HERMANN HESSE KURGAST PDF
Family background. Hermann Hesse was born on 2 July in the Black Forest town of Calw in .. His next major works, Kurgast () and The Nuremberg. El 2 de julio de nace #HermannHesse escritor alemán. Su obra se caracterizará por la inquietud del ser humano en busca de su propio destino. Entre sus. Request PDF on ResearchGate | Hermann Hesse and L: Two narratives of sciatica | In the literary novel Kurgast (), translated in English as A guest at the.
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Kurzgefaßter Lebenslauf. Erinnerung an Indien. Pedrotallagalla. Kurgast. Hermann Hesse & Romain Rolland: correspondence, diary entries and reflections. Hermann Hesse's involvement with the psychology of C.G. Jung begins in spring of .. This problem is one first addressed by Hesse in Kurgast (). Autobiographical Writings by Hermann Hesse Edited, and with an introduction, in German under the titles Kurgast and Die Nürnberger Reise respectively, In the autobiographical sketch "Childhood of the Magician," Hesse confides that it.
Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. Autobiographical Writings by Herman Hesse. Ana Garcia. 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.
Folge , Gesellschaft und Einsamkeit , and Vertreter der Menschheit cf. Hermann Hesse und die Moderne. What is more, he assigned to the depth-oriented writer a task similar to the aim pursued by avant-garde artists.
Der Steppenwolf. The goal of helping men to reshape themselves into new beings was pursued by Hesse, too. As he wrote in to Helene Welti: Zwischen beiden Polen spielte das Leben der Menschheit: Festhal- ten, was man erreicht hat, und Erreichtes wegwerfen, um Weiteres anzustreben! Das war es.
Hermann Hesse | Open Library
Donald D. Gedanken aus seinen Werken und Briefen. As he put it with a view to Dostoevsky: Ich sagte, Dostojewskij sei eigentlich kein Dichter, oder dieses sei er nur nebenher. Ich nannte ihn einen Propheten.
Hermann Hesse und die literarische Moderne. In a similar fashion, Marino Freschi has defined Hesse as an antimodern hermit who plays the role of a preacher when addressing himself to his readers Marino Freschi, Hermann Hesse, Il Mulino, Bologna , p. Williams, Wilderness and Paradise in Christian Thought.
Wandering towards the Wilderness of the Unconscious Ibid. The protagonist of the wilderness tradition is the pilgrim. Dodds, Pagan and Christian in an Age of Anxiety. We shall put out to sea, as Odysseus did, from the witch Circe or Calypso — as the poet says I think with a hidden meaning — and was not con- tent to stay though he had delights of the eyes and lived among much beauty of sense.
Our country from which we came is there, our Father is there. An Analysis of the Archetype, p. As a result, an archetypal symbolism might be said to underlie even philosophical conceptualization such as the Augustinian one, which, in the wake of Neoplatonism, strongly influ- enced the post-Plotinian afterlife of the wanderer topos.
This ethical imperative was laid down by St. Ladner, Homo Viator: Mediaeval Ideas on Alienation and Order, in Speculum, 42 , p. This means that the concept — and the experience — of authenticity begin to emerge in connection with the spatial imagery of inwardness, underlined by Charles Taylor as an important element of our sense of self Hawkins, Archetypes of Conversion: It is the expression, or series of expressions, of words: The following pas- sage is emblematic of this authorship idea: To whom tell I all this?
For to thee I tell it not; but before thee re- late it to mine own kind, the human kind, even to so small a part of it as may light upon these writings of mine. And to what purpose do I this? Even that both myself and whosoever reads this, may be- think ourselves out of what depths we are to cry unto Thee In this light, Hesse recovers the original meaning of the idea of revolt.
No wonder, then, that Hesse, at the very beginning of the text, turns inwards, meditating on the reasons why he decided to leave for Nuremberg. Such reflections thus result in an in- existence. Autobiographi- sche Schriften I. Hereafter quoted as DNR. The Powers and Limits of Psy- choanalysis, Vol. Wandering towards the Wilderness of the Unconscious ner journey through which he gains insight into himself as something ir- reducible to a merely intellect-guided subject.
The Hessian wayfarer does not es- trange oneself from the world and from his body for the sake of God but turns away from the patriarchal Logos-principle to open oneself to the living nature hidden in his inward and drive-ridden depths. In other words, Hesse realizes that his decision to undertake a journey is due, in the last analysis, to the influence exercised on him by the psychic material he is unearthing in his effort to expand the 64 Carl Gustav Jung, The Psychology of Dementia Praecox, The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease Publishing Company, New York , p.
What is at issue is the striving for individuation, related to the iden- tification of the locus of the self with the coniunctio of both poles of psy- chic life.
This self-shaping process is all the more important, as the writer underscored the necessity to put an end to the sufferings occasioned by the refusal to be oneself.
As he deplored in Wanderung. This ethics of the care of the individual self is eloquently illustrated in a passage of Wanderung in which trees are taken as models of self-constitution: Interestingly, the genesis of the self-reliance imperative is bound up with the American wilderness experience.
Autobio- graphische Schriften I. Williams, Wilderness and Paradise in Christian Thought, p. Wandering towards the Wilderness of the Unconscious Puritan colonization, and of the rise of the U.
At the core of it lay the following questions: Such a task entailed the experience of wilderness: Bellah, The Broken Covenant: History and Meaning in Religion, p. At no former era has Literature […] been of such importance as it is now. These preach to the people daily, […], imparting moral encouragement, consolation, edification The Transcen- dentalists.
