(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

Rosshalde is the story of an unhappy marriage, perhaps Hermann Hesse’s own unhappy marriage. Written after his return from India, it may depict the incompatibility between him and his wife that led to his trip to the East in the first place. The manor house, Rosshalde, is based on the house of a deceased painter which the Hesses rented in 1912 just outside Berne. Adele Veraguth is patterned after Hesse’s own wife, Maria. Yet the novel is more than an autobiographical fiction; it is also a thesis novel which argues that the artist is not suited for marriage, for his necessarily detached role as an observer and recorder of life renders him incapable of the kind of intimacy that marriage requires.

Rosshalde is an account of a brief period in the life of a famous painter, Johann Veraguth, who because of incompatibility with his wife lives in a bachelor’s studio on the grounds of his manor house. His wife, Adele, and their seven-year-old son, Pierre, the darling of both parents and the only link between them, live in the main house. Their older son, Albert, has been sent away to boarding school.

Although Veraguth has been living apart from his wife for several years, this situation, which has become increasingly intolerable to him, comes to a head in the novel as a result of two factors: Albert, who is devoted solely to his mother and who hates his father, returns from school and Veraguth’s old friend Otto Burkhardt arrives from his plantation home in India. Veraguth’s awareness of the intensity of Albert’s hatred for him and Burkhardt’s efforts to convince Veraguth to come back with him to the East make...

(The entire section is 680 words.)