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Wie alle Hauptwerke Hermann Hesses hat auch der Demian, den der damals 40jährige Autor mitten im Ersten Weltkrieg schrieb, eine ebenso ungewöhnliche wie spannende Entstehungs- und Wirkungsgeschichte. Daß dieses im Herbst 1917 vollendete Buch erst im Juni 1919, ein halbes Jahr nach Kriegsende, veröffentlicht wurde, lag an der Unbekanntheit des Verfassers. Denn Hesse hatte das Manuskript dem Verlag als das Erstlingswerk eines kranken jungen Dichters empfohlen, des zeitkritischen Poeten Emil Sinclair, der bisher nur in Zeitungen und Zeitschriften durch pazifistische Mahnrufe und Erzählungen aufgefallen war (die gleichfalls von Hesse stammten). Doch trotz des Inkognitos erlebte das Buch eine geradezu stürmische Aufnahme und wurde noch im Erscheinungsjahr mit dem Fontane-Preis für das beste Erstlingswerk eines Nachwuchsautors ausgezeichnet. Thomas Mann verglich die elektrisierende Wirkung des Buches mit der von Goethes Werther, da es »mit unheimlicher Genauigkeit den Nerv der Zeit traf und eine ganze Jugend, die wähnte aus ihrer Mitte sei ihr ein Künder ihres tiefsten Lebens entstanden, zu dankbarem Entzücken hinriß«. Bis zur Entdeckung des Pseudonyms im Mai 1920 erschienen drei Auflagen, denen dann unter Hesses eigenem Namen zu seinen Lebzeiten noch 93 weitere folgten.

109 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1919

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About the author

Hermann Hesse

1,653 books16.4k followers
Many works, including Siddhartha (1922) and Steppenwolf (1927), of German-born Swiss writer Hermann Hesse concern the struggle of the individual to find wholeness and meaning in life; he won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1946.

Other best-known works of this poet, novelist, and painter include The Glass Bead Game , which, also known as Magister Ludi, explore a search of an individual for spirituality outside society.

In his time, Hesse was a popular and influential author in the German-speaking world; worldwide fame only came later. Young Germans desiring a different and more "natural" way of life at the time of great economic and technological progress in the country, received enthusiastically Peter Camenzind , first great novel of Hesse.

Throughout Germany, people named many schools. In 1964, people founded the Calwer Hermann-Hesse-Preis, awarded biennially, alternately to a German-language literary journal or to the translator of work of Hesse to a foreign language. The city of Karlsruhe, Germany, also associates a Hermann Hesse prize.

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Profile Image for RandomAnthony.
394 reviews110 followers
April 11, 2011
Hermann Hesse's Demian influenced me more than just about any book although I haven't read the novel in twenty years. Through my late teens and early twenties I searched out every Hesse book I could find, including the rarities, journals, letters, etc., going as far as to ferret out European editions in a Berlin bookstore on a solo trip as much influenced by Hesse as cheap airfare. My initial college experiences (three institutions in six semesters) ended badly. I became depressed and, although I had friends, spent much of my time isolated with books. My hostile, unsupportive parents created a tense, unsafe environment. The future looked bleak. I was terrified.

But I had Hesse. And many of the Hesse protagonists reminded my sad, desperate ass of myself. I eventually finished college, scraped out an existence, and learned to survive. Later a woman graciously and sympathetically agreed to marry me. We moved to Wisconsin. When packing up the apartment for the trek north I crated the Hesse books and didn't return to the author for twenty years.

A few weeks back I spotted a decent Demian edition, with the Thomas Mann introduction, for a couple bucks at a Borders closing sale. I read the book over seven illness-ridden gray spring days. And while my perceptions of the novel changed, of course, with the passing decades, Hesse's vision once again earned my appreciation.

Sinclair, the novel's narrator, is a German teenager transitioning from the warm, safe glow of his childhood world into a much scarier adulthood. He tries to follow the rules but feels himself called to something other than the town status quo. In school he meets a new student, the mysterious, adult and somewhat feminine Demian. Sinclair, through Demian, learns of the individuals with the “Mark of Cain.” These people are special; they can't feel fulfilled within the normal societal context and must look elsewhere for meaning. Sinclair spends much of his time alone, feels loss and terror, and almost fails out of boarding school. Do you see why this setup was attractive to a teenager who felt like he couldn't stand ten minutes in a room with his parents and couldn't pass his first university courses? I wanted to feel as if my isolation and third-rate social skills had meaning and set me apart with a purpose I couldn't comprehend. Demian and Sinclair separate after graduation and the latter experiments with alcoholic hazes before falling under the influence of a new mentor, the benevolent but drunken and limited church organist Pistorus. Sinclair paints and creates a vision of a bird breaking out of the egg as metaphor for his own process. I wanted so badly to embody that bird, to prove my failures as something deeper than incompetence. Sinclair catches up with Demian near the start of what seems to be the second world war, and when they next part they declare themselves part of a new vanguard who will help reshape the world after the military convulsions.

Demian is flawed. Some passages rely on vague, mythic language that mires in mystical and somewhat frustrating possibilities; in other words, one could accuse Hesse of taking the easy way out by framing Demian's insight as near indescribable. And when Sinclair and Hesse “call” each other the pair somehow telepathically sense the need to meet. This magic, romantic power is easier to describe than anything tangible and even as a teenager I knew this type of interaction was beyond my capabilities and probably bullshit. And when Demian says things like “The new world has begun and the new world will be terrible for those clinging to the old. What will you do?” he benefits from the lack of detail. But none of that mattered to me twenty, twenty-five years back. Hesse portrayed identity-challenged young men who struggled on the edge of mainstream daily existence and hoped for something more. And while I can see the inherent romanticism and frustrating pseudo-spiritualism with older, calmer eyes, I still feel the pull of Hesse's work. Without Demian and similar books I would have lacked a voice for emotions I couldn't articulate on my own; Hesse's work became a framework around which I could see potential self-value at a time in my life when I was precariously close to a feeling worthless. And while I can position Demian as a novel that resonates differently with me at forty-one than at nineteen, I recognize the camaraderie inherent in this book with a part of me that will never completely disappear. Demian is intrinsic to my narrative vocabulary and always will be. The vestiges of Hesse's influences are subtle but still present; while I like to think I would search for meaning in what I do, beyond convention, without ever reading Hesse, his work provided form and foundation, however mystical, on which I could build as I grew older and (hopefully) more capable. Thank you, Mr. Hesse, for being there when I needed you most.
Profile Image for Jenn(ifer).
159 reviews975 followers
August 5, 2015

I wanted only to try to live in accord with the promptings which came from my true self. Why was that so very difficult?

This quote stands alone on the very first page of the novel, and it tells you all you need to know.

I loved this book. I want to make you love it. I sit here at this keyboard and try to write, yet after reading this exquisite novel, everything I have to say sounds trite. I type. I delete. Type some more. Delete. Nothing I say is adequate.

I feel like I live inside Hermann Hesse’s thoughts. All of my struggles – with morality and purpose and meaning – they were his struggles too. There were moments while reading this book where I just closed the pages, closed my eyes and thought, “Wow. I just want to live in THIS moment. Suddenly, everything is clear. I don’t want to read anymore or think anymore or talk anymore. I just want to experience THIS.” So profound was his writing that I can’t even manage to explain it to you. It's visceral. There were moments where that cognitive dissonance that I’m constantly battling just stopped… It was like a bright light was shone on all my dark tendencies and I could clearly see my true nature. Sincerely, it was that profound for me. I want it to be profound for you, too. Because then maybe, just maybe, we will understand each other.

You are only afraid if you are not in harmony with yourself… A whole society composed of men afraid of the unknown within them! They all sense that the rules they live by are no longer valid, that they live according to archaic laws – neither their religion nor their mortality is in any way suited to the needs of the present.

Everyone who ponders, seeks, wonders, philosophizes… everyone who Thinks should read this book.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews41 followers
August 9, 2021
Demian: Die Geschichte einer Jugend = Demian: The Story of Emil Sinclair's Youth, Hermann Hesse

ّFirst Publication date 1919. Emil Sinclair is a young boy who was raised in a middle class home, amidst what is described as a illusory world.

