Kurzgefaßter Lebenslauf. Erinnerung an Indien. Pedrotallagalla. Kurgast. Hermann Hesse & Romain Rolland: correspondence, diary entries and reflections. Hermann Hesse's involvement with the psychology of C.G. Jung begins in spring of .. This problem is one first addressed by Hesse in Kurgast (). Autobiographical Writings by Hermann Hesse Edited, and with an introduction, in German under the titles Kurgast and Die Nürnberger Reise respectively, In the autobiographical sketch "Childhood of the Magician," Hesse confides that it.
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Family background. Hermann Hesse was born on 2 July in the Black Forest town of Calw in .. His next major works, Kurgast () and The Nuremberg. El 2 de julio de nace #HermannHesse escritor alemán. Su obra se caracterizará por la inquietud del ser humano en busca de su propio destino. Entre sus. Request PDF on ResearchGate | Hermann Hesse and L: Two narratives of sciatica | In the literary novel Kurgast (), translated in English as A guest at the.
This position helped to solidify his intellectual and aesthetic beliefs. It also gave him enough free time to explore his own passions.
This bookstore also agreed to publish his next work, Posthumous Writings and Poems of Hermann Lauscher. This work sold better than either of his previous collections and drew the attention the publisher Samuel Fischer. It appeared in and allowed him to live off of his writing for the first time. This same year he married Maria Bernoulli while her father, who disapproved of Hesse, was away for weekend.
They settled in Gaienhofen and had three sons together. While in Gaienhofen Hesse wrote his novel, Beneath the Wheel. It was published in and was followed by a number of poems and short stories. The trip was quite beneficial to his work, but did not improve his relationship with his wife, which was deteriorating.
He was sent to assist in the care of prisoners of war. He was forced to leave the service temporarily in as his wife was suffering from schizophrenia and his son fell seriously ill.
It was published two years later under a pseudonym. He was officially returned to civilian life in He later moved on to the small Swiss village of Montagnola.
Hesse took up painting and published his best-known novel, Siddhartha in This was an extremely productive time for the writer. His last work was The Glass Bead Game. It was released in and he was awarded the Novel Prize for Literature in His final years were spent writing humorous essays and stories that originated from his childhood. For some time I had been desperately struggling with the question of the difference between the sexes and the origin of children, the question became more and more burning and tormenting, and one day it tormented and burned me so much that I would have preferred not to go on living unless this terrifying riddle was solved.
Angry and sullen, I was returning from school across the market square, my eyes on the ground, unhappy and morose, and there suddenly was the little man! He had become a rare guest, for a long time he had been untrue to me, or I to him -- and now I suddenly saw him again, small and nimble, running along the ground in front of me; he was visible for only an instant and then dashed into Frau Anna's house. He had disappeared, but already I had followed him into the house and already I knew why, and Frau Anna screamed as I burst unannounced into her room, for she was just in the act of undressing, but she did not send me away, and soon I knew almost everything that was so painfully necessary for me to know at that time.
It would have turned into an affair had I not been still much too young. This merry, silly woman was unlike most other grownups because, though she was stupid, she was natural and open, always aware, never deceitful or embarrassed. Most grownups were the opposite.
There were exceptions -- my mother, epitome of liveliness, of mysterious effectiveness, and my father, embodying all uprightness and intelligence, and my grandfather who was now hardly human, the hidden one, the many- sided, laughing, inexhaustible one. By far the largest number of grownups, however, although one had to honor and fear them, were decidedly gods of clay.
How comic they were with their awkward play-acting when they talked to children! How false their voices, how ridiculous their smiles! How seriously they took themselves, with their appointments and their busynesses, how exaggeratedly solemn their posture when you saw them crossing the streets with their accouterments, portfolios, books clamped under their arms, how eager they were to be recognized, saluted, and honored!
They sat stiffly on chairs, one had to prompt them at every turn, be helpful to them at every move, while they were taking off their coats, entering the room, sitting down, asking questions and answering them, taking their leave.
