Hermann Hesse (1877-1962) was a former bookseller and antiquary, born in Württemberg, who became an influential writer and friend of the Swiss psychiartrist Carl Jung.
Hesse’s themes are mostly about his understanding of psychological and spiritual development, outlining how intertwining individual paths play off against and influence one another.
His novels Steppenwolf and Demian deal with Jung’s idea of the shadow. Narcissus and Goldmund contrasts the creative free spirit with the structured cleric. Siddhartha is based on the life of the Buddha. The Glass Bead Game portrays a game in which parallel themes from mathematics, the arts and philosophy creatively connect.
The Chilean diplomat Miguel Serrano says that he, Carl Jung and Hermann Hesse belonged to an “inner circle” of Gnostic-style knowers.¹ If Serrano is implying, as seems to be the case, that only three people would belong to an exclusive “inner circle,” this would indicate a kind of underdeveloped, self-aggrandized mysticism. Surely the ordinary person can be just as, if not more, mystically inclined than these public men of letters.
Hesse, being German, had to deal with the Nazi scourge in one way or another. His initial approach was to detach himself from politics, but it’s clear that he was against the Nazis. His third wife was, in fact, Jewish. And he spoke out against the dark regime long before he married her. Hesse’s publications came to be banned by the Nazis.²
He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946.
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- Review: Siddhartha by Heman Hesse (pwnbhojwani.wordpress.com)
- Masterpiece Monday: Demian (bookclubbabe.wordpress.com)
- Learning from Death and Detachment (my.psychologytoday.com)
- Hermann Hesse – Autobiography (toddlohenry.com)
- Books: The Outsider (time.com)