Sinclair's entire existence can be summarized as a struggle between two worlds: the show world of illusion (related to the Hindu concept of maya) and the real world, the world of spiritual truth.

In the course of the novel, Sinclair is caught between good and evil, represented as the light and dark realms.

Accompanied and prompted by his mysterious classmate and friend 'Max Demian', he detaches from and revolts against the superficial ideals of the world of appearances and eventually awakens into a realization of self.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: در یکی از روزهای ماه آگوست سال 1974میلادی

عنوان: دمیان: سرگذشت جوانی امیل سینکلر؛ اثر: هرمان هسه؛ مترجم: خسرو رضایی؛ تهران، بنگاه ترجمه، 1346؛ در 263ص؛ زیر نظر احسان یارشاطر؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، جامی، علمی فرهنگی، 1386؛ در 200ص؛ شابک 9645620457؛ چاپ سوم 1392؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان آلمان - سده 20م

عنوان: دمیان؛ اثر: هرمان هسه؛ مترجم: لیلی بوربور؛ تهران، فرس، 1363؛ در 239ص؛

عنوان: دمیان؛ اثر: هرمان هسه؛ مترجم: محمد بقایی (ماکان)؛ تهران، انتشارات تهران، 1371؛ در 258ص؛ شابک ایکس - 964560950؛ چاپ دوم 1372؛ چاپ پنجم 1385؛ چاپ ششم 1388؛ هفتم 1393؛ شابک 9789645609502؛

عنوان: دمیان؛ اثر: هرمان هسه؛ مترجم: عبدالحسین شریفیان؛ تهران، اساطیر، 1374؛ در 197ص؛ شابک 9645960266؛ چاپ دوم 1375؛ چاپ چهارم 1385؛

من گرگ دشتها در میان برفها همه جا در پهنای دنیا سرگردانم؛ داستانی مربوط به دوران نوجوانی نویسنده است، که خود را در آن، «سینکلر» نامیده‌ اند، نامی که در آغاز نویسندگی، به عنوان تخلص خویش برگزیده بودند؛ این داستان نخستین بار در سال 1919میلادی منتشر شد؛ «دمیان» را حدیث نفس انسان دانسته‌ اند، حسب حال ایامی از عمر آدمی؛ که معمولاً در چنبره ی ارزش‌های قراردادی زندانی می‌شود، و هرگزی مجال ظهور نمی‌یابد

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 21/06/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 17/05/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Vit Babenco.
1,467 reviews3,636 followers
November 25, 2022
There are two worlds: the world of good and the world of evil… The world of light and the world of darkness…
There were stories of the lost boys, prodigal sons, that this had happened to, and I read them avidly. The return to the father, to what was good, was always such a magnificent liberation in these stories – I was perfectly aware that this was the only right and good and desirable outcome; but still, the part of the story that took place among the lost and evil souls was always much more exciting, and, if it were only possible to admit it, it was sometimes actually rather a shame that the lost soul had to repent and be found again.

We live in the world of duality… Dichotomy is present in everything… There is the apparent world and there is the secret world… The world of pride and the world of humility… The world of Cain and the world of Abel…
…on a walk with my father I asked him what to make of the fact that some people thought Cain was better than Abel.
He was very surprised by the question. He explained to me that this interpretation was in no way new; it had emerged already in the earliest centuries of Christianity and been taught in various sects, one of which called itself the “Cainites.” But obviously, he said, this insane teaching was nothing but the devil’s attempt to destroy our faith. For if you believe that Cain was in the right and Abel in the wrong, then it follows that God was in error, or in other words that the God of the Bible is not the one true god but a false god.

There is the world of creators and there is the world of creatures… We dwell in the material world… And we abide in the world of psyche… There is the world of verity and the world of hypocrisy…
At the end of class, Demian said rather thoughtfully: “There’s something I don’t like about that story, Sinclair. Read it through again, and test it out on your tongue: there’s something about it that leaves an insipid taste in your mouth. It’s the part about the two thieves. It’s magnificent, of course, those three crosses standing next to one another on the hill! But then this sentimental little tract about the good thief! He used to be a criminal, he’s committed God knows what crimes, and now he gets all mushy and performs these whiny rituals of self-improvement and repentance?! What’s the point of remorse if you’re two steps away from the grave, I ask you? It’s nothing but a sanctimonious fairy tale, treacly and dishonest, insipid and sentimental and obviously didactic.”

There are two worlds: the world without and the world within.
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,119 reviews44.8k followers
July 20, 2018
“I realize today that nothing in the world is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to himself.”

Demian is a sad and lonely read; it is a thoroughly depressing exploration of the human soul and the adolescent mind.

The book portrays a general sense of detachment and dispossession with reality and the rest of the world. Emil Sincliar is different. We all are, in our own way; though Emil is separate to everyone else in his solitude. He doesn’t quite belong with other people; he doesn’t enjoy the same things and often feels unmoved by things that would directly affect most people: he is an outsider looking in, fated to exist apart from the rest of humanity.

Unlike Harry Haller in Steppenwolf, Emil is not a genius or particularly gifted with anything; however, he is a truth seeker: he wishes to find the truth of himself in a world that dictates otherwise. Society is driven by monetary success, relationship success and occupation success though Emil does not want any of these things: he wants to understand human nature at its very core so he can better understand himself and his own place within this world. He is suicidal, depressed and exhausted with the realities of modern existence.

“I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books; I have begun to listen to the teaching my blood whispers to me.”

He looks within himself and finds the answers. Through the words of a friend, he realises that morality, that good and evil, that god and the devil, are not necessarily diametrically opposed but are part of larger whole: one entity that exists in union. (Sounds like Hesse has been reading Nietzsche.) His soul becomes less fractured and his person becomes more solid as a result. He is ready to be born anew with his knew knowledge; thus, he expresses himself in art, art that echoes the images and ideas of the surrealists.


As with most modernist works, Demian is an absolute treasure trove of psychoanalytical theory. Part of me considered that none of the events are real or the characters, but are mere tools used by the author and our narrator (Emil) to express his mental states and his sense of anguish in a world that he feels apart from. Despite being a relatively short work, the narrative is dense and obscure. I would love to read this in conjunction with Jung or Freud and consider the implications of the dreams and the expressions of emotions. There’s certainly a lot to pick apart here.

This is a very clever book, though I don’t think it is nearly as successful as Steppenwolf, which explores similar themes to a higher degree of effectiveness; it is, nevertheless, definitely worth a read for the philosophically minded.
Profile Image for Alice.
346 reviews53 followers
September 13, 2016
The things I do for BTS...

Joking, this was one of the few books that really had an impact on my way of thinking. It talked about religion, belief and growth in a very profound way, as if Hesse wasn't really writing but more conversing directly with my mind.

Sinclair and Demian, though being very peculiar and surreal characters, were one the mirror of the other, surrounded by a plot heavy with symbolism and magical elements.

The idea of the two worlds, one so close to the other that you could esily slip into one another is very fascinating and paonts a very sad but true picture of the human being and its behaviour.

"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 flies to God. The God's name is Abraxas"
Profile Image for Ehsan.
72 reviews238 followers
September 11, 2012

قرأت حول هرمان هسه في كتاب اللامنتمي، وقرأت عن اللامنتمي في كتاب العالميّة الإسلاميّة الثّانية، هكذا قادني القدر إلى دميان وسنكلير، لكن لماذا الرّواية الّتي كان بطلها سنملير تعنون باسم دميان ؟

سنكلير يرمز إلى هسه .. الباحث عن نفسه، كما يعبّر في بداية كتابه: " لم أكن أريد إلاّ أن أعيش وفق الدّوافع الحقيقيّة الّتي تنبع من داخلي، فلما كان الأمر بعذه الصّعوبة؟ " وهذه المقدّمة القصيرة هي أكثر ما مسّ روحي من الرّواية - وما مسّها كثير - لقد أردتُ دائمًا أن أعيش حياة طبيعيّة، الحياة الّتي خُلقت من أجلها، الحياة الّتي تنبع من داخلي بعيدًا عن أيّ تشويه مدني أو ثقافيّ، أردتُ الذّهاب إلى بقعة بكر من الكرة الأرضيّة علّ روحي تعود بكرًا .