It was easy for me not to take this petty-bourgeois world as seriously as it demanded because my parents did not belong to it and they themselves found it comic. But even when they were not play-acting, were not wearing gloves and paying calls, most grownups seemed to me hugely strange and ludicrous. How self-important they were about their work, about their trade guilds and official positions, how great and venerable they seemed to themselves!
If a conductor, a policeman, or a bricklayer barricaded the street, that was a sacred matter, it was assumed that you should get out of the way, make room, or give assistance. But children with their work and their play weren't important at all, they were pushed aside and roared at. Did they therefore do less that was right, that was good, that was important than the grownups? Oh no, on the contrary, but the grownups just happened to be powerful, they gave orders, they ruled.
But at the same time they had their games just like us children, they played at being firemen and at being soldiers, they went to clubs and to taverns, and all this with an air of importance and authority as though everything had to be just that way and there was nothing more beautiful or more holy.
Granted, there were some clever people too, even among the teachers. But wasn't it a strange and suspicious thing that among all those "big" people, who after all had been children themselves not long ago, there were so very few who had not completely unlearned and forgotten what a child is, how it lives, works, plays, thinks, what it likes and what it hates? Few, very few, who still knew this! There were not only the tyrants and vulgarians who were mean and hateful toward children, repulsed them, looked at them askance, full of hate -- yes, who sometimes apparently felt something like fear of them.
Even the others who meant well, who sometimes liked to condescend to converse with children, for the most part no longer had any idea what was important. They too, almost all of them, if they wanted to communicate with us, had laboriously and embarrassedly to reduce themselves to children, not to real children but rather to invented, silly caricatures of children.
All these grownups, almost all of them, lived in a different world, breathed a different kind of air from us children. They were frequently no cleverer than we were, often they had no advantage over us except the mysterious one of strength.
They were stronger, yes; they could, unless we willingly obeyed them, compel and beat us. But was that true superiority? Wasn't every ox and elephant much stronger than any of those grownups? But they had the power, they commanded, their world and their way were judged to be right. Nevertheless, and this was especially remarkable to me and on some occasions almost frightening, there were many grownups who seemed to envy us children.
In a music album from which I was being taught, there actually was a song with the astounding refrain: And they whom we often envied for their imposing stature, their dignity, their apparent freedom and matter-of-factness, for their beards and long trousers, they at the same time envied us little ones, even in the songs they sang! Well, for the time being, despite everything, I was happy. There was a great deal in the world and even in school that I would have liked to see otherwise; but nevertheless I was happy.
It is true that I was assured and instructed from many sides that man does not tread the earth simply for his own pleasure and that true happiness comes only in the beyond to those tested and proven worthy; this was expressed in many maxims and verses which I learned and which often seemed to me beautiful and touching.
But these themes, which also much engaged my father's attention, did not greatly impress me, and if things went badly with me, if I were sick or suffered from unfulfilled desires or from conflicts with and defiance of my parents, then I seldom sought refuge in God but had other byways that led me back again into the light. If my customary games failed, if railroads, toy store, and fairy-tale book were exhausted or boring, just then the finest new game would very often occur to me, even if it were only closing my eyes in bed at night and losing myself in the glorious sight of colored circles appearing before me -- how happiness and mystery blazed up anew, how meaningful and full of promise the world became!
The first years at school went by without changing me so very much. I learned through experience that trust and openness can bring us to grief, I learned under a few indifferent teachers the most necessary arts of lying and disguising oneself; from then on, I made out. Slowly, however, the first bloom faded, slowly I too learned, without being aware of it, that false song of life, that compromise with "reality," the world "as it happens to be.
In my twelfth year, when the question of my taking Greek arose, I answered yes without hesitation, for to become in time as learned as my father, and if possible my grandfather, seemed essential. But from that day on, a life plan was laid out for me; I was to study and become either a preacher or a philologist, for there were scholarships for these professions. My grandfather too had once followed this path.
