Autobiographical writings by Hermann Hesse; Edited, and with an introduction by Theodore Ziolkowski. Translated by Denver Lindley
New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1972. First edition. Stated "First printing, 1972" on the copyright page. Hardcover. 291 pages ; 22 cm. $8.95 dust jacket. A very good copy with firm binding, clean and unmarked pages.
Edited, and with an introduction, by Theodore Ziolkowski
Translated by Denver Lindley
Rarely have biography and art been more complexly interwoven than in the life and works of Hermann Hesse. An intensely introspective man, Hesse was obsessed from first to last—from Peter Camenzind to The Glass Bead Game—with the spiritual crises of his life and the broader meanings they suggested for his generation. Inevitably, his readers become as fascinated with the man as with the works themselves. Yet Hesse's autobiographical writings, which comprise some of his finest prose and stand in explicit counterpoint to the fiction, have not been previously available in English.
The present volume includes twelve revealing pieces arranged so that Hesse narrates his own life in roughly chronological sequence. The first three, dealing primarily with the portrait of the artist as a young man, suggest the experiences that underlie Demian, Beneath the Wheel, and the other novels of youth. In the next group, Hesse describes his journey to India, from which Siddhartha eventually emerged, as well as the trauma of the war years. The two long central pieces, A Guest at the Spa and Journey to Nuremberg, recapitulate the process of maturing that turned the mountain recluse of Montagnola into the ironic witness of the twenties, who could write with such humorous detachment about the spiritual torments of the Steppenwolf.
The later writings, which move closer and closer to the reflective essay, render in a classically paradigmatic form an account of the highly ordered, virtually Castalian existence that assumed fictional shape in The Glass Bead Game.
The reader of Hesse's novels who turns to his autobiographical writings will be able to trace the tenuous line between fact and fiction that characterizes Hesse's entire body of work. In these pages we encounter once again Emil Sinclair, Siddhartha, Harry Haller, Goldmund, and Joseph Knecht—all in the persona of Hermann Hesse himself.
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