Hermann Hesse: The Search for Oneself

Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 65)


Literature, as Myth, reaches the most radical concernings of our existence, a field of our humanity situated behind the rational approach and which permeates all dimensions of our pragmatic daily life.


Human Existence Authentic Person Practical Life Chess Game Human Possibility 
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  1. 1.
    Gesammelte Werke (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1987), vol. IX. From now on I shall refer to the Gesammelte Werke as G. W.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    For the question of the self in contemporary philosophy, see, for example, Ricoeur, P., Soi-mme comme un autre (Paris, Seuil, 1990) and Schrag, C. O., The Self after Postmodernity (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1997).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bruner refers to his work Actual Mind, Possible Worlds (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1986).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    “Life as Narrative,” Discourse of investiture as “Doctor Honoris Causa” by the Universidad Autônoma, in Madrid, 1986, p. 25.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    For the question of the relations between life-telling and life-making, between discourse and action, see, for example, Ricoeur, P., Du texte ¨¤ l’action (Paris: Seuil, 1986), especially the articles “La Fonction herm¨¦neutique de la distanciation,” “Expliquer et comprendre” and “Le mod¨¨le du texte: l’action sens¨¦e consid¨¦r¨¦e comme un texte.”Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Brunner, J., “Life as Narrative,” p. 27.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Como se hace una novela, “Comentario,” in Obras Completas (Madrid: Esc¨¦licer, 1966), vol. VIII, p. 724.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    “Y asf cuando les cuento cnmo se hace una novela, o sea, cômo estoy haciendo la novela de mi vida, mi historia, les Ilevo a que se vayan haciendo su propia novela, la novela que es la vida de cada uno de ellos. Y desgraciados si no tienen novela. Si tu vida, lector, no es una novela, una ficci6n divina, un ensuefio de eternidad, entonces deja estas paginas, no me sigas leyendo.” Ibid., p. 726. “So, when I tell them [the readers] how to make a novel, that is to say, how I am making the novel of my life, my story, I urge them to make their own novel, the novel of which their own life consists. Because they are pitiable if they do not have a novel. Reader, if your life does not consist of a novel, of a divine fiction, of a dream of eternity, then, leave these pages aside, do not continue reading.” The metaphor of dream is also recurrent in Unamuno when he refers to life. However he plays with the ambiguity of the word “sumo” in Spanish ¡ª meaning sleep as well as dream ¡ª to differentiate two facets of the metaphor. On the one hand, the individual’s life can pass like in sleep, without him becoming aware of the crucial problems of human life, including the problem of death and consequently the meaning of life. On the other hand, dream and creative invention can be the fundamental root of life as well as of fiction. See Cecilia, M-A., Antropologia Filos6fica de Miguel de Unamuno (Sevilla: Publicaciones de la Universidad de Sevilla, 1983), chapter III. 4., pp. 71ff.Google Scholar
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  11. 11.
    Bruner, “Life as Narrative,” p. 29.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ibid., p. 30.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Ibid., p. 29.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., p. 47.Google Scholar
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    Compiled with a selection of articles, made by Siegfriel Unseld, entitled Obstinacy. Original title: Eigensinn. Autobiographische Schiften (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag K. G., 1972). Spanish Edition: Obstinacidn Escritos autobiogrkficos (Madrid: Alianza Ed., 1995), pp. 138–155. I shall always indicate the German edition, but, concerning quotations, I shall refer to pages of the Spanish edition which I shall mention for every work, translating into English when necessary.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    His father and his maternal grandfather actually spent some time in India and Hermann Hesse was influenced by the Oriental culture, indirectly transmitted by them. See Hesse’s biographical writings. For example, “Four Biographies (1903–1925),” the article of 1914 remembering his own trip to Asia, the “Diary of 1920–21,” etc., all of them compiled in Eigensinn. Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Ibid., “Diary of 1920–21,” Spanish edition (from now on, Sp. Ed.), pp. 106–131.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Eigensinn, Sp. Ed., p. 90.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Demian (Die Geshichte von Emil Sinclairs Jugend), G. W., vol. V, Chapter 2, “Cain,” Sp. Ed. (Madrid: Alianza Ed., 1995), pp. 37ff.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Eigensinn, Sp. Ed., p. 92.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
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    Eigensinn, Sp. Ed., p. 93.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    For this image of the contrast between the falling leaves and the stars, see Siddharta,G. W., vol. V. Chapter VI and X., Sp. Ed. (M¨¦xico: Editores Mexicanos Unidos, S. A., 1982), pp. 83 and 136.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Wanderung, G. W., vol. VI. Sp. Ed.: El caminante (Parets del Vall¨¦s, Barcelona: Ed. Bruguera, 1978), p. 58.Google Scholar
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  27. 27.
    Eigensinn, Sp. Ed., pp. 146ff. Chapter: “The Infancy of the Magician.”Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    See, for instance, the end of chapter 7 in Demian, Sp. Ed., pp. 190ff.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Ibid., p. 158.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
