This week’s blog topic didn’t immediately trigger any books. I had given up, untill I looked up into the closet in the section where I keep my collection of books by Hermann Hesse, that’s when I thought about the book, The Fairy Tales of Hermann Hesse Translated and with an Introduction by Jack Zipes. It wasn’t in its usual spot. I knew right where to find it though. This is a collection of most of Hesse’s fairy tales that were originally printed in journals or newspapers during his lifetime.
My love of reading started late by most standards. If I look back to where it began, I believe it was upon reading Hermann Hesse’s Demian. I was in my twenties. Ever since then, not only did I begin to devour books, I also sensed deeply from within my soul, a kindred spirit and connection in Hermann Hesse, a connection to a man from another time, yet what he wrote and how he wrote resonated in a profound way.
His most well known books are Steppenwolf, Siddhartha, The Glass Bead Game, and Demian. Anyone that is already a fan of his works will appreciate his fairy tales, which don’t feel like ordinary fairy tales. I would cherish being able to read and understand Hesse in his original German language.
Hesse has a way of transporting the reader through his imagination, his gentle and introspective writing, living and writing through his internal struggles, and seeming to find peace at times. He was a tortured soul. Did this internal pain fuel his work? Did it make his work feel more alive and organic? I only know that I’ve never felt as much as I do with another author as I do when I read his words, whether the popular fiction of his time, his poems, or his fairy tales. We each have a person or perhaps several that we can find some part of ourselves within, whether our past, present, or future selves. I find myself in him. I still haven’t allowed myself to read The Glass Bead Game. I want to feel perfectly ready and deserving of it. Does that make sense? Sometimes, I don’t know if it does. I anticipate the time will come soon.
Even though I’m late in responding to this week’s blog topic, I wanted to mention his book of fairy tales in case anyone may have missed this book and think they might enjoy it.
On another of his books, I wrote a reaction back on January 1, 2002 in one of my journals to one of his pieces called “Farmhouse” from another lesser-known book of his called Wandering: Notes and Sketches Translated by James Wright. It includes his prose, poetry, and black and white copies of his water color sketches. It is said that this is one of Hesse’s favorite books. I never thought that I would have a reason to share what I had written way back then. It seems, though, that it fits here and speaks to how I still feel about him and how he has stayed with me. And this is what I wrote (unedited, except adding a few missing question marks):
“The way to salvation leads neither to the left or to the right: it leads into your own heart, and there alone is God, and there alone is peace.” This is very beautiful. One of the reasons I like Hesse so much is that he is gentle, caring, observant, careful, full of love. If I try to communicate to him through a poem, here is what comes to the page:
Dear friend, I have known you in
You are like a kindred spirit
on a level different than what is
true, I feel your pain
I too love nature, but have not
fully immersed myself in her as you
Why am I so drawn to you my
Did we dance in the rain in another life perhaps? I can’t
explain it, but I have this feeling
when I think of you.
You excite me in a way that makes me want to actualize my full potential.
You make me feel like it’s too late.
You started so young—
You experienced so much: Your mind is beautiful. If I met with you
I feel we wouldn’t need words
We would only need each other’s
presence and nature, the pen,
We would need no words, my friend,
because our spirits are one.
One observation I can make of myself today from the self of 2002 is that I most definitely have immersed myself in nature to the extent that I couldn’t imagine it being any other way. Thank you, in spirit, Dear Hesse, for having touched my soul deeply.