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Hermann Hesse

Hermann Hesse

“Whoever wants music instead of noise, joy instead of pleasure, soul instead of gold, creative work instead of business, passion instead of foolery, finds no home in this trivial world of ours.” This quote by Hermen Hesse somehow sums up most of his own life and struggle.

Hermann Hesse was born in a family of missionaries and religious publishers in the Black Forest town of Calw, in the German state of Wüttenberg on July 2, 1877. Both of his parents served with a Basel Mission to India, where Hesse’s mother Marie undert was born in 1842. Hesse’s father, Johannes Hesse, was born in 1847 in Estonia, the son of a doctor. The Hesse family had lived in Calw since 1873, where they operated a missionary publishing house under the direction of Hesse’s grandfather, Hermann Gundert.

In 1880 the family moved to Basel, Switzerland, for six years, and then returned to Calw. After successful attendance at the Latin School in Göppingen, Hesse began to attend the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Maulbronn in 1891. Here in March 1892, Hesse showed his rebellious character and in one instance he fled from the Seminary and was found in a field a day later. During this time, Hesse began a journey through various institutions and schools, and experienced intense conflicts with his parents. In may he attempted to commit suicide and was later sent to a mental institution in Stetten. In 1894 he began to serve a mechanic with a view to learn its art at clock tower factory in Claw. This monotonous and filling work made him turn himself towards the spiritual activities, mechanic apprenticeship made him discover the spiritual and creative side of him. In October 1895, he was ready to begin wholeheartedly a new apprenticeship with a bookseller in Tübingen. This experience from his youth he returns to later in his novel, Beneath the Wheel.

On October 17, 1895, Hesse began working in the bookshop Heckenhauer in Tübingen, which had a specialized collection in theology, philology, and law. Hesse’s job their consisted of organizing packing and achieving the books. After he had completed his work for the day, he would begin to do his own work further. He spent his idle Sundays with the books around him rather than with friends. This clearly shows his underlying love and interest for books. There Hesse studies various forms of writings ranging from theological, Goethe, Lessing, Schiller to several tests on Greek mythology. In 1896, his poem ‘Madonna’ appeared in a Viennese periodical.

By 1898, Hesse had a respectable income which made him financially independent, letting him focus further on the works of German romantics. He expressed his believe that “the mortality of an artist was being replaced by aesthetics” in letters to his parents. He further wrote many books in the following years amongst them were Sidhartha(one of the most popular western novels set in India) , Steppenwolf,demian,the glass bed game, beneath the wheel, The fairy tales of Herman Hesse,Gertude. However his books were not a great success and were rated average but his work and flexible writing style was acknowledged and so was honored with many awards. His writing received an average rating but his success can be seen in the fact that throughout Germany, many schools are named after him. In 1964, the Calwer Hermann-Hesse-Preis was founded, which is awarded every two years, alternately to a German-language literary journal or to the translator of Hesse’s work to a foreign language.

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