Hermann Hesse


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Years ago I ran acroos a book with the illustrations used in the movie Steppenwolf. Then I came across a critical commentary of the book. This book came to represent my cosmology.

>>By Ratman   (Saturday, 25 Jan 2003 12:56)

Just too veracious!
You would come to know of the double standards in this world as well as your own mind.

>>By Surender   (Sunday, 16 Feb 2003 15:12)

Hermann Hesse's flawed world ideology makes me regurgitate. If I saw him today, I would proceed to hit my bong, and then promptly pull out my gat and cap the sucka.

>>By Corazon   (Monday, 24 Feb 2003 00:28)

He has a prose style as soft as poetry, like a cat that curls
against your leg and won't go away until picked up and stroked. His spirit transcends the printed word and conveys
a world apart from our mundane, materialistic existence. He
gives a piece of truth that is for all and for all ages. Ludi is his
magnus opus. Hesse looks inward and East and finds peace
after compitition and struggle. He is at least a refuge and at
most a guru for the willing reader.

>>By Ken Harms   (Tuesday, 25 Feb 2003 17:29)

siddhartha was boring but i read it all the way through. i did that because my boyfriend at the time gave it to me. (wheeee) is there any connection between it and little buddah with keanu reeves?

>>By queenie   (Sunday, 23 Mar 2003 00:43)

i absolutly LOVED demian. its a classic ''find yourself" book. it gave me a whole new outlook on life. im gonna read some of his other works. which ones would you recommend?

>>By emily   (Saturday, 28 Jun 2003 16:54)

the problem with hesse is not his 'flawed world ideology' as Corazon above has put it, but that he was too ambitious. Hesse's mysticism was an attempt to seek an alternative to the meaninglessness of the capitalism of the day. The Glass Bead game was another one of those attempts at finding a mode of thought and being, just as his siddharta was for him the beginning of the search for something pure and universal. But he failed. hesse realised that in order to truly achieve the purity that he was seeking, he needed not just an intellectual understanding of the world, but an existential commitment as well. A coplete reversal of his own life. A drastic change to the way the simple things in his everyday life are negotiated. That step, a leap of faith, really, was, and still is for many of us, a terrifying step to take. Intellectually, hesse knew what he had to do. Existentially, he could not commit. This fear, this 'vertigo' is clearly seen in his "Gertrude". As a reader, you can feel the intensity of his narrative, and he is beuilding you up to a crescendo, but at the end of the novel, where the character has to make a decision to foillow gertrude through her labyringth to the very end, he fails and decides he cannot do. it, and the narrative is also reflective of thius. There is an anti-climactic feel to the whole thing. He brings you to the brink of the narrative, but he cannot bring himself to say what needs to be said and the book fails at the very end. The book is often considered to be the symbol of Hesse's 'flawed world view'. I think, more than that, it is the representation of a man struggling wth his demons, who was too of this world to take the necessary steps to cross over to the world he wanted. It was possible for him to do it,insofar as everything is possible since the mind can think of it,; it was possible, but the doing of it is not easy.

I also don't take too kindly to the fact that Hesse's novels can even be considered to be 'find yourself' books. Hesse never wrote to preach. He was trying to find a way out of the madness he found himself in. His books are not inspirational, but are more like a record of his own attempt at understanding.

>>By dionysus   (Friday, 24 Oct 2003 23:44)

Yeah ,what he said.Except that in his searching for truth Hesse could inspire one to broaden the parameters of their own search. And but I thought Ludi was boring,especially after Siddartha,Journey ,and Steppenwolf.It was like an engineer reading a blueprint.There was no fire.

>>By goddog   (Sunday, 26 Oct 2003 07:18)

yes, I agree, Hesse seemed to step back a little, didn't he?

>>By dionysus   (Sunday, 26 Oct 2003 08:14)

Wow! You guys are so involved. I'll read up on this and come back later, lol.

