Narcissus and Goldmund is a beautifully written story of two medieval men who search for meaning and truth in life. They meet each other in their early youth in a cloister and then undertake their separate journeys – Narcissus in the spiritual world and Goldmund in the worldly world. Gradually, both of them, in their separate and interlaced experiences, find the truth they seek.
Hermann Hesse is well known for his philosophical fiction. All of his novels thematically expose the search for “light”, the “real” world, from an illusionary world. They are brain-stimulating and can be enjoyed by those who have a soft spot for philosophy. I have read both his Demian and Steppenwolf, and while I enjoyed his theories and the writing, story wise, I found them missing the spark. But with Narcissus and Goldmund, not only has he mastered the art of storytelling, but also more elucidating in his philosophical theories. Simply put, mature, clear, and masterful writing can be seen throughout, firmly binding the reader to the story.
Narcissus and Goldmund is by far the best work I have read of Hermann Hesse. It is inspiring and beautifully written. There is so much discussion on art and life that I found to be thought-provoking and inspiring the artist within me. The story, and the philosophical views he expresses so clearly through the story, blend harmoniously. Moreover, Hesse’s belief that the truth lies somewhere in the middle of spiritual and worldly worlds I found to be fascinating, for, I too believe that the “truth” is a blend of spiritual and material worlds where you develop your mind to see the reality behind the illusion the world so glamorously present. All these different aspects, co-existing in perfect harmony, made the reading experience extremely pleasurable for me. Recommending books is not something I do normally, but I make an exception for this beautiful work of Hesse. So dear readers, if you have an inclination for philosophical wonderings, check out this little gem by Hermann Hesse.