Demian : The story of a youth by Hermann Hesse with a foreword by Thomas Mann
New York : Henry Holt and Company, 1948. Hardcover. 207 pages ; 21 cm. $3.00 dust jacket unclipped with a few rips and tears around the DJ edges. Very good copy with original dust jacket, unmarked pages and square binding.
DEMIAN BY HERMANN HESSE
Foreword by THOMAS MANN
IN THIS NOVEL, as in STEPPENWOLF, Hermann Hesse is mainly interested in the two-sided nature of man. The problem of the beast in man is the theme of STEPPENWOLF; the problem in DEMIAN is presented in terms of good and evil, of Cain and Abel, as it is met in the growth of a maturing boy.
Young Emil Sinclair is not too young to realize while he is still in school that there are around him two worlds, one "bright," one "dark." The bright world of his home, his parents, his secure well-being is easily accepted; the dark world outside, of poverty and cold and suspected but unknown unpleasantness, is only sensed by Sinclair.
With the normal desires of any youth to be part of both worlds, Sinclair boasts of a purely imaginary and unsavory exploit, and is at once blackmailed by a boy from the "dark world." Rescue comes through the help of a somewhat older schoolboy named Max Demian, a quiet, reflective, forceful boy.
It is Demian, and later his mother, who are the means of Sinclair's eventually possessing his own soul. But to find it he faces the age-old problems which have plagued thinking men since thought began. Is one a part of a world community? Is what most people accept as "good" the true good? Is it strength or weakness to conform to the general pattern? Is not God, in the final analysis, both Good and Evil? Is not fulfilling one's own destiny the highest task and the greatest good one can accomplish?
As Sinclair grows up, from school, through vacations, to the university, he finds those who try to help him, and he comes to understand them and gradually to understand himself. As the author writes, "We can understand one another; but each one is able to explain only himself." DEMIAN is one maris attempt to make that explanation in fictional terms.
What the Reviewers Say:
NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW The truth is that Hesse has been one of the most widely read authors in the German tongue for over forty years—an exquisite novelist and one of the greatest lyric poets since Goethe. STEPPENWOLF... is written in a noble, lofty and lucid style (and ably translated). —Claude Hill, Assistant Professor of German, Rutgers University
The significance of Hesse's writing lies in its universality of application. —Emily Schossberger NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE BOOK REVIEW
It would be hard to unearth an author who reflects so adequately and challengingly the ideas which Europe, in so far as it is still educated, now ponders. —George N. Shuster, President of Hunter College
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