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Biography of Herman Hesse

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and hatred. His anti-war opinions angered the German government and he soon found himself in the middle of a political conflict. Not too soon, other problems began to burden Hesse. His father’s death, the illness of his youngest son Martin, and his wife’s mental illness, caused him to have a mental breakdown and leave military service. During these years, Hesse underwent psychotherapy with Joseph Lang, and allowed him to clear the blockage in his mind and publish another novel, Demian. By 1919, Hesse’s household had completely collapsed and he decided to permanently settle in Montagnola, another town in Switzerland. Hesse decided to begin afresh and rented four small rooms in the Cassa Cammuzzi. Not only did the new environment influence his writings, but also his paintings. There, he found new inspiration and published his next major story Klingsor’s Last Summer. His Novella Siddartha (1942), revealed his love for Indian culture and fascination on Buddhist philosophy and is one of his most popular works. During the period of 1925 to 1930, Hesse wrote several masterpieces, including Kurgast, The Nuremberg Trip, Steppenwolf, Narcissus and Goldmund. After releasing the novella Journey to the East (1932), he moved to a larger house and began planning for his last major works. His last novel, The Glass Bead Game (1933,) influenced many German’s to look for new order during the chaos of World War II. In 1946, Hesse was awarded the Nobel prize in literature.

During his life, Hesse faced a series of difficulties from his childhood to adulthood. Throughout Hesse’s childhood, he was mentally unstable, depressed, and continuously experienced suicidal thoughts. Similarly, he suffered from ailments such as headaches and insomnia. His personality was not compatible with formal education which led him to run away, leave suicide notes, and change schools more than five times. His parents often had difficulty dealing with him which led him to smoke heavily and incur a large number of debts. His literary career also proved to contain many difficulties. His publication of O Friends, Not These Tones which expressed his anti-war opinions, caused him to be attacked by the German Press, receive hate mail, and forced him to write under the pseudonym “Emil Sinclair”. This was accompanied with the death of his father, and his wife’s mental illness, which would eventually lead to the end of their relationship. Hesse also faced other crises with his marriages. In 1924, he married the singer Ruth Wenger, however, this marriage did not attain stability either. Hesse did not find peace in his love life until 1927 when he married his third wife Ninon Doblin. Hesse’s difficulties shaped his success as one of Germany’s finest literary authors.

During his time, Hesse was a well known author in the German speaking world. However, his popularity became to decline in 1950’s when the public turned their attention to new matters. By the time of Hesse’s death in 1962, his works were still relatively unknown in the United States. The situation soon changed when his works became bestsellers in the United States during the mid 1960’s. His works soon spread to other parts of the world, even going so far as travelling back to Germany, where more than 800,000 copies were sold during 1972 to 1973. While increasing in popularity, his novels often provided insight of other areas of the world and provided young readers with a sense of hope and tranquility. Novels such as Siddartha and Narcissus and Goldmund contained theme’s such as self-exploration and finding peace within one’s self. It helped inspire many new ideas and make sense of the chaos around them, especially during World War II. Hesse’s works earns him a spot as one of the greatest contributors toward literature.


Internet Source: Wikipedia contributors. "Hermann Hesse." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 22 Jul. 2014. Web. 25 Jul. 2014

Ebsco: Loveday, Veronica. "Hermann Hesse." Hermann Hesse (9781429803106) (2005): 1-2. History Reference Center. Web. 25 July 2014.

University Website: HERMANN HESSE." HERMANN HESSE. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 July 2014.

Gale Databases: Steinbreder, John. "The Walking Cure; In the footsteps of Hermann Hesse." The Weekly Standard 19 May 2014. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 25 July 2014.

Proquest: Spohrer, J. H. "The Hermann Hesse Portal." Choice 42.4 (2004): 665. ProQuest. Web. 25 July 2014.

ABC Clio: Durham, Jennifer L. "Hesse, Hermann." World Cultural Leaders of the Twentieth Century. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2000. ABC-CLIO eBook Collection. Web. 25 Jul 2014.


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