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The glass bead game (Magister Ludi) (Anglais) Relié – 1 décembre 1969

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Relié, 1 décembre 1969
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--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché.

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"One of the truly important books of the century, in any language" (The Times)

"Sublime" (Thomas Mann)

"A massive novel set out to explore the positive side of human nature, the fullness of man's capacity as a thinker and as a prober into scared mysteries...Touching and impressive" (Observer) --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

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In the remote Kingdom of Castalia, the scholars of the Twenty Third century play the Glass Bead Game. The elaborately coded game is a fusion of all human knowledge - of maths, music, philosophy, science, and art. Intrigued as a school boy, Joseph Knecht becomes consumed with mastering the game as an adult. As Knecht fulfils his life-long quest he must contend with unexpected dilemmas and the longing for a life beyond the ivory tower. --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

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264 internautes sur 276 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Hesse's Best 6 décembre 2003
Par Tony Theil - Publié sur
Format: Broché
When in my 30s, after having read several of Hesse's novels, I attempted to read The Glass Bead Game. I couldn't get past the first 50 pages. I was unprepared to accept Hesse as a humourist and satirist. Now, approaching 60 and having learned not to take life or Hesse so seriously, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and consider it Hesse's greatest. A mature Hesse, who understood life's ironies, wrote The Glass Bead Game for a mature audience, who could laugh at life's ambiguities.
The Glass Bead Game is comprised of a novel, 13 poems, and 3 short stories. I think the reader would enjoy the novel more by reading the book in reverse order, starting with the three short stories: The Rainmaker, The Father Confessor, and The Indian Life. The underlying theme of the stories is that the forfeiture of self, or self-interest, leads to redemption or an awakening.
The poems superbly unite the novel's cultural, spiritual, and mental perspectives. Hesse's best known poem "Stages" is included. Here's a four line excerpt:
"If we accept a home of our making,
Familiar habit makes for indolence.
We must prepare for parting and leave-taking
Or else remain the slaves of permanence."
The novel is set in the future and located in the sequestered province of Castalia. This is a world of academia that consists of theory, analysis, interpretation, and debate - all elements of "the game". Absent from Castalia are action, creativity, originality, and experiment.
The protaganist, Joesph Knecht is raised in this culture. He also lived at a couple of subcultures outside Castalia. At Bamboo Grove, under Elder Brother's tutelage he learned to meditate, play I-Ching, read Chuang Tzu, and learn Chinese studies. (All this self absorption without gazing at his navel; instead, he stared at the carp.) Later at a Benedictine monastery he was the guest of Father Jacobus, with whom he discussed politics, religion, philosophy, music, and history. Knecht learned everything to play "the game" and was elevated to the role of Magister Ludi. But his knowledge went unapplied beyond Castalia.
Even those within Castalia were not immune to mid-life crisis. Knecht, while in his 50s is impacted by the words in "Stages":
"Serenely let us move to distant places
And let no sentiments of home detain us.
The Cosmic Spirit seeks not to restrain us
But lifts us stage by stage to wider spaces."
Anyone who has made a break from the routine will enjoy The Glass Bead Game.
111 internautes sur 114 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Challenging, but beautifully visionary 21 février 2002
Par Brian Sharp - Publié sur
Format: Broché
First: From a prose point of view, I found the first 50 to 100 pages of this translation to be very difficult going. More astute readers would probably pick up on the subtle humor (Ziolkowski mentions it in his introduction) but I found it dry and tough going. I mention this because I've run into a number of people who say, "I really wanted to like it, but I couldn't even make it past the first 50 pages!" If you find this to be the case, just grin and bear it: Know that after the first 100 pages the book picks up considerably in pace.
I won't comment on the book's philosophical corollaries or references, since others better versed in such things have already done so, better than I could.
Rather, one of the aspects of the book that I found particularly compelling is the Game itself and the ideas behind it.
