The Glass Bead Game takes place at an unspecified date centuries into the future. Hesse suggested that he imagined the book’s narrator writing around the start of the 25th century. The setting is a fictional province of central Europe called Castalia, which was reserved by political decision for the life of the mind; technology and economic life are kept to a strict minimum. Castalia is home to an austere order of intellectuals with a twofold mission: to run boarding schools, and to cultivate and play the Glass Bead Game, whose exact nature remains elusive and whose devotees occupy a special school within Castalia known as Waldzell. The rules of the game are only alluded to—they are so sophisticated that they are not easy to imagine. Playing the game well requires years of hard study of music, mathematics, and cultural history. The game is essentially an abstract synthesis of all arts and sciences. It proceeds by players making deep connections between seemingly unrelated topics.[ citation needed ]
The novel is an example of a Bildungsroman, following the life of a distinguished member of the Castalian Order, Joseph Knecht, whose surname means “servant” (and is cognate with the English word knight ). The plot chronicles Knecht’s education as a youth, his decision to join the order, his mastery of the Game, and his advancement in the order’s hierarchy to eventually become Magister Ludi , the executive officer of the Castalian Order’s game administrators.
I’m not sure we are so, urm…cosmopolitan.
have you read it? perhaps just cosmopolitan enough in just the right ways?
I’ve read HH, but not this one.
in my opinion, the best
If this is the bar, and you think flobbers can clear it, I’d like to see stacks of evidence.
my friend, you keep making it
I’ll add it to the list. My kid just read Siddhartha. I was like, cool. Hesse.
Stop. People will think I have a smurf.
Well, imho some of these smurfers have multiple smurfing smurfs. Easy to find the new ones as they aren’t that smurfing smart.
I thought you said you hadn’t read the book…
Well, I have read other books. But now you’ve managed to pique my interest. Allow me to finish Camus first and I’ll ask my kid if he’s finished Hesse yet as there’s another one he might enjoy. Maybe I can outsource this book to him. I spend far too much time thinking about this site as it is.
I’ve been enjoying a lot of this lately, could we tie it to a song or some science, maybe some art?
Yep, my favorite. Much more complicated than Siddhartha, and IMHO to get the most out of it requires some background knowledge of European intellectual history, especially late-19th Century.
My kid was reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being and it just didn’t resonate with him, not having lived through the Cold War and Soviet-style Communism.
Also good, in its own way. You can really smell the orientalist in that and Journey to the East (c.f. Edward Said).
I might be lacking here. I tried to read Foucault’s Pendulum three times and gave up; my Portuguese friend who inherited my copy told me I was missing some language and culture to really get it.
Yeah, but I still get 1984
I’ve wondered about that. Sales of 1984 skyrocketed in 2017 and have remained high since even though the world it presents is far from lived experience in 2021.
The outward forms of things have changed greatly, but the inner workings, not so much.
unexpected things about the game:
- sociology plays a large role on and off the board, music (art) math and science much less; philosophy is debatable, history remains to be seen
- likes and badges feel more like beads than the connections actually played on the board; they are coloured, measurable, and almost tactile