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Hermann Hesse

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Hermann Hesse

*  1877 Calw
† 1962 Montagnola/Schweiz


Hermann Hesse was born on July 2, 1877, in Calw, Württemberg. After dropping out of the seminary at the Maulbronn monastery and finishing his training as a book dealer in Basel, Hesse lived in Gaienhofen am Bodensee and worked as a professional writer and for many newspapers starting in 1904. Already in his early novels "Peter Camenzind" (1904) and "Unterm Rad" ("Beneath the Wheel"; English title: "The Prodigy" 1906), Hesse thematized the conflict between intellect and nature, a theme which pervades his whole catalog. During the First World War, Hesse published many political essays and open letters against the war which were published in many German, Austrian, and Swiss newspapers. Hesse, who had lived in Bern since 1912 and had become a Swiss citizen in 1923, was a foreign member of the Prussian Academy of the Arts from 1926 until 1931, when he voluntarily resigned his membership. In 1931, Hesse moved to Montagola, where he lived and worked until his death on August 9, 1962. While his works were considered objectionable in Germany during the years of World War II, Hesse later received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946 and the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in 1955. Hesse's literary fame comes especially from his novels, which include "Demian" (1919), "Siddartha" (1922), "Der Steppenwolf" (1927), "Narziss und Goldmund" (1930), and "Das Glasperlenspiel" ("The Glass Bead Game" 1943), and also from his numerous poems, stories, essays, and treatises. Through his prose as well as his poetry, which tends to be nostalgic, often maudlin, and folksong-like, Hesse reveals himself as a harmonizing-epigonal descendent of the Romantics.