I have picked up a novel again. It was given out for free amongst some old books this morning. Yet it is more than just a novel. It speaks to me more deeply. It is by the German novelist Hermann Hesse (b1877 - d1962) and titled Demian. I remember reading The Glass Bead Game/Magister Ludi by the same author when I was a teenager and it had a profound affect on me. I will have to find a copy to re-read at some point and see how I have changed. The following extract may give you an idea of why he was an extraordinary writer. And why it appeals to a deeper core. Every person has their own unique story. How we interpret our stories, the meanings we place on particular events, and the metaphors and examples we choose all form a rich tapestry/weaving of our own lives and the futures we create for ourselves and others.
Here is a prologue extract:
I cannot tell my story without reaching a long way back. If it were possible I would reach back farther still - into the very first years of childhood, and beyond them into distant ancestral past.
Novelists when they write novels tend to take an almost godlike attitude toward their subject, pretending to a total comprehension of the story, a man's life, which they can therefore recount as God Himself might, nothing standing between them and the naked truth, the entire story meaningful in every detail. I am as little able to do this as the novelist is, even though my story is more important to me than any novelist's is to him - for this is my story; it is the story of a man, not of an invented, or possible, or idealised, or otherwise absent figure, but of a unique being of flesh and blood. Yet, what a real living human being is made of seems to be less understood today than at any time before, and men - each one of whom represents a unique and valuable experiment on the part of nature - are therefore shot wholesale these days. If we were not something more than unique human beings, if each of us could really be done away with once and for all by a single bullet, storytelling would lose all purpose. 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 fulfils the will of nature, is wonderous and worthy of every consideration. In each individual the spirit has become flesh...
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. What a truism that is.
Excellent fodder for the psychotherapist/humanist in me. Hope something in the extract resonates with you as well. And your unique, powerful, self.
By way of background 'Demian' reflects on Hesse's preoccupation with the workings of the subconscious and with psychoanalysis. He studied the works of Freud, underwent analysis with Jung, and was for a time a patient in a sanatorium. The book was an enormous success and made him famous throughout Europe. He also later turned his attention to the East and wrote a novel about Buddha titled Siddhartha. Another novel to perhaps dip into.
Take care and love Love
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