On the surface there was nothing wrong with it. Only now all of a sudden I had a future, signposts lined my road, and every day and every month brought me closer to the prescribed goal, everything pointed toward it, everything led away, away from the playfulness and awareness that had filled my days hitherto, qualities that had not been without meaning but without a goal and without a future. The life of the grownups had caught me, at first by a lock of hair or a finger, but soon it would have caught and bound me completely, the life lived according to goals, according to numbers, the life of order and of jobs, of professions and examinations; soon the hour would strike for me too, soon I would be undergraduate, graduate student, minister, professor, would pay calls with a high hat and leather gloves to go with it, would no longer understand children, would perhaps envy them.
But actually in my heart I didn't want any of this, I did not want to leave my world where things were good and precious. There was, to be sure, a completely secret goal for me when I thought about the future. The one thing I ardently wished for was to become a magician. This wishful dream remained true to me for a long time, but eventually it began to lose its omnipotence; it had enemies, opposing forces stood against it -- the real, the serious, that which was not to be denied.
Slowly, slowly, the blossom withered, slowly out of the unlimited, something limited was coming toward me, the real world, the world of grownups. Slowly my wish to be a magician, although I continued to hold it passionately, became less worthy in my own eyes, in my own eyes it turned into childishness. There was already something in which I was no longer a child.
Already the infinite, many-splendored world of the possible was limited for me, divided into fields, cut up by fences. Gradually the primeval forest of my days was altered, paradise congealed around me. I no longer remained what I was, prince and king in the land of the possible, I was not becoming a magician, I was learning Greek, in two years Hebrew would be added, in six years I would be at the university.
Imperceptibly this contraction took place, imperceptibly the magic faded around me. The marvelous story in my grandfather's book was still beautiful, but it was on a certain page whose number I knew and it was there today and tomorrow and at every hour, there was no further miracle. The dancing god from India smiled indifferently, and was made of bronze, I seldom looked at him any more, he never again leered at me. And -- worst of all -- less and less often did I see the gray one, the little man.
I was surrounded by disenchantment on every hand, much became narrow that once had been open, much became tawdry that once had been golden. But I perceived this only obscurely, under my skin; I was still cheerful and ambitious, I learned to swim and to skate, I was first in Greek, it seemed all was going splendidly. But everything had a somewhat paler color, a somewhat emptier sound, I had become bored with going to see Frau Anna, imperceptibly something was lost from all that I experienced, something unnoticed, unmissed, but it was nevertheless gone, wanting.
And now if sometimes I wished to feel altogether myself and full of ardor, then I needed stronger stimuli, I had to shake myself and take a running start. I acquired a taste for highly spiced foods, I nibbled sweets often, sometimes I stole groschen in order to indulge myself in some special pleasure, for otherwise things were not lively and lovely enough. Then, too, girls began to attract me; this was shortly after the occasion when the little man had appeared to me one more time and one more time had led me to Frau Anna.
From My Schooldays Twice during my years at school I had a teacher whom I could honor and love, in whom I could freely recognize the highest authority and who could direct me by a wink. The first was called Schmid, a teacher at the Calw Latin School, a man much disliked by all the other pupils as being severe and bitter, evil-tempered and terrifying.
He became important to me because in his class we students were twelve years old instruction in Greek began. In this little half-rural Latin school we had grown accustomed to teachers whom we either feared and hated, avoided and deceived, or laughed at and despised. That a teacher might possess power because he stood high above us, because he represented intellect and humanity, because he instilled into us inklings of a higher world, this was something we had not yet experienced with any of our teachers in the lower classes of the Latin school.
