Technology, Utopia and Scholarly Life: Ideals and Realities in the Work of Hermann Hesse
This article considers the relationship between technology, utopia and scholarly life in Hermann Hesse’s novel, The Glass Bead Game. In the first part of Hesse’s book, the Glass Bead Game and the society of which it is a part, Castalia, are portrayed in idealistic terms. The second part of the novel chronicles the educational life of Joseph Knecht, who progresses through Castalia’s elite schooling system, learns to play the Glass Bead Game, and is eventually appointed to the supreme position of Magister Ludi (Master of the Game). Knecht’s words, thoughts, relationships, and deeds pose a challenge to the narrator’s idealistic portrait, with important implications for scholars and educationists. It is argued that The Glass Bead Game combines utopian and dystopian elements. The book shows why it is necessary to hold on to scholarly ideals while also recognising educational and social realities.