Plot summary[ edit ] Emil Sinclair is a young boy raised in a middle class home, amidst what is described as a Scheinwelt, a play on words meaning "world of light" as well as "world of illusion". Characters[ edit ] Emil Sinclair is the protagonist of the novel. Sinclair is confused as to what his life is, and is going to be, and constantly seeks mentorship throughout the novel. He tends to need validation by an older figure, and finds mentors in figures such as Pistorius, Demian, and Eva.
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His grandparents served in India at a mission under the auspices of the Basel Mission , a Protestant Christian missionary society. His grandfather Hermann Gundert compiled the current grammar in Malayalam language, compiled a Malayalam-English dictionary, and also contributed to the work in translating the Bible to Malayalam. In describing her own childhood, she said, "A happy child I was not In , the Hesse family moved to Calw, where Johannes worked for the Calwer Verlagsverein, a publishing house specializing in theological texts and schoolbooks.
Hesse grew up in a Swabian Pietist household, with the Pietist tendency to insulate believers into small, deeply thoughtful groups. His father, Hesse stated, "always seemed like a very polite, very foreign, lonely, little-understood guest. We wished for nothing so longingly as to be allowed to see this Estonia How can he express all that? It truly gnaws at my life, this internal fighting against his tyrannical temperament, his passionate turbulence [ Click to see an enlarged image, in which the statue of Hesse can be seen near the center.
Hesse showed signs of serious depression as early as his first year at school. The fictional town of Gerbersau is pseudonymous for Calw, imitating the real name of the nearby town of Hirsau. It is derived from the German words gerber, meaning "tanner," and aue, meaning "meadow.
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.
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 Although Hesse did well during the first months, writing in a letter that he particularly enjoyed writing essays and translating classic Greek poetry into German, his time in Maulbronn was the beginning of a serious personal crisis.
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 under the care of theologian and minister Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt. At the end of , he attended the Gymnasium in Cannstatt, now part of Stuttgart. In , he passed the One Year Examination, which concluded his schooling. The same year, he began spending time with older companions and took up drinking and smoking.
Then, in the early summer of , he began a month mechanic apprenticeship at a clock tower factory in Calw. The monotony of soldering and filing work made him turn himself toward more spiritual activities. This experience from his youth, especially his time spent at the Seminary in Maulbronn, he returns to later in his novel Beneath the Wheel. After the end of each twelve-hour workday, Hesse pursued his own work, and he spent his long, idle Sundays with books rather than friends.
Hesse studied theological writings and later Goethe , Lessing , Schiller , and Greek mythology. In letters to his parents, he expressed a belief that "the morality of artists is replaced by aesthetics". There he met with people his own age. His relationships with his contemporaries were "problematic", in that most of them were now at university. This usually left him feeling awkward in social situations.
In , 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. In two years, only 54 of the 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.
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 , Hesse was exempted from compulsory military service due to an eye condition.
This, along with nerve disorders and persistent headaches, affected him his entire life. In , 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.
He could not bring himself to attend her funeral, stating in a letter to his father: "I think it would be better for us both that I do not come, in spite of my love for my mother.
The novel became popular throughout Germany. The couple settled down in Gaienhofen on Lake Constance , and began a family, eventually having three sons. In Gaienhofen, he wrote his second novel, Beneath the Wheel , which was published in In the following time, he composed primarily short stories and poems.
His story "The Wolf", written in —07, was "quite possibly" a foreshadowing of Steppenwolf. He had to struggle through writing it, and he later would describe it as "a miscarriage". Following a letter to Kapff in entitled Nirvana, Hesse had ceased alluding to Buddhist references in his work. In , however, Arthur Schopenhauer and his philosophical ideas started receiving attention again, and Hesse discovered theosophy. During this time, there also was increased dissonance between him and Maria, and in Hesse left for a long trip to Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
He also visited Sumatra, Borneo, and Burma, but "the physical experience During the First World War[ edit ] At the outbreak of the First World War in , Hesse registered himself as a volunteer with the Imperial army , saying that he could not sit inactively by a warm fireplace while other young authors were dying on the front.
He was found unfit for combat duty, but was assigned to service involving the care of prisoners of war. However, he did receive support from his friend Theodor Heuss , and the French writer Romain Rolland , who visited Hesse in August He was forced to leave his military service and begin receiving psychotherapy.
This began for Hesse a long preoccupation with psychoanalysis , through which he came to know Carl Jung personally, and was challenged to new creative heights. Hesse and Jung both later maintained a correspondence with Chilean author, diplomat and Nazi sympathizer Miguel Serrano , who detailed his relationship with both figures in the book C.
During a three-week period in September and October , Hesse penned his novel Demian , which would be published following the armistice in under the pseudonym Emil Sinclair. Casa Camuzzi[ edit ] By the time Hesse returned to civilian life in , his marriage had fallen apart.
His wife had a severe episode of psychosis , but, even after her recovery, Hesse saw no possible future with her. Their home in Bern was divided, their children were accommodated in boarding houses and by relatives,  and Hesse resettled alone in the middle of April in Ticino. 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 and rented four small rooms in a castle-like building, the Casa Camuzzi.
This new beginning in different surroundings brought him happiness, and Hesse later called his first year in Ticino "the fullest, most prolific, most industrious and most passionate time of my life. This marriage never attained any stability, however. In , Hesse was granted Swiss citizenship. In the year of his 50th birthday, the first biography of Hesse appeared, written by his friend Hugo Ball. This change to companionship was reflected in the novel Narcissus and Goldmund , appearing in In , Hesse left the Casa Camuzzi and moved with Ninon to a large house Casa Hesse near Montagnola , which was built according to his wishes.
Magister Ludi. In , as a preliminary study, he released the novella Journey to the East. The Glass Bead Game was printed in in Switzerland. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in In March , seven weeks after Hitler took power, Hesse wrote to a correspondent in Germany, "It is the duty of spiritual types to stand alongside the spirit and not to sing along when the people start belting out the patriotic songs their leaders have ordered them to sing.
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 also 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 watercolors.
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 exceeded pages.
He died on 9 August , aged 85, and was buried in the cemetery at San Abbondio in Montagnola , where Hugo Ball and the conductor Bruno Walter are also buried. In particular, the quest-for-enlightenment theme of Siddhartha , Journey to the East , and Narcissus and Goldmund resonated with those espousing counter-cultural ideals. The "magic theatre" sequences in Steppenwolf were interpreted by some as drug-induced psychedelia although there is no evidence that Hesse ever took psychedelic drugs or recommended their use.
In a space of just a few years, Hesse became the most widely read and translated European author of the 20th century. A Hermann Hesse Society of India has also been formed. It aims to bring out authentic translations of Siddhartha in all Indian languages and has already prepared the Sanskrit,  Malayalam  and Hindi  translations of Siddhartha. 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 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. There is also a theater in Chicago named after the novel, Steppenwolf Theater. Throughout Germany, many schools are named after him. The Hermann-Hesse-Literaturpreis is a literary prize associated with the city of Karlsruhe that has been awarded since
Demijan – Herman Hese (1877-1962)