>>By T_Sweety   (Wednesday, 5 Nov 2003 07:40)

I have read only 'Demian' and then 'Narciss and Goldmund'. 'Siddharta' I tried but I couldn't get into it, too boring for me at that particular time, indeed.
I like what dionysis said about the man Hesse. I had never really considered him as a person so far. For me only the books matter. But after all you've said, I was reminded of N&G. Have you read that? It's absolutely beautiful and it covers some of the ground that you mentioned. It's the story of the friendship (call it love if you like) between two monks, one of which represents mental, intellectual mysticism, the other sensual life. Hesse clearly ranks with the first character (Narciss). Notice the names, too.
The book ends with the death of Goldmund after a full but restless and exhausting life of roaming, and Narciss realizing that he himself, although considered to be the wisest and the happiest of the two, has never truly lived. He couldn't commit to life either, just like Hesse. He stayed up in his mental ivory tower all his life.
The essential thing in that novel which Goldmund possess and Narciss lacks, is understanding and love of the female element. The symbol for it is the Mother. Narciss is all male, Goldmund knows how to embrace femininity. He doesn't fear what you called existential commitment. He just plunges right in and tries to swim.
It all adds up, since the male element is considered to be conscious and intellectual, and the female element is unconscious and spiritual.

Still, I think that Hesse's books can be considered 'find yourself' books. Not in the intention of the author, but because of their universality. His struggle is so fundamental that almost everyone recognises it. And his writing is just superbly beautiful.

>>By Aywin   (Wednesday, 5 Nov 2003 12:58)

very true, hesse aint no preacher-man. i responded to the social and personal tone of his books as descriptive, not presriptive, and i wholeheartedly agree with goddog that he was inspirational....opening pathways along which we MIGHT consider travelling, consequentially broadening those parameters which usually define our own lives. what's more, his pathways are transnational, transcultural and transpiritual. i, for one, found siddartha the most rewarding. understandably, many would find it dull and stylistically shallow, but for one interested in eastern philosophies, 'siddartha' serves well as a vehicle for the transmission of a way of thinking...thoughts distilled in simplicity, medium and message well wedded indeed. that's the beauty of hesse; his scope is wide, his style is varied and the reader-paramaters subject to influence and shift are myriad.

and so, yes, perhaps his books do serve as 'self help' books, though clearly this is not hesse's intention. what we each derive from his work is unique; this is our dialogic generation of meaning. hesse, i feel, is a true dialogic-author whose works 'work' in so many ways for so many different folk. ain't he great?

>>By footprint   (Wednesday, 5 Nov 2003 13:34)

I am surprised that anyone would find Sidartha boring. It is simply a master piece in exploration of what life is really all about. Today more than ever Sidartha's journey (which is the topic of the book) is a pure contradiction to our own journeys which are coloured with materialistic goals and concerns. Furthermore his reliance on Hiunduism and guidance that he takes from such a beautiful system of belief indicates to me a clear superiority of that system to the one that predominates in the word today. Read it again becuase there is simply too much there to be boring.

>>By muse junkie   (Tuesday, 17 Feb 2004 22:45)

I certainly will. But books work (or don't work) for me at very specific times. And I've tried enough to know when the time is right. Just now it isn't. But I most definitely will try again, and when I do, I'll find it was just what I needed ... right then.

>>By Aywin   (Tuesday, 24 Feb 2004 10:18)

The books of Hermann Hesse are really wonderful. They are full of help when one feels sad or diappointed...

>>By occhi   (Wednesday, 25 Feb 2004 14:16)

just finished Steppenwolf. a little dissappointed b/c I was expecting (wanting) something a little more prescriptive. The book really requires an investment of thought to decipher the messages. Perhaps this is what Hesse intended, thus allowing each different reader to gain a customized dose of what he was selling.

I think I'm going to let it all sink in for a week or so, then readdress the book with a more malleable mind. then see what can be interpreted.

>>By modulator   (Monday, 1 Mar 2004 17:21)

"A prose style as soft as poetry . . ." Obviously the person who wrote this of Hesse hasn't a clue about prose or style. Hesse is, in so many words, overrated. His rhetorical technique of exposition is simply flat, ie, boring and amateurish. Where there should have been conflict, there is only doldrum. His characters, with the exception of maybe Steppenwolf, are one-dimensional. Even his themes reduce themselves to so much prattle. Had he studied the Russian "Formalists" he might have better understood the nature and role of Art in a universal and a literary context. Hesse, quite in general, failed to understand that man in a post-industrial context cannot escape marginalization. That is the nature of assembly-line existence. We are all so much a component of a manifold machinery which we call life. To truly synthesize Hesse's vision and conflict, one could only do it in the context of -- for a lack of a better word -- the machine. Hesse's rebellion was, then, a resistance to the larger socio-economic force that relegated man to something less than man was capable of being. Yet Hesse failed to achieve this cogently. His Nobel Prize was given to him more as a result of present-day popularity than of literary worth.