وسنكلير أراد ذلك أيضًا، وهسه، لكنّ ونلسون يقول بأنّه لم يجد الإجابة في أيّ من رواياته، أمّا أنا فأتخيّل بأنّه لو عرف محمّدًا لوجد لديه الكثير، إنّ هسه يفتّش عن الدّين، لكنّه لا يجد الدّين الّذي يبحث عنه في المسيحيّة، لأنّه يبحث عمّا هو أقرب للإنسان، وهو يعبّر عن ذلك على لسان دميان في قوله: " بالطّريقة ذاتها يمتدحون الله كأب للحياة كلّها، ولكنّهم، ببساطة، يرفضون قول كلمة واحدة عن حياتنا الجنسيّة الّتي يقوم عليها كلّ شيء، ويصفونها بالخطيئة كلّما أمكنهم ذلك، على أساس أنّها من عمل الشّيطان "، أجد في هذه الجملة فيضًا من التقدير لغريزة الإنسان الّتي حقّرتها الكنيسة، وهذا ما يعبّر عنه بيجوفتش بقوله أنّ المسيحية هي دين الرّوح في كتابه الإسلام بين الشرق والغرب .

أمّا نبيّ الإسلام محمّد فقد كان يشجّع النّاس على الحياة وفق الطّبيعة الّتي جبلهم الله عليها، لكنّ دعوته تلك لم تكن مبتذلة ولا إباحيّة، بل ضبط الإسلام الغريزة بالزّواج تقديسًا وتكريمًا لها من العبث وحرّم اللهو بها خارج الميثاق الإلهي، إنّها الممازجة الخلاّقة بين الرّوح والجسد، وهسه كان يبحث عن شيء كهذا .

وجد سنكلير خلاصه الرّوحي في امرأتين، الأولى هي بياتريس، الفتاة البريئة الطّاهر الّتي رأى طهر العالم المفقود متمثّلاً فيها، وتغيّرت حياته مباشرة دون أن يتحدّث معها، توقّف عن ارتياد الحانات والإسراف في الشّرب والحياة المبتذلة، أمّا المرأة الثّانية فهي إيڤا والدة دميان، كانت أمّه وحلمه ومسيحه وغريزته الجسديّة وأمانه الرّوحي، وقد افترقا قبل أن يتّصلا جسديًا، ولا أفهم لماذا اختار هسه بأن تكون إيفا أكبر من سنكلي��، إنّ في الأمر سرًا ما يشبه السرّ الّذي جعل لمحمّد زوجة مثل خديجة، كم أحبّ فلسفة هسه لعلاقة المرأة بالرّجل في هذه الرّواية .

وأحب دميان كذلك، قرأتُ في هامش الرّواية بأنّه اسم محرف عن demon أيّ الرّوح الشّيطانيّة، أو ما يشبه ذلك، لكنّ دميان لم يكن شيطانًا، لقد كان إنسانًا متطرّفًا في إنسانيته، وكثيرًا ما يحوّلنا التطرّف هذا إلى شياطين في منظومة القيم الخاصّة بالآخرين، نجد دميان يقدّس شخصيّة قابيل الذي قتل شقيقه هابيل، ويحاول دفع سنكلير للتفكير بالقصّة من زاوية أخرى، لأنّ الإنسانيّة تعني أن نخطئ، وقد قال لسنكلير ذات مرّة : " لا أعني بأن تقتل أو تغتصب فتاة، ولكن فكّر في المسموح مرّة أخرى " .

الموسيقى الّتي يعزفها بستريوس في الرّواية خدشت قلبي أيضًا، تمنّيت لو كان باستطاعتي الجلوس على مقعد خشبي بالقرب منه والاستماع إليه وإلى سنكلير دون أن يرونني، إنّ بستريوس يرمز إلى الإنسان الّذي يريد صناعة المستقبل، لكنّه متعلّق بالماضي، لذلك هو يصنع الأنبياء والكهنة الّذين بدورهم يصنعون المستقبل .

" الطّائر يكافح للخروج من البيضة، البيضة هي العالم، والّذي يريد أن يُولد عليه أولاً أن يدمّر عالمًا ... الطّائر يطير إلى الله "
Profile Image for د.سيد (نصر برشومي).
301 reviews513 followers
August 8, 2023
بضمير المتكلم، وبإحساس مثقف مر وعيه برحلة مزعجة سعيا لمعرفة نفسه، والميلاد الثاني الذاتي الذي يختار فيه مساره بعد مراحل الغفلة والنزق والعقاب والتمرد والتأمل واستخلاص ما يشبه صورة يرتضيها شعوره من مدركات أعماقه وواقعه وأحلامه، يكتب هرمان هيسة رواية دميان، ذاك الآخر الذي يستطيع أن يكون مساعدا سحريا، وفي الوقت نفسه يثير التساؤلات بصدد قصة إنسانيتنا الكلية
ومع ذلك لا يقتنع القارئ أن إميل سنكلير قد وجد نفسه في نهاية الرواية، وكأنه أصبح من إخوان الصفا، فأن يرى الناس متجهين إلى حرب عالمية بابتسامة تلتمس أخوة مغدورة لا يجعلك تتعاطف مع العالم القاسي
لقد ارتاح إميل سنكلير، إميل المستعار من روسو، إلى حل توفيقي يجمع بين الخير والشر، وكأن هذا هو الجديد، أو كأنه بطل لن أعيش في جلباب أبي الذي حيّرنا معه قبل أن يستقر في دكان بوكالة البلح مجاورا أبيه ومستكملا مساره، ربما كان نموذج نجيب محفوظ في قلب الليل أكثر تمكنا في فهم طموح الروح في الوصول إلى حقيقة تنطق بها وتجد لها صدى في سياق البشرية
أيا كان الأمر - كما كان يقول أستاذنا عبد الله خورشيد - فإن السرد استطاع أن يمضي بك في منطقة تتضافر فيها حيوية المغامرة مع تجريد الفكر، ولكنها قصة تكوين تناسب هوية شاب حائر بين الهداية والغواية، تسيطر عليه نزعة أوديبية رافضة للأب، وراغبة في حضن أم يماثل الإنسانية
تلك الكتابة التي تمضي بإصرار في غابة الذاكرة الكثيفة الأشجار
تتغلغل من الفروع داخل الجذوع صوب الجذور
معها كشّاف الوعي الدقيق الحاد الذي ينفذ في سمك العتمات
سرد معرفة الذات التي تزيح الركام عن صورتها المترامية في أصداء الصمت
الترجمة قصيدة ناصعة متماسكة متمكنة، تحملها صياغة رصينة للجمل المتوازية المحققة لشعرية تجربة شاب يخوض مغامرته الروحية، الأسلوب لا يسير وفقا للمعيارية الصارمة، فاستغلال إمكانات اللغة بخاصة التقديم والتأخير، مع الحفاظ على السبك النصي، منح القارئ صوتا جماليا يليق برواية لها مكانتها في تاريخ رواية التكوين
Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
April 4, 2020
i am so glad i give authors three books to make me love them. this was hesse's last chance to woo me, and he really almost got a five-star valentine from me, but we will call it a four and a half - must be a little coy, after all. this is a book that i would love to go back in time and give myself upon graduating from high school. i would love to know whether it would have made me more or less insufferable than i am now. because i could see it going either way, at seventeen. i could see myself taking this as a cautionary tale, in a way, or i could see myself going whole hog into some sort of mystical, quasi-intellectual liter-orgical spree and alienating everyone around me. i can see myself smoking a pipe and holding court with my philosophies and my revelations ohhhh my revelations. as it is, i held no court - i just finished it on the subway, took moll flanders out of my bag, and started reading that, in some quiet bookish equivalent to chain-smoking. but o what could have been...

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Rowena.
501 reviews2,517 followers
April 20, 2015
"But every man is more than just himself; he also represents the unique, the very special and always significant and remarkable point at which the world's phenomena intersect, only once in this way and never again. That is why every man's story is important, eternal, sacred; that is why every man, as long as he lives and fulfills the will of nature, is wondrous, and worthy of every consideration."

