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A Companion to the Works of Hermann Hesse

A Companion to the Works of Hermann Hesse

Edited by Ingo Cornils
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 446
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  • Book Info
    A Companion to the Works of Hermann Hesse
    Book Description:

    Today, forty years after Timothy Leary's suggestion that hippies read Hermann Hesse while "turning on," Hesse is once again receiving attention: faced with ubiquitous materialism, war, and ecological disaster, we discover that these problems have found universal expression in the works of this master storyteller. Hesse explores perennial themes, from the simple to the transcendental. Because he knows of the awkwardness of adolescence and the pressures exerted on us to conform, his books hold special appeal for young readers and are taught widely. Yet he is equally relevant for older readers, writing about the torment of a psyche in despair, or our fear of the unknown. All these experiences are explored from the perspective of the individual self, for Hesse the repository of the divine and the sole entity to which we are accountable. This volume of new essays sheds light on his major works, including Siddhartha, Der Steppenwolf, and Das Glasperlenspiel, as well as Rohalde, Klingsors letzter Sommer, Klein und Wagner, and the poetry. Another six essays explore Hesse's interest in psychoanalysis, music, and eastern philosophy, the development of his political views, the influence of his painting on his writing, and the relationship between Hesse and Goethe. Contributors: Jefford Vahlbusch, Osman Durrani, Andreas Solbach, Ralph Freedman, Adrian Hsia, Stefan Höppner, Martin Swales, Frederick Lubich, Paul Bishop, Olaf Berwald, Kamakshi Murti, Marco Schickling, Volker Michels, Godela Weiss-Sussex, C. Immo Schneider, Hans-Joachim Hahn. Ingo Cornils is Senior Lecturer in German at the University of Leeds, UK.

    eISBN: 978-1-57113-729-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction: From Outsider to Global Player: Hermann Hesse in the Twenty-First Century
    (pp. 1-16)
    Ingo Cornils

    More than thirty years have passed since the lastHesse Companion,edited by Anna Otten, was published.¹ The book was a response to Hesse’s phenomenal popularity in the United States following his discovery by the hippie generation in the 1960s.² The world has changed beyond recognition since those heady days when self-discovery had become the ultimate goal for a generation “born to be wild.”³ Today, the young men and women who found inspiration in Hesse’s works are reaching retirement age. Their idealism has become jaded, their legacy uncertain.⁴ But what about their “guru”? Is Hesse a writer for aging hippies...

  5. 1: Novel Ideas: Notes toward a New Reading of Hesse’s Unterm Rad
    (pp. 17-56)
    Jefford Vahlbusch

    In September 1968, as U.S. interest in Hesse was beginning to surge, British poet and critic D. J. Enright, writing in theNew York Review of Books, posed two provocative rhetorical questions onUnterm Rad(1906;Beneath the Wheel, 1968). After providing a laconic plot summary — “the story of a gifted boy of humble birth who is sent from his village to a theological academy, sinks to the bottom of the class, breaks down, goes home, and dies” — Enright asks: “[B] ut why must Hans die? Surely not that Hermann may live?”¹

    “Hans” is the Swabian schoolboy Hans Giebenrath, the...

  6. 2: Roßhalde (1914): A Portrait of the Artist as a Husband and Father
    (pp. 57-80)
    Osman Durrani

    Work onRosshaldekept Hesse busy during a critical period in his life, and it is convenient to locate this short but multi-layered text at an intersection between the realist and symbolist phases of his career.¹ It has been described as the culmination of his first creative phase, as his “most realistic novel,”² yet it is riddled with ambiguities and told in an ironic manner that anticipates the less direct, more consciously encrypted style of the author’s later novelsDemian, Der Steppenwolf,andDas Glasperlenspiel.The title itself is marked by an ironic distance from the human sphere, the term...

  7. 3: The Aesthetics of Ritual: Pollution, Magic, and Sentimentality in Hesse’s Demian (1919)
    (pp. 81-116)
    Andreas Solbach

    Hermann Hesse’sDemian¹ reflects the crisis in the author’s life that began in 1912 with the serious illness of his son Martin and the family’s move from Gaienhofen to Bern. It continued as his wife’s mental condition deteriorated, finally resulting in their permanent separation and eventual divorce. During the years before the novel’s publication in 1919,² Hesse’s deep emotional turmoil about the war, his father’s death, and personal and professional repercussions of his journalism aggravated the crisis equally as much as his enormous workload. In 1916, while writingDemian,Hesse received psychotherapy from J. B. Lang,³ who soon became his...

