The wisdom and beauty contained within this short novel rivals that of some of the great classics in the western canon. This work, Siddhartha, withoutThe wisdom and beauty contained within this short novel rivals that of some of the great classics in the western canon. This work, Siddhartha, without a doubt is Hermann Hesse's most well known and popular novel. It is timeless and universal in appeal.
As with so many of Hesse's tales, the protagonist, a young man, in this case, a young Indian named Siddhartha, sets out in search of truth and understanding. Soon after leaving his home and family, he seeks the enlightened one - the Buddha. After following the holy ways of Buddhism and practicing an ascetic lifestyle Siddhartha still does not attain a complete inner peace, so he leaves his religious master to continue his quest. His search takes him far and wide as his hunger for knowledge is never satisfied. The travials he endures, as well as, the splendors he enjoys throughout his journey of self-discovery finally brings him enlightenment and tranquility.
Hesse's skill of bringing so much depth and color to one narrative is extraordinary. This work is almost religious. His style is lyrical, lucid and lush. If you only read one Herman Hesse novel, this would do well. ...more
A timeless story of a young man in search for adventure and new experiences. When Peter leaves his mountain hamlet to travel Europe he is filled withA timeless story of a young man in search for adventure and new experiences. When Peter leaves his mountain hamlet to travel Europe he is filled with fanciful expectations. This young idealist meets people along the way who become his trusted and beloved friends. Their bonds grow deeper and stronger until tragedy tears them apart. Here, again, fate has dealt a cruel and crushing blow, which is a recurring theme in Hesse's works.
Peter Camenzind is a remarkable story, similar to many world classics, about a young man who leaves home only to return after many years of trials, tribulations and triumphs. This hopeful young man is dismayed at the ubiquitous nature of human suffering he sees all around him. His naive idealism sinks into abject disillusionment.
Hermann Hesse's elegant prose, painted in innumerable shades of feelings, touches the heart. His style, resembling a sublime poetry, is lyrical, delicate, pellucid and refined. This story of the young protagonist, Peter, holds universal appeal for his spirit dwells in each person. This is a spiritual journey into the heart and soul of man....more
Beneath the Wheel is another work of beauty by Hermann Hesse. Like many of his stories, the protagonist in this novel is a young man, a mere boy reallBeneath the Wheel is another work of beauty by Hermann Hesse. Like many of his stories, the protagonist in this novel is a young man, a mere boy really. Also, Hesse's protagonists always seem to befriend older boys who are looked upon as mentors, confidants, and sometimes, even rivals.
Hans Giebernath is a gifted student who excels in his studies, enough to get accepted into a prestigious secondary school. He attends classes, studies his courses, and does what is required. However, he is not all that happy. During the course of his school life he meets another boy whom he admires and even adores; he is inspired through his poetry and falls under his sway. Unfortunately, his friend through his obstinately rebellious ways, only brings him trouble with the school headmaster. Eventually, both boys are expelled and sent home.
Hans's return to his hometown and former way of life sees only frustration and regret. It all ends in tragedy. This is a poignantly sad story of a promising life coming to an ignominious end. Hans neither becomes an accomplished poet nor a graduate of a elite boarding school with a promising future.
Hesse's style is radiant and alluring. His prose is ever so poetic and captures the heart and imagination of its readers. This work is no exception. ...more
In this work, The Ghost-seer, by Friedrich von Schiller, exists an incredible force, almost supernatural, that impels the reader into a sinister worldIn this work, The Ghost-seer, by Friedrich von Schiller, exists an incredible force, almost supernatural, that impels the reader into a sinister world of appearances, where the senses only fail and are even complicit, acting to deceive.
The plot surges effortlessly forward to its natural and decisive end. The hero, a young prince, and his group chance upon a mysterious man of vague origin, who somehow holds them in his domination by his omniscient and omnipotence manner. He is like a dark angel with an equal capacity to do good or evil, for reasons which lie outside man's comprehension. The conclusion is as surprising as each and every episode in the whole story.
Schiller's prose is, like his fellow Romatics, alluring and powerful, a work of sheer beauty. The imagery he creates through setting and plot is nothing short of astonishing. It casts a spell which can not be broken until the very end when the mystery is known to all. ...more
Victoria by Knut Hamsun is a bittersweet tale of two youths, in a trance of passion, but rudely awakened by fate's cruel ways. The two lovers - JohannVictoria by Knut Hamsun is a bittersweet tale of two youths, in a trance of passion, but rudely awakened by fate's cruel ways. The two lovers - Johannes and Victoria - fall deeply in love and are blissfully happy, but their enchantment ends in mutual self-destruction and unfulfilled love.
