The fact that Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha is not about Gautam Buddha comes as a surprise. The cover blatantly suggests otherwise. The protagonist in Hesse’s most famous novel is not the Kshatriya prince, but a Brahmin boy who happens to share the same predicaments as the former. Both, the name and the characteristics of the protagonist, bluntly imply that the main character is drawn from Gautam Buddha.
Evidence further appears thus, as at one point, Siddhartha crosses paths with Buddha and what follows leaves the reader deeply confounded.
A handsome Brahmin boy, loved by all and troubled by the eternal question of self, leaving everything behind to quench his thirst for enlightenment is what lies at the crux of Hesse’s book.
The rendition is simple yet rhythmic. Hesse uses short, crisp sentences and drives the point home with calm, to the point banter between characters. There is a poetic quality about the narration which flows like the river that keeps appearing at important junctures in Siddhartha’s life. The book has a clear meditative tone but rarely does the pace drop, as Siddhartha never once deviates from his quest.
Illeism is used shrewdly with Siddhartha often referring to himself in the third person—which in eastern culture is seen as a sign of enlightenment—as the individual detaches his eternal self or Atman from the body self.
But like any good book, the rendition leaves enough space for every reader to carry away their own perception, manifesting with certainty that not everybody takes the same path.