The Transcendentalists. An Anthology, p. As he put it with a view to himself: A truly good book […] teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down and commence living on its hint. So, I cannot stay to hear a good sermon and applaud at the conclusion, but shall be half-way to Thermopylae before that. The individualistic self-culture underlying this subjectivation pro- cess finds expression in a spiritual exercise. Note, for instance, the favorite music and reading matter of Harry Haller in Steppenwolf.
This lifelong allegiance to classical German culture should not be thought of as provincial or restrictive, however, for Hesse's Calw impressions were qualified and enlarged, from childhood on, by an unusual family. Hesse's father, Johannes Hesse, was a Baltic German from Estonia, who continued to the end of his life -- in the midst of the local Alemannic dialect -- to speak a pure High German that his son recalled with fondness and that no doubt influenced Hesse's own literary style.
After spending four years as a missionary on the Malabar Coast of India, Johannes Hesse was compelled for reasons of health to return to Europe. There he was reassigned by the Basel Missionary Society to assist Dr. Hermann Gundert, the director of the Calw Missionary Press. In Calw he met Gundert's widowed daughter, Marie Isenberg, whom he soon married. Marie brought two sons, Theo and Karl, into the marriage; and of the children born to her and Johannes Hesse in the following years, four survived: Adele, Hermann, Hans, and Marulla.
It was therefore a generation of six children that grew up in this South German household dominated by the wizard-like old grandfather, who was fluent in many European languages and an authority on Indian culture and languages. Hermann Gundert, who had spent over twenty years on the Malabar Coast, was one of the most distinguished missionaries of the nineteenth century and, in addition, a noted scholar.
Among the many works that he produced, the major contribution was a Malayalam-English dictionary, which occupied him even during his years as director of the publishing house in Calw. Through his own monumental personality -- reflected in several of the autobiographical pieces, notably in "About Grandfather" -- and through the exotic visitors who often came to his house, Gundert added to South German culture a cosmopolitan dimension that became increasingly important to his grandson: German classical culture, Orientalism, and a broadly ecumenical Christianity that grew into an interest in religion generally -- these are the three principal elements of Hesse's childhood experience that developed into the major themes of his subsequent works.
The richly documented family history -- the Hesses and Gunderts were compulsive correspondents and diarists -- suggests that for a time during his childhood young Hermann was a family tyrant, an irrationally temperamental child who plagued his parents and teachers alike.
These episodes might well have foretold Hesse's later academic troubles as well as his lifelong resistance to authority.
But such disruptive elements have been filtered out of Hesse's own recollections of the "Childhood of the Magician," where these years have been toned down to a soft golden hue of magic and paradise. Although Hesse seemed at first to be enchanted with his new status as student at Maulbronn, within half a year he ran away from school and had to be brought back by officers of the local constabulary.
From March until May of his health deteriorated and he slumped into a mood of such abject depression that his parents finally removed him from Maulbronn. If we can believe "Life Story Briefly Told," Hesse's school problems can be explained in part by his decision, at age thirteen, to become a writer -- a calling, he notes, for which there is no prescribed curriculum.
For a year and a half he was sent from school to school, but the changes produced only suicide attempts and increasingly severe attacks of headache and vertigo. In the fall of Hesse begged his parents simply to take him out of school, and thus at age sixteen he ended his formal education.
For six months he lounged around Calw, working in the family garden plot, helping his father who had become director of the press after Gundert's death in , and reading in his grandfather's library.
In the summer of , rebelling against any sort of academic career, Hesse signed on as an apprentice in Heinrich Perrot's tower-clock workshop in Calw. This experience provided the material for many of Hesse's early stories, which often deal with tradesmen, apprentices, and tramps in rural Germany e. At the same time he was writing: These unabashedly romantic works were followed in by The Posthumous Writings and Poems of Hermann Lauscher and, in , by a second volume of poems.
Hesse's bohemian existence during these years, in rented rooms decorated by pictures of Nietzsche and Chopin, is recaptured in the essay "On Moving to a New House. Fischer praised him -- it was not until that he achieved, with the novel Peter Camenzind, his first broad acclaim as well as a measure of financial independence.
That year Hesse married Maria Bernoulli, an intensely introspective and musically gifted woman who was nine years his elder. Giving up his position as bookdealer, Hesse moved to the village of Gaienhofen on the German shore of Lake Constance, determined to earn his living as a writer. His growing reputation involved him increasingly in the paraliterary life of the successful man of letters.
In addition, he reviewed scores of books and edited several anthologies and works of German romantic literature. By all external standards of measurement, Hesse was a successful young writer.
But this surface bliss merely masked the emotional dissatisfaction lurking underneath -- a situation of family tension depicted quite precisely in the novel Rosshalde , which concludes that a successful artist can never be a successful husband and father. In Hesse journeyed to the East Indies with the painter Hans Sturzenegger, but his expectations of discovering an intact paradise in the Orient were, as we noted, disappointed.
It was only ten years later, in the novel Siddhartha , that Hesse finally managed to objectify and come to terms with his experiences in the East.
In the meantime, he still sought to compensate for inner turmoil through external mobility.
In he moved his family from Gaienhofen to Bern, and it was therefore in Switzerland that World War I overtook him. Unlike many of his contemporaries in Germany and France, Hesse was appalled by the war from the start.