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    Narziss und Goldmund, G. W., vol. VIII, Sp. Ed.: Narciso y Goldmundo (Barcelona: Edhasa, 1997).Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Ibid., chapter V, p. 77.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Ibid., chapter IV, p. 57.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., chapter VI, p. 92.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Unamuno, M. de, Del sentimiento trkgico de la vida, chapter VI, in Ensayos, II (Madrid: Ed. Aguilar, 1970): “Y, sin embargo, fe, vida y razon se necesitan mutuamente” (p. 829). “Nevertheless, faith and life, on the one hand, and reason, on the other, need each other.” Also: “Razon y fe son dos enemigos que no pueden sostenerse el uno sin el otro. Lo irracional pide ser racionalizado, y la razon solo puede operar sobre to irracional. Tienen que apoyarse uno en otro y asociarse. Pero asociarse en lucha, ya que la lucha es un modo de asociacion ” (p. 830). “Reason and faith are enemies which cannot hold up one without the help of the other. The irrational dimension demands to be rationalized, but reason can only operate in cooperation with the irrational dimension. Each of them needs to find a basis in the other and to associate with its opposite. But this association is made by means of fighting, given that fighting is a form of association.”Google Scholar
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    Cf. For a philosophical approach to this problem (the intermediary mixed, the disproportion and incoincidence with oneself, etc.), see the analyses of Paul Ricoeur in Finitude et culpabilit¨¦, I: L ‘Homme faillible (Paris: Aubier Montaigne, 1968).Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Der Steppenwolf, G. W., vol. VII, “Tractat”. Sp. Ed.: El lobo estepario (M¨¦xico: Editores Mexicanos Unidos, 1985), p. III.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Ibid., p. 105.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Egensinn, “Diary 1920–21,” Sp. Ed., p. 127.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Demian, chapter 3, Sp. Ed., p. 79.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Ibid., chapter 6, pp. 153ff.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Siddharta, chapter 1, Sp. Ed., p. 11.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Ibid., chapter II, p. 26.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Ibid., chapter III, pp. 35ff.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Demian, chapter 7, pp. 165ff.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    See his autobiographical writings Eigensinn. For instance, “Four Biographies”, Sp. Ed., p. 26.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    See the “Tractact” of Der Steppenwolf for the features of this special creature.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Demian, chapter 3, Sp. Ed., p. 63.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Eigensinn, “Diary 1920–21,” Sp. Ed., p. 123.Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Eigensinn, “Alaman Credo” chapter, Sp. Ed., pp. 97ff. See also Wanderung. Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Siddharta, chapter IV, “Awaken,” Sp. Ed., pp. 47ff.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Eliot, T. S., “Little Gidding,” part V, The Complete Poems and Plays (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, Inc., 1971).Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Siddharta, chapter II, Sp. Ed., p. 24.Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Ibid., end of chapter VI, p. 96.Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Der Steppenwolf, Sp. Ed., p. 189.Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Siddharta, from chapter VIII to the end.Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Demian, chapter 5, Sp. Ed., pp. 130ff.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Der Steppenwolf, “Tractact,” Sp. Ed., p. XXIX.Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    Ibid., p. XXXI.Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    See Ibid., pp. 100 to the end of the novel.Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    Ibid., “Tractact,” p. XXXIV.Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    Ibid., end of chapter XI.Google Scholar
  63. 63.
    See Eigensinn, “Four Biographies,” Sp. Ed., p. 34.Google Scholar
  64. 64.
    Siddharta, chapter II, Sp. Ed., p. 23.Google Scholar
  65. 65.
    Ibid., end of the novel, pp. 167–68.Google Scholar
  66. 66.
    Eigensinn, “Diary 1920–21,” Sp. Ed., pp. 110ff.Google Scholar
  67. 67.
    Narziss und Goldmund, chapter X, Sp. Ed., p. 179.Google Scholar
  68. 68.
    A similar idea is present in Unamuno’s Del sentimiento tragico de la vida, where the consciousness of one’s own finitude is related to love and compassion for oneself and for the others: “Los hombres encendidos en ardiente caridad hacia sus pr¨¦jimos, es porque llegaron al fondo de su propia miseria, de su propia apariencialidad, de su naderia, y volviendo luego sus ojos, asi abiertos, hacia sus semejantes los vieron tambi¨¦n miserables, aparienciales, anonadables, y los compadecieron y los amaron.” Chapter VII, (in Ensayos, II,op. cit., p. 852). Also: “Segtin te adentras en ti mismo y en ti mismo ahondas, vas descubriendo tu propia inanidad, que no eres todo lo que eres, que no eres lo que quisieras ser, que no eres, en fin, mas que nonada. Y al tocar tu propia naderia, al no sentir tu fondo permanente, al no llegar a tu propia infinitud, ni menos a tu propia eternidad, te compadeces de todo coraz6n de ti propio y te enciendes en doloroso amor a ti mismo, matando lo que se llama amor propio y no es sino una especie de delectaci6n sensual de ti mismo, algo como un gozarse a si misma la came de tu alma.” (Ibid., p. 853). “Humans feel a passionate charity for their fellow men when they have arrived at the bottom of their own misery, of their own fiction, of their nothingness; then, turning their eyes, now open, toward their fellow men and considering them as being also fictitious and affected by nothingness, they feel sorry for them and love them.” “As you go into your own self and deep in it, you discover your own nothingness, you realize that you are not all that you would like to be, that you are merely nothing. And touching your nothingness, being unable to feel your permanent bottom, to reach your own infinitude or your eternity, you feel pity for yourself and experience a painful love for yourself, killing what is called amour propre, which is, in fact, only a kind of sensual delectation concerning yourself, something similar to your soul’s chair rejoicing itself.”Google Scholar
  69. 69.
    Der Steppenwolf, “Tractat,” Sp. Ed., pp. XVIIff.Google Scholar
  70. 70.
    Ibid., pp. 40–41.Google Scholar
  71. 71.
    Ibid., p. 157.Google Scholar
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    Ricour, P., Soi-mme comme un autre. See, for instance, “Cinquitude. L’identit personnelle et l’identit narrative,” and “Siximetude. Le soi et l’identit narrative.”Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of SevillaSpain

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