Hermann Hesse – An Often Overlooked Author Worth Reading

Hey everyone,

We’re not going to talk about alien abductions, Carlos Castaneda, or the end of the world occurring on the winter solstice in 2012.

Hermann Hesse (1877 – 1962) was a German novelist and poet that lived most of his later life in Switzerland.

Three of his novels I have had a chance to read over the years.

Demian (1919) – a young school boy meets a strange, mysterious classmate and embarks on a journey of self realization.

Siddhartha (1922) – a young man in India seeks for insights as to life’s meaning and purpose.  The later movie (made in India, 1972 ) had been on YouTube until recently, but the 3 minute movie trailer (in English) is worth viewing here:


Movies rarely are able to do justice to the books they are based on.  But, this movie was pretty good.  Perhaps, someone else will upload it in the future.

Steppenwolf (1927) – literally meaning a wolf of the steppes.  As I recall, a middle aged man, Harry, who is nearly schizophrenic, and possibly suicidal, has a rather surreal adventure in self discovery.  This can also be seen on YouTube (links at bottom), but the book is better than the movie.  Trivia: the late 1960s rock band of the same name, took the name of Steppenwolf at the suggestion of their agent or manager as he had recently read the book.

Steppenwolf is a bit long, so it might be better – if you are interested –  to sample Hesse by reading Demian and/or Siddhartha.  If time is scarce, then Siddhartha would be my first recommendation as its the best of the three all around.  Demian is only around 120 pages or so (I seem to recall) and is also a rather enchanting and good read.

Hesse is also known for “The Glass Bead Game” ( also published under the title “Magister Ludi”) 1943.

He was awarded the Nobel prize for Literature in 1946.

So, if your reading list for this summer, or for this year, is not too long, you might consider adding one or more of these titles to it.  Most big city libraries will have some of Hesse’s works.  As the three titles above were printed in mass market paperback form in the 1960s and 1970s, many used bookstores will have copies of one or more of them.  And, there is always Amazon, and other online booksellers.

Today, I added the blog essay category “Great books and authors”.  From time to time, a new essay dealing with a good book and/or great author will be posted there.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSAO_D0o8N4  – part 1 (of 14) is just credits  Steppenwolf

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FPd2rt4ZSA&feature=plcp  part 2 (of 14),  movie seems to start at the end of this clip