More Books from the Past

When I returned from Vietnam I spent many hours sitting alone at night trying to put my thoughts on paper. Surprisingly, for an ex-literature major, I spent very little time reading. In fact, it was nearly a year later that I began to read again, and that was because I went back to college to get my teaching credentials after working as a caseworker for six months.

I really didn’t need any more literature credits but decided to take a class in “modern” European literature. It was here I first discovered Herman Hesse through his classic Steppenwolf. Needless to say, it had an immediate impact on me because it conveyed the sense of alienation I felt after Vietnam.

It was several years later that I finally had the time to read any of Hesse’s other writings. Upon hearing that Siddhartha was his most famous book, I naturally decided to read it.

I didn’t quite know what to make of the novel, though initially impressed by it, impressed enough to keep the book around to re-read, at least. It might well have been the first time I was exposed to Eastern religions, certainly long before I read Forester’s Passage to India.

Perhaps I’m drawn to re-read the book because of my growing interest and knowledge of Buddhism, and in particular my recent reading of The Dhammapada.

Some 30 years later, I’m just now getting around to re-reading it. I still have a few other “favorites” that I’m going to try to re-read in the near future so that I can clear more shelf space. In addition, of course, I also have some novels I bought in college that I haven’t read yet and want to read before I get rid of them, too.

Man cannot live by poetry alone.

5 thoughts on “More Books from the Past”

  1. I’ve read most of Hesse’s novels and, after Steppenwolf, The Journey to the East made the deepest impression. Is it amongst the favorites that you’re going to try to re-read?

  2. Since I’ve never read that one, Jonathon, I won’t be re-reading it.

    However, I’ll look it up on the web and see if it’s another book I should add to my Amazon wish list.

    Of course, I stil have 3 Sebald novels on the shelf that I bought because of your earlier recommendations.

  3. I know I read Steppenwolf, I think I read Siddhartha, but all that was back in high school. I may even have read some others, but memory does illuminate much. So much for my brain cells!

  4. When you write, “I stil have 3 Sebald novels on the shelf that I bought because of your earlier recommendations”, am I to assume that you haven’t yet got around to reading them?

    As I was reading (the abridged version of) William T. Vollmann’s Rising Up and Rising Down earlier this evening, the thought suddenly popped into my mind that, as much as Vollmann fascinates me, I so much prefer Sebald.

  5. That’s true, Jonathon, they’re sitting there on the closet shelf, waiting to be read.

    As you can probably tell, I’ll usually choose a poetry book over a novel, and, if the weather cooperates, always choose a hike over eiher of those. And don’t get me started on birding.

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