Hermann Hesse

Early Life

Hermann Karl Hesse was born on the 2nd of July in 1887 in Cawl, Germany. He was the brilliant son of Johannes Hesse, a Baltic German. His parents spent many years in India, where they served as missionaries for a short period. Later, the family moved to Switzerland when he was four and returned after six years. He spent his early years in Claws and Basel, which provided him a chance to gain an insight into two different dialects. His mother’s love for music and poetry, along with his father’s storytelling technique, too, played a key role in his early development.


Hermann Hesse started his educational career form a Latin school in Germany. Later, in 1891, he joined Evangelical Theological Seminary, where he enjoyed translating Classic Greek poetry into German in his early years. Unfortunately, in 1892, Hermann ’s behavior grew intense and showed the negative sides of his character. He became rebellious and fled the missionary. Later, he was found alone in the field. In the same year, he had a failed suicide attempt for which he was sent to a mental institution. On his recovery, he attended Gymnasium in 1893 and passed his first-year examination. At the age of twelve, he decided to become a writer.


Hermann  Hesse, with his enthusiastic ideas, stands among the influential and popular German authors. He enjoyed unprecedented fame in his lifetime and won many awards. His masterpiece, The Glass Bead Game, won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1946. His other achievements included the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, Honorary Doctorate from the University of Bern, Goethe Prize, Mejstrik-Preis of the Schiller Foundation in Vienna, and Pour le Mérite.

Some Important Facts of His Life

  1. Hesse died of Brain Hemorrhage on the 9th of August in 1962 and was buried at San Abbondio, Montagnola.
  2. Richard Strauss, a German composer, and painter chose three of his poems to include in his songs in 1948.
  3. His most popular novel, Siddhartha, was translated into other languages as well.

His Career

Hermann  Hesse was apprenticed at Tubingen bookstore and Claw tower-clock factory, before becoming a writer. There he was exposed to theological writings, Greek mythology, German Romantics, and various great German writers and philosophers, including Goethe, Schiller, and Lessing. His encounter with the great works of Nietzsche, too, played a pivotal role in his literary development. The early publication of his first poem, “Madonna” in 1896 followed by his small volume of poetry, Romantic Songs, shows the visible impacts of these encounters. The following year, he published his collection of prose, One Hour after Midnight, which did not go well with his audience. Later, in 1904, he published his novel, Peter Camenzind, which made inroads into the world of letters in such a tremendous way that he became a household name. His next writing, Beneath the Wheels, appeared in 1906, followed by other short stories and poems. However, his next work, Gertrude, which published in 1910, exposed some production crises. With the representation of Buddhist philosophy and Indian culture, his masterpiece, Siddhartha, appeared in 1922, followed by other writings such as Knulp, Der Steppenwolf, The Glass Bead Game, Journey of the East and Visitor from India.

His Style

Hermann  Hesse, with his unique writing style, stands among the top German fiction writers. Marked with the use of simple structures, impressive diction, symbolism, imagery, and spirituality along with straightforward style, his works have won global recognition. They not only speak the mastery of his art, such as Siddhartha presents but also mark the unity of style such as “Stories of Five Decades.” To draw the readers, he used structure with a blend of other poetic expressions. His other work, Steppenwolf, speaks about his spiritual beliefs of his time. Moreover, religion, spirituality, and moral insight also have a special place in most of his works. The recurring themes in most of his writings are religion, life, a quest for enlightenment and spirituality.

Some Important Works of Hermann  Hesse

  • Best Novels: He was an outstanding writer. Some of his best novels include Siddhartha, Peter Camenzind, The Glass Bead Game, Steppenwolf, and Journey to the East.”
  • Other Works: Besides novels, he tried his hands in shorter fiction, too. Some of his major publications include “Stories of Five Decades”, “Hours in the Garden and Other Poems”, “Wandering-Notes and Sketches” and “Poems” (1970).

Hermann  Hesse’s Impact on Future Literature

Hermann  Hesse, with his thoughtful ideas, mesmerized the generations and left a deep imprint on the world of letters. His witty ideas clubbed with indifferent writing style exert a strong influence on the writers. That is why he won a wide readership for presenting psychology and spirituality in a time when other modernists attempted to fictionalize the absurdity of the modern world and man’s alienation from it. In the midst of this, he had had a significant influence on other writers, critics, and psychologists as Sigmund Freud considered Peter Camenzind as one of his favorite readings. His masterpieces provided the principles for the writers of succeeding generations. At the same time, his commentary on spiritual practices and the influence of the outer world are relevant even in today’s world. In fact, he has successfully documented his ideas about love and religion in his writings that even today, writers try to imitate his unique style, considering him an inspiration for writing prose.

Famous Quotes

  1. “All suicides have the responsibility of fighting against the temptation of suicide. Every one of them knows very well in some corner of his soul that suicide, though a way out, is rather a mean and shabby one, and that it is nobler and finer to be conquered by life than to fall by one’s own hand.” (Steppenwolf)
  2. “When someone is seeking … it happens quite easily that he only sees the thing that he is seeking; that he is unable to find anything, unable to absorb anything … because he is obsessed with his goal. Seeking means: to have a goal; but finding means: to be free, to be receptive, to have no goal.” (Siddhartha)
  3. “To study history means submitting to chaos and nevertheless retaining faith in order and meaning. It is a very serious task, young man, and possibly a tragic one.” (The Glass Bead Game)

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