>>By Concerto   (Wednesday, 3 Mar 2004 03:12)

wow and i was the "presumptuous" one. i dont know but that sounds very mightier then thou to me

>>By Billy Pilgrim   (Wednesday, 3 Mar 2004 06:45)

Though 'The Glass Bead Game' has been called his masterpiece, I think that Siddhartha fits that bill much better. It's short, universal and a real masterpiece. Some of the others, like 'Steppenwolf' and 'Narcissus and Goldmund' are also good, but not quite great. One thing that Steppenwolf does present is a rare, realistic, and cliche free depiction of real despair. Yes, Hesse is sometimes over-rated, but overall definitely worth reading.

>>By Van Norden   (Wednesday, 3 Mar 2004 20:59)

I'm still taking in Concerto's entry. I have to say I admire your flawless expression but that compliment is limited to your style only. The substance of what you say, regardless of whether it is meritous or not, gets lost in your arrogance and narrow-minded dismissal of any views other than your own. Aaah, the art of argument.

>>By muse junkie   (Thursday, 29 Apr 2004 01:41)

I read "Demian" and loved it. Definitely helped me to find myself. I quite like his style. Would probably be better in the original language, though, as are most things.

>>By Abraxas   (Monday, 3 May 2004 08:03)

Demian was a beautiful novel. Its been a while since I read it but the impact is stil fresh in my memory.

>>By muse junkie   (Thursday, 13 May 2004 01:48)

I want to open a disscussion of the book Steppenwolf staring this Agust. The idea will be to read it at the same pace and see the different ponts of view we came about because our own experiences. Anybody interested?

>>By alien   (Wednesday, 21 Jul 2004 02:06)

Dear Concerto:

So... human beings [characterizations] must conform to this or that; display attributes from one school or another? I think not... Hesse's characterizations are just that" his. It is for each reader to work with his own interpretation of the words...Hesse was far to wise to try and "teach"... so he simply left stuff lying around...


>>By bloke   (Tuesday, 14 Sep 2004 05:19)

To read "Steppenwolf " at the same pace? No thank you, although a discussion might have been interesting.
But this sounds too much like high school, and I guess that is the age, where reading Hesse is the most appropriate.
I find his books unbearable and his constant way of repeating himself more than boring and annoying.
"Steppenwolf" is probably his best novel, but all together, he is terribly overrated, and even his poems are dreadful.

>>By Gabriella   (Wednesday, 22 Sep 2004 13:00)

"Hesse is, in so many words, overrated. His rhetorical technique of exposition is simply flat, ie, boring"

Is a gorgeous comment, I love the way it hints at the holographic, self similar nature of the universe.

>>By invisibletechnologies   (Wednesday, 6 Oct 2004 21:32)

not sure what this adds to the discussion, but a quote from Hesse himself,

"All image making is avoiding death"

>>By invisibletechnologies   (Friday, 22 Oct 2004 14:21)

Demian is a powerful piece of beautiful prose, which I have just finished reading. However, Narziss und Goldmund have gotten deeper into me. I am still under the impression of this book, the impression hasn't been overridden by Demian. Yet. Maybe it is just not the time for me to fully accept Demian - I am not sure.
Narziss und Goldmund - I fear I will not be able to communicate my fascination and admiration of the story. It has touched upon the deepest strings of my soul, that were hidden even from me.
Different people understand the book differently. I guess, in some sense, my fascination could be explained with this catatonic desire to have my very own Narziss, who would balance my intuitive and exalted nature. To others the story between Narziss and Goldmund could be a tale of finding the best way to one's self; to a third party the book could mean something entirely different. With me, however, Hesse went a different way. I didn't find anything mind-blowingly new in Narziss und Goldmund, his message didn't quite differ from that of Siddhartha. What really blew me off is this story of friendship, of highest form of love between two equal but so different individuals. The book has such a strong grip on me it even scares. The aerial strokes, the sketch of this love haunts me, not allowing me to think about something else. The story is always with me, sometimes on the foreground, sometimes on the background of my mind, but still, I carry it with me.
I do not quite understand individuals, who claim that Hesse is "horribly overrated" - maybe you should look better and deeper inside yourselves to fully understand him and his books?

>>By scyrlin   (Tuesday, 9 Nov 2004 20:53)

Demian.....At the first glance, it seemed so difficult and boring. But since I've read it in detail I was shocked. How can I exprlain my impressions to others perfectly. DEMIAN is the best novel I've read

>>By mijin   (Sunday, 26 Dec 2004 05:59)

SIDHARTA is not a book but a philosophy.... the life of a human being viewed in all the details and in different points...

>>By Felina   (Tuesday, 28 Dec 2004 16:52)

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