This grave psychic jolt was exacerbated by family difficulties: It was as a result of these pressures that Hesse made up his mind, toward the end of that same year, to put himself in the care of Dr. Josef B. Lang, a disciple of Jung, in the Sonnmatt sanatorium near Lucerne. It must not be imagined that Hesse suffered such a severe nervous breakdown that he was in any sense incapacitated. As a matter of fact, during the entire war he worked actively for Swiss relief organizations, editing a biweekly Sunday journal and a series of literary editions for German prisoners-of-war, as well as a newspaper for German internees in Switzerland.
It should also be understood that the experience of psychoanalysis struck Hesse less as a revelation than as a systematized confirmation of insights he had gleaned implicitly from the great works of literature.
Nevertheless, the sessions with Lang, which extended into and led to Hesse's acquaintance with Jung, produced a definite sense of spiritual liberation. Hitherto oppressed by feelings that conflicted with conventional notions of right and wrong, Hesse learned to acknowledge their existence in his own soul and in the world.
Instead of forcing his thoughts and emotions into patterns prescribed by society, he decided to accept the "chaos" of his own consciousness, where the boundary between good and evil did not seem nearly so sharp and clear as in Judaeo-Christian ethics. The immediate product of this psychic release was the novel Demian, which Hesse wrote in a few weeks in The radical ethical ideas of the novel were formulated more systematically in his two essays about Dostoevsky published in In Sight of Chaos These two essays caught T.
Eliot's attention and he cited the book in his Notes on The Waste Land. Early in , leaving his family behind, he moved to Ticino in southern Switzerland. Here, in the village of Montagnola above Lugano, Hesse spent what he later regarded as his happiest and most productive year. To symbolize the new beginning, he published much of his work that year -- the novel Demian as well as several essays -- under the pseudonym Emil Sinclair.
It was at this time, in addition, that Hesse wrote his two finest novellas -- Klingsor's Last Summer and Klein and Wagner -- and began the novel Siddhartha.
In , finally, he also toyed seriously with the idea of giving up writing and becoming a painter. Though he remained primarily a writer, water-color painting became an increasingly important avocation and, indeed, source of income.
The euphoria of did not last. This blissful year was followed by what Hesse said was the most unproductive and despondent year of his life. In addition, the postwar inflation had depleted his savings and virtually wiped out his German royalties. In order to eke out his precarious financial situation, he began accepting commissions for hand- illustrated editions of his poems and fairy tales.
In , the year he became a Swiss citizen, Hesse was driven by the rheumatic pains that plagued him increasingly for the rest of his life to make the first of his autumnal visits to the spa at Baden, where he always stayed in the same room at the Hotel Verena-Hof.
As a matter of record, in Hesse was married for a second time; but this marriage to Ruth Wenger lasted only a few months and was formally dissolved in From to Hesse interrupted his hermit's existence in Montagnola by spending the winters in Zurich.
It was during these years that he also undertook reading tours such as the one that produced "Journey to Nuremberg. Bodmer, differed very much in temper and structure from the preceding fifty years. To be sure, Hesse continued to spend a few weeks each fall at the spa in Baden as well as frequent summers at Sils Maria in the Engadine.
But these sojourns, described in autobiographical sketches included here, were little more than a gentle syncopation in the smooth rhythm of his new life. Hesse's first forty years had been marked by frenetic external motion -- flights from school, flights from home, flights across Europe and Asia, flights from his family. The years from to were, externally at least, somewhat calmer, but the writer was torn inwardly by the violent process of spiritual revaluation that he called "the journey through the hell of myself.
The permanence of this settled existence is best caught in the late reflective essays, such as "Events in the Engadine," that stress the sameness and the recurrent quality of life.
During the thirties and early forties, to be sure, Hesse was still involved in the world outside: He set aside the income from his water-color editions specifically for this purpose. Immediately after the war a new kind of recognition -- exemplified by such honors as the Nobel Prize and the Goethe Prize -- came to him: Despite all the turmoil in the world below, however, Hesse's life in Montagnola moved according to certain invariable, almost mythic patterns.
And it is these patterns -- too sacred to Hesse to be upset by trips to Germany or Sweden to accept awards! It is characteristic that after the publication of The Glass Bead Game in Hesse wrote virtually no more fiction and no more analytical autobiography. His needs for self- expression, until his death on August 9, , were most adequately filled by such public forms as the circular letter and the reflective essay.
The present volume includes twelve of the most important and representative autobiographical pieces, arranged so that Hesse narrates his own life in roughly chronological sequence.
Hesse's readers in the United States and Great Britain know very little about the author of the novels to which they have often given their unreserved admiration. This ignorance is due in part to the circumstance that few of his personal documents -- essays, letters, autobiographical writings -- have been available in English. But it can surely be explained as well by the paradoxical fact that Hesse's pronounced tendency to lead us away from "reality" to the "timeless realm of the spirit" discourages interest in personality as such.
Yet the reader of Hesse's novels who turns to his Autobiographical Writings will soon discover that the appeal of the novels lies not so much in their fictionality as in the qualities which are an expression of the author's own life. The pattern of Hesse's early life turns out to be -- more than Demian or Siddhartha -- a paradigm of alienated youth who, unable to accept outmoded values and unwilling to sell out to the establishment, drop out of structured society in search of themselves.
The spiritual crisis of Hesse's maturity reflects, even more clearly than Steppenwolf, the crise de conscience of many over-thirties in this country who have been forced by events of the past decade -- war, poverty, technologization -- to reassess their values, often at the risk of antagonizing friends and associates not yet shaken by the glaring discrepancy between the American "reality" and the American Dream.
