Hermann Hesse

Hermann Hesse

Overview
Hermann Hesse (ˈhɛɐ̯man ˈhɛsə) (July 2, 1877 – August 9, 1962) was a German-Swiss poet, novelist, and painter. In 1946, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature
Nobel Prize in Literature
Since 1901, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded annually to an author from any country who has, in the words from the will of Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction"...

. His best-known works include Steppenwolf
Steppenwolf (novel)
Steppenwolf is the tenth novel by German-Swiss author Hermann Hesse. Originally published in Germany in 1927, it was first translated into English in 1929. Combining autobiographical and psychoanalytic elements, the novel was named after the lonesome wolf of the steppes...

, Siddhartha
Siddhartha (novel)
Siddhartha is a novel by Hermann Hesse that deals with the spiritual journey of an Indian man named Siddhartha during the time of the Buddha.The book, Hesse's ninth novel , was written in German, in a simple, powerful, and lyrical style. It was published in the U.S. in 1951 and became influential...

, and The Glass Bead Game
The Glass Bead Game
The Glass Bead Game is the last full-length novel and magnum opus of the German author Hermann Hesse. Begun in 1931 and published in Switzerland in 1943, after being rejected for publication in Germany, the book was mentioned in Hesse's citation for the 1946 Nobel Prize for Literature."Glass Bead...

(also known as Magister Ludi), each of which explores an individual's search for authenticity, self-knowledge and spirituality.

Hermann Hesse was born on 2 July 1877 in the Black Forest
Black Forest
The Black Forest is a wooded mountain range in Baden-Württemberg, southwestern Germany. It is bordered by the Rhine valley to the west and south. The highest peak is the Feldberg with an elevation of 1,493 metres ....

 town of Calw
Calw
Calw is a municipality in the middle of Baden-Württemberg in the south of Germany, capital of the district Calw. It is located in the northern Black Forest.-History:...

 in Württemberg
Kingdom of Württemberg
The Kingdom of Württemberg was a state that existed from 1806 to 1918, located in present-day Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It was a continuation of the Duchy of Württemberg, which came into existence in 1495...

, Germany
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

.
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Quotations

In the beginning was the myth. God, in his search for self-expression, invested the souls of Hindus, Greeks, and Germans with poetic shapes and continues to invest each child's soul with poetry every day.

Variant translation: In the beginning was the myth. Just as the great god composed and struggled for expression in the souls of the Indians, the Greeks and Germanic peoples, so to it continues to compose daily in the soul of every child.

Oh, love isn't there to make us happy. I believe it exists to show us how much we can endure.

That's the way it is when you love. It makes you suffer, and I have suffered much in the years since. But it matters little that you suffer, so long as you feel alive with a sense of the close bond that connects all living things, so long as love does not die! :As translated by Hilda Rosner

I was given the freedom to discover my own inclination and talents, to fashion my inmost pleasures and sorrows myself and to regard the future not as an alien higher power but as the hope and product of my own strength.

That is where my dearest and brightest dreams have ranged — to hear for the duration of a heartbeat the universe and the totality of life in its mysterious, innate harmony.

Was that really love? I saw all these passionate people reel about and drift haphazardly as if driven by a storm, the man filled with desire today, satiated on the morrow, loving fiercely and discarding brutally, sure of no affection and happy in no love...

Young people have many pleasures and many sorrows, because they only have themselves to think of, so every wish and every notion assume importance; every pleasure is tasted to the full, but also every sorrow, and many who find that their wishes cannot be fulfilled, immediately put an end to their lives.

Encyclopedia
Hermann Hesse (ˈhɛɐ̯man ˈhɛsə) (July 2, 1877 – August 9, 1962) was a German-Swiss poet, novelist, and painter. In 1946, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature
Nobel Prize in Literature
Since 1901, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded annually to an author from any country who has, in the words from the will of Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction"...

. His best-known works include Steppenwolf
Steppenwolf (novel)
Steppenwolf is the tenth novel by German-Swiss author Hermann Hesse. Originally published in Germany in 1927, it was first translated into English in 1929. Combining autobiographical and psychoanalytic elements, the novel was named after the lonesome wolf of the steppes...

, Siddhartha
Siddhartha (novel)
Siddhartha is a novel by Hermann Hesse that deals with the spiritual journey of an Indian man named Siddhartha during the time of the Buddha.The book, Hesse's ninth novel , was written in German, in a simple, powerful, and lyrical style. It was published in the U.S. in 1951 and became influential...

, and The Glass Bead Game
The Glass Bead Game
The Glass Bead Game is the last full-length novel and magnum opus of the German author Hermann Hesse. Begun in 1931 and published in Switzerland in 1943, after being rejected for publication in Germany, the book was mentioned in Hesse's citation for the 1946 Nobel Prize for Literature."Glass Bead...

(also known as Magister Ludi), each of which explores an individual's search for authenticity, self-knowledge and spirituality.