It's quite timely that I read this one so soon after reading Zweig's tale ( Burning Secret ) about a young boy leaving childhood. This book followed a similar thread, a boy named Emil goes through his personal journey of becoming, and it definitely goes into more depth. Unlike Zweig's book, our protagonist comes of age in the real world, not in an isolated setting, and he does so with a sort of spiritual guide, a curious boy named Demian.

I haven't read Hesse since I was a teenager and I think this book would have been even more impactful to me at that time, when I was trying to discover myself and choose my path. Even so, I really did enjoy this book and I found myself relating so much to this little German boy, something I never expected to be able to do.

Entering the mind of a child on the journey to find out who he or she is, something I hadn't thought of for a long time, was very interesting because it's so easy to forget that we all go through this phase, a time of pain or angst for many when we lose our innocence, learn new things, discover new philosophies, and struggle to find meaning.

I felt I could relate more to the younger Emil, which makes sense because he and I chose very different paths.

Hesse is very philosophical and I enjoyed the conversation on spirituality and dualism although I can’t necessarily say I agreed with them. I was left with several thought-provoking quotes, some I will include here:

"I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books; I have begun to listen to the teachings my blood whispers to me."

"Each man's life represents a road toward himself, an attempt at such a road, the intimation of a path."

"Examine a person closely enough and you know more about him than he does himself.'
"I wanted only to try to live in accord with the promptings which came from my true self. Why was that so very difficult?”
Profile Image for Fernando.
685 reviews1,127 followers
February 1, 2023
“Quería tan solo intentar vivir lo que tendía a brotar espontáneamente de mí.
¿Por qué había de serme tan difícil?”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Thomas Mann, Günter Grass, Hermann Hesse.
Aquí, en esta lista está comprimida la mejor literatura que dio jamás Alemania y que difícilmente se igualará.
Hermann Hesse forma parte de esos autores que marcaron a fuego la literatura alemana a partir de su genio inconmensurable y su literatura inolvidable.
“Demian” es uno de los libros clave de su obra junto con “El lobo estepario”, “El juego de Los abalorios”, “Siddhartha”, "Narciso y Goldmundo" o “Bajo las ruedas”.
Escrito a modo de bildungsroman o “novela de formación” nos narra los primeros pasos y la juventud de Emil Sinclair y de cómo se abre este a la vida como cualquier ser humano pero con a partir de una prosa maravillosa, tierna y difícil de olvidar.
Emil Sinclair, al igual que los personajes de otras novelas como la de su primo Harry Haller del mismo autor, tiene también conexión con otros famosos personajes como lo son Stephen Dedalus, Oscar Matzerath, David Copperfield o Niétochka Nezvanova, solo para traer al tapete a algunos ejemplos en donde la búsqueda de la superación personal y el hacerse camino en la vida es lo que abarca la lectura del libro en cuestión.
En el caso de Emil Sinclair, iremos pasando por las distintas etapas de su vida que incluye esta dicotomía planteada entre el bien y el mal, lo sagrado y lo profano, lo correcto y lo desviado que se le presenta sin dejar de lados sus cavilaciones, sus dudas, sus preguntas y dificultades primero con sus padres, sus primeros compañeros de escuela, el despertar sexual en contraposición con la religión y su especialísima relación con ese muchacho tan enigmático como atrayente: Max Demian.
Toda la vida de Sinclair cambiará a partir del descubrimiento de Demian y será a partir de allí en donde nos encontraremos con las distintas situaciones y pruebas que deberán atravesar ambos personajes que en cierto modo es la vida misma, la de ellos en la ficción o la nuestra propia que cada día nos cambia las reglas del juego.
Una novela corta pero intensamente profunda, maravillosa, de esas que lo dejan a uno pensando ha escrito Hesse en 1919, un año después de terminada la gran Primera Guerra Mundial.
La novela de Hesse es a la vez una mirada sobre quiénes somos y cómo intentamos avanzar en esta, la única vida que nos da Dios.
Sólo en nuestras manos está la posibilidad de aprovecharla día a día y que no se nos escurra entre las manos como arena.
Al fin y al cabo, aunque no nos demos cuenta, es demasiado corta.
Profile Image for Piyangie.
530 reviews494 followers
August 11, 2023
Demian is a semi-autobiographical novel written by Hermann Hesse. Combining Hesse's own experiences with theories of psychoanalysis of Carl Jung, Nietzschean philosophy, and Eastern Mysticism, Hesse writes a story of Emil Sinclair's journey from "the world of illusion" to the "world of reality".

Emil Sinclair lives through a naive childhood, in a "world of illusion", completely believing in the conventional morality he was brought up in. A childish lie of his subjects him to the clutches of a bully who compels him to commit acts that are nothing but "crimes" according to Christian morality. Sinclair leads a miserable existence repenting over his sins. However, his meeting with Max Demian, an older student at his school, changes all. For the rest of Sinclair's life, Max Demian becomes a powerful influence and guide for Sinclair. He not only frees Sinclair from the clutches of the bully but also frees him from conventional morality, teaching Sinclair to accept unconventional thoughts ("the world of darkness") as part of human nature. Demian teaches Sinclair that God and Demon both exist within a man and it's for the man to deal with the inner Demon and raise the self towards God. This teaching denies that a man can be governed by external forces like good and evil as set by conventional morality but by the deeper inner spirit. It is then for the man to purify his inner spirit so as to become closer to God.

Sinclair's path to finding "the real world" is not easy. It is shrouded by the illusory world which is dictated by conventional morality. These social rules, strongly influenced by Christianity, bind humans so strongly that one cannot break free at once. Demian's teachings question his once secure world of illusion and slowly shatter it. Unable to comprehend these new doctrines, Sinclair rebels against everything he believed in. He walks through a path of self-destruction and is saved by two intermediate mentors. Demian's return to Sinclair's life marks his ultimate salvation, and together with his mother, Frau Eva, Demian awakens Sinclair's mind towards self-realization.

The story has many symbolic representations. Hesse's description of psychoanalytic theories comes to life in the form of a symbolic narrative drawn from Christian theology. Even the characters of Max Demian and Frau Eva can be explained as symbols. In more than one instance, Demian is portrayed as Sinclair's deep inner self. And Frau Eva represents Sinclair's feelings of love and longing for physical intimacy. In other words, Frau Eva is symbolic of Sinclair's sensuality. Another symbolic interpretation I drew on the characters of Demian and Eva is that they represent Sinclair's masculine and feminine elements respectively. In ancient times, it was believed that harmony of both masculine and feminine elements of oneself is essential for one's supreme spiritual attainment, and I felt both Demian's death and his kiss to Sinclair on behalf of his mother at the point of his death symbolizes the complete masculine and feminine harmony one attains within oneself. When one is in harmony with oneself, the port for self-realization opens to him.

The novel is filled with thought-provoking philosophical content. The themes expounded are impressive. The experimental style of writing with symbolic narrative, which while beautiful, is not the easiest to read. Nor can I claim that the story was particularly interesting. Nevertheless, it has the power to elevate the readers' minds toward new dimensions.

More of my reviews can be found at http://piyangiejay.com/
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.5k followers
July 5, 2022
“Man knows how much powder it takes to kill a man, but doesn’t know how to be happy.”—Demian

Update, 7/3/19: I reread this with a small group of students reading Growing Up novels. We have read so far James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Jeffery Eugenides' The Virgin Suicides and now this. All three I realize deal with the struggle between spirituality and sensuality for young people "coming-of-age."

Original review, edited a little, 8/6/18:

Demian: The Story of Emil Sinclair’s Youth is a 1919 novel situated early on in pre-WWI world of an adolescent boy, Emil, who early on is bullied, with Max Demian intervening on his behalf. I first read it when I was 16 and was thoroughly engaged in it. It wasn’t until I reread it recently that I realized how it had influenced my early thinking about spirituality and identity. More accessible than Steppenwolf or even Siddhartha, it was one of my very favorite Hesse books, because it situates the spiritual (and in this case Hindi) and psychological (in this case Jungian) ideas in a story of what seem to be real young people (as opposed to abstractions, though some scenes featuring just ideological/spiritual conversations can seem pretty abstract).