  8. 4: Klein und Wagner
    (pp. 117-138)
    Stefan Höppner

    Composed in May and July 1919, the middle text of Hesse’sKlingsorvolume has received little critical attention to date. This is all the more surprising sinceKlein und Wagneris not only the first major text the author composed in Montagnola, and is also proof that Hesse had begun to adapt psychoanalysis to his own needs, adding his own twist to the more orthodox understanding of C. G. Jung’s theories that had dominatedDemian.Moreover, the novella introduces key themes and motifs that dominate Hesse’s writing during the following decade or so, including, in particular, some striking connections to...

  9. 5: Klingsors letzter Sommer and the Transformation of Crisis
    (pp. 139-148)
    Ralph Freedman

    Klingsor’s letzter Sommeris part of a new kind of fiction that occupied Hermann Hesse immediately after the First World War. Along withSiddharthaand the lesser knownKlein and Wagner,this brilliant novella explores the inner life through a correspondingly subjective language. These three works form a sequence: they appeared individually in the aftermath of the war and were re-published in 1931, as a collection calledWeg nach Innen(The Way Within or The Inward Way), a title that pinpoints Hesse’s intention precisely. Hesse took this title from a fragment in Novalis’s collection calledBlütenstaub: “Nach Innen geht der...

  10. 6: Siddhartha
    (pp. 149-170)
    Adrian Hsia

    The essay has three parts. The first part deals with the interpretation of the novel in accordance with international Hesse scholarship, while the second part discusses the English translations and their accompanying introductions ofSiddhartha.The third part examines the similarities between Hesse’s message as expressed in the novel and some tenets of Zen Buddhism.

    As early as 1923, one year after the publication ofSiddhartha,Hesse emphasized that he had found the deepest truth in the Upanishads, the thoughts of Buddha, Confucius, Lao Zi (Hesse’s transcription: Lao Tse), and the New Testament. He reiterated the same thought in 1958...

  11. 7: Der Steppenwolf
    (pp. 171-186)
    Martin Swales

    Hermann Hesse’sDer Steppenwolf(1927) belongs to a group of some six novels, all written and/or published within the period 1920 to 1933, which, by common consent, represent the canonical contribution of the German novel to High Modernism. The others are Kafka’sDas Schloss,Thomas Mann’sDer Zauberberg,Döblin’sBerlin Alexanderplatz,Broch’sDie Schlafwandler,and Musil’sDer Mann ohne Eigenschaften.All of these works have at least three features in common. One is that they register an urgent sense of cultural transition, a crisis that expresses itself as a virulent collision of old and new values. Another is their need...

  12. 8: Hermann Hesse’s Narziss und Goldmund: Medieval Imaginaries of (Post-) Modern Realities
    (pp. 187-214)
    Frederick A. Lubich

    Hermann Hesse’s novelNarziss und Goldmundwas published in 1930 and became the most successful book during his lifetime.¹ The novel is set in the Middle Ages and depicts the story of a friendship between two men, whose personalities are veritable case studies in character opposites. Whereas Narziss finds an intellectual home and spiritual sense of belonging in the cloister of Mariabronn, Goldmund seeks fulfillment in his perennial vagabonding through the world. At the end of his adventurous life he returns to the cloister in order to settle down as a sculptor, striving to transform his worldly experiences into works...

  13. 9: Beads of Glass, Shards of Culture, and the Art of Life: Hesse’s Das Glasperlenspiel
    (pp. 215-240)
    Paul Bishop

    “Glass beads, as the saying goes, are thought equal to pearls,” we read in one of the epistles of St. Jerome.¹ Jerome makes frequent use of this image (which in fact derives from Tertullian) to convey the idea ofvalue— not least the value of one’s life, and of the choices made during it. In turn, the notion of value is one of the central ideas in Hesse’s novel about glass beads, and about a strange game one can play using them — the Glass Bead Game.

    Hesse began work onDas Glasperlenspielin February 1932, shortly before he left Zurich...

  14. 10: Hesse’s Poetry
    (pp. 241-262)
    Olaf Berwald

    The precision and sustained musicality of Hesse’s prose abundantly indicate that the author is a poet whose work cannot be contained in one literary genre. Surprisingly, his robust body of lyrical texts, whose impact on a worldwide readership equals that of his prose works, has widely been ignored by literary scholars. From the 1890s until the day of his death in 1962, Hesse, who downplayed the importance of his novels and defined himself primarily as a poet, wrote around 1,400 poems.¹ Beginning in 1896, his lyrical works circulated in journals, and throughout his writing life, Hesse frequently included poems in...