We had encountered a few good-natured teachers who lightened the boredom of school for themselves and for us by indifference and by gazing out the window or reading novels while we busily copied one another's written exercises. We had also encountered evil, dark, raging, maniacal teachers and had had our hair pulled by them and been hit over the head one of them, a particularly ruthless tyrant, used to accompany his lectures to bad students by rhythmically thumping them on the head with his heavy latchkey.
That there might also be teachers whom a student would follow gladly and with enthusiasm, for whom he would exert himself and even overlook injustice and bad temper, to whom he would be grateful for the revelation of a higher world and eager to render thanks -- this possibility had remained hitherto beyond our ken.
And now I came to Professor Schmid in the fourth form. Of the approximately twenty-five students in this form, five had decided upon humanistic studies and were called "humanists" or "Grecians," and while the rest of the class were engaged in profane subjects such as drawing, natural history, and the like, we five were initiated into Greek by Professor Schmid.
The professor was by no means beloved; he was a sickly, pale, careworn, morose-looking man, smooth-shaven, dark-haired, usually solemn and severe in mood, and if on occasion he was witty it was in a sarcastic tone. What really won me over against the unanimous judgment of the class I do not know. Perhaps it was a response to his unhappiness. He was frail and looked as if he were suffering, had a delicate, sickly wife who was almost never visible, and he lived like all our teachers in shabby poverty.
Some circumstance, very likely his wife's health, prevented him from increasing his small income as the other teachers did, by taking in boarders, and this fact gave him a certain air of distinction in contrast to our other teachers. To this was now added Greek. We five chosen ones always seemed to ourselves like an intellectual aristocracy in the midst of our fellow students.
Our goal was the higher studies, while the others were destined to be hand workers or tradesmen -- and now we began to learn this mysterious, ancient language, much older, more mysterious, and more distinguished than Latin, this language that one did not learn for the purpose of earning money or to be able to travel about in the world but simply to become acquainted with Socrates, Plato, and Homer.
Certain features of that world were already known to me, for Greek scholarship had been familiar to my parents and grandparents, and in Schwab's Myths of the Classical World I had long since made the acquaintance of Odysseus and Polyphemus, of Phaethon, Icarus, the Argonauts, and Tantalus.
This Herr Schmid did nothing to make our school year easy. Indeed, he made it extra hard, often unnecessarily hard. Now I had become acquainted with this under other teachers. With Schmid I experienced something new. I experienced, besides fear, respect, I discovered that you can love and honor a man even when he happens to be your enemy. Sometimes in his dark hours, when his haggard face beneath the black hair looked so tragic, oppressed, and malicious, I was forced to think of King Saul in his periods of gloom.
But then he would recover, his face would grow smooth, he would draw Greek letters on the blackboard and say things about Greek grammar and language that I felt were more than pedagogic rigmarole.
I fell deeply in love with Greek, although I was terrified of the Greek class, and I would draw in my schoolbook certain Greek letters such as upsilon, psi, omega, quite entranced and obsessed, as though they were magic signs. During this first year of the humanities, I suddenly fell ill.
It was a sickness that so far as I know is unknown and unregarded today, but that the doctors at that time called "growing pains. I enjoyed my sickness thoroughly, for despite my humanistic idealism I was far too accustomed to hate and fear school not to regard a halfway bearable illness as a gift of grace and a release. For a long time I lay in bed, and since the wall beside my bed was of wood painted white I began to work on this convenient surface with water colors, and at the level of my head I painted a picture that was supposed to represent the Seven Swabians and was heartily laughed at by my brothers and sisters.
But when the second and third weeks had gone by and I was still sick abed, some concern was felt lest, if this were to last much longer, I might be left too far behind in Greek. One of my classmates was summoned to keep me in touch with what went on in class, and then it became apparent that Herr Schmid with his humanists had by that time got through a formidable number of chapters in the Greek grammar. These I must now make up, and under the eyes of the Seven Swabians I struggled through many lonesome hours against my own indolence and the problems of Greek conjugation.
At times my father helped me, but when I was well again and allowed to be up and around I was still very far behind, and some private lessons from Professor Schmid were thought necessary.