Family background


Hermann Hesse was born on 2 July 1877 in the Black Forest
Black Forest
The Black Forest is a wooded mountain range in Baden-Württemberg, southwestern Germany. It is bordered by the Rhine valley to the west and south. The highest peak is the Feldberg with an elevation of 1,493 metres ....

 town of Calw
Calw
Calw is a municipality in the middle of Baden-Württemberg in the south of Germany, capital of the district Calw. It is located in the northern Black Forest.-History:...

 in Württemberg
Kingdom of Württemberg
The Kingdom of Württemberg was a state that existed from 1806 to 1918, located in present-day Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It was a continuation of the Duchy of Württemberg, which came into existence in 1495...

, Germany
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

. Both of Hesse's parents served in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 at a mission under the auspices of the Basel Mission
Basel Mission
The Basel Mission is a Christian missionary society active from 1815 to 2001, when it was merged into Mission 21, the successor organization of Kooperation Evangelischer Kirchen und Missione founded in 2001....

, a Protestant Christian missionary society. Hesse's mother, Marie Gundert, was born at such a mission in India in 1842. In describing her own childhood, she said, "A happy child I was not..." As was usual among missionaries at the time, she was left behind in Europe at the age of four when her parents went to India. In her teens she attempted to rebel against her authoritarian father, Hermann Gundert
Hermann Gundert
Rev. Dr. Hermann Gundert was a German missionary and scholar, who compiled a Malayalam grammar book, Malayalabhaasha Vyakaranam , the first Malayalam-English dictionary , and translated the Bible into Malayalam. He worked primarily at Tellicherry on the Malabar coast, in Kerala, India...

, but finally submitted.

Hesse's father, Johannes Hesse, the son of a doctor, was born in 1847 in the Estonia
Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

n town of Paide
Paide
Paide is the capital of Järva County, Estonia.A castle built by the Livonian Brothers of the Sword is located here. The town was formally founded 30 September 1291 by Halt, master of the Livonian Order....

 (Weissenstein). In his own way, Dr Hesse was just as tyrannical as Dr Gundert. Once Johannes Hesse was married, he moved into his father-in-law's house. Due at least in part to the crowded conditions there, in 1889 he suffered his first bout of deep depression. He continued to have such attacks of "melancholia, weeping and headaches" for the rest of his life.

Since Johannes Hesse belonged to the sizable German minority in that part of the Baltic region
Baltic region
The terms Baltic region, Baltic Rim countries, and Baltic Rim refer to slightly different combinations of countries in the general area surrounding the Baltic Sea.- Etymology :...

, which was then under the rule of the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

, his son Hermann was at birth both a citizen of the German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 and of the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

. Hesse had five siblings, two of whom died in infancy. In 1873, the Hesse family moved to Calw
Calw
Calw is a municipality in the middle of Baden-Württemberg in the south of Germany, capital of the district Calw. It is located in the northern Black Forest.-History:...

, where his father worked for the Calwer Verlagsverein, a publishing house specializing in theological texts and schoolbooks. Hesse's grandfather Hermann Gundert
Hermann Gundert
Rev. Dr. Hermann Gundert was a German missionary and scholar, who compiled a Malayalam grammar book, Malayalabhaasha Vyakaranam , the first Malayalam-English dictionary , and translated the Bible into Malayalam. He worked primarily at Tellicherry on the Malabar coast, in Kerala, India...

 managed the publishing house at the time, and Johannes Hesse succeeded him in 1893.

Hesse grew up in a household pervaded with the spirit of Swabia
Swabia
Swabia is a cultural, historic and linguistic region in southwestern Germany.-Geography:Like many cultural regions of Europe, Swabia's borders are not clearly defined...

n Pietism
Pietism
Pietism was a movement within Lutheranism, lasting from the late 17th century to the mid-18th century and later. It proved to be very influential throughout Protestantism and Anabaptism, inspiring not only Anglican priest John Wesley to begin the Methodist movement, but also Alexander Mack to...

, with its strong tendency to insulate believers into small, deeply thoughtful groups. Furthermore, Hesse described his father's Baltic German heritage as "an important and potent fact" of his developing identity. His father, Hesse stated, "always seemed like a very polite, very foreign, lonely, little-understood guest." His father's tales from Estonia
Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

 instilled a contrasting sense of religion in young Hermann. "[It was] an exceedingly cheerful, and, for all its Christianity, a merry world... We wished for nothing so longingly as to be allowed to see this Estonia ... where life was so paradisiacal, so colorful and happy." Hermann Hesse's sense of estrangement from the Swabian petty bourgeoisie further grew through his relationship with his grandmother Julie Gundert, née Dubois, whose French-Swiss heritage kept her from ever quite fitting in among that milieu.

