Now Reading
Narcissus and Goldmund

Narcissus and Goldmund

by Giuseppe TovarNovember 15, 2013


In Narcissus and Goldmund by Nobel Laureate Herman Hesse: Goldmund arrives at the Mariabornn convent with intentions, established by his father, for him to be a scholar, and stay at the convent to establish a life at the cloister. He meets Narcissus a young monk and teacher at the cloister, and they begin a very deep friendship, which leads to analytical and reflective conversations. Goldmund is a character disturbed by “something” that could not be perceived, in a chat with his friend he remembers a “dark secret”, he had forgotten about his childhood and his mother. The memory of it makes him see the world differently, because the picture he previously had of his mother was that of a sweet, tender, blond woman, and with this part of his life in active memory, he realizes that his father  wanted him to be a “scholar” to cleanse the sins she had committed. Narcissus meets the important task of clarifying for Goldmund the path he should continue, he was not meant to be a scholar at the cloister, he was an artist, a person who perceives the world in a very special and unique way. One day while collecting medicinal flowers, Goldmund meets the woman who would makes him a man, Elisa, which as soon as she meets him, invites him to accompany her for the night, and so it was. This was the seed that sprung the desire in him to lead a life of freedom and leave the convent. Then a series of events occur that change this character from a psychological perspective, knowing and loving the different women who he stumbles upon on the road, he works for a knight and falls in love with his sister Julia. He works as a Sculptor’s apprentice for the master sculptor Nicolao. He encounters the Black Death, the great slaughter produced by the plague. He lives in a hut with Lidia and kills the man who wanted to abuse her. He appears at that time before a priest for confession, and the pries before him is Narcissus. Without further delay Goldmund is brought back to the convent.  The two reunited friends share the events that have transpired in the past few years. Goldmund, now a full-fledged sculptor would work in a workshop with an apprentice (the son of the Blacksmith) Eric. Years pass and Goldmund starts to become uneasy and wants to go back to his life as a vagabond. He absents himself from the convent for a few days, and when he returns, he feels tired and old. He begins to work on a piece in which he carves out different characters like the abbot Daniel. He also sculpts a virgin in the image of Lydia. When he completes these works he decides to leave the cloister once more. More time passes and he returns very ill and weak. He is sent to the workshop to rest. Eric warns Narcissus of his arrival, who visits him on the next day. This is the most beautiful scene between these two characters. After being reviewed by the doctor Goldmund tells Narcissus that he has bid farewell because he will die soon. Herman Hesse summarizes in very fine words what Goldmund tell his friend Narcissus meant for him in his life, and how important a thing it had been for him to be reunited with the image of his mother. Finally he tells Narcissus: How will you die if you don’t have mother? Without a mother there can be no love. Without a mother it is not possible to die.  Thus began his slow agony which lasted two days. Narcissus never left his side.


What's your reaction?
Love it!
Does not excite me
I would recommend it
Great value for money
About The Author
Giuseppe Tovar
  • Erik
    November 15, 2013 at 4:48 am

    Narcissus and Goldmund is a very good novel that I read for a course on literature in college. I thought it was very good, actually. It is the story of two childhood friends who meet at school and engage in a long lasting, wonderfully deep friendship. Hermann Hesse, details the personality of each of them, their perception of reality, and the way in which they live. But after some time Goldmund decides to take a different path that leads him to experience situations that deeply change some aspects of his personality. It’s the story of the friendship between two people who are total opposites, but who also complement each other. What impressed me the most about this book was the way in which the prospects for each of the characters changes as time passes, like the perception that they have of their friendship with the other. Perhaps it might have been because I was able to identify with some of the attitudes of the characters, given that Hesse is very descriptive and real in his narration.

Leave a Response