared about culture and cared about the natural world.

Living in a hidden cloister in medieval Germany, Narcissus is a most learned and pious young acolyte pursuing knowledge, and the contemplation of logic, philosophy and theology. Goldmund makes other friends, but none becomes as dear to him as Narcissus. After Narcissus gives his blessing and releases his friend out into the wide world, the novel truly takes hold. After many years apart Goldmund and Narcissus reunite and discuss their differing lives. Hesse's poetic and emotive medieval coming-of-age story reads as the quintessential novel on the pains and euphoria of adolescence, forming a deep lifelong friendship, and succumbing to the desires of the opposite sex, of which, after years stuck in a Monastery, it's a case of making up for lost time. Narcissus and Goldmund is ultimately a raging battle between the body and mind (and the plague!), a pandoras box of contemplation, and a novel that lingered strongly well after it's closing pages.

The story begins when Goldmund, a student, and Narcissus, a teacher only a few years older, become friends at a cloister school. From that day forward, his mind never wanders far from thoughts of women, their sheer beauty and the pleasures of the senses. Goldmund falls for the first young lady to say no, loses her to the serpent of lust for her younger, prettier sister, and then travels far and wide.

Narcissus and Goldmund, as I look back on it now in my old age - far from my youthful love for it - is one of Hesses near-misses. But Hesse is REALLY a Narcissus, like Erasmus. A sophisticated pan-European man of the world, he resented and perhaps envied passionate, mystical artists - like Rainer Maria Rilke. Rilke, like Luther, could do no wrong in the eyes of his admirers. And like Luther and Goldmund, he could be mystical in a way few other men were... He wasnt a nice, well-meaning, mystical guy like Rilke.

He is absolutely brilliant and his works are so nuanced to the point where they only mean anything to the reader unless they can relate in some profound way. All of his books are about the turmoil and duality of the human soul. I especially enjoyed the part where Narcissus talks about when someone who is meant to be an artist tries to live the life of a thinker evil ensues.

Let us be comforted with whatever ration of enlightenment we are allowed. Let us not forget that we are allowed these moments, we are not entitled them.

Enquanto Narciso era um pensador e analítico, Goldmund parecia ser um sonhador com uma alma infantil. Com a génese do romance a estruturar-se e a fundamentar-se em combinações dicotómicas recorrendo aos dois estilos de vida de Narciso e Goldmund que numa primeira fase são coincidentes, convergindo nos princípios, nas convicções e nas acções -; mas que gradualmente seguem caminhos opostos, vivendo ideais de vida drasticamente discrepantes, dissonantes sobre como a vida deve ser vivida. Há pessoas assim, capazes de sentir a beleza do mundo com profundidade e grandeza e de transportar na alma imagens elevadas e nobres, mas que não encontram o caminho e os meios para delas se libertarem, transmitindo-as e comunicando-as para satisfação dos outros. 181 - 182) Goldmund sentia que através da arte e da vida de artista tinha a possibilidade de conciliar os seus profundos antagonismos, ou pelo menos de criar magníficas e sempre novas metáforas sobre a ambivalência da sua natureza.

There is also a Hermann Hesse prize associated with the city of Karlsruhe, Germany.