And the older Hesse, like one of those serene sages from The Glass Bead Game, represents a mode of life toward which still other readers might wish to aspire. So secure in his own beliefs that he is no longer troubled by the frantic pursuit of individuality, Hesse created in Montagnola his own Castalia and, in the midst of "reality," lived in the realm of the spirit where values are preserved intact and where life goes on according to immutable, timeless patterns.
Or, to take Hesse's own analogy from The Glass Bead Game, the autobiographical writings reveal the "entelechy" of which Hesse's fictional characters are but the transitory garb.
As a warning from your depths Comes the whispered word of magic; Drunken and asleep, so I seem, And you call me forth and away. Not by parents and teachers alone was I educated, but by higher, more arcane and mysterious powers as well, among them the god Pan, who stood in my grandfather's glass cabinet in the guise of a little dancing Hindu idol.
This deity, and others too, took an interest in me during my childhood years, and long before I could read and write they so filled me with age-old Eastern images and ideas that later, whenever I met a Hindu or Chinese sage, it was like a reunion, a homecoming.
And yet I am a European, was, in fact, born with the sign of the Archer on the ascendant, and all my life have zealously practiced the Western virtues of impetuosity, greed and unquenchable curiosity.
Fortunately, like most children, I had learned what is most valuable, most indispensable for life before my school years began, taught by apple trees, by rain and sun, river and woods, bees and beetles, taught by the god Pan, taught by the dancing idol in my grandfather's treasure room.
I knew my way around in the world, I associated fearlessly with animals and stars. I was at home in orchards and with fishes in the water, and I could already sing a good number of songs.
I could do magic too, a skill that I unfortunately soon forgot and had to relearn at a very advanced age -- and I possessed all the legendary wisdom of childhood. To this, formal schooling was now added, and it came easy to me, was amusing. The school prudently did not concern itself with those important accomplishments that are indispensable for life, but chiefly with frivolous and attractive entertainments, in which I often took pleasure, and with bits of information, many that have remained loyally with me all my life; for instance, today I still know beautiful, witty Latin sayings, verses, and maxims and the number of inhabitants in many cities in all quarters of the globe, not as they are today, of course, but as they were in the 's.
Up to my thirteenth year I never seriously considered what I should one day become or what profession I should choose. Like all boys, I loved and envied many callings: My greatest preference by far, however, would have been to be a magician. This was the deepest, most profoundly felt direction of my impulses, springing from a certain dissatisfaction with what people call "reality" and what seemed to me at times simply a silly conspiracy of the grownups; very early I felt a definite rejection of this reality, at times timorous, at times scornful, and the burning wish to change it by magic, to transform it, to heighten it.
In my childhood this magic wish was directed toward childish external goals: I should have liked to make apples grow in winter and through magic to fill my purse with gold and silver. I dreamed of crippling my enemies by magic and then shaming them through my magnanimity, and of being called forth as champion and king; I wanted to be able to find buried treasures, to raise the dead, and to make myself invisible. It was this art of making oneself invisible that I considered most important and coveted most deeply.
Thus it happened later on, long after I had grown up and was practicing the calling of writer, that I frequently tried to disappear behind my creations, to rechristen myself and hide behind playfully contrived names -- attempts which oddly enough were frequently misunderstood by my fellow writers and were held against me. When I look back, it seems to me that my whole life has been influenced by this desire for magic powers; how the objects of these magical wishes changed with the times, how I gradually withdrew my efforts from the outer world and concentrated them upon myself, how I came to aspire to replace the crude invisibility of the magic cloak with the invisibility of the wise man who, perceiving all, remains always unperceived -- this would be the real content of my life's story.
I was an active and happy boy, playing with the beautiful, many-colored world, at home everywhere, not less with animals and plants than in the primeval forest of my own fantasies and dreams, happy in my powers and abilities, more delighted than consumed by my burning desires.
I exercised many magic powers at that time without knowing it, much more completely than I was ever able to do later on. It was easy for me to win love, easy to exercise influence over others, I had no trouble playing the role of ringleader or of the admired one or the man of mystery. For years at a time I kept my younger friends and relations respectfully convinced of my literally magic power, of my mastery over demons, of my title to crowns and buried treasures.
For a long time I lived in paradise, although my parents early made me acquainted with the serpent. Long enduring was my childish dream that the world belonged to me, that only the present existed, that everything was disposed about me to be a beautiful game.
If on occasion discomfort or yearning arose in me, if now and then the happy world seemed shadowed and ambiguous, then for the most part it was easy for me to find my way into that other freer, more malleable world of fantasy, and when I returned from it, I found the outer world once more charming and worthy of my love.
For a long time I lived in paradise. There was a wooden shed in my father's small garden where I kept rabbits and a tame raven. There I spent endless hours, long as geological ages, in warmth and blissful ownership; the rabbits smelled of life, of grass and milk, of blood and procreation; and in the raven's hard, black eye shone the lamp of eternal life.
In the same place I spent other endless epochs in the evenings, beside a guttering candle with the warm, sleeping animals, alone or in the company of a friend, and sketched out plans for discovering immense treasures, finding the mandrake root and launching victorious crusades throughout the world, which was so much in need of deliverance, crusades on which I would execute robbers, free miserable captives, raze thieves' strongholds, have traitors crucified, forgive runaway vassals, win kings' daughters, and understand the language of animals.
There was an enormously big heavy book in my grandfather's large library; I often looked through it and read here and there. This inexhaustible book contained marvelous old pictures -- sometimes you could find them when you first opened the book and leafed about, there they were bright and inviting; sometimes you could search for a long time and not find them at all, they were gone, magicked away as though they had never existed.
