Hermann Hesse was born on July 2, 1877 in the black forest town of Calw in Wurttemberg, German Empire.
Hesse’s parents served in India at a Protestant christian missionary society. In 1873 Hermann Hesse’s family came to calw, where his father worked for a publishing house, calwer verlagsverein, specializing in theological texts and school books. Hermann Hesse’s grandfather who was a doctor of philosophy (phD), managed the publishing house at the time and Hesse’s father succeeded his grandfather in 1893.
From childhood, Hesse was energetically willful,determined and hard to handle for his family. He showed signs of serious mental disorders in his early days of schooling. His grandfather , Hermann Gundert(PhD) who was very fluent in many languages, encouraged him to read widely, giving young Hesse access to his library, which was filled with the books of world literature.All this gradually but firmly established an idea in Hermann Hesse that he was a citizen of the world.
Both music and poetry were important parts of his life. At an early age Hesse had developed the ability to rhyme, and by 1889 had decided that he wanted to be a writer.
In 1895, at the age of 18, Hesse began working in a book store in Tubingen. This bookstore had a specialized collection of theology, philosophy and law. Organizing, packing and archiving the books these were the work assign to Hesse. Hesse followed his own work, and instead of spending Sundays with friends, he spend it with books. He studied theology and philosophers such as Goethe, Lessing, Schiller and Nietzsche. Hesse and his works were highly influenced by Nietzsche idea of “Dual impulse of passion and order” in humankind. His first publication “One Hour After Mid-Night” was published and failed to become a commercial success.
With bitter experience with his first published work, he began working in Basel, in an antique book shop. While working in Basel, Hesse got many opportunities of journeys, wandering and self-exploration. Nerve disorders, persistent headache’s and a sight disorder affected him throughout his life. Due to these disorders Hesse was freed from compulsory military service in 1900.
In 1904, Peter Comenzind, the first novel of Hesse was published and became popular throughout Germany. In 1910 his novel Gertude was published. It was in these years Hesse interest in Buddhism were ignited. In 1911 he left for a long trip to Asia for religious and spiritual inspiration. He traveled to Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Sumatra and Burma. And instead of any spiritual experience he got a painful physical experience which was depressing.But the journey did inspired his writings.
In 1922, Hesse’s love for Buddhism and Indian culture came in front of world, when his novel Siddhartha was published. Siddhartha is Hesse’s ninth novel and is based on the spiritual journey of self realization of a man named Siddhartha. It was published in United States in 1952, and became influential in 1960. In 1923 he received Swiss citizenship.
The Glass Bead Game, His last full length novel, was published in 1943. Few years later in 1946 Hesse won the Noble Prize In Literature.
After receiving the Noble Prize, Hesse didn’t produce any major work. However, during his last 20 years of his life, he wrote many short stories, poems and essays. He passed away on 9 August 1962 at the age of 85.
Steppenwolf, Siddhartha and The Glass Bead Game are his most influential works. Hermann Hesse is one of the most Famous German writer in the world and his books have been translated in many languages, and have been adapted in films and plays.
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse