Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Gertrude by Hermann Hesse (1915)

Works I have so far read for German Literature Month 2014

1.   Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

The schedule and guidelines for participation are on the event webpage.  Just reading the  posts of all the other participants is tremendously informative. 

I am very happy to be once again participating in German Literature Month, hosted by Caroline of Beauty is a Sleeping Cat and Lizzy of Lizzy's Literary Life.   Events like this are one of the great things about being part of the international book blog community.  I know there is a lot of work that goes into a month long event and I offer my thanks to Lizzy and Caroline.

This is "Award Winner Week" on German Literature Month.  In 1946 Hermann Hesse (1877 to 1962) won the Nobel Prize and the Goethe Prize.  Having just read and posted on his Siddhartha I planned to reread his Steppenwolf.  Looking through the books by Hesse on Amazon I saw a recently translated work I had not previously heard of, Gertrude, so I decided to give it a try. 

In his introduction Thomas Fassano says the book is "disappointing" and I for sure agree.  It is the story of the career of a young musician, a writer of violin sonatas and operas.  His character is never made interesting.  I am seeing a "fault" in Hesse.  Why does a woman have to be conventionally beautiful to be worthy of love, for her opinions to be of interest?  For a writer who deals with the search for wisdom and esoteric knowledge, this seem very commonplace to me.  The central character develops a relationship with a music producer and famous performer who guides him but I found nothing of much interest in it. He falls in love with Gertrude but she is involved with the music master. Of course much space is devoted to devoted to the beauty of Gertrude.   We see the narrator's family life but that still disappointed.  I am glad I have read another Hesse work.

I would say unless you are determined to read all the Hesse you can, I goal I respect, read his better known works first.  

I am rereading after a decades long hiatus Stepphenwolf.  I am enjoying it.  As I read Hesse I am influenced by memories of where I was in my life when I first encountered his work.

Mel u



Caroline said...

I am one of those who wants to read all of Hesse but didn't get to this one yet. It really does sound disappointing. Too bad.

Mel u said...

Caroline. It was disappointing, not terrible but a work for those who have read a lot of Hesse