A man has absolutely no other duty than this: To seek himself, to grope his own way forward, no matter whither it leads. That thought impressed itself deeply on me; that was the fruit of this new event for me. Often had I pictured the future. I had dreamed of filling roles which might be destined for me, as poet perhaps or as prophet, as painter, or some such role. All that was of no account. I was not here to write, to preach, to paint, neither I nor anyone else was here for that purpose. All that was secondary. The true vocation for everyone was only to attain to self-realization.
Hermann Karl Hesse (1877–1962) was a German-born Swiss poet, novelist, and painter who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946. He found early popularity as an author in his native Germany but was soon embroiled in public controversy following the publication of an essay that appealed to his fellow countrymen regarding their role in the First World War. This personal crisis was quickly followed by the death of his father, the serious illness of a son, and his wife’s deteriorating mental health, leading to a great turning point in his life when he emigrated to Switzerland and sought refuge in psychoanalysis with a disciple of Carl Jung.
The first influences of that analysis bore Demian: a novel so radically different from his earlier work that even his friend, the renowned author Thomas Mann, could not believe Hesse wrote it. Initially published under the pseudonym Emil Sinclair, and replete with both Jungian archetypes and Jungian symbolism, it tells the coming-of-age story of troubled adolescent Emil and his quest for self-discovery and spiritual awakening with his friend, Max Demian, as guide.
“Hesse’s vision is again reaching out to another generation searching for meaning in an age of anxiety and war.”
“Hesse’s vision is again reaching out to another generation searching for meaning in an age of anxiety and war.” —Ralph Freedman
“Demian became . . . a voice I could listen to and contemplate as I tried to find my way from childhood to adulthood and into the world of art.” —James Franco
“Hesse was a great writer in precisely the modern sense: complex, subtle, allusive; alive to the importance of play, to the desperate yet frolicsome game of writing.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Hesse’s young readers, then and now, were not wrong to feel that he was speaking directly to them. The stories he tells appeal to young people because they keep faith with the powerful emotions of adolescence, which most adults forget or outgrow—the woundedness, the exaltation, the enormous demands on life.” —The New Yorker
“A classic document of the revolt against the unreflected life. The autobiographical undercurrent gives Demian an existential intensity and a depth of understanding that are rare in contemporary fiction.” —Saturday Review
“The electrifying influence exercised on a whole generation after the First World War by Demian is unforgettable. With uncanny accuracy this poetic work struck the nerve of the times and called forth grateful rapture from a whole youthful generation who believed that an interpreter of their innermost life had risen from the midst.” —Thomas Mann
Published: February 11, 2021
Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.44 inches
Weight: 10 ounces
Cover: Matte Finish
Interior: Black & White on Cream Paper
Pages: 174 (+2 POD)
1923, N.H. Priday
February 11, 2021