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The Glass Bead Game

Posted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 9:08 pm
by chasw
I've been reading Richard and Clara Winston's translation of Herman Hesse's "Das Glasperlenspiel", a utopian novel set several centuries in the future. The book has much to say about the role of intellectuals in society, in the context of human history. One of Hesse's characters even makes some interesting remarks about the philosophy of history. Karl Marx's claims about the future are cited as an abject failure, thereby discrediting the whole idea of a theory of history.

Many readers of The Glass Bead Game become fixated on the game itself. They want to understand and replicate it in real life, serious but futile attempts have been made. The best approach to the book is to first carefully read the forward section by Theodore Ziolkowski. Before the book's 1943 publication, Hesse (living in Switzerland) corresponded with Thomas Mann (living in Los Angeles), asking him to comment on the manuscript. Clearly the book is not a recipe for a real game, and it is not primarily a commentary on European current affairs, the Nazis, etc. Instead, Hesse said he wanted the book to be accepted as a superior work of literature, timeless perhaps. He was right about that, it won the Nobel prize for literature in 1946 and is still in print.

I'm not quite finished reading it yet, so I'm still collecting my final thoughts, but has anyone else here read this book? What was your understanding of its message? thx - CW ... mann+hesse

Re: The Glass Bead Game

Posted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 9:22 pm
by Bill Wiltrack

Found Herman Hesse when I was young, going to college, and alone...

A perfect trifecta to discover Hesse.

Hope you enjoy.