From early on, Hermann Hesse appeared headstrong and hard for his family to handle. In a letter to her husband Johannes Hesse, Hermann's mother Marie wrote: "The little fellow has a life in him, an unbelievable strength, a powerful will, and, for his four years of age, a truly astonishing mind. How can he express all that? It truly gnaws at my life, this internal fighting against his tyrannical temperament, his passionate turbulence [...] God must shape this proud spirit, then it will become something noble and magnificent -- but I shudder to think what this young and passionate person might become should his upbringing be false or weak."
Hesse showed signs of serious depression as early as his first year at school.
In his juvenilia collection Gerbersau, Hesse vividly describes experiences and anecdotes from his childhood and youth in Calw: the atmosphere and adventures by the river, the bridge, the chapel, the houses leaning closely together, hidden nooks and crannies, as well as the inhabitants with their admirable qualities, their oddities, and their idiosyncrasies. The fictional town of Gerbersau is pseudonymous for Calw, imitating the real name of a nearby town called Hirsau
Hirsau
Hirsau is a district of the town of Calw in the German state of Baden-Württemberg, located in the south-west portion of the country, about two miles north of Calw and about twenty four miles west of Stuttgart.-Town:...

. It is derived from the German words gerber, meaning "tanner," and aue, meaning "meadow." Calw had a centuries-old leather-working industry, and during Hesse's childhood the tanneries' influence on the town was still very much in evidence. Hesse's favorite place in Calw was the St. Nicholas-Bridge (Nikolausbrücke), which is why the Hesse monument by the sculptor Kurt Tassotti was erected there in 2002.

Hermann Hesse's grandfather Hermann Gundert
Hermann Gundert
Rev. Dr. Hermann Gundert was a German missionary and scholar, who compiled a Malayalam grammar book, Malayalabhaasha Vyakaranam , the first Malayalam-English dictionary , and translated the Bible into Malayalam. He worked primarily at Tellicherry on the Malabar coast, in Kerala, India...

, a doctor of philosophy and fluent in multiple languages, encouraged the boy to read widely, giving him access to his library, which was filled with the works of world literature. All this instilled a sense in Hermann Hesse that he was a citizen of the world. His family background became, he noted, "the basis of an isolation and a resistance to any sort of nationalism that so defined my life."

Young Hesse shared a love of music with his mother. Both music and poetry were important in his family. His mother wrote poetry, and his father was known for his use of language in both his sermons and the writing of religious tracts. His first role model for becoming an artist was his half-brother, Theo, who rebelled against the family by entering a music conservatory in 1885. Hesse showed a precocious ability to rhyme, and by 1889-90 had decided that he wanted to be a writer.

Education


In 1881, when Hesse was four, the family moved to Basel
Basel
Basel or Basle In the national languages of Switzerland the city is also known as Bâle , Basilea and Basilea is Switzerland's third most populous city with about 166,000 inhabitants. Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany...

, Switzerland, staying for six years and then returning to Calw. After successful attendance at the Latin School in Göppingen
Göppingen
Göppingen is a town in southern Germany, part of the Stuttgart Region of Baden-Württemberg. It is the capital of the district Göppingen. It is situated at the bottom of the Hohenstaufen mountain, in the valley of the river Fils....

, Hesse began to attend the Evangelical Theological Seminary
Evangelical Seminaries of Maulbronn and Blaubeuren
The Protestant Seminaries of Maulbronn and Blaubeuren in Baden-Württemberg, Germany are two Gymnasiums and Protestant boarding schools in the Württemberg tradition....

 of Maulbronn Abbey
Maulbronn Abbey
Maulbronn Monastery is the best-preserved medieval Cistercian monastery complex in Europe. It is situated on the outskirts of Maulbronn, Baden-Württemberg, Germany and is separated from the town by fortifications. Since 1993 the monastery is part of the Unesco World Heritage.- History :The...

 in 1891. Here, in March 1892, Hesse showed his rebellious character, and, in one instance, he fled from the Seminary and was found in a field a day later. Hesse began a journey through various institutions and schools and experienced intense conflicts with his parents. In May, after an attempt at suicide, he spent time at an institution in Bad Boll
Bad Boll
Bad Boll is a municipality in the district of Göppingen in Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany.-History:Since the Middle Ages there has been a thermal spa there, at one time a hunting lodge of the Dukes of Württemberg. In the 19th Century, the spa was acquired by Pastor Johann Christoph...

 under the care of theologian and minister Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt. Later, he was placed in a mental institution in Stetten im Remstal, and then a boys' institution in Basel. At the end of 1892, he attended the Gymnasium
Gymnasium (school)
A gymnasium is a type of school providing secondary education in some parts of Europe, comparable to English grammar schools or sixth form colleges and U.S. college preparatory high schools. The word γυμνάσιον was used in Ancient Greece, meaning a locality for both physical and intellectual...

 in Cannstatt. In 1893, he passed the One Year Examination, which concluded his schooling. The same year, he began hanging out with older companions and took up drinking and smoking.

After this, Hesse began a bookshop apprenticeship in Esslingen am Neckar
Esslingen am Neckar
Esslingen am Neckar is a city in the Stuttgart Region of Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany, capital of the District of Esslingen as well as the largest city in the district....

