By Herman Hesse
How to get a book
• Available online on iBooks, or in print, or at the library
• Can buy a used copy off of
• Free copy of Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha: An Open Source Reader,
edited by Lee Archie and others
• 122 pages in the print copy, but 152 pages roughly
• About 20 pages a week
• DECEMBER 1st is the due date for the reading
What’s it about?
• Siddhartha is a story about a man named Siddhartha whose life
mirrors (in some ways) the life of the famous (and different person)
Siddhartha Gautama.
• Siddhartha Gautama is also called “The Buddha”
• It was written in 1922
Who is the author?
• Herman Hesse, a German whose parents were missionaries to India
• He was familiar with “Eastern religions” like Buddhism and Hinduism
BUT his book is not a perfect presentation of those religions even
though he borrows ideas from them
• He wrote Siddhartha after an extended visit to India
Life experiences that affected the writing of
• During World War I (1914-1918), Hesse was anti-war and labeled a traitor.
• In 1916, his father died; his son Martin became seriously ill; and his wife
suffered a severe nervous disorder and had to be put in a sanatorium.
• Deeply troubled, he moved to Switzerland, where he remained for the rest
of his life.
• He studied the works of Sigmund Freud and underwent extensive
psychoanalysis with one of Freud’s most celebrated disciples.
• Hesse’s profound interest in psychoanalysis and the workings of the
subconscious mind probably dates from this period and is clearly visible in
his later fiction, including Siddhartha.
• He died in 1962.
What inspired the writing of Siddhartha?
• Siddhartha, set in India, is subtitled an "Indic Poetic Work," and it
clearly owes much to Indian religions. But the question of the exact
nature of Hesse's debt to various aspects of Indian religion and
philosophy in Siddhartha is quite complicated and deserves detailed
• Elements of both Hindu and Buddhist thought are present and it is
useful to make distinctions between them when the sources of the
novel are discussed.
Was Hesse inspired by Buddhism?
• The basic teaching of Buddha is formulated in the Four Noble Truths
and the Eightfold Path.
• One critic, Leroy R. Shaw, has pointed out that Siddhartha is divided
into two parts of four and eight chapters, and proceeds from this
insight to interpret the work as an illustration of Buddha's Truths and
Path…but this interpretation might not be correct…
• Hesse also wrote his own ideas (not Buddhist) and Hindu ideas into
the book.
Was Hesse inspired by Hinduism?
• Most critics even assert that Hinduism is a more significant source for
the book than is Buddhism.
• Eugene F. Timpe, for example, in a study which is methodologically
similar to that of Shaw, has analyzed parallels between Siddhartha
and the Bhagavad Gita, an important poetical document of the Hindu
• Timpe maintains "that Hesse was influenced largely by the Bhagavad
Gita when he wrote his book and that the protagonist was groping his
way along the path prescribed by the Bhagavad Gita."
• Hesse was indeed familiar with this important work, and a
comparison between it and Siddhartha is rewarding.
What were Hesse’s views of Eastern religions?
• In 1932 Hess published a "diary fragment" written some twelve years
earlier, during the composition of Siddhartha. In this interesting and
revealing essay, he comments extensively on Indian religion.
• In the diary Hesse acknowledges his long-standing interest in India.
• He sees Buddhism as a kind of "Reformation," but - like all religious
reformations - it eventually tends to be more destructive than constructive.
(Ultimately Buddhism denies rather than affirms life.)
• Hesse discusses the Buddhistic concept of Nirvana, and observes that
whereas he previously accepted the doctrine, he now inclines toward the
belief that God respects individuality. Buddha may well have reached Nirvana,
but other men will not be able to find a "shortcut" by following and imitating
• Hesse rejects the rationalism of Buddha's teachings which, he says, previously
attracted him. The mystical aspects of Christianity acquire correspondingly
more appeal. Hesse, then, feels that he is moving away from the philosophical
position of Buddhism.
