Das Glasperlenspiel, The Glass Bead Game, is the last work & magnum opus of Swiss-German author Hesse. Begun in 31, published in Switzerland in 43, its mentioned in his citation for the 46 Nobel Literature Prize. Magister Ludi, Latin for game master, is an honorific awarded to the books protagonist. Its also a pun: lud- means game & school.Hesses narrator writes c.
2400 in a fictional central European province, Castalia, reserved for the life of the mind. Technology & economic life are minimized. Its home to an austere intellectual order which runs boarding schools & nurtures the Glass Bead Game.The Bildungsroman follows Joseph Knecht (servant, farm hand, vassal or knight), narrated by a historian of the order. A scholarly biography, it chronicles the precocious protagonists decision to join the order, his mastery of the Game & his advancement to Magister Ludi as its best player.Knecht comes to doubt whether the gifted should withdraw from society.
He recognizes Castalia as an ivory tower devoted to intellectual pursuits, oblivious to social problems. He resigns as Magister Ludi & asks to leave the order, ostensibly to serve the larger culture. The order denies his request. He departs anyway to tutor his childhood friends son.The narrator breaks off with his death.
The storys end is beyond his scope. A concluding chapter, The Legend, is from a different biography. After this, some of Knechts posthumous works are presented. A 1st section contains poetry from various periods of his life. Three short stories follow. The 1st tells of an ancient pagan named Knecht- the 2nd of Josephus, an early Xian hermit- the 3rd of Dasa, an Indian prince growing up a cowherd.
All cover the lives of spiritual seekers. Hesse originally intended several different reincarnations of one person. Instead, he focused on the story set in the future & placed Knechts three shorter stories at the end.