, but quit after three days. Then, in the early summer of 1894, he began a 14-month mechanic apprenticeship at a clock tower factory in Calw. The monotony of soldering and filing work made him resolve to turn himself toward more spiritual activities. In October 1895, he was ready to begin wholeheartedly a new apprenticeship with a bookseller in Tübingen
Tübingen
Tübingen is a traditional university town in central Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It is situated south of the state capital, Stuttgart, on a ridge between the Neckar and Ammer rivers.-Geography:...

. This experience from his youth he returns to later in his novel Beneath the Wheel
Beneath the Wheel
Beneath the Wheel is a 1906 novel written by Hermann Hesse. It is also sometimes titled The Prodigy in English.-Plot summary:...

.

Becoming a writer



On 17 October 1895, Hesse began working in the bookshop in Tübingen, which had a specialized collection in theology, philology, and law. Hesse's tasks consisted of organizing, packing, and archiving the books. After the end of each twelve-hour workday, Hesse pursued his own work further, and he spent his long, idle Sundays with books rather than friends. Hesse studied theological writings and later Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer, pictorial artist, biologist, theoretical physicist, and polymath. He is considered the supreme genius of modern German literature. His works span the fields of poetry, drama, prose, philosophy, and science. His Faust has been called the greatest long...

, Lessing
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing was a German writer, philosopher, dramatist, publicist, and art critic, and one of the most outstanding representatives of the Enlightenment era. His plays and theoretical writings substantially influenced the development of German literature...

, Schiller
Friedrich Schiller
Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller was a German poet, philosopher, historian, and playwright. During the last seventeen years of his life , Schiller struck up a productive, if complicated, friendship with already famous and influential Johann Wolfgang von Goethe...

, and several texts on Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

. He also began reading Nietzsche in '95, and that philosopher's ideas of "dual...impulses of passion and order" in humankind was a heavy influence on most of his novels.

By 1898, Hesse had a respectable income that enabled financial independence from his parents. During this time, he concentrated on the works of the German Romantics
German Romanticism
For the general context, see Romanticism.In the philosophy, art, and culture of German-speaking countries, German Romanticism was the dominant movement of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. German Romanticism developed relatively late compared to its English counterpart, coinciding in its...

, including much of the work from Clemens Brentano
Clemens Brentano
Clemens Brentano, or Klemens Brentano was a German poet and novelist.-Overview:He was born in Ehrenbreitstein, near Koblenz, Germany. His sister was Bettina von Arnim, Goethe's correspondent. His father's family was of Italian descent. He studied in Halle and Jena, afterwards residing at...

, Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff
Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff
Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff was a German poet and novelist of the later German romantic school.Eichendorff is regarded as one of the most important German Romantics and his works have sustained high popularity in Germany from production to the present day.-Life:Eichendorff was born at Schloß...

, Friedrich Hölderlin
Friedrich Hölderlin
Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin was a major German lyric poet, commonly associated with the artistic movement known as Romanticism. Hölderlin was also an important thinker in the development of German Idealism, particularly his early association with and philosophical influence on his...

 and Novalis
Novalis
Novalis was the pseudonym of Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg , an author and philosopher of early German Romanticism.-Biography:...

. In letters to his parents, he expressed a belief that "the morality of artists is replaced by aesthetics."

During this time, he was introduced to the home of Fraulein von Reutern, a friend of his family. There he met with young people of his own age. His relationships with his contemporaries was "problematic," in that most of them were now at university. This usually left him feeling awkward in social situations.

In 1896, his poem "Madonna" appeared in a Viennese
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 periodical. In the autumn, Hesse released his first small volume of poetry, Romantic Songs. In 1897, a published poem of his, "Grand Valse," drew him a fan letter. It was from Helene Voigt, who the next year married Eugen Diederichs, a young publisher. To please his wife, Diederichs agreed to publish Hesse's collection of prose entitled One Hour After Midnight
One Hour After Midnight
One Hour After Midnight is a poem by Hermann Hesse....

in 1898 (although it is dated 1899). Both works were a business failure. In two years, only 54 of the 600 printed copies of Romantic Songs were sold, and One Hour After Midnight received only one printing and sold sluggishly. Furthermore, Hesse "suffered a great shock" when his mother disapproved of "Romantic Songs" on the grounds that they were too secular and even "vaguely sinful."

From the autumn of 1899, Hesse worked in a distinguished antique book shop in Basel. Through family contacts, he stayed with the intellectual families of Basel. In this environment with rich stimuli for his pursuits, he further developed spiritually and artistically. At the same time, Basel offered the solitary Hesse many opportunities for withdrawal into a private life of artistic self-exploration, journeys and wanderings. In 1900, Hesse was exempted from compulsory military service due to an eye condition
Amblyopia
Amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, is a disorder of the visual system that is characterized by a vision deficiency in an eye that is otherwise physically normal, or out of proportion to associated structural abnormalities of the eye...