The Glass Bead Game, as Hesse describes it, is a meditation, seemingly both competitive and collaborative, on different fields of knowledge, where the point is to take concepts from otherwise disparate disciplines and associate them in creative, profound ways -- finding a pattern shared rhythmically by a piece of Baroque music and spatially by ancient Chinese architecture, say.
An observation I've made over time is that of all the people I know, those that I would say are possessed by genius all share a common trait, the ability, to use the cliche, to "Think Outside the Box." To realize new, previously unseen associations between things is a quality of a great mind, and here Hesse acknowledges the value of this talent, elevating it even to an artform (though I suppose the Castalian players in the novel would firmly call it "post-art".)
The analogy I make is to 2D math: Consider a point in space, represented in either Cartesian or polar coordinates. Each representation is as valid as the other, but each representation, makes different analyses easier and others harder.
Another good analogy is the Windows 98/2000/XP explorer window: the window displays a list of files, with a number of columns of various information. You can click a column header to sort the list by that information. A given sort makes certain things easier, and others harder. If I sort by file size, I can easily find the largest file. If I sort by name, I can easily find a file beginning with the letter 'C'.
The idea of the Game is, essentially, to find different "sort columns" -- to find different ways to slice knowledge to compare it and examine it and learn from it.
The fascination of *Glass Bead Game* was that, for me, it began to formalize the idea of meta-knowledge -- that is, how we think about what we know. There's probably tons of psychology literature about this phenomenon, learning theory, or whatnot, but Hesse manages to incorporate it not into a dissertation on the Game, but on a decidedly artistic book that revolves around the Game. What talent, to so eloquently present such a profound idea as merely one aspect of a larger work of art!
It took me about a month to read this entire book, consistently reading twenty or thirty pages a night. When I finished, I found that some nights I'd get so caught up thinking about the book and its implications and possibilities that I'd be unable to fall asleep.
Rarely do I have the opportunity to read something so compelling!
71 internautes sur 75 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Hesse's Magnum Opus 17 novembre 2002
Par William Kostenko - Publié sur
Format: Broché
This book is to Hesse as "The Brothers Karamazov" is to Dostoevsky. Throughout it are the same ideas that have been put forth in earlier works, often with similar characters, but with a fuller and more articulate expression than before. Like Dostoevsky, he finally figured out how to say *everything* he had to say in one volume. So it comes as no surprise that those only concerned with certain aspects (particularly the more spiritual ones) of Hesse's writing would find it disjointed and tedious. If you want to read more of Hesse's stories about tormented and/or confused souls looking for meaning in the world, this isn't your book - go reread Damien and Steppenwolf. This book has that esoteric search, but its main character, Joseph Knecht, pursues this search as a curiousity and not out of some desperate need. I'm sure that's why several people seem to find him lacking compared to other Hesse protagonists - they're expecting a conflict in him that isn't there.
As I read these other reviews I find it fascinating that everyone seems to come away from the book with such different things that they were struck with. In my case, this was the socio-political commentary. Through this book, Hesse comments on our own time and on a fictional opposite to it, thoroughly exposing the flaws in both. I remember most distinctly Knecht's letter of resignation from Magister Ludi, where he tells his colleagues that although they understand the importance of their society's existence, they made the fatal mistake of not educating the people who support them. That they cannot take the existence of what they have for granted, for the day would eventually come when all they built would be dismantled. Perhaps this was because I read this book when I was in an institution that resembled much of what Hesse wrote about, and exactly when Congress cut the NEA.
Reading this book changed my view of the world most in that it changed my expectations of it. More to the point, I abandoned my expectations. I am much more apt to let other people be themselves. To explain how or why would take far too long, suffice it to say that there is more to this book than a pursuit for spiritual meaning or a balance of intellectual and physical need, but also balance on many other levels, and Hesse explores all of them in his classic manner - first by their disparity, then by their eventual unity. A stunning conclusion to the career of one the greatest writers of all time.
