Hermann Hesse Short Fiction Analysis
Although they are not as well known as the novels, Hermann Hesse wrote many short stories; in fact, the short story was one of the two genres (the other was poetry) which preoccupied him all of his life. The stories show a variety of themes; the early ones tend to aestheticism and decadence. Those written in Hesse’s middle years are realistic with touches of humor or irony, and the later ones are frequently magical or surreal. The themes of Hesse’s short stories parallel those in his novels. As in other works by Hesse, the short stories emphasize inwardness and subjectivity and are often autobiographical. Many of the protagonists are outsiders who are alienated from the bleak reality of civilization and who try to find self-fulfillment. This inner quest for self-awareness and fulfillment, frequently unsuccessful, is a central theme in Hesse’s stories.
“A Man by the Name of Ziegler”
“A Man by the Name of Ziegler” foreshadows the surrealistic style of Hesse’s later works and shows his predilection toward Eastern pantheism, even before his trip to the East. In this story, Hesse depicts modern civilization as empty. Ziegler, the protagonist, is representative of modern human beings: He is smug and self-satisfied; he exists rather than really lives. Ziegler is unaware of the emptiness of his own life. At the beginning of the story, Hesse describes Ziegler as one of those people whom one sees everyday yet never remembers...
(The entire section is 2127 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Hermann Hesse Critical Essays. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!