It’s a story, like most Hesse stories, about a young man in the west (specifically Germany, and probably Hesse himself) who comes to Enlightenment by trying to fuse different things he cares about from western and eastern philosophical traditions. The early bullying trauma is the most engaging section of the book because it is the most narrative, feels the most real, like it is pulled right out of Hesse’s own life. The rest of the book is a kind of condensed developmental allegory of the coming of age ideas of Emil. There are a variety of boys who help lead Emil, a good boy, along a path of doubting the conventional religion with which he was raised, into a time of worldly pursuits and drinking, and back somewhat more in the direction of the Light, the Sacred, and self-realization.

Max Demian is a kind of doppleganger, a shadow self, in Emil Sinclair's Jungian struggle between the shadow and the light. The dialogues in the book between Demian and Sinclair (and other, older boys in the book) feel real enough, but they can also be seen as self- or inner-dialogues. Demian gets him to question conventional interpretations of Biblical stories. He gets him to be skeptical, to doubt, to more freely interpret everything he sees and reads. There is a kind of Jungian dualism that Sinclair struggles with, and a Hindu struggle between the world of illusion (the Hindu concept of Maya) and the real world, the world of spiritual truth, but it is different than the Good-Evil dualism of Christianity in which he was raised.

The backdrop of the book is WWI, and a sense that the world must die before it is reborn into a better thing:

“The bird struggles out of the egg. The egg is the world. Who would be born must first destroy a world. The bird then flies to God. That God's name is Abraxas.”

Abraxas would seem to be the God of a New Religion that emerges when people see through their worldly illusions. This didn’t really work out, Herman, did it? Or it may have for a few million people, but not far enough to truly transform the planet. It’s interesting to see the trend in the US to seek more women politicians to replace rapaciously worldly men. Because in Hesse’s conception, Emil falls in love with a girl named Beatrice that represents to him a kind of spiritual ideal consistent with this New Religion. I think Email/Hesse thinks going the way of women is generally better than the way of men.

Emil Sinclair later in the book seems to fall in love, too, with Frau Eva, Max Demian’s mother, whom he views as an image of “the Universal Mother,” which maybe evolved into the sixties conception of the Earth Mother, a feminist environmental ideal that was seen as possibly a key to saving the planet. Emil sees Eva as a Goddess image, the Female ideal, representing an ethereal, sensual, emotional life in contrast to the world of men that leads us to death and war. Ironically, most of Sinclair’s transformations happens through conversations in and through intense relationships with boys, such as Demian and Pistorius. Not teachers, but somewhat older boys who open up his mind to different ideas.

Interestingly, for a guy who develops a kind of Goddess ideal, Emil has almost no real connection to women or girls at all, so he idealizes them in various ways. If he meets a woman, such as Beatrice, he thinks about her, he watches her, but never really talks to her. Other boys seem to have early sexual experiences, but not Sinclair. And yet Woman becomes for Emil the Ideal Spiritual/bodily guide for him. Sinclair’s challenge: Can he find a way to weave together sexuality (the body, attraction, something renounced by Christianity) and holiness (the Spirit) in Love? And to find the Feminine in himself without completing renouncing the Masculine. Not opposites, but a fusion of the two.

Demian and Max fight in WWI, and one can see how Demian (the book) was so popular among young anti-war people in 1919, after "the war to end all wars," and again in the anti-Vietnam War sixties/early seventies. What Hesse encourages is for young people to “discover their true selves,” and to “follow their inner vision.” Love can be part of that process, of course, but it never seems to me a truly social love, or a social self, with a commitment to changing the world. Hesse’s is a spiritual quest, a quest for Self-Enlightenment.

When I was 16 I was highly encouraged to make what we called in the Dutch Reformed Church “Profession of Faith” in keeping with the tenets of the Heidelberg Catechsim, which we had to basically memorize over a series of years. I was a skeptic, taking notes on sermons I heard that made me worry about my church's Calvinist grounding in Original Sin. We were all--in my church's most conservative version of this view--to see ourselves fundamentally as Sinners. During this same year I read Demian and other works by Hesse. And in the next couple years, I would read the existentialists, and Dostoevsky. It was my Aunt Florence who emerged in this time as my Universal Mother: A one-time flapper, an artist, a teacher, a nudist, joyful, not at all like my Dutch Reformed traditions. She told me once (when I was maybe fourteen?) that she had never believed in the idea of Hell, and this sort of stunned me, because I could never understand it, either, but I was surprised and glad to find someone who agreed with me within my family. Like Emil, who was confirmed in his Church even as he left it, I made my parents happy and made a "Profession of Faith," even as I faced the possibility of being drafted in the Vietnam war. Unlike Emil and Demian, I never served in the military nor fired a weapon in a war.

I was possessed as a young man like Emil with intense feelings ranging from joy to self-pity to melancholy, which is to say adolescence, I guess, and my experience like Emil's featured intense discussions of books and the ideas embodied in them. Self-exploration was central for me at 16, and what contributions I might make to the needs other people were secondary, until I decided to work in a psychiatric institution for some years, and then become a teacher. I very much liked revisiting my past self through this book. I maybe didn't love it as much as I did when I first read it, but I will hold on to my 5 starring of it that I felt then.
Profile Image for مجیدی‌ام.
213 reviews127 followers
November 16, 2015
دوستانی که دنبال خط داستانی و فراز و نشیب داستان نویسی هستن سراغ این کتاب نرن.
این کتاب بیشتر جنبه فلسفی داره تا جنبه سرگرمی و داستان.

اولین کتابی بود که از هسه می خوندم، عالی بود :)
Profile Image for Pedro Pacifico Book.ster.
313 reviews3,191 followers
April 14, 2022
Quando você começa uma nova obra de um dos seus autores favoritos, é difícil de evitar as altas expectativas. “Demian” é um dos principais livros do escritor alemão Herman Hesse, que venceu o Prêmio Nobel da Literatura em 1964. Muitos leitores, inclusive, indicam esse livro como uma boa porta de entrada nas obras do autor, já que traz uma temática de adolescência, de formação de um jovem.

Emil Sinclair é o protagonista e narrador da história. Quando ainda criança, vive um momento comum na vida de muitos: a saída da bolha segura e confortável da casa dos pais para enfrentar o desconhecido e os possíveis conflitos com outros jovens de sua idade. Nesse momento, o protagonista conhece Max Demian, um colega de classe que parece ter ideias muito maduras para a sua idade. E é a partir dessa amizade pouco convencional que Sinclair começa a refletir sobre sua existência, sobre as contradições da condição humana e suas dualidades. Demian serve como um guia para Sinclair, que enxerga no amigo alguém à frente de seu tempo. Um guia para o seu autoconhecimento.

A temática me agrada bastante, mas confesso que a primeira parte do livro não me cativou tanto. Tive dificuldades de me apegar aos personagens e essa parte inicial me deixou confuso em alguns momentos (talvez por uma maior carga filosófica). Por outro lado, a segunda parte do livro, com Sinclair mais velho e mais maduro, me interessou muito mais - o que ficou evidente até no meu ritmo da leitura. Como se o personagem estivesse mais consciente sobre os seus conflitos internos e conseguisse passar isso de forma mais clara ao leitor.

Leia Herman Hesse, mas leia com calma e sabendo sobre as principais questões abordadas pelo autor. Não espere uma narrativa comum, repletas de acontecimentos, mas sim uma temática mais subjetiva e filosófica.

Nota: 8,5/10

Veja mais resenhas em https://instagram.com/book.ster
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
666 reviews925 followers
January 24, 2022
“I live in my dreams — that's what you sense. Other people live in dreams, but not in their own. That's the difference.”

Demian by Hermann Hesse — Steemit

Herman Hesse's Demian: The Story of Emil Sinclair's Youth is a short novel I've read several times and will probably read again. At its core, it's about living your true life. For Emil Sinclair, this is a journey that he initially doesn't even know he is on. Instead, he just sees himself as an extension of his family and their values. That changes with his meeting of Max Demian.

