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Hermann Hesse

Hermann Hesse (1877-1962), German poet and novelist, who has depicted in his works the duality of spirit and nature, body versus mind and the individual's spiritual search outside the restrictions of the society. Hesse was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946.

Hermann Hesse was born into a family of Pietist missionaries and religious publishers in the Black Forest town of Calw, in the German state of Wüttenberg on July 2, 1877. His parents expected him to follow the family tradition in theology. Hesse entered the Protestant seminary at Maulbronn in 1891, but he was expelled from the school. After unhappy experiences at a secular school, Hesse worked in several jobs.

In 1899 Hesse published his first works, Romantische Lieder and Eine Stunde Hinter Mitternacht. Hesse became a freelance writer in 1904, when his novel Peter Camenzind gained literary success. The book reflected Hesse's disgust with the educational system. In the same year he married Maria Bernoulli, with whom he had three children. A visit to India in 1911 interested Hesse in studies of Eastern religions and culminated in the novel Siddhartha (1922). It was based on the early life of Gautama Buddha. The culture of the ancient Hindus and the ancient Chinese had a great influence on Hesse's works.

In 1912 Hesse and his family took a permanent residence in Switzerland. In the novel Rosshalde (1914) Hesse explored the question of whether the artist should marry. The author's reply was negative. During these years his wife suffered from growing mental instability and his son was seriously ill. Hesse spent the years of World War I in Switzerland, attacking the prevailing moods of militarism and nationalism. Hesse's breakthrough novel was Demian (1919). It was a Faustian tale of a man torn between his orderly bourgeois existence and a chaotic world of sensuality.

Leaving his family in 1919, Hesse moved to Montagnola, in southern Switzerland. In 1922 appeared Siddhartha, a novel of asceticism set in the time of Buddha. Its English translation in the 1950s became a spiritual guide to the generation of American Beat poets. Hesse's second marriage to Ruth Wenger (1924-27) was unhappy. These difficult years produced Der Steppenwolf(1927). During the Weimar Republic (1919-1933) Hesse stayed aloof from politics.

In 1931 Hesse married his third wife, Ninon Dolbin, and began in the same year work on his masterpiece Das Glasperlenspiel, which was published in 1943. In 1942 Hesse sent the manuscript to Berlin for publication. It was not accepted by the Nazis and the work appeared for the first time in Zürich. . Hesse's other central works include In Sight of Chaos (1923), a collection of essays, the novel Narcissus and Goldmund (1930) and Poems (1970).

After receiving the Nobel Prize Hesse wrote no major works. He died of cerebral hemorrhage in his sleep on August 9, 1962 at the age of eighty-five. He is still one of the best-selling German writers throughout the world.

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Forum Discussions on Hermann Hesse

Recent Forum Posts on Hermann Hesse

Looking for a short story by Hesse about Jure Grando, a vampire

I'm doing some research, and a couple of articles make reference to a story by Hesse (or possibly a story in an anthology edited by Hesse). The story concerns Jure Grando, a vampire from (what is now) Croatia. The story was based on a "real" folklore vampire, and was first recorded by Baron Valvasor in his 15-tome work, The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola. From here, it was included in The Rhone's Antiquarian (?) - any information about this would be welcome, as I can't find anything about it in English. This was where Hesse picked up the story, and either re-wrote it or included it in an anthology. This looks like the best candidate: Spuk--Hexengeschichten-Rheinischen-Antiquarius-Her...

Name of fairy tale about a rose bush

I read a short fairy tale by Hermann Hesse many years ago but don't remember much about it or the name of the story, and can't find anything that is similar by HH via a Google search. It was in a book of similar short stories. My description is going to be somewhat vague and brief unfortunately: There is a rose bush in the garden outside of a cottage. Either someone inside of the cottage is narrating the story or the rose bush is reflecting on various matters of concern to her. At some point near the end someone dies in the garden and the rose bush absorbs the dead (person? or something) and the smell of the rose is infused with the beautiful character of the dead being. Any help with iden...

Looking for a quote

Hello, There is a quote I remember generally, about the author dreading all the superfluous words he has written in his life come to haunt him. I thought it is from the Steppenwolf but I'm reading it again and again and can't find it. I'm starting to think maybe it's not from there, maybe not from Hesse at all. Anyone has an idea where can I look for it ? Thanks :)...


Part 1: I do not feel quite the same about my writing as the philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe(1749-1832) felt about his writing, namely, that it contains "fragments of a great confession."(1) Mine is a very modest confessionalism; its fragments do not amount to “a great confession.” Goethe insisted on engagement with the outside world as the way to grow and develop. I agree with Goethe in this. Even though my life by my late adulthood, that is by the age of 60, as a writer and poet had more solitude than sociality, most of my 7 decades of living have been intensely engaged with the outside world: its people, places and things. In contrast to that Genevan philosopher and...

English Translation Steppenwolf

I am looking for an English translation of Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse. I prefer to read the first translation from 1927, but two more by Creighton and a recent one by Horrocks exist. Has anybody read more then one of these translation? Which one is said to be closest to the original? Does anyone know where to get the first translation (preferably online)? Thank you and kind regards, Eline...

The short stories at the end of the glass bead game

What do you think of these short stories? Aren't they so short sweet and beautiful. I especially like the one about the two wise men. Anyone read these have any light to shed? weren't they supposed to be past lives of joeseph schnet? is that right? :iamwithstupid:...

Steppenwolf- Where does the preface fit in?

For me, one of the parts of Steppenwolf that got me thinking was the preface. It is a fictional intro to the main body of the book, which is purported to be a manuscript written by Harry Haller. The preface is by a fellow lodger. In it, he states that he doubts that the events in manuscript are real, and that if he had not met Haller he would have immediately dumped it in the trash. At the end, he says that he will leave it up to the reader to make up his mind for himself. The manuscript contains a strange tale, and I am not sure how to interpret it. It is interesting, though, to put it in the context of the preface. The reader is reminded that Haller's story may be just word...

Name of a short story.

I'm almost positive it was Hesse who wrote it. The story is about a naïve little boy who leaves his rural home. He sings songs about love and the land and animals around him. He meets a girl along the way and experiences his first pang of heartache when she refuses to go along with him. With a few more instances of unhappiness he realizes life isn't exactly what he thought it was. It ends with him climbing aboard a river boat and sailing off into the night with it's respective captain. Not the best paraphrasing, but I'm short on time. Any help?...

Hesse's darker stories

Hello :) I am looking for titles of works by Hesse which are darker than the ussual ones, like The Man of the Forest, or The end of dr. Knelge (both of which are excellent in my view). So, anyone got suggestions?...

Plot title confusion, please help

I thought the story about a gifted schoolboy, academic who goes to university to have a profound reappraisal of his life, only to return to his village to work for a blacksmith was Peter Camenzind. I've just realised it's not. Please can someone tell me the correct title? Thanks in anticipation. K.R....


has anyone read this? i picked it up yesterday and bought it based on the authors intro. if you've read it, what were your thoughts?...

Rebel theme in H. Hesses "Steppenwolf"

I'm working on my subject to the oral matura(sth like british A-Levels) exam. I have a subject about which a have to make a speech. Mine is: "Theme of a rebelious hero in literature". Apart from books from classics of polish literature I'm seeking for sth from modern written word. Sb told me that "Steppenwolf" will fit in my subject, but the problem is that I didn't read that book. Could sb who read it tell me is there any rebel motive in that book, and is it significant(I mean: Could I really say sth about it?). From reviews I can only see that the main problem of that novel is seeking one's identity in modern world, partly by rebel, true, but it seems not the (one of) main point. Thanks i...

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