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The Glass Bead Game

Cover of a German two volume edition of The Glass Bead Game.

The Glass Bead Game is a novel by Hermann Hesse. It was first published in German in 1943. An English translation was first published in the United kingdom in 1969. "Glass Bead Game" is a literal translation of the German title. The novel has also been translated as Magister Ludi, which is Latin for "master of the game," and is the name of an honorific title awarded to the book's central character. Magister Ludi can also be seen as a pun: lud- is a Latin stem meaning both "game" and "school."

The setting is a fictional province of central Europe called Castalia, reserved by political decision for the life of the mind; technology and economic life are kept to a strict minimum. Castalia is home to an austere order of intellectuals with a twofold mission: to run boarding schools for boys (the novel explores education and the life of the mind), and to nurture and play the Glass Bead Game. The novel follows the life of a distinguished member of the order, Joseph Knecht.

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