. This, along with nerve disorders
Neuralgia
Neuralgia is pain in one or more nerves that occurs without stimulation of pain receptor cells. Neuralgia pain is produced by a change in neurological structure or function rather than by the excitation of pain receptors that causes nociceptive pain. Neuralgia falls into two categories: central...

 and persistent headaches, affected him his entire life.

In 1901, Hesse undertook to fulfill a long-held dream and travelled for the first time to Italy. In the same year, Hesse changed jobs and began working at the antiquarium Wattenwyl in Basel. Hesse had more opportunities to release poems and small literary texts to journals. These publications now provided honorariums. His new bookstore agreed to publish his next work, Posthumous Writings and Poems of Hermann Lauscher. In 1902, his mother died after a long and painful illness. He could not bring himself to attend her funeral, afraid that it would worsen his depression.

Due to the good notices he received for Lauscher, the publisher Samuel Fischer became interested in Hesse and, with the novel Peter Camenzind
Peter Camenzind
Peter Camenzind, published in 1904, was the first novel by Hermann Hesse and contains a number of themes that were to preoccupy many of Hesse's later works, most notably the individual's search for a unique spiritual and physical identity amidst the backdrops of nature and modern civilization and...

, which appeared first as a pre-publication in 1903 and then as a regular printing by Fischer in 1904, came a breakthrough: from now on, Hesse could make a living as a writer. The novel became popular throughout Germany. Sigmund Freud "praised Peter Camenzind
Peter Camenzind
Peter Camenzind, published in 1904, was the first novel by Hermann Hesse and contains a number of themes that were to preoccupy many of Hesse's later works, most notably the individual's search for a unique spiritual and physical identity amidst the backdrops of nature and modern civilization and...

as one of his favorite readings."

Between Lake Constance and India



With the literary fame, Hesse married Maria Bernoulli (of the famous family of mathematicians) in 1904, settled down with her in Gaienhofen
Gaienhofen
Gaienhofen is a town in the district of Konstanz in Baden-Württemberg in Germany.Since 1974, Gaienhofen consists of four villages: Gaienhofen, Gundholzen, Hemmenhofen and Horn...

 on Lake Constance
Lake Constance
Lake Constance is a lake on the Rhine at the northern foot of the Alps, and consists of three bodies of water: the Obersee , the Untersee , and a connecting stretch of the Rhine, called the Seerhein.The lake is situated in Germany, Switzerland and Austria near the Alps...

, and began a family, eventually having three sons. In Gaienhofen, he wrote his second novel, Beneath the Wheel
Beneath the Wheel
Beneath the Wheel is a 1906 novel written by Hermann Hesse. It is also sometimes titled The Prodigy in English.-Plot summary:...

, which was published in 1906. In the following time, he composed primarily short stories and poems. His story "The Wolf," written in 1906-07, was "quite possibly" a foreshadowing of Steppenwolf
Steppenwolf (novel)
Steppenwolf is the tenth novel by German-Swiss author Hermann Hesse. Originally published in Germany in 1927, it was first translated into English in 1929. Combining autobiographical and psychoanalytic elements, the novel was named after the lonesome wolf of the steppes...

.

His next novel, Gertrude
Gertrud (novel)
-Plot summary:Styled as the memoir of a famous composer named Kuhn, Gertrud tells of his childhood and young adult years before it comes to the heart of the story; his relationships to two troubled artists, the eponymous Gertrud Imthor, and the opera singer Heinrich Muoth...

, published in 1910, revealed a production crisis, he had to struggle through writing it, and he later would describe it as "a miscarriage". Gaienhofen was the place where Hesse's interest in Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 was re-sparked. Following a letter to Kapff in 1895 entitled Nirvana, Hesse ceased alluding to Buddhist references in his work. In 1904, however, Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher known for his pessimism and philosophical clarity. At age 25, he published his doctoral dissertation, On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, which examined the four separate manifestations of reason in the phenomenal...

 and his philosophical ideas started receiving attention again, and Hesse discovered theosophy
Theosophy
Theosophy, in its modern presentation, is a spiritual philosophy developed since the late 19th century. Its major themes were originally described mainly by Helena Blavatsky , co-founder of the Theosophical Society...

. Schopenhauer and theosophy renewed Hesse's interest in India. Although it was many years before the publication of Hesse's Siddhartha (1922), this masterpiece was to be derived from these new influences.

During this time, there also was increased dissonance between him and Maria, and in 1911 Hesse left for a long trip to Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

 and Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

. He also visited Sumatra, Borneo, and Burma, but "the physical experience... was to depress him." Any spiritual or religious inspiration that he was looking for eluded him, but the journey made a strong impression on his literary work. Following Hesse's return, the family moved to Bern (1912), but the change of environment could not solve the marriage problems, as he himself confessed in his novel Rosshalde from 1914.

