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I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

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.

File:Hermann Hesse 1927 Photo Gret Widmann.jpgHesse 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


  1. I haven't heard of Hesse. Maybe I should hang my head in shame?

    I think many of us found books invaluable as we have been living our lives. Something I hope will never end.

  2. I would go for the others you have listed for H - at least I've heard and read some of their works.

  3. I LOVE Hesse. Demian is one of my very very favorites. He's just an amazing writer. Great choice!

  4. I've heard of him but don't remember reading anything he's written. Ambitious theme you have.

  5. I haven't read Hesse. Now I"m not sure I will.

  6. Never read Hesse. I probably won't either. I listened to Santana. Thor sounds pretty cool though. I think you were pretty lucky to have him. Until all was lost and you had to sit next to teach. Which meant a bad time was had by ya. *wink*

  7. I'm so glad I wasn't the only one who could not get through The Glass Bead Game. I'd been so engaged by Steppenwolf that I assumed I'd be equally engaged in anything he wrote. I keep thinking I should try it again, now that I'm older. Maybe I just wasn't ready as a teen.

    Too bad you had a bore of an ethics teacher. I remember one teacher in a lit class (my favorite subject BTW) who spoke in a monotone and put me to sleep every afternoon. I slept through many classics, I'm afraid, but I did read them on my own later.

  8. I keep meaning to read Hesse, but I've never gotten around to it. Maybe this summer. :)


  9. I had to read Siddhartha in HS, but I didn't enjoy it. Also, I have a hard time even imagining a class that small.

    Sonia Lal, A to Z challenge

  10. I read Hesse in high school and college. I can't remember if I read Demian, but I did read Steppenwolf and Siddhartha.

  11. Sadly, I've never read any Hesse. Sounds like a very interesting author! :)

  12. lol, your classroom experiences sound awefully familiar ;)


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