Hermann Hesse

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        German-Swiss Poet & Novelist
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        Nobel Prize in Literature, 1946

          'When dealing with the insane, the best method is to pretend to be sane.'
          - Hermann Hesse

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        My introduction to the beautiful world of Hermann Hesse came in his early masterpiece, the all-too-brief but exquisite Knulp. Looking back, I can think of no better introduction. Knulp is the wanderer whose love of freedom and travel conflicts with tradition. In the book we see the stages of his life including ageing and his death, at the moment of which comes his life-affirming meeting with God.

        Pure and simple, it has an innocence to it, a kind of hope, that is for the young and written by one with a heart forever young. From there you go to the author's more complex books but if you read them through the kaleidoscope of Knulp then you have the vocabulary to understand them.

        Hermann Hesse (July 2, 1877 - August 9, 1962) was a German author. He is most famous for his novels Steppenwolf and Das Glasperlenspiel (The Glass Bead Game).

        Hesse's interests in existential, spiritual, and mystical themes and Buddhist and Hindu philosophy may be seen in his works.

        Born on July 2, 1877 in Calw, Württemberg, Hesse emigrated to Switzerland in 1912 and in 1923 became a Swiss citizen.

        A staunch pacifist, Hesse opposed World War I strongly, the residual fallout of his feelings towards war can be seen in many of his books. During World War II his writings found strange allies. German propagandist Joseph Goebbels initially defended Hesse's books, and as a result he was allowed to continue writing unmolested. However, after he demanded that certain portions in his book Narcissus and Goldmund dealing with pogroms be untouched, he found himself on the Nazi's blacklist. Despite this omnious bidding Hesse escaped World War II unharmed.

        Hermann Hesse

        A prominent feature of many of his books, Hesse had many problems throughout his life with women. His first marriage with Maria Bernoulli, from whom he had three children, ended sadly, his wife having mental problems. His second marriage was apparently a brief flame with Ruth Wenger, lasting only a few months. He finally married Ninon Dolbin in 1931, and remained with her for the rest of his life.

        He developed a sterile conservatism in his later life - in Das Glasperlenspiel, all music after Johann Sebastian Bach was denounced as superficial and bad, with Ludwig van Beethoven being an extreme example of bad taste.

        Das Glasperlenspiel however, with its William Morris-like idealised medieval style was extremely popular in the war-torn Germany of 1945.

        He died of cerebral hemorrhage in his sleep in Montagnola at the age of 85


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