Hesse makes it clear that being a seeker (as he calls it) is a journey fraught with anguish and loneliness. For some reason, that seems very relatable. Even though it is never explicit, the drumbeats leading to World War I provide a fascinating and ominous backdrop to Sinclair's journey. I am not overly fond of the actual ending, but I remind myself that it really is about being on the path.

“I wanted only to live in accord with the promptings which came from my true self. Why was that so very difficult?”

“Gaze into the fire, into the clouds, and as soon as the inner voices begin to speak... surrender to them. Don't ask first whether it's permitted, or would please your teachers or father or some god. You will ruin yourself if you do that.”
Profile Image for Ahmed Oraby.
962 reviews3,284 followers
February 7, 2017
إننا لا نصل أبدًا، لكن طرقنا تتقاطع
Profile Image for بثينة العيسى.
Author 23 books25.9k followers
December 1, 2011

الرواية صغيرة، ولكنها وعرة وكما هي عادة هرمان هيسه .. فهي ليست نصاً سهلاً، ولا بيضاً مسلوقاً، ولا شيئا تستطيع أن تقرأه وتستوعبه كاملاً م�� لم تمنحه نفسك كاملاً. الرواية رحلة داخلية يخوضها البطل صوب ذاته، وعليه فهي فقيرة بالأحداث والحوارات (نسبياً) .. ومليئة بتلك العبارات التي تضيء وتلتبسُ في غياهب المعنى. الرواية جميلة، تغادرها وأنت تحسّ بأنك .. هممم .. لست الشخص نفسه؟

Profile Image for Luís.
1,947 reviews611 followers
July 11, 2023
Émile Sinclair is a ten-year-old boy. Her life is luminously precise: within her family, the world is gentle, clean, wise, and full of love; outside, there is terror, scandal, prison, and violence. This vision crumbles when, after some childish boasting, Sinclair falls under the thumb of a petty thug, who forces him to commit several petty crimes. How can we still believe in the omnipotence of this family, which failed to prevent him from becoming the great criminal he has become?
His meeting with Demian, one of his classmates, will restore the balance by ridding him of his tormentor. The ideas of his savior, which contrast singularly with those of his parents, force Sinclair to revolt to find his way. Even if they lose sight of each other, even if the young man finds other masters, Demian's influence remains present throughout his spiritual journey.
I took great pleasure in discovering Sinclair's journey as a child. Still, things went wrong during his adolescence: the appearance of more "exotic" spirituality, such as Abraxas, a synthesis of the Christian God and the demon, wholly lost and dampened my enthusiasm.
Profile Image for Dalia Nourelden.
544 reviews759 followers
May 10, 2023
لم أكن أريد إلا أن أعيش وفق الدوافع التي تنبع من نفسي الحقيقية. فلم كان ذلك بهذه الصعوبة

هذه الرواية بالنسبة لى كانت مثل بحر تنظر له من بعيد فيعجبك لونه وصفاءه فتقترب فتجد الماء دافئ وجميل وتشعر الانتعاش وتراه هادئ فتندفع فيه وتغوص في اعماقه وتستمتع بأمواجه الهادئة لكن بعدها يبدأ الموج فى العلو والارض تبتعد عن قدميك لكنك تظل مستمتع بالسباحة ، لكن بعدها تجد الموج أصبح عالى وصاخب والارض ابتعدت كثيرا كما ان هناك دوامة تسحبك للداخل ولم تعد تعرف ماذا تفعل؟

هذا ماحدث معى كنت مستمتعة جدا مع الثلث الاول وفى الثلث الثانى زادت فلسفة هيسه لكنها لازالت ممتعة وفى الثلث الأخير زادت فلسفته اكثر فأصبحت عاصية على فهمي

إميل سنكلير واحد من الشخصيات الذين يقعون فى المنتصف و في حيرة بين عالم الخير وعالم الشر ، بين عالم النور وعالم الظلام ، عن الحيرة والصراع الداخلى فى النفس البشرية وتأثير الاخرين . وعدم القدرة على الانتماء لاحد العالمين بالكامل ، فكل منا بداخله بذرة الخير وبذرة الشر وباختيارتنا تنمو احدى البذرتين اكثر من الاخرى
التخبط بين اتباع القطيع او التفرد فى طريق خاص بك حتى وان كنت به وحيدا

“أنا أعيش في أحلامي. إن الآخرين يعيشون في الأحلام و لكن ليس في أحلامهم. و هذا هو الفارق”

“كنت أشتاق شوقاً حقيقياً لأن أعيش بشكل حقيقي و لو لمره واحده, أن أعطي شيئاً من نفسي للعالم, أن أدخل في علاقه و معركه معه”

“لقد نسيت أن العالم مازال في وسعه أن يكون ودوداً و لطيفاً. كبرت و أنا أتعود العيش مع داخلي. و لقد استرخيت أمام معرفتي بأنني قد فقدت كل تقويم للعالم الخارجي, أن ضياع ألوانه البراقه جزء لا تجزأ من ضياع طفولتي, و أنه بمعنى من المعاني على المرء أن بتخلى عن هذه الهاله المغريه ثمناً لحريته و لنضج روحه.
أما الآن, و الغبطه تغمرني, فقد رأيت أن هذا كله كان مدفوناً أو مستتراً و أنه مازال من الممكن -حتى لو تحررت و فقدت سعادة طفولتك- أن ترى العالم يشع و أن تنقذ الرعشه اللذيذه التي كانت في رؤيا الطفل”

هى رواية رغم صغر حجمها نسبيا الا انها ليست سهلة تحتاج لتركيز وتفكير وبطء فى القراءة خاصة النصف الثاني منها




شكرا لصديقتى علا التى شجعتنى باقتباساتها ومراجعتها على خوض هذه الروايةوشكرا لصديقتى هبة واسراء على مشاركتى هذه الرحلة وتشجيعى على الوصول لنهايتها واتمامها فكنت اخر الواصلين لخط النهاية لكن اسمتعت برفقتهم ومراجعتهم

Profile Image for Agir(آگِر).
437 reviews510 followers
March 15, 2015
بعد اعجوبه و سیدراتها و بازگشت زرتشت این چهارمین کتابی هست که از هرمان هسه میخوانم
هرمان هسه شخصیتی خودساخته داشته و همیشه در پی کشف وجود و منیت خود بوده
او قهرمانانش را پس از یاد گرفتن راه رفتن،از هر معلم و آموزگاری رها میکند تا خود به سوی شناختن پیش بروند
وی بزرگترین مذهب رو در وجود خود انسان ها جستجو میکند
و انسان را آفریده ای تحسین برانگیز و خیلی نزدیک به خداوند می داند
در دمیان از سرنوشت انسان ها می گوید که باید این مسیر را طی کنند
البته نه با قدم های شتابان بلکه آهسته و با تامل
وهر انسانی سرنوشتی خاص دارد و باید بکوشد که آنرا بشناسد و بعد در دنبال کردن آن از هیچ چیز نترسد
وقتی به خود برسی دیگر از هیچ نمیترسی
هرچه هست درون ماست
هسه یه جورایی آدم رو یاد حافظ خودمان می اندازد
دو جمله از کتاب:
وقتی از کسی متنفریم در واقع از چیزی که درون ماست تنفر پیدا میکنیم

پرنده تلاش میکند از تخم برون آید .تخم دنیاست و هرکس که می خواهد زاییده شود نخست باید دنیا را ویران کند
Profile Image for Stela.
948 reviews355 followers
July 14, 2021
I will try not to be (too) emotional and write an “objective” review, even though Hermann Hesse’s Demian moved me beyond words and explanations. Maybe because its serene tone and unaggressive intellectualism have a mesmerizing quality, or maybe because, just like Siddhartha some years later, it does not try to challenge or convince you. Or maybe because of the open-minded way in which it sees the world, it tells its story, it reveals its truth. And last but not least, maybe because of the beautiful image of a perfect friendship the book leaves us with.

It has been said that Demian is an indispensable reading in order to begin to understand Herman Hesse’s prose, and I can see why. Like the above-mentioned Siddhartha, it follows the same route towards the inner self. But while Siddhartha chooses the path of the Buddhist serenity and separation from the world, Demian searches the path towards the world as a whole in which the contraries, even though they can’t be harmonized, neither can be separated.

