Article abstract: The themes of Hermann Hesse’s fiction, widely read by American college students during the 1960’s, reflect many of the issues and concerns of this turbulent era in American history.
Summary of Event
During the 1960’s, students, philosophers, and members of the hippie movement in the United States rediscovered the works of Hermann Hesse, a German writer of the early twentieth century. His novels expressed rebelliousness and disillusionment with material culture, along with a search for spiritual meaning. Young people looked to Hesse and his works during the 1960’s as they performed their own self-evaluations, rediscovering in his relatively obscure works Hesse’s philosophies of life.
Any discussion of Hesse’s American reception during the 1960’s should be prefaced by a brief discussion of the life and major works of the author himself. Hesse was born on July 2, 1877, in Calw, Germany, to missionary parents. A rebellious, solitary, and highly sensitive child, he was a burden to his parents and a horror to school authorities. After years of academic failure, he returned home, and in 1895 he became an apprentice in a Tübingen bookstore. Hesse had been interested in literature since childhood, and his true vocation began to emerge during this time. His early poetry and fiction remained, for the most part, largely derivative of the themes and style of an earlier literary epoch;...
(The entire section is 2470 words.)
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