80 internautes sur 93 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
An antidote for Ayn Rand 22 août 2002
Par Glen Engel Cox - Publié sur
Format: Broché
I picked this up after meeting Charles Cameron, who invented the Hipbone Games, a variation of the Glass Bead Game as described in this novel. Charles was so wildly enthusiastic about it--and I was so intrigued and delighted with his game--that I immediately visited the university library the day after chatting with him and began reading the life story of Joseph Knect, the Master of the Glass Bead Game. As I fell deeper and deeper down Hesse's rabbit hole, I found myself asking people if they knew that this novel, which basically won Hesse the Nobel Prize in Literature, was science fiction? How come this isn't mentioned in genre studies, if not with the pulp masters, at least among those literary books that strayed into far shores like George Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm or Aldous Huxley's Brave New World?
Set in the far future, where today's emphasis on entertainment is termed the Age of the Feuilleton, The Glass Bead Game describes a world that has once again settled down from the conflicts between humans in a new Golden Age, but one wherein a new caste has been created. Not a religious order, although their devotion to their ideals resembles religion, this new group is based on education, one of their duties being to train all the teachers in this country. To be accepted into the group one must be educated in their elite schools, for only the brightest and the best and--this is important-- the orphans are accepted into Castalia. Why orphans? Because family ties are the bonds that weaken the link to the Castalian society. The crowning achievement of all Castalia is not the elite schools and their pupils, but the game--a systematic method of linking math and music and history and art and, well, anything, into a perfect "whole." Everyone admires the game, and the master of it, the Magister Ludi, is the pivot point for the players, and thus, Castalian society. The book, once it gives you this background, then describes the path of Joseph Knecht from elite student all the way to the seat of the Magister, and then, surprisingly, back to student.
Okay, I'm sure that had I stumbled upon this book when younger that I would not have finished it. Unlike pulp SF, the purpose of The Glass Bead Game is philosophical, not adventure. While you can read it for plot (and the "Three Lives" appendices provide plenty of that, in three different "fantasy" settings), the idea of perfection and what does it meant to be human are the real characters here, and the physical creatures described are just pawns in this literary gameplay. A few times I found myself rushing through the interminable equivocation, but for the most part my imagination was captivated. Seems to me that this might be the antidote for some of Ayn Rand's sins.
31 internautes sur 34 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A Christmas Gift to Change a Life 1 décembre 1999
Par Mathew Rose - Publié sur
Format: Broché
Hesse is an anomoly among authors in that what he writes is both very beautiful and very true. The philosophical heritage of this book dates back to St. Thomas Aquinas and his discussion of the opposing Aristotelian poles that exert their magnetism on our lives--the pull of the active life (Vita Activa) and the life of contemplation (Vita Contemplativa). This discussion, the centerpiece of this book, is as original and atavistic a trope as can be found. It is a noteworthy characteristic of the topic, however, that it is always fresh and worth of a new evaluation. As Ralph Waldo Emerson instructs us in his 1838 oration to Harvard's Phi Beta Kappa society, "every age must write its own books." Hesse's _Glasperlenspiel_ an evaluation of a great philosophical theme, analysed with great beauty for our age. In the spirit of Christmas, the protagonist's name, Josef Knecht, echoes the spirit of giving. Hesse used the name Knecht ("Servant") in open defiance of Goethe's _Wilhelm Meister_ ("William the Master"). In a season devoted to a spirit of giving, _The Glass Bead Game_ is a work rich in both artistry and ideology. As an addendum I must note that the full force of Hesse's prose is muddled a bit in translation. In translating passages to send to friends, I often found there was no way to express in English the sentiments of Hesse's flowing, heavily punctuated German, beset by a disinclination to use a full stop. The book, however, is mystic (in the Greek sense of being "closed mouthed"); Hesse's meaning is thankfully quite independent of the translation. In a scene that for me defines the book, Knecht crushes a bough between his fingers and struggles to define the smell: "es laesst sich mitteilen, gewiss, aber nicht uebertragen." (It may be said, of course, but not communicated) Hesse's descriptions, at their best, are, to permit the paradox, descriptions of the ineffable.
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