This tiny, tiny book, which manages to be at the same time a psychological novel, a bildungsroman and a novel of ideas (and brilliantly so), was published under the pseudonym Emil Sinclair, the name of a friend of Novalis; the pseudonym was necessary, for Hermann Hesse’s work had been rejected in Germany after he exiled himself in Switzerland and decided to write against the War. His decision had not been an easy one, and the torment between the love for his country and the feeling he somehow betrayed it had consequences not only on his life but (fortunately!) also on his creation, sweeping his old system of values to make place for a new one, influenced both by Jung’s psychology and Nietzsche’s philosophy. Demian, written in 1917 and published in 1919, contains in nuce all the concepts that will haunt Hesse’s future works – such as “daemon”, “unconscious”, “anima”, “archetype”, “om”, “androgyne”, concepts one needs to be familiar with to fully understand his “magical thinking” that here combines ideas from both The Interpretation of Dreams and Beyond Good and Evil.

In fact, the author himself confessed that the name of the novel (which softly reminds of “daemon”) came to him in a dream, and the German philosopher’s influence upon his characters’ thinking is explicitly stated. On the other hand, Emil Sinclair is also the name of the narrator of the story, an older narrator who recalls his journey to his inner self from childhood (the book begins with the image of a disturbed child) to maturity (it ends with the image of a wounded young soldier). From the "Prologue", Sinclair warns us that his story cannot be beautiful since it is true, and cannot be involved with all humanity since “each person is able to interpret himself to himself alone.” Nor is it easy or comfortable, since “nothing in the world is more distasteful to a man than to follow the path that leads to himself.”

His journey began when he was about ten and discovered for the first time the existence of two worlds – the home, a world of light, peaceful, Christian and safe, governed by moral principles, and the street, a world of darkness, vigorous, intriguing and frightful – and he couldn’t find a reason for their separation. It was the fascination with the second world that made him befriend a boy of bad repute, Franz Kromer and in order to be accepted by him he invented the story of a theft in which he had had the starring role. Kromer, although not really believing him, took full advantage of this lie and made him his personal servant, forcing him to steal and lie for him. This first acquaintance with the evil increased the gap between the narrator and his family, a gap never to be filled again by a boy who feels without being able to explain (yet) that the world is larger than the one his parents were trying to teach him to live in.

In this period of inner and outer torment an enigmatic boy appeared to his school, Max Demian, seven years older and seeming even older, with a quiet dignity that discouraged friendship from the other boys even though he fascinated them.

I saw Demian’s face and remarked that it was not a boy’s face but a man’s and then I saw, or rather became aware, that it was not really the face of a man either; it had something different about it, almost a feminine element. And for the time being, his face seemed neither masculine nor childish, neither old nor young but a hundred years old, almost timeless and bearing the mark of other periods of history than our own. Animals might look thus, trees or stars. (…) All I saw was that he was different from the rest of us, that he was like an animal, a spirit or an image.

Demian, with its idol-like stillness and ageless quality and androgyne appearance is not a character but a symbol, a reference point in the narrator’s life, an archetypal hero with a thousand faces who takes by turn the role of the guardian angel who frees the narrator from Kromer, of the brother into Cain who stands tall and clear in a confused world, of the mentor who teaches him the values beyond good and evil, and of the friend who never leaves him behind. Demian is also the embodiment of Nietzsche’s superman, who lives by his own values separated from the conventional ethics, whose sharp vision embraces at the same time the shadow and the light, the weakness and the strength, the happiness and the suffering, without trying to harmonize or divide them, but accepting them in equal measure. He has only one but powerful weapon: the will-power that enables him to stay on his own path and show it to those with the same “sign”, the Cain sign. For Cain, Demian says, was not important in the story because of the fratricide, but because of the mark on his face that singularized him. In fact it was that sign that created the story of the fratricide and not the other way around:

“What happened and lay behind the whole origin of the story was the ‘sign’. Here was a man who had something in his face that frightened other people. They did not dare lay hands on him; he impressed them, he and his children. It is virtually certain that he bore no actual mark on his brow like a post mark! real life isn’t as crude as that. Rather there was some hardly perceptible mark, a little more intelligence and self-possession in his eyes than people were accustomed to. This man had power and they all went in awe of him; he had a ‘sign’. You can explain that how you will. People always want whatever is comfortable and puts them in the right.”

Like Siddhartha, Emil Sinclair acquires the Right View of the world through the dark mirror of the illusions the life blinds us with. His Nirvana is the God Abraxas, and he becomes, if he has not been all along, Demian:

The dressing was a painful business. So was everything else that happened to me afterwards. but when on the many such occasions I find the key and look deep down into myself where the images of destiny lie slumbering in the dark mirror, I only need to bend my head over the black mirror to see my own image which now wholly resembles him, my friend and leader.

And this final, superposed image, emerging strong, proud and clear from the abyss, is one of the most powerful, significant symbols of flesh made spirit, and of humanity redeemed by love I have ever read.
Profile Image for Peiman E iran.
1,432 reviews691 followers
May 25, 2016
دوستانِ گرانقدر، این کتاب از 239 صفحه تشکیل شده است... داستان در مورد خاطراتِ زندگیِ پسربچه ای به نام «سینکلر» است که از زبانِ خودش بیان می شود
این پسر بچه در خانواده ای مذهبی و البته اصیل و پولدار، همراه با خواهرانش بزرگ شده است و رفتارِ آرام و مودبانه ای دارد و البته گوشه گیر نیز می باشد... فضای خانه را بهشت می داند و فضای خارج از خانه برای او دنیایی ترسناک و متفاوت است
در مدرسه نوجوانی به نام «فرنز کرومر» که در خانواده ای شر و خرابکار بزرگ شده است... بابتِ یک داستانِ دروغین از یک دزدی خیالی که از جانبِ «سینکلر» برایِ بچه ها تعریف شده بود، وی را تهدید به لو دادن میکند... «سینکلر» از روی سادگی مدت ها تبدیل به برده و غلام حلقه به گوش «فرنز کرومر» می شود
تا اینکه شخصیت اصلی داستان و فرشتۀ نجات بخش «سینکلر» یعنی «ماکس دمیان» وارد داستان می شود... او به همراه مادرش «حوا» به آن شهر نقل مکان کرده بودند و البته «ماکس دمیان» چه از نظر سنی و چه از نظر فکری و جسمانی از دیگر دانش آموزان بزرگتر بود و رفتارش به یک مرد با تجربه و عاقل شباهت داشت
طی آشنایی «دمیان» و «سینکلر»... «دمیان» متوجه تهدیدها و آزار و اذیت «کرومر» می شود و به روش خودش شرِّ «کرومر» را از سرِ«سینکلر» کم کرده و به نوعی او را نجات می دهد... از آن به بعد «دمیان» برای «سینکلر» حکم یک استاد و ناجی و الهام بخش در تمام مسائل را پیدا می کند و برای «سینکلر» یک الگوی رفتاریِ به خصوص می شود
تا اینکه بعد از پایان سال تحصیلی... «سینکلر» و «دمیان» از یکدیگر جدا شده و «سینکلر» برای ادامه تحصیل به شهر دیگری می رود
عزیزانم، این قسمت از کتاب بیشتر به اتفاق های رخ داده برای «سینکلر» در زمانی که دور از خانواده زندگی می کند می پردازد
تا آنکه پس از تقریباً شش سال، «دمیان» و«سینکلر» یکدیگر را ملاقات می کنند.. «سینکلر» برای اولین بار به منزل آنها رفته و برای اولین بار مادرِ «دمیان»، یعنی همان «حوا» را از نزدیک ملاقات می کند... روزهای بسیاری این سه با یکدیگر به صحبت و بازی و خنده میپرداختند و گویی که «دمیان» و «سینکلر» تبدیل به دو برادر شده اند
اما موضوعی در این میان وجود دارد و آن این است که «سینکلر» عاشق مادر «دمیان» شده و زندگی بدون او برایش امکان پذیر نیست
در این قسمت از کتاب، به صحبت های رد و بدل شده بین «سینکلر» و «حوا» که متوجهِ عشق و علاقۀ «سینکلر» به خودش شده است، می پردازد
در پایان داستان، «سینکلر» در آرزوی در آغوش کشیدن و بوسیدنِ لبهای «حوا» می ماند.. چراکه جنگ جهانی آغاز شده و «سینکلر» و «دمیان» به جنگ با شوروی اعزام می شوند
در جنگ «سینکلر» مجروح شده و او را به درمانگاه منتقل می کنند.. وقتی چشم باز می کند، «دمیان» را در تخت کنار خود و مجروح میابد.. «دمیان» با آخرین نا و توانی که برایش مانده به «سینکلر» نزدیک شده و به او میگوید: از عشق او به مادرش اطلاع داشته است... و میگوید در روز خداحافظی و قبل از اعزام، مادرم لبهایم را بوسید و گفت: اگر هر اتفاقی برایتان افتاد، لبهای «سینکلر» را ببوس و این بوس را به جای من به لبهای او منتقل کن
در روز بعد، هنگامی که «سینکلر» به هوش می آید.. به تختِ کناری نگاهی می اندازد... ولی دیگر «دمیان» آنجا نخوابیده است