Hamsun sketches a powerful and disturbing portrait of Johannes's inner conflicts. This melancholy side of Johannes is reminiscent of The Scream painted by his fellow countryman Edvard Munch. Johannes is governed by irrational impulses, which betray his best interests. Invariably, he makes his situation worse by second guessing himself at the most inopportune times. His erratic behavior, eventually sabotages his chances for happiness with Victoria. Misunderstanding always seems to follow and leaves a trail of bitterness, sorrow, and finally disillusionment.
Equally, Victoria struggles between loyalty to her father and the longings of her heart. She is divided between what she thinks is best, considering her family's reputation, and her desire for Johannes.
In a powerful conclusion, Victoria's farewell letter to Johannes is a poignant declaration of eternal love and a last plea for forgiveness. A profound sense of pain and injustice lingers on as you finish reading the last words. ...more
In Pan Knut Hamsun depicts, so persuasively, one man's cosmic struggle against nature, as well as, himself. Like many of the characters in his novels,In Pan Knut Hamsun depicts, so persuasively, one man's cosmic struggle against nature, as well as, himself. Like many of the characters in his novels, an irreconcilable antagonism exists between a male protagonist, Glahnn, and nature, represented by a young woman, Edvarda. Hamsun portrays man as confused and at odds with himself, and yet, at moments rational, and even calculating. This inner conflict, reflects man's conflict against nature and invariably leads to tragic consequences. This may be one of Hamsun's darker works, but I strongly recommend it. ...more
The Shoe Tester of Frankfurt by Wilhelm Genazino is a humorous vignette of a shoe tester. Genazino's sketch of the unnamed main character and existentThe Shoe Tester of Frankfurt by Wilhelm Genazino is a humorous vignette of a shoe tester. Genazino's sketch of the unnamed main character and existential anti-hero, is of a man searching for some meaning through his wanderings about town.
He works for a shoe manufacturer which takes him all over Frankfurt testing new foot wear. As he walks through busy streets of the old districts, he sometimes runs into past acquaintances, some of whom were girlfriends, and this gives him a starting point for his reflections.
This is a contemplative work, which sees our protagonist meditating on questions concerning life and man's place in it. He does not know where this wandering path of life will lead him, but is sure that he will have some say, when and where he arrives....more
This book, The Journey to the East is Hermann Hesse at his most mysterious. This brief, but bewildering work, is like an abstruse, fantastic dream. ItThis book, The Journey to the East is Hermann Hesse at his most mysterious. This brief, but bewildering work, is like an abstruse, fantastic dream. It concerns a secret group, of which one, H.H. belongs to, on a journey for the ultimate truth. Here, we find that time and space are immaterial. The group consists of historical figures as well as fictional ones. They start their odyssey with a common purpose, but later find themselves sceptical of the whole idea and come to distrust each other.
The best aspect of this strange work is the imagery Hesse creates. As always, his diction is poetry set in prose; his themes are elegant for their profundity; and his plot keeps you turning the page. This is one of his lesser known works, but should be read if you're a Hesse admirer....more
Knut Hamsun's Dreamers is like a strange dream rendered into a stranger reality, as one man, Ove Rolandsen, takes on a whole village to satisfy his neKnut Hamsun's Dreamers is like a strange dream rendered into a stranger reality, as one man, Ove Rolandsen, takes on a whole village to satisfy his needs of love and recognition. His actions are not guided exclusively by selfishness, but from some incomprehensible inclination to act. Of course, the village people are not in on some plan to destroy him, but rather, he brings his misfortunes upon himself.
This work is a penetrating analysis of man's unpredictable and inexplicable nature, where latent and hidden desires have a power of their own, a portrait of neurotic man. The mysterious Rolandsen, seemingly a man of many trades and off-the-wall opinions seems to be able to do no right. The small Norwegian village provides a perfect backdrop, with its idyllic charm, for a conflict between (a) man and nature. The sometimes serious Ove, too serious for his own good, only finds trouble, betrayed by his own logic and understanding of the world.