For English class
• Journal about your reading
• Select a quote from a set of pages defined by Mrs. Estrada (not more than 5
• Comment/reflect on that quote in a journal that fills up the whole page to the
bottom of the page and extends to both red margins
• Research
• Select 2 articles that criticize the book and print each, glue each into the
journal, then highlight and annotate them
• Then write one page about what you learned from each article and include
personal reflections
English schedule
Journal Example
For History class
1. Keep a log of 100 new words you learn and their definitions from
Siddhartha; DUE Friday, 12/5
2. Make a Side-by-Side comparison of Hinduism (Chapter 4) and
Buddhism (Ch. 4, 9, 16); DUE Friday, 12/5
3. Write an essay where you analyze Herman Hesse’s depiction of
Indian religions following the guidelines described in this
powerpoint. ROUGH DRAFT DUE: Friday, 12/12
Side by Side Comparison should look a little
pages 99-105 in Traditions and Encounters, also
Pages 219-228
pages 418 & 420
Four Vedas represent early Aryan beliefs
• House of Clay
• World of the Fathers
• Aryan Gods, i.e. Indra and Varuna
• Brahmins/priests perform ritual sacrifices
• 800 BCE dissatisfaction with rituals mystical
reflections of on beliefs
• Upanishads: evidence of mixing of Aryan and
Dravidian beliefs  Brahman: universal soul of
which each individual is a part (also called
Atman); samsara, karma, asceticism &
meditation to reach moksha
• Add more or elaborate on what is above in
your own chart
Comes out of Hinduism  Started by Gautama
Buddha: “the enlightened one”
Four Noble Truths:
1. All life involves suffering
2. Desire is the cause of suffering
3. Elimination of desire brings an end to
4. A disciplined life conducted in accordance
with the Noble 8-fold Path brings the
elimination of desire
Noble 8-Fold Path: lead a balanced and moderate
life (not ascetic or luxorious)
Right belief, right resolve, right speech, right
behavior, right occupation, right effort, right
contemplation, right meditation…..CONTINUE to
add info!!! Nirvana? Dharma?
Combo English & History Assignment
• Thesis/Claim: Create a thesis with multiple parts that you will prove using
evidence from the book Siddhartha and at least two outside sources. A
personal opinion is allowed (usually not okay in History class).
• Summary: Summarize Siddhartha’s quest for enlightenment
• Personal Connection: Reflect on what you enjoyed and disliked about the
book (i.e. Which character did you most identify with and why? What
quotes affected you and why? What symbol was most powerful for you?)
• Connect to History: Drawing on your knowledge of Hinduism (APWH Ch. 4,
Ch.9, Ch. 16) and Buddhism (APWH Ch. 9 and 16), and citing examples,
explain what elements of these religions (or Indian culture, i.e. caste) are
visible in Siddhartha
• Evaluate & Research: Research at least two articles that criticize
Siddhartha and incorporate those criticisms into your evaluation for the
book. Remember to add your own evaluation.
• Point of View (POV) & Research: Research the author’s life and discuss
how his life experiences, internal struggles, occupation, religion, European
origin, or other background may have influenced the writing of Siddhartha.
Structure of Essay
Intro with Thesis (1 paragraph)
Summary of Siddhartha (1-3 paragraphs)
Personal Connection (1-2 paragraphs)
Connect to History (2-3 P)
• Are there concepts that the book gets right? i.e. how Samsara is related/depicted?
• Are there concepts that the book get wrong? Or that feel like something the author made
• Does the book relate the idea of the caste system? (Important in India)
• Integrate outside Criticisms, from the “Evaluate and Research” part on the
previous slide(1-2 P)
• POV (1-2 P)
• OPTIONAL: explore how the author uses allegory or metaphor in his writing
• Reword Thesis and conclude (1 paragraph)
• About 8-14 paragraphs in total
• Typed, double-spaced, 12 point font, in Times New Roman, with page
numbers on the bottom right
• Using Chicago style with footnotes to reference at least 2 outside
• MUST cite all outside ideas with footnotes (otherwise you are
• MUST include a Bibliography using Chicago style (include the book
Siddhartha and outside articles

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