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Hermann Hesse

»To make something beautiful out of the sad« - Letters 1905-1915

Edited by Volker Michels
Hermann Hesse
Foto: Hermann Hesse
© Gret Widmann

Hermann Hesse, born 1877 in Calw/Württemberg as the son of a Baltic German missionary and the daughter of a Württembergian indologist, died in August 1962 in Montagnola near Lugano, Italy. In 1946, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, and 1955 the Friedenspreis des Deutschen Buchhandels (Peace Prize of the German Book Trade). After an apprenticeship to become a bookseller, he began to work as a freelance author in 1904. He is one of the most famous German authors of the 20th century.

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»To write con amore and without any coercion …«

About

This volume assembles the most important of Hermann Hesse’s letters in the years between 1905 and 1914. They show the by now married writer in the second and third decade of his life, at Lake Constance, in a village oblivious to the world, where he built a house for his family in 1907 and cultivates a large garden with abandon. But soon he becomes tired of this settled life, is drawn into the open, and so he is often on the road for months on end – on books tours across Germany, hiking in Italy and finally on an expedition to Indonesia. At the same time, the success of his early works has made him well known beyond the borders of Germany and an object of desire for publishers and editors.

In 1912, he founds, together with others, the democratically inclined and pro-Europe magazine März and relocates to Switzerland. The conflict between the attachment to his home and his cosmopolitanism is going to determine his future. Hermann Hesse’s letters, refreshingly unconventional in their style, contain a wealth of unknown facets of their author’s biography. At the same time, they vividly depict the social climate in the last years of peace before World War I. And always Hesse’s letters transcend their immediate occasion and become timeless testimonies to a critical and productive humanitarianism.

Other publications

»Ich bin ein Mensch des Werdens und der Wandlungen«/»I’m a person of becoming and of change« (2016)

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»Eine Bresche ins Dunkel der Zeit!«/»A breach into the darkness of time!« (2015)

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»Ich gehorche nicht und werde nicht gehorchen!«/»I am not and will not be obedient!« (2012)

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