The Glass Bead Game, Paperback Book
5 out of 5 (3 ratings)


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.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Publishing
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9780099283621

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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

A thought provoking account of the academic life & the dichotomy between individual & state, intellectualism & practicality.

Review by

The Times reviewed this as "one of the most important books of the century, in any language". I have no reason to disagree. Rich in scope yet simply humane, Hesse weaves a pattern from the threads of a life which helps us understand the tapestry of our own. The person who cannot gain some morsel of insight from this book is functionally incomplete. Except for the fact that forced study of cultural touchstones invariably kills them instantly, I would recommend that it be added to the curriculum of all schools (both for pupils and more importantly teachers). As it is, it will remain a gem to be discovered serendipitously, its value all the more radiant when faced one-to-one.

Review by

Hermann Hesse's vision of a future in which intellectuals in monastic communities devote themselves to a complex game loosely based on the Chinese alphabet is beguiling and spiritual but somewhat baffling. Highly recommended but it does demand some concentration.

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