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The Glass Bead Game

by Hermann Hesse

May 15, 2000

I am starting to read Das Glasperlenspiel in German; it is very slow going but the beauty of the prose is worth the effort I must expend to understand it. My notes on the book, for now anyway, will be in English.

I was interested to find out today that there is a significant subculture of game developers and hypertext theorists devoted to creating an actual working prototype of the glass bead game. For an overview of this, take a look at HipBone; for a deeper read, try the Waldzell Glass Bead Game.

May 16, 2000

Reading German is, for me, like looking at a detailed painting without my glasses. As I make my way slowly through the text, a very fuzzy, impressionistic picture emerges; I can focus in on a paragraph and get a sharper idea of its meaning at the expense of the context, which is driven out of my mind while I work on clarifying meanings. The solution is, of course, to reread progressively larger sections; details will emerge gradually.

May 17, 2000

I am finding some irony in the first chapter, "An introduction for the general reader." This is nice -- I do not remember seeing this quality in Hesse's other books that I have read, namely Siddhartha, Steppenwolf, Narcissus and Goldmund, and Demian -- I am not asserting that these books contained no irony, merely that I did not see it if it was there. This indicates to me that I am getting a little more sophisticated in my ability to catch intonations and double-meanings; it's particularly gratifying that I am able to see them in another language.

May 20, 2000

It took a few days, but I have copied and translated the paragraph that I think contains in a nutshell the content of the first chapter.

May 28, 2000

Hesse seems to be writing from the point of view of "Them", the other guys in a paranoid structure -- if his narrator is not an actual member of the elect he is at least a court historian, The System is not something oppressive but benign, a part of the fabric of his world. Very, very alien seeming. Check out the description of the beginning of Josef's career.

May 30, 2000

I'm giving this book up today. It just seems to be a description of Plato's Republic, which I'm not really interested in reading again.