امیدوارم از خواندن این ریویو و چکیدۀ این رمان لذت برده باشید
«پیروز باشید و ایرانی»
Profile Image for Trevor.
1,302 reviews22.1k followers
February 1, 2021
I had to explain this book to someone the other day and what I thought was the best way of doing that was to say that it is a bit like Holden Caulfield had read Nietzsche, rather than being interested in cocktails.

I’ve often thought that there was something very ‘young man’ about Nietzsche’s philosophy – or many interpretations of it. You know, the superman who knows and who wants to make the world bend to his will as a grand statement of art.

It is also hard to know if the main character is the most interesting character in this book. Or rather, if the narrator is the most interesting character. This is obviously hinted at by the fact the title of the novel is the name of someone other than the narrator. But this isn’t quite like a Holmes novel where you need the narrator as audience member to allow for the proper oohs and ahhs that are meant to be part of the story. In many ways Emil is the person coming of age here, and so it is important we see the world through his eyes.

Nietzsche is only one influence here – Jung being the other. So, in part this is a game of follow the symbols and the interplay of oppositions. Some Gnostics used to believe (perhaps they still do) that Jehovah was a lesser God, and that the other Gods let him think he was the only one. And then, despite having made a bit of a botched job of creating the universe, He believed, and his creation believed, that he was the one, true God. I’ve always loved the idea of us being the creation of a second rate God. These Gnostics then believed that we needed to somehow bypass Jehovah, to speak with the real managers. All a bit Kafkaesque, if played on an even larger stage.

This could all sound like I really didn’t like the novel – and that wouldn’t be right – it has more to say than Catcher in the Rye, but it certainly reminded me of that. Perhaps it would make a better novel to give to a young person – it is hard to say. As I said before, I struggle with a lot of philosophy that references Nietzsche quite as fulsomely as this one does – but that really is just me.
Profile Image for Maggie.
7 reviews2 followers
May 6, 2008
Ugh. I forced myself to finish this short book and, in the end, felt it wasn't worth the trouble. I picked it up because I loved Siddhartha so much (though it's been years since I read it and now I wonder if it it will hold up). I found Demian terribly melodramatic and over-wrought and I could never really begin to care much about Sinclair and all his angst-ridden inner turmoil. There were a few interesting and lovely passages -- only a couple of times did I feel a thrill of poetry in the language or an inspired idea. Otherwise, I found it completely tedious and disappointing.

If anyone else wants to give it a try, I'd be happy to pass along my paperback copy. Many people seem to adore this book, and I'm sure it will be better appreciated by someone other than me.

Profile Image for Phoenix2.
864 reviews101 followers
June 8, 2017
“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 flies to God. That God's name is Abraxas.”

For a book full of philoshophical meanings, Demian was quite understandable. The author did a great job to present his character's thinking and feelings, and even the transition from a boy to a man. Okay, so Demian is a book about growing up, finding oneself and one's place and role in the society. The young boy of the book combines only to his family's world, though he feels the need to rebel and reach the world of darkness, the one that exhisted outside his house and his family's morals. He gets the opportunity from Demian, an older schoolmate, who guides his through life and help's him understand the dreams that he is having, which result to his true destiny.
Apart from the meanings this book passes through, the story is very good, with a fast pace plot and relatable characters. You can easily identify with Sinclair, as he expresses everyone's anxieties and confusion while growing up and passing from childhood to adulthood. The writing is very good as well, understandable and doesn't tire the reader. Overall, a great book, so 4 out of 5.
Okay, I confess I've read this one to help me figure out BTS's MVs. I mean look at this:

Now I'm more confused...
Profile Image for فؤاد.
1,067 reviews1,762 followers
August 3, 2017
خیلی خیلی زیاد من رو به یاد کتاب های پائولو کوئیلو انداخت. باید یه کم مطالعه کنم راجع به شباهتا و تفاوت هاشون. ولی مثل همون ها، از حقیقت گمشده ی انسانیت و از عرفانی مرموز حرف می زد، بدون این که بگه این حقیقت چیه و راهی به سوی اون عرفان نشون بده. فقط شرح مکاشفات و شیدایی های عجیب و غریب شخصیت ها بود که مسلماً در دنیای واقعی مصداق نداره.

جدای از اون، نیمه ی نخست داستان خوب بود. ماجرای بچه ای که در بین دوگانگی دنیای نورانی و پاک و بی آلایش درون خانه اش با دنیای تاریک و آلوده ی بیرون خانه اش مردّده و با ورود "ماکس دمیان" درک جدیدی نسبت به این دو دنیا پیدا می کنه و تغییر می کنه و بزرگ میشه.
اما نیمه ی دوم داستان، دیگه داستان از نفس افتاد. بدون این که حرف خاصی بزنه و راهی نشون بده، پیوسته میگفت که "من به دنبال یافتن حقیقت بودم" و "من به دنبال یافتن حقیقت بودم." و معلومه که همین "به دنبال حقیقت بودن" نمیتونه خیلی داستان رو پیش ببره.
Profile Image for Susan Budd.
Author 6 books225 followers
January 21, 2019
Hermann Hesse’s Demian has been my favorite book in the world since the day I first read it in my teens. I had recently discovered Siddhartha, whether by chance or fate, and I wanted more of Hesse’s books. Demian was simply the first one I found on the used paperback table at the Strand. More chance. Or fate.

I cannot describe the effect it had on me because at the time I did not fully understand it—neither the book nor the feeling the book inspired. But I knew I had the mark. Reading Demian was like being initiated into a secret society and I listened rapt as Demian and later Pistorius told Sinclair about Abraxas.

All my adult life I have cherished this old paperback. I cherished it, but never reread it. I never needed to. Its very existence was magical. But then the day came when I needed it again. So I read it for the second time in over thirty years. And now I want to read it again and again until Hesse’s words yield every golden drop of mystical meaning.

I have always been a seeker and the road of the seeker is a lonely one. But it is the only one. And Demian is my road map.
Profile Image for Georgia Scott.
Author 3 books198 followers
July 23, 2023
A short read to last a lifetime. I was seduced by this novel. Let me tell you how.

For my nineteenth birthday, a boy I hardly knew sent me this book signed with his love. Just seeing the cover brings the excitement back to me. An excitement mixed with surprise. We weren't dating. He'd just taken me to a dance where everyone but me was in a slinky dress. Following back surgery, I was in a body cast. The only thing to fit over it was the size of a tent. Yet, he didn't ditch me. He stood by me all night. A few weeks later, this book came in the mail.

"She was an ocean into which I streamed," jumped off its pages at me.

"Everything significant and full of fate for me adopted her form," made me flush.

But what took my heart was the scene between Sinclair and Eva (his friend Demian's mother). She comes in out of the rain and there are pearls in her long dark hair.

What? No?? There are no pearls in the text??? Hesse writes "Raindrops clung to her black hair." And "I kissed the rain out of her hair." Nope. No pearls, you say.

I read the passage again. The pearls shine as bright as ever. That is erotic writing. Hesse suggests more than he says.
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