From his childhood, Hesse was interested in the Orient, and he visited India in 1911. His mother had been born in that country, and his father was a missionary there. Hesse went there, he said, “to see the sacred tree and snake (of Buddha) and to go back into that source of life where everything had begun and which signifies the Oneness of all phenomena.” He later wrote of his “deep veneration of the spirit of the East, which in Indian or Chinese dress...has become my consolation and prophecy.”
Hesse started Siddhartha in 1919 and finished it in 1922. The writing was interrupted for eighteen months while he immersed himself in the comparative study of religion. The major texts...
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