In this work, Hamsun takes two diametrically antagonistic elements, nature and man, and demonstrates the irreconcilability of such a marriage. His total understanding of man as an enigma, especially to himself, is nothing short of remarkable. He seems to know every nook and cranny of man's being and his uncontrollable neurosis. ...more
Tales of Love & Loss is an intriguing collection of short stories by the Father of European Modernism. These stories reflect the vast range of humTales of Love & Loss is an intriguing collection of short stories by the Father of European Modernism. These stories reflect the vast range of human emotions and predicaments, which Knut Hamsun so deftly and humorously styles.
There is something telling about Hamsun's stories: the irrational thoughts, decisions and actions of man are perplexing, yet these qualities are constituent in all men. The main characters are often loners, in one manner or another, who display puzzling behavior. Hamsun's protagonists act in ways that are not only illogical and contrary to socially acceptable conduct, but they are destructive as well. His men invariably make decisions without any regard to their implications, and many of his works end with little joy.
Hamsun paints with lucid strokes a psychological portraiture that infuriates because it is all too real. His settings and characters seem like "still lifes," for the dimensions of place and time and temperament seems fixed and static, the essence never changing. His works are timeless pieces of art in the museum of life....more
Heinrich von Kleist's The Marquise of O and Other Stories is a gratifying and rewarding read with many unexpected and unpredictable turn of events. HiHeinrich von Kleist's The Marquise of O and Other Stories is a gratifying and rewarding read with many unexpected and unpredictable turn of events. His stories are often cast in an eerie, multi-dimensional reality.
To adequately comprehend and appreciate the richness, depth, and complexity of Kleist's prose, a careful reading is needed. His style is dense and intricate in its syntax, replete with lengthy passages, which, in some cases, seem to flow on and on like a spring cascade. The plot and subplots with their many intriguing twists compel the reader to rush to the end in heighted anticipation, yet, at the same time force the reader to take measured movements, like someone lost in a subterranean labyrinth.
This collection of short stories by Kleist merits, and requires, more than one reading. Another such collection is The Gothic Tales of the Marquis de Sade, which deserves the same attention....more
Hermann Hesse's Gertrude and Knut Hamsun's Victoria share a common bond about man's attempt to fight fate, fate's conspiracy against man in his searchHermann Hesse's Gertrude and Knut Hamsun's Victoria share a common bond about man's attempt to fight fate, fate's conspiracy against man in his search for inner peace and lasting love. Kuhn, the student, aspiring composer and central character, seeks direction and purpose, understanding, and eventually, solace, through his life struggles, which lead him towards the path of unrequited love, an attempt at suicide, success and fame, death of close friends, and finally to peaceful resignation.
Gertrude, written in Hesse's familiar lyrical style, is a novel that I strongly recommend to anyone who loves both, classical music and beautiful prose. His mastery of language makes the reading of this novel (and some others) seem almost effortless. His language is always vivid, colorful, flowing, and harmonious. Hesse's keen understanding and knowledge of the technical/theoretical aspects of classical music, such as the sonata form and the opera, make this book more enjoyable than ever.
This is a work of art by a maestro, where every word or phrase resonates beautifully, ready to be heard by discerning lovers of high culture....more
Inspired and influenced by classical German folktales, Hermann Hesse creates a world of child-like fantasy. Some of these stories borrow directly fromInspired and influenced by classical German folktales, Hermann Hesse creates a world of child-like fantasy. Some of these stories borrow directly from these folk classics, which Hesse read much of as a child. Many of these stories are allegorical in nature and not easy to fully understand in one reading. However, each one has a moral of universal appeal to share.
One story that impresses is Hannes; it is a story of two brothers, born from different mothers. The younger leaves home in search of labor, and the older remains behind to work for the father, who favors him above the younger. These two brothers can not be any more different and are modeled after Cain and Abel.
Another impressive story is King Yu. This story, as one can imagine, takes place in the Far East - China. This story seems to be a reworking of The Boy Who Cried Wolf; the queen can be substituted for the boy. One element is that of blind love: the king in this tale, King Yu, is quite taken by the queen and does anything to please or placate her, and as a result sees the downfall of an entire kingdom.
These are two of the nine-teen short tales in this collection, Pictor's Metamorphoses. We can gain a better appreciation of Hesse from contemplating these enduring tales of beauty and wisdom. ...more
Heinrich von Kleist is an unrivaled master of invention. The works in this collection have been miraculously conceived, methodically designed and metiHeinrich von Kleist is an unrivaled master of invention. The works in this collection have been miraculously conceived, methodically designed and meticulously written. Some of these stories may be brief in length, but they are not mere sketches; many of them are complex webs of plots and subplots. Von Kleist's narratives are textured so beautifully one feels as if they are gazing into a luxuriant forest atop the most majestic mountains in Europe and spotting out all of nature's jewels, both bizarre and rare.