There was a story in this book, exceedingly beautiful and incomprehensible, that I read again and again. Everything was full of reality and everything was full of magic, the two grew confidently side by side, both of them belonged to me.
Then too the dancing idol from India which stood in my grandfather's fabulous glass cabinet was not always the same idol, did not always have the same face, did not dance the same dance at all hours.
Sometimes he was an idol, a strange and rather droll figure such as are made and worshipped in strange, incomprehensible countries by strange and incomprehensible people. At other times he was a magical object, full of meaning, infinitely sinister, avid for sacrifices, malevolent, harsh, unreliable, sardonic -- he seemed to be tempting me to laugh at him in order afterward to take vengeance on me. He could change his expression although he was made of yellow metal; sometimes he leered.
Again at other times he was all symbol, was neither ugly nor beautiful, neither evil nor good, laughable nor frightful, but simply old and inscrutable as a rune, as a lichen on a rock, as the lines on a pebble, and behind his form, behind his face and image, lived God, the Infinite lurked there, which at that time as a boy, without knowing its name, I recognized and revered not less than in later days when I called it Shiva, Vishnu, named it God, Life, Brahman, Atman, Tao, or Eternal Mother.
It was father, was mother, it was woman and man, sun and moon. And around the idol in the glass cabinet and in other of Grandfather's cabinets stood and hung and lay many other beings and objects, strings of wooden beads like rosaries, rolls of palm leaves inscribed with ancient Hindu writing, turtles carved out of green soapstone, little images of God made of wood, of glass, of quartz, of clay, embroidered silk and linen covers, brass cups and bowls, and all this came from India and from Ceylon, from Paradise Island with its fern trees and palm-lined shores and gentle doe-eyed Singhalese, it came from Siam and from Burma, and everything smelled of the sea, of spice and far places, of cinnamon and sandalwood, all had passed through brown and yellow hands, been drenched by tropic rains and Ganges water, dried by the equatorial sun, shaded by primeval forests.
All these things belonged to my grandfather, and he, the ancient, venerable, and powerful one with the white beard, omniscient, mightier than any father and mother, he possessed other things and powers as well, his were not only the Hindu idols and toys, all the carved, painted, magically endowed objects, the cocoanut-shell cups and sandalwood chests, the hall and the library, he was a magician too, a wise man, a sage. He understood all the languages of mankind, more than thirty, perhaps the language of the gods as well, perhaps that of the stars, he could write and speak Pali and Sanskrit, he could sing the songs of the Kanarese, of Bengal, Hindustan, Senegal, he knew the religious exercises of the Mohammedans and the Buddhists though he was a Christian and believed in the triune God; for many years and decades he had lived in hot, dangerous, Oriental countries, had traveled in boats and in oxcarts, on horses and donkeys, no one knew as well as he that our city and our country were only a very small part of the earth, that a thousand million people had other beliefs than ours, other customs, languages, skin colors, other gods, virtues, and vices.
I loved him, honored him, and feared him, from him I expected everything, to him I attributed everything, from him and his god Pan disguised in the likeness of an idol I learned unceasingly. From him, from this unfathomable one, I knew, came the secret that surrounded my mother, the secret, age-old mystery, and she too had been in India for a long time, she too could speak and sing in Malayalam and Kanarese, she exchanged phrases and maxims with her aged father in strange, magical tongues.
And at times she possessed, like him, the stranger's smile, the veiled smile of wisdom. My father was different. He stood alone, belonging neither to the world of the idols and of my grandfather nor to the workaday world of the city. He stood to one side, lonely, a sufferer and a seeker, learned and kindly, without falseness and full of zeal in the service of truth, but far removed from that noble and tender but unmistakable smile -- he had no trace of mystery.
The kindliness never forsook him, nor his cleverness, but he never disappeared in the magic cloud that surrounded my grandfather, his face never dissolved in that childlikeness and godlikeness whose interplay at times looked like sadness, at times like delicate mockery, at times like the silent, inward-looking mask of God.
My father did not talk to my mother in Hindu languages, but spoke English and a pure, clear, beautiful German faintly colored with a Baltic accent. It was this German he used to attract and win me and instruct me; at times I strove to emulate him, full of admiration and zeal, all too much zeal, although I knew that my roots reached deeper into my mother's soil, into the dark-eyed and mysterious. My mother was full of music, my father was not, he could not sing. Along with me, sisters were growing up, and two older brothers, envied and admired.
Around us was the little city, old and hunchbacked, and around it the forest- covered mountains, severe and somewhat dark, and through its midst flowed a beautiful river, curving and hesitant, and all this I loved and called home, and in the woods and river, I was well acquainted with the growing things and the soil, stones and caves, birds and squirrels, foxes and fishes.
All this belonged to me, was mine, was home -- but in addition there were the glass cabinet and the library and the kindly mockery in the omniscient face of my grandfather, and the dark, warm glance of my mother, and the turtles and idols, the Hindu songs and sayings, and these things spoke to me of a wider world, a greater homeland, a more ancient descent, a broader context. And high up in his wire cage sat our grave parrot, old and wise, with a scholar's face and a sharp beak, singing and talking, and he too came from afar, from the unknown, fluting the language of the jungles and smelling of the equator.
Many worlds, many quarters of the earth, extended arms, sent forth rays which met and intersected in our house. And the house was big and old, with many partly empty rooms, with cellars and great resounding corridors that smelled of stone and coolness, and endless attics full of lumber and fruit and drafts and dark emptiness.