During the First World War


At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, Hesse registered himself as a volunteer with the Imperial army
German Army (German Empire)
The German Army was the name given the combined land forces of the German Empire, also known as the National Army , Imperial Army or Imperial German Army. The term "Deutsches Heer" is also used for the modern German Army, the land component of the German Bundeswehr...

, saying that he could not sit inactively by a warm fireplace while other young authors were dying on the front. He was however, found unfit for combat duty, but was assigned to service involving the care of war prisoners. In September 1914, Hesse wrote an essay entitled "O Friends, Not These Tones" ("O Freunde, nicht diese Töne"), which was published in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung
Neue Zürcher Zeitung
The Neue Zürcher Zeitung is a major German language Swiss daily newspaper based in Zurich.One of the oldest newspapers still published, it originally appeared as Zürcher Zeitung, edited by Salomon Gessner, from January 12, 1780, and was renamed to Neue Zürcher Zeitung in 1821...

, on November 3. In this essay he appealed to German intellectuals not to fall for patriotism. He called for subdued voices and a recognition of Europe's common heritage. What followed from this, Hesse later indicated, was a great turning point in his life: For the first time, he found himself in the middle of a serious political conflict, attacked by the German press, the recipient of hate mail, and distanced from old friends. He did receive continued support from his friend Theodor Heuss
Theodor Heuss
Theodor Heuss was a liberal German politician who served as the first President of the Federal Republic of Germany after World War II from 1949 to 1959...

, and the French writer Romain Rolland
Romain Rolland
Romain Rolland was a French dramatist, novelist, essayist, art historian and mystic who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1915.-Biography:...

, who visited Hesse in August 1915. In 1917, Hesse wrote to Rolland, "The attempt...to apply love to matters political has failed."

This public controversy was not yet resolved when a deeper life crisis befell Hesse with the death of his father on 8 March 1916, the serious sickness of his son Martin, and his wife's schizophrenia
Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by a disintegration of thought processes and of emotional responsiveness. It most commonly manifests itself as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking, and it is accompanied by significant social...

. He was forced to leave his military service and begin receiving psychotherapy
Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy is a general term referring to any form of therapeutic interaction or treatment contracted between a trained professional and a client or patient; family, couple or group...

. This began for Hesse a long preoccupation with psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis is a psychological theory developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalysis has expanded, been criticized and developed in different directions, mostly by some of Freud's former students, such as Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav...

, through which he came to know Carl Jung
Carl Jung
Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and the founder of Analytical Psychology. Jung is considered the first modern psychiatrist to view the human psyche as "by nature religious" and make it the focus of exploration. Jung is one of the best known researchers in the field of dream analysis and...

 personally, and was challenged to new creative heights. During a three-week period in September and October 1917, Hesse penned his novel Demian
Demian
Demian: The Story of Emil Sinclair's Youth is a Bildungsroman by Hermann Hesse, first published in 1919; a prologue was added in 1960. Demian was first published under the pseudonym "Emil Sinclair", the name of the narrator of the story, but Hesse was later revealed to be the author.-Plot summary...

, which would be published following the armistice in 1919 under the pseudonym
Pseudonym
A pseudonym is a name that a person assumes for a particular purpose and that differs from his or her original orthonym...

 Emil Sinclair.

Casa Camuzzi



By the time Hesse returned to civilian life in 1919, his marriage had shattered. His wife had a severe episode of psychosis
Psychosis
Psychosis means abnormal condition of the mind, and is a generic psychiatric term for a mental state often described as involving a "loss of contact with reality"...

, but, even after her recovery, Hesse saw no possible future with her. Their home in Bern was divided, and Hesse resettled alone in the middle of April in Ticino
Ticino
Canton Ticino or Ticino is the southernmost canton of Switzerland. Named after the Ticino river, it is the only canton in which Italian is the sole official language...

. He occupied a small farm house near Minusio (close to Locarno), living from 25 April to 11 May in Sorengo. On 11 May, he moved to the town Montagnola
Montagnola
Montagnola is a small Swiss village in Collina d'Oro municipality. Located in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino, it is close to the border between Switzerland and Italy. It looks over Lake Lugano and the city of Lugano upon it...

 and rented four small rooms in a castle-like building, the Casa Camuzzi. Here, he explored his writing projects further; he began to paint, an activity reflected in his next major story, "Klingsor's Last Summer
Klingsor's Last Summer
Klingsor's Last Summer is a novella by Hermann Hesse.Written over the course of a few weeks in July and August 1919, it was published in December 1919 in the Deutsche Rundschau...

", published in 1920. In 1922, Hesse's novella Siddhartha
Siddhartha (novel)
Siddhartha is a novel by Hermann Hesse that deals with the spiritual journey of an Indian man named Siddhartha during the time of the Buddha.The book, Hesse's ninth novel , was written in German, in a simple, powerful, and lyrical style. It was published in the U.S. in 1951 and became influential...

appeared, which showed the love for Indian culture and Buddhist philosophy that had already developed in his earlier life. In 1924, Hesse married the singer Ruth Wenger, the daughter of the Swiss writer Lisa Wenger and aunt of Meret Oppenheim
Méret Oppenheim
-External links:**** http://www.artchive.com/artchive/M/man_ray.html...