This monumental collection of plays, short stories, anecdotes and essays has to be condsidered one of the greatest, by a single writer, in all of literature. These works in Selected Writings are beyond imagination - beyond this world. The stories are sophisticated in every aspect; the characters are elegant in all manner; and the style is as sublime as it is compelling. These creations of past times, incredible places and fascinating people are intricately weaved together to render the most awe-inspiring depiction of the tragedy and comedy of life and man. One can cherish this collection for a lifetime. It is truly an overwhelming experience.
As much as I love the many great writers who have provided so much to the world of literature, Heinrich von Kleist is one writer that towers above the greatest of them, including Hamsun and Hesse, two writers among many that I love so dearly. Unfortunately the number of his works is limited due to his premature death at the early age of thirty-four. If he had gone on to live to a full life like Goethe, one can only wonder what kind of treasures he would have delivered to mankind. Then, in all probability, his name would be followed by Goethe and Schiller.
This is one book every ardent admirer of literature - every passionate participant of life - must have on their bookshelves, to proudly possess, and to read over and over again. Heinrich von Kleist so richly deserves the highest accolades honored him....more
Joseph von Eichendorff was an intellectual who was mainly known as a lyrical poet, but wrote prose as well. This novella, Life of a Good-for-nothing,Joseph von Eichendorff was an intellectual who was mainly known as a lyrical poet, but wrote prose as well. This novella, Life of a Good-for-nothing, is regarded as his magnum opus, and demonstrates the rare versatility of this highly esteemed writer of the German Romantic tradition.
This work, like many that came before and after it, is the classic tale of a young man who sets out into the world for a new life. The hero of the story, due to differences with his father, feels compelled to leave home and seeks adventure and good fortune beyond. The ever changing circumstances of his life on the road reduce him to misery, yet good luck is never far behind. And no matter how much he is disheartened by the unpropitious circumstances he stumbles upon, he never loses his spirit to endure; things always, for one reason or other, turn out for the better.
Eichendorff's style is elegant and lucid, reminiscent of his fellow romantics. This beautiful work touches the heart and soul, and is universally appealing - a timeless masterpiece by one of the great German writers. This charming tale should be read by all young dreamers....more
Six German Romantic Tales is a collection of six remarkable stories that exemplify the German Romantic spirit at its glory. It is an exquisit assemblaSix German Romantic Tales is a collection of six remarkable stories that exemplify the German Romantic spirit at its glory. It is an exquisit assemblage rarely seen today. The towering figures who represent this spirit are: Heinrich von Kleist, Ludwig Tieck, and E.T.A. Hoffman. Their genius is awe-inspiring.
These stories are dark and haunting. They evoke the same feelings found in the painting The Abbey in the Oakwood by the leading German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich. (Not by coincidence does this painting adorn the front cover of this collection.) Death, longing and loneliness are the common themes here. The ease with which these writers create a feeling of foreboding and dread - through setting and plot - is masterful.
The first piece Eckbert the Fair by Tieck is a fairytale - a story within a story - and a bewitching anecdote. Bound within a dream-like setting much of the story is nightmarish, which all ends in a bewildering revelation. We are left to ponder, guess, and fumble for answers. Was it all an illusion or a dream, or did events actually take place? Were the ones dearest and nearest nothing but apparitions or even demons?...more
The Elves is an enchanting fairytale written by one of the pre-eminent writers and leaders of German Romanticism. The classical elements exist for anThe Elves is an enchanting fairytale written by one of the pre-eminent writers and leaders of German Romanticism. The classical elements exist for an incredible journey to lands beyond our own, which blends children and elves, with secrets and magic stones.
Mary a young girl finds herself in an unfamiliar land after she enters a forbidden part of the forest which she had been warned of many times before. She meets elf children and comes to love her new friends and new home. Seemly forgetting about her own family and childhood friend, Andres, she remains for some time. Later she decides it is the correct moment to return to her world and family. Upon her return she realizes that she has been gone years and not days.
Like all of Tieck's stories, The Elves is written in an elegant prose. Tieck's ability to create beautiful but eerie landscapes is remarkable, and causes the reader to remain on edge throughout, never feeling at ease. This story is one of his earlier works and is a pleasant read. ...more