Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse is about this young dude [Siddhartha], who just can’t seem to get enough spiritual knowledge and enlightenment. He leaves his family for a meditative life in the forest, but soon becomes restless and finds himself indulging in more “fleshly desires” [aka women, wine, money, and gambling- the life of a baller]. After many years he becomes a very rich and spoiled man, yet Siddhartha eventually becomes disgusted with this lifestyle. In a state of despair, he leaves his prosperous life and comes upon a river that he'd crossed earlier in his lifelong journey for wisdom. While contemplating what to do with his existence, he hears a distinctive sound – which ultimately changes his life forever.
I just have to start this off by saying that I absolutely hated Siddhartha for nearly ¾ of this book [if not all of it, I haven’t quite decided yet… that may take another reading to determine]. I mean, talk about a snooty little know-it-all. He is probably one of the most selfish characters I have ever met. I understand that he wanted to continue his learning and extend his spiritual knowledge, but he is pretty disrespectful to his father and his wishes. He’s pretty much a jerk to his friend Govinda – who has followed him around like a doting puppy throughout the whole book. Then, he just gets up and leaves the Samana who have taught him pretty much all he knows while in the forest, without so much as a thank you or anything.
He says that his best attributes are the fact that he can fast, he can think, and he can wait. I think it’s the fact that he is stubborn and can manipulate people – but tomato, tomAHto.
And then, after he has come to terms with his life – and has found some of the knowledge he has been searching for – his son comes into his life. Obviously the son is unhappy, and Siddhartha is all “I will just be patient and nice with him,” which makes the kid even more mad. He never asks the kid what is bugging him, never tries to really connect with him on any level other than making him work – which is going to make any tween pissy, and then, at TWELVE years old, the kid runs off into the forest, and Siddhartha’s good old buddy is like “just let him go, he will be fine.”
The kid is twelve. I’d call Child Services on these two old frumps.
Why didn’t he ever think to give up the life he had created for himself? Couldn’t he have moved back into the town to try and make his son happy? Especially since his son is apparently the only love he had in the world. It just doesn’t make sense. And once again, I think Siddhartha is a selfish person. Which makes me dislike him.
Aside from not being a fan of the main character, I did enjoy his journey. I like to read about quests – spiritual or not. (If you haven’t read The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo, I strongly recommend it, probably one of my favorite quest-y tales). I will probably read this again down the road, just to see whether or not I still feel so strongly against Mr. Siddhartha.
On to reading!