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

Friday, November 6, 2015

Demian The Story of Emil Sinclair's Youth by Hermann Hesse (1919)

I am estatic to once again be able to Participate in German Literature Month, elegantly and lovingly hosted by Lizzi's Literary Live and Beauty is a Sleeping Cat. This is my fourth year as a participant.   On the host blogs you will find the particularities of the event but the basic idea is to read literature first written in German (translated or not) and share your thoughts.  I began accumulating works for the event soon after the event ended last year and I began reading for it in mid-September.  

Works Read for G L V So Far

1.  Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada. A brilliant recreation of life in Nazi Germany. 

2.  Ostend, Stefan Zweig, Joseph Roth and the Summer Before the End by Volker Weidermann. A fascinating social history 

3.  Buddenbrook Ths Decline of a Family by Thomas Mann.  Must reading 

4.  "The Governess" by Stefan Zweig

Last year during German Literature month I posted on two novels by Hermann Hesss (1873 to 1962, Switzerland).  Steppenwolf which was a reread from decades ago, was a great pleasure to reencounter.    I also read his Gertrude, just recently translated into English.  I recommend ithat only for those who have read and enjoyed his big name books.  

I purchased Demian The Story of Emil Sinclair's Youth because it was on sale as a Kindle edition for $0.99 and saved it to read for German Litwrature Month in 2015..  It is a coming of age story centering on a young man, Emil Sinclair.  Like most of Hesse's work, the grand theme of the book is the search for spiritual enlightenment.  When we first meet him he is being abused by a bully at his school.  A good bit of the opening of the story is taken up with this.  Then he meets another student, a kind of mysterious boy who has a long term influence on his life.  He is made to see another world different from the safe bourgeois world in which he lived, a darker world.   As he matures he begins to develop a knowledge of ancient Indian thought systems (as understood in Europe in 1919) which contrast the illusionionary world tne unenlightened as  see versus the real world.  He also begins to develop an interest in ideas based on young concerning the collective consciousness of humanity.

I am glad I read this book but strongly suggest you first read works like Steppenwolf, The Glass Bead Game and Shiddharta.

I hope others will share their favorite or least favorite Hesse works with us. 

Mel ü

1 comment:

Lory said...

I've just posted about the collected fairy tales of HH (translated by Jack Zipes). It was interesting to see how Hesse dealt with the same themes as in his novels but in a shorter form, with many different variations on the fairy tale theme. Recommended for all Hesse fans.