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Hermann Hesse

Hesse, Hermann (hĕrˈmän hĕsˈə) [key], 1877–1962, German novelist and poet. A pacifist, he went to Switzerland at the outbreak of World War I and became (1923) a Swiss citizen. The spiritual loneliness of the artist and his estrangement from the modern world are recurring themes in Hesse's works. His novels, increasingly psychoanalytic and symbolic, include Peter Camenzind (1904, tr. 1961), Unterm Rad (1906, tr. Beneath the Wheel, 1968), Rosshalde (1914, tr. 1970), and Demian (1919, tr. 1923, 1958). One of his most famous and most complex novels, Steppenwolf (1927, tr. 1929, 1963), treats the dual nature of humanity. This theme is also pursued in Narziss und Goldmund (1930, tr. Death and the Lover, 1932; Narcissus and Goldmund, 1968).

Among his other works are Das Glasperlenspiel (1943, tr. The Glass Bead Game, 1970) and Siddhartha (1922, tr. 1951), a novella reflecting Hesse's interest in Asian mysticism. The gentle, lyric quality of Hesse's prose is shared by the wistful, lamenting verse of his Gedichte (1922, tr. Poems, 1970) and Trost der Nacht (1929). His essays are collected in Betrachtungen (1928) and Krieg und Frieden (1946, tr. If the War Goes on… , 1970). Hesse was awarded the 1946 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Bibliography

See his Wandering (autobiographical notes, tr. 1972); studies by R. Rose (1965), T. Ziolowski (1965 and 1966), M. Boulby (1967), G. W. Field (1972), J. Mileck (1978), R. Freedman (1979), and E. L. Stelzig (1988).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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