Monday, April 9, 2012
H is for Hesse
For this, my third year doing the challenge, I am going literary. For every letter of the alphabet I will talk about a book, an author or a character from fiction or myth that made an impression, was inspirational, or caused me to think.
Around 1967 I was introduced to Hermann Hesse by a fellow classmate (nicknamed Thor) with whom I had an Ethics class. My parochial school was small....There were at most, six of us in the class and we held it around a large table in the wardroom surrounded by clerical vestments. Priestly robes hung like ghosts, quietly admonishing us, secretly judging us. Our teacher, unfortunately, was a terrible bore. Such a small class could have been a place for lively discussion, but it was a huge yawn. A well behaved teen, who never got in trouble in school, I got a bit too sarcastic and too obviously bored in Ethics. Thor and I sat at one end of the table where we passed notes and giggled and kept the latest novels we were reading blatantly "hidden" behind our text books. At some point our long-suffering teacher rebelled and for the first and only time I was "called" to the principle's office where I was told to behave myself or I would get suspended for a day or two. To my horror I was moved to the other end of the table next to our teacher and had to endure his long pontifications up close and personal. All that could be slipped passed him were occasional long side-ways eye-rolling glances a Thor.
Hesse was popular in the 1960's because of his exploration into Indian and Buddhist philosophies.The first book of his I read was Steppenwolf, the second was Demian.
The first entry into an ancient "journal" of mine is taken from Demian, "The bird fights its way out of the egg. The egg is the world. Who would be born must first destroy a world. The bird flied to God. That God's name is Abraxas."
Not long after reading about Abraxas, the rock band Santana, came out with an album called Abraxas. I felt like I was on the cutting edge of things. Hip. Cool.
Over the course of several years I read most of what he had written being most drawn (of course) to Siddhartha and Journey to the East. I found his "master piece" The Glass Bead Game difficult and was never able to finish it, at which point I stopped reading Hesse.
Here's to Hesse and Thor who saved me from death by boredom.
Have you read any of his novels? Do you have a favorite?
H is for Hermann Hesse Other H influences: Homer, Aldous Huxley, Nathaniel Hawthorn