A book that changed my life: The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse

From The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse, 1943

"The Waldzell school was, incidentally, the smallest of the Castalian schools. The number of students rarely exceeded sixty, and undoubtedly this circumstance also helped to lend it an air of uniqueness and aristocracy, of special distinction, for here was the very elite of the elite. Moreover, during the past several decades this venerable school had produced many Masters and the majority of Glass Bead Game players. Not that Waldzell's brilliant reputation was entirely uncontested. Some thought that the Waldzellers were priggish aesthetes and pampered princes, useless for anything but the Glass Bead Game. At times there would be a vogue among the schools for making sardonic comments on the Waldzell students; but the very harshness of the jokes and criticisms proves that jealousy and envy underlay them. All in all, the transfer to Waldzell in itself implied a certain distinction. Joseph Knecht, too, realised that, and although he was not ambitious in the vulgar sense of the word, he accepted the distinction with a measure of joyous pride"