Rays of light from many worlds intersected in this house. There was a grandmother, too, whom we rather feared and did not know very well because she spoke no German and read a French Bible. Complex and not understood by everyone was the life of this house, the play of light here was many- colored, rich and multitudinous were the sounds of life.
It was beautiful and it pleased me, but more beautiful still was the world of my wishful thinking, richer still the play of my waking dreams. Reality was never enough, there was need of magic. Magic was native to our house and to my life. Besides the cabinets of my grandfather there were my mother's cabinets as well, full of Asiatic textiles, cloths and veils.
There was magic too in the leering glance of the idol, and mystery in the smell of many ancient rooms and winding stairways. And there was much inside me that corresponded to these externals. There were objects and connections that existed only within me and for me alone. Nothing was so mysterious, so incommunicable, so far removed from commonplace actuality as were these, and yet there was nothing more real. This was true even of the capricious comings and goings of the pictures and stories in that big book, and the transformations in the aspect of things which I saw occurring from hour to hour.
How different was the look of our front door, the garden shed, and the street on a Sunday evening from on a Monday morning! What a completely different face the wall clock and the image of Christ in the living room wore on a day when Grandfather's spirit dominated than when my father's spirit did, and how very completely all this changed again in those hours when no one else's spirit but my own gave things their signature, when my soul played with things and bestowed on them new names and meanings!
At such times a familiar chair or stool, a shadow beside the oven, the headline in a newspaper, could be beautiful or ugly and evil, significant or banal, could cause yearning or fear, laughter or sadness.
How little there was that was fixed, stable, enduring! How alive everything was, undergoing transformation and longing for change, on the watch for dissolution and rebirth! But of all the magic apparitions the most important and splendid was "the little man. The little man was a tiny, gray, shadowy being, a spirit or goblin, angel or demon, who at times walked in front of me in my dreams as well as during my waking hours, and whom I had to obey, more than my father, more than my mother, more than reason, yes, often more than fear.
If the little one were visible, he alone existed, and where he went and what he did I had to imitate. He showed himself in times of danger. If a bad dog or an angry, bigger boy was plaguing me and my situation became critical, then at the most dangerous moment the little man would appear, running before me, showing me the way and bringing rescue. He would show me the loose board in the garden fence through which in the nick of time I could escape, or he would demonstrate for me just what I was to do -- drop to the ground, turn back, run away, shout, be silent.
He would take out of my hand something I was about to eat, he would lead me to the place where I could recover lost possessions. There were times when I saw him every day, there were times when he remained absent. These times were not good, then everything was tepid and confused, nothing happened, nothing went forward.
However, I did not drown but was pulled out by a pretty young woman, a neighbor of ours whom I had barely known up to then and with whom for a long time I had a happy, teasing sort of friendship. Once my father had to lecture me for a misdeed. I halfway exonerated myself, suffering once more from the fact that it was so hard to make oneself understood by grownups.
There were a few tears and a mild punishment and in the end my father gave me, so that I should not forget the occasion, a pretty little pocket calendar. Somewhat ashamed and dissatisfied with the whole affair, I went away and was walking across the river bridge, when suddenly the little man ran in front of me.
Springing onto the bridge railing, he ordered me with gestures to throw my father's gift into the river. I did so at once; doubt and hesitation did not exist when the little man was there, they existed only when he was not there, when he had disappeared and left me abandoned.
I remember one day when I was out walking with my parents and the little man appeared. He walked on the left side of the street and I followed him, and whenever my father ordered me back to the other side the little one refused to come with me and insisted on walking on the left side, and every time I had to go across to him again.
My father got tired of the business and finally let me walk where I liked. He was offended and later, at home, asked me why I had been persistently disobedient and had insisted on walking on the other side of the street. At such times I was in serious embarrassment, indeed in real distress, for nothing was more impossible than to say a word about the little man to anyone at all. Nothing would have been worse, viler, more of a deadly sin than to betray the little man, to name him, to breathe a word about him.
I could not even think of him, not even call on him or wish him by my side. If he was there, it was good and I followed him. If he was not there, it was as if he had never existed. The little man had no name. The most impossible thing in the world, however, would have been, once the little man was there, not to follow him.
Where he went I went after him, even into the water, even into the fire. It was not as though he ordered or advised me to do this or that. Not to imitate something he did was just as impossible as it would have been for my shadow in the sun not to follow my actions.
Perhaps I was only the shadow or mirror image of the little one, or he of me; perhaps when I thought I was imitating him I was acting before him or simultaneously with him. Only he was not, alas, always there, and when he was absent then my actions lost all naturalness and necessity, then everything could be otherwise, then for every step there was the possibility of acting or not acting, of hesitation, of reflection.
But the good, happy, lucky steps in my life at that time all occurred without reflection. The realm of freedom is also the realm of illusions, perhaps. What good friends I became with the merry woman from next door who had pulled me out of the fountain! She was lively, young, pretty, and dumb with an amiable dumbness that bordered on genius. She let me tell her stories about robbers and magicians, believing sometimes too much, sometimes too little, and considered me at least one of the wise men from the East, something I readily agreed to.
She admired me greatly. If I told her something funny, she laughed loudly and immoderately long before she understood the point. I chided her for this, saying: That's very stupid, and besides it's insulting to me. Either you get my jokes and laugh or you don't -- then you shouldn't laugh and act as though you understood. You're great. You will be a professor or an ambassador or a doctor. But laughing, you know, is nothing to take amiss. I laugh just because I enjoy you and because you're the wittiest one there is.
