Over the years I have made different lists of favourite books, though the first two would be in every list. Re-posting a list from 2015
1.The Glass Bead Game by HermannHesse.
2. The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann.
3. Most other books by Hesse and Mann [but not Siddhartha].
4. The Morning and the Evening by Joan Williams.
5. A Multitude of Sins by J A Cuddon.
6. Dibs—in Search of Self by Virginia Axline.
7. Place Mill by Barbara Softly [a children’s book]
8. The Synthesis of Yoga by Sri Aurobindo.
9. Walden by Henry David Thoreau.
10. Europe: A History, by Norman Davies.
11. Cancer Ward by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn; also The First Circle, and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by the same author.
12. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M Pirsig.
13. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.
14. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.
15. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.
16. All the plays of Henrik Ibsen.
17. The Mahabharata.
18. The Ramayana of Tulasidasa.
2o. The Golden Treasury [F.T. Palgrave]
The term ‘intellectual’ in today’s India seems to have negative connotations for many. I am not sure why, for aren’t intellectuals the vanguard of society? Aren’t they the best and highest that society can produce? Even in the old days, kings and rajas supported, financed, and patronized all intellectuals.
Anyway, this brought to mind my favourite book, and a post I had written in another blog, many years ago, in 2008. I reproduce the post below, in the hope that intellectuals continue to flourish in India and the world.
‘Castalia (or Kastalia) is the name of a Greek nymph, but it is also the name of a world of elite education, created by Hermann Hesse in his book Magister Ludi (The Glass Bead Game), which won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1946.
The world of Castalia was not perfect. There was a hierarchical order, superiors who had to be obeyed, and a somewhat monastic lifestyle. Those who completed their education from the elite schools, became members of the order, many continuing within it as teachers. There were others who could carry on doing research, on any topic, with the freedom to study throughout their lives, supported by the state.
Among the select elite, were those who played the Glass Bead Game.
The Glass Bead Game and the ascetic world of Castalia still attracts me- particularly the world of the scholars, who read and studied whatever they liked!
I’m attracted too, to the Game, to its precision, symbolism and brilliance. I think the ideas in this book are relevant even today.’