. This marriage never attained any stability, however.

In 1923, Hesse received Swiss citizenship. His next major works, Kurgast (1925) and The Nuremberg Trip (1927), were autobiographical narratives with ironic undertones and foreshadowed Hesse's following novel, Steppenwolf
Steppenwolf (novel)
Steppenwolf is the tenth novel by German-Swiss author Hermann Hesse. Originally published in Germany in 1927, it was first translated into English in 1929. Combining autobiographical and psychoanalytic elements, the novel was named after the lonesome wolf of the steppes...

, which was published in 1927. In the year of his 50th birthday, the first biography of Hesse appeared, written by his friend Hugo Ball
Hugo Ball
Hugo Ball was a German author, poet and one of the leading Dada artists.Hugo Ball was born in Pirmasens, Germany and was raised in a middle-class Catholic family. He studied sociology and philosophy at the universities of Munich and Heidelberg...

. Shortly after his new successful novel, he turned away from the solitude of Steppenwolf and married art historian Ninon Dolbin, née Ausländer
Ninon Hesse
Ninon Hesse was an art historian and Hermann Hesse's 3rd wife....

. This change to companionship was reflected in the novel Narcissus and Goldmund
Narcissus and Goldmund
Narcissus and Goldmund is a novel written by the German-Swiss author Hermann Hesse which was first published in German as Narziß und Goldmund in 1930...

, appearing in 1930. In 1931, Hesse left the Casa Camuzzi and moved with Ninon to a large house (Casa Hesse) near Montagnola
Montagnola
Montagnola is a small Swiss village in Collina d'Oro municipality. Located in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino, it is close to the border between Switzerland and Italy. It looks over Lake Lugano and the city of Lugano upon it...

, which was built according to his wishes.

In 1931, Hesse began planning what would become his last major work, The Glass Bead Game
The Glass Bead Game
The Glass Bead Game is the last full-length novel and magnum opus of the German author Hermann Hesse. Begun in 1931 and published in Switzerland in 1943, after being rejected for publication in Germany, the book was mentioned in Hesse's citation for the 1946 Nobel Prize for Literature."Glass Bead...

(aka Magister Ludi). In 1932, as a preliminary study, he released the novella Journey to the East
Journey to the East
Journey to the East is a short novel by German author Hermann Hesse. It was first published in German in 1932 as "Die Morgenlandfahrt". This novel came directly after his biggest international success, Narcissus and Goldmund.-Plot summary:...

. The Glass Bead Game was printed in 1943 in Switzerland. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature
Nobel Prize in Literature
Since 1901, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded annually to an author from any country who has, in the words from the will of Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction"...

 in 1946.

Later life and death



Hesse observed the rise to power of Nazism
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 in Germany with concern. In 1933, Bertolt Brecht
Bertolt Brecht
Bertolt Brecht was a German poet, playwright, and theatre director.An influential theatre practitioner of the 20th century, Brecht made equally significant contributions to dramaturgy and theatrical production, the latter particularly through the seismic impact of the tours undertaken by the...

 and Thomas Mann
Thomas Mann
Thomas Mann was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and 1929 Nobel Prize laureate, known for his series of highly symbolic and ironic epic novels and novellas, noted for their insight into the psychology of the artist and the intellectual...

 made their travels into exile and, in both cases, were aided by Hesse. In this way, Hesse attempted to work against Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

's suppression of art and literature that protested Nazi ideology. "[H]is third wife ..was Jewish and his opposition to anti-Semitism was expressed publicly long before then." Hesse was criticized for not condemning the Nazi party, but his failure to criticize or support any political idea stemmed from his "politics of detachment [...] At no time did he openly condemn (the Nazis), although his detestation of their politics is beyond question." From the end of the 1930s, German journals stopped publishing Hesse's work, and it was eventually banned by the Nazis.

The Glass Bead Game was Hesse's last novel. During the last twenty years of his life, Hesse wrote many short stories (chiefly recollections of his childhood) and poems (frequently with nature as their theme). Hesse wrote ironic essays about his alienation from writing (for instance, the mock autobiographies: Life Story Briefly Told and Aus den Briefwechseln eines Dichters) and spent much time pursuing his interest in watercolours. Hesse also occupied himself with the steady stream of letters he received as a result of the Nobel Prize, and as a new generation of German readers explored his work. In one essay, Hesse reflected wryly on his lifelong failure to acquire a talent for idleness and speculated that his average daily correspondence was in excess of 150 pages. He died on 9 August 1962 and was buried in the cemetery at San Abbondio in Montagnola
Montagnola
Montagnola is a small Swiss village in Collina d'Oro municipality. Located in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino, it is close to the border between Switzerland and Italy. It looks over Lake Lugano and the city of Lugano upon it...