And now go ahead and explain your joke to me. There were difficult tongue twisters that I sometimes had to repeat to her, very fast, three times in a row. For example: She had to try them too, I insisted on that, but she started laughing first and could not bring out three words right, nor did she want to, and each sentence that she began ended in renewed roars of laughter. Frau Anna was the most joyous person I have ever known. In my boyish cleverness I considered her incredibly dumb, and actually she was, but she was a happy human being, and I am sometimes inclined to consider happy human beings the secret wise men, even if they seem stupid.
What is stupider and makes people more unhappy than cleverness! Years passed, and my friendship with Frau Anna had fallen into abeyance, I was already an older schoolboy and subject to the temptations, sorrows, and dangers of cleverness when one day I encountered her again. And once more it was the little man who led me to her. For some time I had been desperately struggling with the question of the difference between the sexes and the origin of children, the question became more and more burning and tormenting, and one day it tormented and burned me so much that I would have preferred not to go on living unless this terrifying riddle was solved.
Hermann Hesse - Kurgast
Angry and sullen, I was returning from school across the market square, my eyes on the ground, unhappy and morose, and there suddenly was the little man! He had become a rare guest, for a long time he had been untrue to me, or I to him -- and now I suddenly saw him again, small and nimble, running along the ground in front of me; he was visible for only an instant and then dashed into Frau Anna's house.
He had disappeared, but already I had followed him into the house and already I knew why, and Frau Anna screamed as I burst unannounced into her room, for she was just in the act of undressing, but she did not send me away, and soon I knew almost everything that was so painfully necessary for me to know at that time.
It would have turned into an affair had I not been still much too young. This merry, silly woman was unlike most other grownups because, though she was stupid, she was natural and open, always aware, never deceitful or embarrassed. Most grownups were the opposite. There were exceptions -- my mother, epitome of liveliness, of mysterious effectiveness, and my father, embodying all uprightness and intelligence, and my grandfather who was now hardly human, the hidden one, the many- sided, laughing, inexhaustible one.
By far the largest number of grownups, however, although one had to honor and fear them, were decidedly gods of clay. How comic they were with their awkward play-acting when they talked to children! How false their voices, how ridiculous their smiles!
How seriously they took themselves, with their appointments and their busynesses, how exaggeratedly solemn their posture when you saw them crossing the streets with their accouterments, portfolios, books clamped under their arms, how eager they were to be recognized, saluted, and honored!
They sat stiffly on chairs, one had to prompt them at every turn, be helpful to them at every move, while they were taking off their coats, entering the room, sitting down, asking questions and answering them, taking their leave. It was easy for me not to take this petty-bourgeois world as seriously as it demanded because my parents did not belong to it and they themselves found it comic.
But even when they were not play-acting, were not wearing gloves and paying calls, most grownups seemed to me hugely strange and ludicrous. How self-important they were about their work, about their trade guilds and official positions, how great and venerable they seemed to themselves!
If a conductor, a policeman, or a bricklayer barricaded the street, that was a sacred matter, it was assumed that you should get out of the way, make room, or give assistance. But children with their work and their play weren't important at all, they were pushed aside and roared at. Did they therefore do less that was right, that was good, that was important than the grownups? Oh no, on the contrary, but the grownups just happened to be powerful, they gave orders, they ruled.
But at the same time they had their games just like us children, they played at being firemen and at being soldiers, they went to clubs and to taverns, and all this with an air of importance and authority as though everything had to be just that way and there was nothing more beautiful or more holy.
Granted, there were some clever people too, even among the teachers. But wasn't it a strange and suspicious thing that among all those "big" people, who after all had been children themselves not long ago, there were so very few who had not completely unlearned and forgotten what a child is, how it lives, works, plays, thinks, what it likes and what it hates? Few, very few, who still knew this! There were not only the tyrants and vulgarians who were mean and hateful toward children, repulsed them, looked at them askance, full of hate -- yes, who sometimes apparently felt something like fear of them.
Even the others who meant well, who sometimes liked to condescend to converse with children, for the most part no longer had any idea what was important. They too, almost all of them, if they wanted to communicate with us, had laboriously and embarrassedly to reduce themselves to children, not to real children but rather to invented, silly caricatures of children.
All these grownups, almost all of them, lived in a different world, breathed a different kind of air from us children. They were frequently no cleverer than we were, often they had no advantage over us except the mysterious one of strength.
They were stronger, yes; they could, unless we willingly obeyed them, compel and beat us. But was that true superiority? Wasn't every ox and elephant much stronger than any of those grownups?
But they had the power, they commanded, their world and their way were judged to be right. Nevertheless, and this was especially remarkable to me and on some occasions almost frightening, there were many grownups who seemed to envy us children.
In a music album from which I was being taught, there actually was a song with the astounding refrain: And they whom we often envied for their imposing stature, their dignity, their apparent freedom and matter-of-factness, for their beards and long trousers, they at the same time envied us little ones, even in the songs they sang!
Well, for the time being, despite everything, I was happy. There was a great deal in the world and even in school that I would have liked to see otherwise; but nevertheless I was happy. It is true that I was assured and instructed from many sides that man does not tread the earth simply for his own pleasure and that true happiness comes only in the beyond to those tested and proven worthy; this was expressed in many maxims and verses which I learned and which often seemed to me beautiful and touching.
