12-18-2007 01:57 PM
Hesse's first novel. Peter Camenzind, a young man from a Swiss mountain village, leaves his home and eagerly takes to the road in search of new experience. Traveling through Italy and France, Camenzind is increasingly disillusioned by the suffering he discovers around him; after failed romances and a tragic friendship, his idealism fades into crushing hopelessness. He finds peace again only when he cares for Boppi, an invalid who renews Camenzind’s love for humanity and inspires him once again to find joy in the smallest details of every life.
Beneath the Wheel
Hans Giebernath lives among the dull and respectable townsfolk of a sleepy Black Forest village. When he is discovered to be an exceptionally gifted student, the entire community presses him onto a path of serious scholarship. Hans dutifully follows the regimen of study and endless examinations, his success rewarded only with more crushing assignments. When Hans befriends a rebellious young poet, he begins to imagine other possibilities outside the narrowly circumscribed world of the academy. Finally sent home after a nervous breakdown, Hans is revived by nature and romance, and vows never to return to the gray conformity of the academic system.
In this fictional memoir, the renowned composer Kuhn recounts his tangled relationships with two artists -- his friend Heinrich Muoth, a brooding, self-destructive opera singer, and the gentle, self-assured Gertrude Imthor. Kuhn is drawn to Gertrude upon their first meeting, but Gertrude falls in love with Heinrich, to whom she is introduced when Kuhn auditions them for the leads in his new opera. Hopelessly ill-matched, Gertrude and Heinrich have a disastrous marriage that leaves them both ruined. Yet this tragic affair also becomes the inspiration for Kuhn’s opera, the most important success of his artistic life.
Johann Veraguth, a wealthy, successful artist, is estranged from his wife and stifled by the unhappy union. Veraguth’s love for his young son and his fear of drifting rootlessly keep him bound within the walls of his opulent estate, Rosshalde. Yet, when he is shaken by an unexpected tragedy, Veraguth finally finds the courage to leave the desolate safety of Rosshalde and travels to India to discover himself anew.
In Demian, Hesse tells the dramatic story of young, docile Emil Sinclair's descent -- led by precocious schoolmate Max Demian -- into a secret and dangerous world of petty crime and revolt against convention and eventual awakening to selfhood.
In the spring of 1922, several months after completing Siddhartha, Hesse wrote a fairy tale that was also a love story, inspired by the woman who was to become his second wife. That story, "Pictor’s Metamorphoses," is the centerpiece of this anthology of Hesse’s luminous short fiction. Based on The Arabian Nights and the work of the Brothers Grimm, the nineteen stories collected here represent a half century of Hesse's short writings. They display the full range of Hesse’s lifetime fascination with fantasy -- as dream, fairy tale, satire, or allegory.
Hesse’s best-known and most autobiographical work is one of literature’s most poetic evocations of the soul’s journey to liberation. Harry Haller is a sad and lonely figure, a reclusive intellectual for whom life holds no joy. He struggles to reconcile the wild primeval wolf and the rational man within himself without surrendering to the bourgeois values he despises. His life changes dramatically when he meets a woman who is his opposite, the carefree and elusive Hermine. The tale of the Steppenwolf culminates in the surreal Magic Theater For Madmen Only!
Narcissus and Goldmund
Narcissus, an ascetic instructor at a cloister school, has devoted himself solely to scholarly and spiritual pursuits. One of his students is the sensual, restless Goldmund, who is immediately drawn to his teacher’s fierce intellect and sense of discipline. When Narcissus persuades the young student that he is not meant for a life of self-denial, Goldmund sets off in pursuit of aesthetic and physical pleasures, a path that leads him to a final, unexpected reunion with Narcissus.
Journey to the East
H.H., a German choirmaster, is invited on an expedition with the League, a secret society of famous artists and philosophers. The participants traverse both space and time, encountering Noah’s Ark in Zurich and Don Quixote at Bremgarten. The pilgrims’ ultimate destination is the East, where they expect to find spiritual renewal. Yet the harmony that ruled at the outset of the trip soon degenerates into open conflict. Each traveler finds the rest of the group intolerable and heads off in his own direction, with H.H. bitterly blaming the others for the failure of the journey. It is only long after the trip, while poring over records in the League archives, that H.H. discovers his own role in the dissolution of the group, and the ominous significance of the journey itself.
The Glass Bead Game
This is Hesse's final novel, for which he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946. Set in the 23rd century, this is the story of Joseph Knecht, who has been raised in Castalia, the remote place his society has provided for the intellectual elite to grow and flourish. Since childhood, Knecht has been consumed with mastering the Glass Bead Game, which requires a synthesis of aesthetics and scientific arts, such as mathematics, music, logic, and philosophy, which he achieves in adulthood, becoming a Magister Ludi (Master of the Game).
Poems by Hermann Hesse
Few American readers seem to be aware that Hermann Hesse also wrote poetry, the best of which the poet James Wright has translated and included in this book. This is a special volume filled with short, direct poems about love, death, loneliness, the seasons. It is imbued with some of the imagery and feeling of Hesse’s novels but that has a clarity and resonance all its own, a sense of longing for love and for home that is both deceptively simple and deeply moving.