, where Hugo Ball
Hugo Ball
Hugo Ball was a German author, poet and one of the leading Dada artists.Hugo Ball was born in Pirmasens, Germany and was raised in a middle-class Catholic family. He studied sociology and philosophy at the universities of Munich and Heidelberg...

 is also buried.

Throughout Germany, many schools are named after him. In 1964, the Calwer Hermann-Hesse-Preis was founded, which is awarded every two years, alternately to a German-language literary journal or to the translator of Hesse's work to a foreign language. There is also a Hermann Hesse prize associated with the city of Karlsruhe.

Influence



Following the death of Hesse in 1962, his novels saw a revival in popularity because of their association with some of the popular themes of the 1960s counterculture
Counterculture of the 1960s
The counterculture of the 1960s refers to a cultural movement that mainly developed in the United States and spread throughout much of the western world between 1960 and 1973. The movement gained momentum during the U.S. government's extensive military intervention in Vietnam...

 (or hippie) movement. In particular, the quest-for-enlightenment theme of Siddhartha
Siddhartha (novel)
Siddhartha is a novel by Hermann Hesse that deals with the spiritual journey of an Indian man named Siddhartha during the time of the Buddha.The book, Hesse's ninth novel , was written in German, in a simple, powerful, and lyrical style. It was published in the U.S. in 1951 and became influential...

, Journey to the East
Journey to the East
Journey to the East is a short novel by German author Hermann Hesse. It was first published in German in 1932 as "Die Morgenlandfahrt". This novel came directly after his biggest international success, Narcissus and Goldmund.-Plot summary:...

, and Narcissus and Goldmund
Narcissus and Goldmund
Narcissus and Goldmund is a novel written by the German-Swiss author Hermann Hesse which was first published in German as Narziß und Goldmund in 1930...

resonated with those espousing counter-cultural ideals. The "magic theatre" sequences in Steppenwolf
Steppenwolf (novel)
Steppenwolf is the tenth novel by German-Swiss author Hermann Hesse. Originally published in Germany in 1927, it was first translated into English in 1929. Combining autobiographical and psychoanalytic elements, the novel was named after the lonesome wolf of the steppes...

were interpreted by some as drug-induced psychedelia. These and other Hesse novels were republished in paperback editions and were widely read by university students and young people in the United States and elsewhere.

Hesse's Siddhartha is one of the most popular Western novels set in India. An authorized translation of Siddhartha was published in the Malayalam language in 1990, the language that surrounded Hesse's grandfather, Hermann Gundert, for most of his life. A Hermann Hesse Society of India has also been formed. It aims to bring out authentic translations of Siddhartha in all Indian languages. It has already prepared the Sanskrit translation of Siddhartha.

One enduring monument to Hesse's lasting popularity in the United States is the Magic Theatre
Magic Theatre
The Magic Theatre is a theatre company founded in 1967, presently based at the historic Fort Mason Center on San Francisco's northern waterfront...

 in San Francisco. Referring to "The Magic Theatre for Madmen Only" in Steppenwolf (a kind of spiritual and somewhat nightmarish cabaret attended by some of the characters, including Harry Haller), the Magic Theatre was founded in 1967 to perform works by new playwrights. Founded by John Lion, the Magic Theatre has fulfilled that mission for many years, including the world premieres of many plays by Sam Shepard.

Awards

  • 1906 - Bauernfeld-Preis
  • 1928 - Mejstrik-Preis of the Schiller Foundation in Vienna
  • 1936 - Gottfried-Keller-Preis
    Gottfried-Keller-Preis
    The Gottfried-Keller-Preis or Prix Gottfried Keller is one of the oldest literary awards of Switzerland.The prize was created by Martin Bodmer and is named after the Swiss author Gottfried Keller...

  • 1946 - Goethe Prize
    Goethe Prize
    The Goethe Prize of Frankfurt-am-Main is a German literary award of high prestige named after Johann Wolfgang Goethe. It was initially an annual award, but became triennial...

  • 1946 - Nobel Prize in Literature
    Nobel Prize in Literature
    Since 1901, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded annually to an author from any country who has, in the words from the will of Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction"...

  • 1947 - Honorary Doctorate from the University of Bern
  • 1950 - Wilhelm-Raabe-Preis
  • 1954 - Pour le Mérite
    Pour le Mérite
    The Pour le Mérite, known informally as the Blue Max , was the Kingdom of Prussia's highest military order for German soldiers until the end of World War I....

  • 1955 - Peace Prize of the German Book Trade
    Peace Prize of the German Book Trade
    The Peace Prize of the German Book Trade is an international peace prize given yearly at the Frankfurt Book Fair in the Paulskirche in Frankfurt am Main, Germany...


Sources

  • Freedman, Ralph, Hermann Hesse: Pilgrim of Crisis: A Biography, Pantheon Books, NY 1978

External links