Author: Hermann Hesse –
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing –
Genre: Classics, Philosophy –
Overall rating: 5/5 –
Writing: 5/5 –
Duration: 21:18 (very long)
Narrator: David Colacci –
Narrator/performance: 5/5 –
Impressions: 3/5 –
Performance errors: 1/5 –
Complexity/reading level: 5/5 –
This is a remarkable audiobook, possibly the best book I read in 2022. It is also rather surprising. How else would one describe a story about a state-funded sect of glass bead players? What did the author mean by that? Whatever he meant by it, in 1946, Hermann Hesse won the Nobel Prize with it.
The main part of the book covers the life’s story of a master bead game player in Germany. However, other parts of the book tell a story of Buddhist meditation in the green groves of South Asia. The stories differ in the extreme. The bead game players are concerned with self-perfection and the various efforts aimed at expanding the limits of their art. They wish to be recognized, rewarded, remembered. They protect the secret order. They are lead by ambition and dutifully climb the hierarchy ladder. Not everyone, though. Some people “drop out”. Some others seem to be a force of nature, impossible to tame by any orders, secret or not. While these important struggles take place in Germany, a Buddhist master keeps meditating in a timeless green grove. We know next to nothing about the master Buddhist but somehow he is more real than everyone else.
The audiobook cover is beautiful but slightly confusing. The story is clearly not about glass beads – or if so, probably not about common glass beads featured on the cover. As the beginning of the book is rather confusing for an unprepared reader, the choice of the cover image seems like a trick. The mint color is very elegant, though. It is one of the better audiobooks covers I have seen.