As a callow 16 year old virgin, forced by circumstances beyond my control to take premature control of my life, I had many romantic ideas about the world.
Herman Hesse's The Glass Bead Game completely revolutionized the way I saw the world, showed me the limitations of fixed beliefs and committed me to a life of transcending the usual life options. Or so it seemed at the time.
This is a great, if lengthy, book which repays the persistent reader with a wonderful work of fiction, science fiction, a tantalising concept, the Glass Bead Game itself, and a profound understanding of human nature. Great stuff!
I can't better the write-up at Amazon, so I’ll quote it.
"The final novel of Hermann Hesse, for which he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946, The Glass Bead Game is a fascinating tale of the complexity of modern life as well as a classic of modern literature
Set in the 23rd century, The Glass Bead Game is the story of Joseph Knecht, who has been raised in Castalia, the remote place his society has provided for the intellectual elite to grow and flourish. Since childhood, Knecht has been consumed with mastering the Glass Bead Game, which requires a synthesis of aesthetics and scientific arts, such as mathematics, music, logic, and philosophy, which he achieves in adulthood, becoming a Magister Ludi (Master of the Game)."
The really great thing is that Knecht (German for servant, I suspect), despite his intellectual brilliance, never forgets the importance of simple human life, indeed comes to value it more highly than intellectual perfection.
Many people are fascinated with the game itself and there many sites devoted to it, notably The Glass Bead Game.
This post can also be seen in Alienboy's World.