But these themes, which also much engaged my father's attention, did not greatly impress me, and if things went badly with me, if I were sick or suffered from unfulfilled desires or from conflicts with and defiance of my parents, then I seldom sought refuge in God but had other byways that led me back again into the light. If my customary games failed, if railroads, toy store, and fairy-tale book were exhausted or boring, just then the finest new game would very often occur to me, even if it were only closing my eyes in bed at night and losing myself in the glorious sight of colored circles appearing before me -- how happiness and mystery blazed up anew, how meaningful and full of promise the world became!
The first years at school went by without changing me so very much.
I learned through experience that trust and openness can bring us to grief, I learned under a few indifferent teachers the most necessary arts of lying and disguising oneself; from then on, I made out.
Slowly, however, the first bloom faded, slowly I too learned, without being aware of it, that false song of life, that compromise with "reality," the world "as it happens to be. In my twelfth year, when the question of my taking Greek arose, I answered yes without hesitation, for to become in time as learned as my father, and if possible my grandfather, seemed essential.
But from that day on, a life plan was laid out for me; I was to study and become either a preacher or a philologist, for there were scholarships for these professions. My grandfather too had once followed this path. On the surface there was nothing wrong with it. Only now all of a sudden I had a future, signposts lined my road, and every day and every month brought me closer to the prescribed goal, everything pointed toward it, everything led away, away from the playfulness and awareness that had filled my days hitherto, qualities that had not been without meaning but without a goal and without a future.
The life of the grownups had caught me, at first by a lock of hair or a finger, but soon it would have caught and bound me completely, the life lived according to goals, according to numbers, the life of order and of jobs, of professions and examinations; soon the hour would strike for me too, soon I would be undergraduate, graduate student, minister, professor, would pay calls with a high hat and leather gloves to go with it, would no longer understand children, would perhaps envy them.
But actually in my heart I didn't want any of this, I did not want to leave my world where things were good and precious. There was, to be sure, a completely secret goal for me when I thought about the future. The one thing I ardently wished for was to become a magician. This wishful dream remained true to me for a long time, but eventually it began to lose its omnipotence; it had enemies, opposing forces stood against it -- the real, the serious, that which was not to be denied.
Slowly, slowly, the blossom withered, slowly out of the unlimited, something limited was coming toward me, the real world, the world of grownups. Slowly my wish to be a magician, although I continued to hold it passionately, became less worthy in my own eyes, in my own eyes it turned into childishness. There was already something in which I was no longer a child.
Already the infinite, many-splendored world of the possible was limited for me, divided into fields, cut up by fences. Gradually the primeval forest of my days was altered, paradise congealed around me. I no longer remained what I was, prince and king in the land of the possible, I was not becoming a magician, I was learning Greek, in two years Hebrew would be added, in six years I would be at the university.
Imperceptibly this contraction took place, imperceptibly the magic faded around me.
The marvelous story in my grandfather's book was still beautiful, but it was on a certain page whose number I knew and it was there today and tomorrow and at every hour, there was no further miracle. The dancing god from India smiled indifferently, and was made of bronze, I seldom looked at him any more, he never again leered at me.
And -- worst of all -- less and less often did I see the gray one, the little man. I was surrounded by disenchantment on every hand, much became narrow that once had been open, much became tawdry that once had been golden. But I perceived this only obscurely, under my skin; I was still cheerful and ambitious, I learned to swim and to skate, I was first in Greek, it seemed all was going splendidly.
But everything had a somewhat paler color, a somewhat emptier sound, I had become bored with going to see Frau Anna, imperceptibly something was lost from all that I experienced, something unnoticed, unmissed, but it was nevertheless gone, wanting.
And now if sometimes I wished to feel altogether myself and full of ardor, then I needed stronger stimuli, I had to shake myself and take a running start.
I acquired a taste for highly spiced foods, I nibbled sweets often, sometimes I stole groschen in order to indulge myself in some special pleasure, for otherwise things were not lively and lovely enough. Then, too, girls began to attract me; this was shortly after the occasion when the little man had appeared to me one more time and one more time had led me to Frau Anna.
From My Schooldays Twice during my years at school I had a teacher whom I could honor and love, in whom I could freely recognize the highest authority and who could direct me by a wink. The first was called Schmid, a teacher at the Calw Latin School, a man much disliked by all the other pupils as being severe and bitter, evil-tempered and terrifying. He became important to me because in his class we students were twelve years old instruction in Greek began. In this little half-rural Latin school we had grown accustomed to teachers whom we either feared and hated, avoided and deceived, or laughed at and despised.
That a teacher might possess power because he stood high above us, because he represented intellect and humanity, because he instilled into us inklings of a higher world, this was something we had not yet experienced with any of our teachers in the lower classes of the Latin school. We had encountered a few good-natured teachers who lightened the boredom of school for themselves and for us by indifference and by gazing out the window or reading novels while we busily copied one another's written exercises.
We had also encountered evil, dark, raging, maniacal teachers and had had our hair pulled by them and been hit over the head one of them, a particularly ruthless tyrant, used to accompany his lectures to bad students by rhythmically thumping them on the head with his heavy latchkey. That there might also be teachers whom a student would follow gladly and with enthusiasm, for whom he would exert himself and even overlook injustice and bad temper, to whom he would be grateful for the revelation of a higher world and eager to render thanks -- this possibility had remained hitherto beyond our ken.
And now I came to Professor Schmid in the fourth form. Of the approximately twenty-five students in this form, five had decided upon humanistic studies and were called "humanists" or "Grecians," and while the rest of the class were engaged in profane subjects such as drawing, natural history, and the like, we five were initiated into Greek by Professor Schmid.
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