  15. 11: “Ob die Weiber Menschen seyn?” Hesse, Women, and Homoeroticism
    (pp. 263-300)
    Kamakshi P. Murti

    Hermann Hesse crept into my consciousness in late 1950s India, not so surprisingly viaSiddhartha.¹ At the time I was struggling with my own faith, attempting to distance myself from the Catholic nuns who were my teachers at school. The discussions I had with them about the truth value of religion, and what I perceived as their attempts to discredit Hinduism were very disquieting. I was simultaneously moved and resentful that a Western writer such as Hesse would deign to approach the complexities of a religion that I saw as my spiritual heritage. My carrying around a well-thumbed paperback edition...

  16. 12: Hermann Hesse’s Politics
    (pp. 301-322)
    Marco Schickling

    During the time in which Hermann Hesse was coming of age, the mass print media were just emerging as a force in German life. This had far-reaching consequences for the monarchy. According to Martin Kohlrausch, ideological tensions between the imperial state of Wilhelm II and sectors of the press peaked in 1906, when 4,000 daily newspapers in Germany were publishing 25.5 million copies for a population of over 60 million, shaping opinions and the national mood.¹

    The history of Germany’s Second Empire was characterized by mass phenomena. The new state’s founding in 1871 was followed by the rise of political...

  17. 13: Hermann Hesse and Psychoanalysis
    (pp. 323-344)
    Volker Michels

    Poets have been fascinated by their dreams ever since poetry itself began. No one is more familiar with the impulses of the unconscious than artists, who could not endure being deluged by such impressions without transposing them to their conscious minds and giving them expressive forms and names. To align these sensations with their own drives, harmonize their inner and outer being, integrate what suits them and fend off what does not, artists use their creativity and invent weapons, as Hesse expressed it, “gegen die Infamitäten des Lebens”¹ (against the infamies of life). In their waking states, therefore, they achieve...

  18. 14: On the Relationship between Hesse’s Painting and Writing: Wanderung, Klingsors letzter Sommer, Gedichte des Malers and Piktors Verwandlungen
    (pp. 345-372)
    Godela Weiss-Sussex

    Intermedial comparison is an area of study that, though not new, has received fresh impetus in recent years, as we have come to recognize more and more clearly the extent to which the narrow confines of individual disciplines limit our search for a comprehensive understanding of creative works. But postulations of vague similarities are not enough. Like all generalizations, they obscure the precise detail of the relationship rather than elucidating it. On the other hand, as Erwin Panofsky established already in 1932, a one-to-one set of correspondences between texts and paintings cannot be established, as a direct “translation” from one...

  19. 15: Hermann Hesse and Music
    (pp. 373-394)
    C. Immo Schneider

    Hermann Hesse’s relationship to music is as many-faceted as the man and poet himself, and cannot be reduced to a common denominator. Even today, it is the topic of numerous essays, articles, and entire dissertations.¹ Thus, only selected aspects of Hesse’s ideas on music can be discussed here: I. Hesse’s Musical Influences; II. Hesse’s Poetry as Musical Expression; III. Musical Forms in Hesse’s Prose Works; IV. Hesse’s Opinions on Music; and — an extended summary — V. Hesse’s Musical Development.

    Ich bin nicht mit Virtuosen und in Konzertsälen aufgewachsen, sondern mit Hausmusik, und das schönste war immer die, bei der man selbst...

  20. 16: Hermann Hesse’s Goethe
    (pp. 395-420)
    Hans-Joachim Hahn

    Goethe is generally recognized as Germany’s greatest writer and the leading figure during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century period of literary and cultural achievement — often referred to as theGoethezeitor Age of Goethe — which established German neoclassicism and reaffirmed Germany’s long humanist tradition. Hesse sought to continue this tradition, especially its humanist ethical aspects, but during an age that was preoccupied, first with an imperialist war and then with fascist barbarism. This made Hesse’s position within Germany’s literary tradition considerably more difficult; it also meant that Hesse had to invoke Goethe’s legacy on many occasions to provide...

  21. Selected English Translations of Hesse’s Works Discussed
    (pp. 421-422)
  22. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 423-426)
  23. Notes on the Contributors
    (pp. 427-430)
  24. Index
    (pp. 431-438)
  25. Back Matter
    (pp. 439-439)