Born in Germany in 1877, this Swiss poet, painter, and novelist, earned himself international fame through his stunning novels. Hesse’s time spent working in a bookshop specializing in theology developed him both artistically and spiritually and his work is replete with philosophical musings and theological significance. In recognition of the depth and power of Hesse’s writing he was awarded the 1946 Nobel Prize for Literature. Hermann Hesse retains a vast cult following to this day.
Peter Camenzind, published in 1904, was Hesse’s first major novel. Released at a time when Germany was undergoing much technological and economic change, the novel inspired many young Germans with its concept of a more natural way of living. It follows the story of a young man growing up in times of hardship and his spiritual journey along the way. The novel’s juxtaposition of natural and modern ways of life conveys powerful themes. The brutal, yet poetic, honesty of Peter Camenzins‘s depictions of humanity, at both its dazzling heights, and its repulsive lows, have ensured the novel’s timeless resonance.
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Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Hesse’s 1919 novel, Demian, was heavily influenced by the author’s interest in psychoanalysis. The story revolves around the struggle of Emil Sinclair, the novel’s protagonist, between two worlds: that of superficiality and illusion, and that of spiritual truth and reality. Hesse himself underwent psychoanalysis from the notorious Carl Jung, and Demian is replete with Jungian and Freudian symbolism, particularly the conflict between a young man’s desires and strict morals laid down by parental figures. At the time, its theme of robbing of youthful innocence had a powerful effect on young men returning from the First World War bearing the physical and psychological scars of war and still now the novel’s psychological exploration holds fascination for many.
Hesse’s 1922 novel, Siddhartha, is widely considered to be his masterpiece. From a young age the author was influenced by Indian and Buddhist philosophies as both his parents performed missionary work in India. Set in India, Siddhartha bears the mark of this and attests to Hesse’s passion for Buddhist philosophy and Indian culture. Through the protagonist’s quest for enlightenment, by means of human experience, Hesse succeeds in portraying his crucial theme of embracing individual differences. The simplicity yet lyrical nature of its language gives Siddhartha deeply moving dimensions that have struck a chord will many over the years.
Steppenwolf, published 1927, contains themes of isolation and romanticized depictions of distance from conventional society. These have made Hesse’s novel a compelling attack on bourgeois values. The main character’s death-like existence, as well as the acute descriptions of isolation in the novel, give Steppenwolf great intensity. Drawing from personal experience, the emotion of the novel is painfully accurate as Hesse often felt himself isolated from society. He was placed in a mental institution and even, in a moment of despair, attempted suicide. The message that if we fail to continue exploring our own identities, then we fall short of enlightenment and fail as human beings, is expressed with hauntingly poetic imagery.
Narcissus and Goldmund
Hesse’s Narcissus and Goldmund was first published in 1930 and is one of his most famous philosophical explorations. The two main characters of the novel’s title reflect two different paths of life: the religious and the artistic. Analyzing the vices and virtues of both, Hesse makes profound reflections on the human character, which remain relevant to this day. Hesse was known as a solitary man, fond of long walks and devoted to artistic self-exploration – a fact which is strongly reflected in Narcissus and Goldmund.
The Glass Bead Game
The Glass Bead Game, his last major project, was published in 1943. The novel centers around the power of meditation and the human spirit and acted as an inspirational influence on generations of Germans craving change and an improvement to the social order. The novel’s context, in the time of trouble in Germany during the aftermath of the Second World War, was very influential on its writing and the prevailing German sentiment of the time of shame towards their motherland emerges prominently as a theme.
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