He was willing to give them, and so for a short period I went every other day to his dim and cheerless apartment where Schmid's pale, taciturn wife was fighting a mortal illness. I seldom got to see her, she died shortly thereafter. The hours in this oppressive apartment were as though bewitched; the moment I crossed the threshold I stepped into a different, unreal, terrifying world; I found the honored wise man, the feared tyrant whom I had known in school, strangely and uncannily changed.
Intuitively I began to understand his tormented expression, I suffered for him, suffered under him, for his mood was usually very bad. But twice he took me out for walks, strolled about with me in the open air unburdened by grammar or Greek, and on these short walks he was gracious and friendly to me; without sarcasm, without attacks of temper, he asked about my hobbies and about my dreams for the future, and from then on I loved him, although, as soon as I was back in his classroom once more, he seemed to have forgotten the walks completely.
After his wife was buried I remember that he made his characteristic gesture of pushing his long hair back from his forehead more often and more abruptly. As a teacher he was very difficult at that time, and I believe I was the only one of his pupils who loved him, despite his harshness and his unpredictability.
Not long after I finished Schmid's class I left my home town and its school for the first time. This happened for disciplinary reasons, for at that time I had become a very difficult and wayward son and my parents did not know what to do with me. In addition to that, however, I had to be as well prepared as possible for the "district examination.
This course had been decided upon for me. Now there were certain schools in the district in which preparation for this examination was a specialty, and so to one of these schools I was sent.
In earlier years Rector Bauer had had the reputation of being a harsh pedagogue, fond of caning; an older relation of mine who years before had been his pupil had been severely beaten by him. Now an old man, Bauer was regarded as a marvelous eccentric and also as a teacher who demanded a great deal from his students but could be nice to them. Nevertheless, it was with no little dread that I, after the first painful farewell to my family's house, waited, holding my mother's hand, outside the famous rector's study.
I believe my mother was not at first enchanted by him as he came toward us and invited us into his den, a bent, aged man with tangled gray hair, somewhat protuberant eyes marked with red veins, dressed in an indescribably old-fashioned garment stained with greenish discolorations, wearing spectacles low on his nose and holding in his right hand a long pipe with a porcelain bowl reaching almost to the floor, from which he continuously blew mighty clouds of smoke into the already smoke-filled room.
Even in class he would not be parted from his pipe. This strange old man with his bent, careless posture, his untidy old clothes, his sad, moody expression, his shapeless slippers, his long fuming pipe, seemed to me like an aged magician into whose custody I was now to be given.
It would perhaps be terrifying with this dusty, gray, otherworldly ancient; also conceivably it could be pleasant and enchanting -- in any case, it would be something strange, an adventure, an experience.
I was ready and willing to meet him halfway. But first I had to endure the moment at the station when my mother kissed me and gave me her blessing and got into the train and the train moved off, and for the first time I stood outside and alone in "the world," in which I must now find my way and defend myself -- I have not yet been able to do so even up to the present moment when my hair is beginning to grow gray.
Before the parting, my mother had prayed with me, and although at that time my piety was no longer anything to boast about, nevertheless during her prayer and her blessing I had solemnly resolved in my heart to behave myself here, away from home, and not to disgrace my mother.
In the long run I did not succeed! My later school years brought her and me severe storms, trials, and disillusionments, much sorrow, many tears, much strife and misunderstanding.
This, to be sure, was not discernible to the model students or, for that matter, to the house mother with whom I and four other boys lived, and ate, and by whom we were cared for, but whom I could not respect and obey in the manner she expected from her charges. He did not dare touch me and had to withdraw without accomplishing his purpose.
The "world" into which I had been thrust did not appeal to me, it was barren and bleak, coarse and impoverished. And the springboard continued to be effective with our class as it had been with so many others. That relationship between teacher and pupil of which I had had an inkling in Calw with Professor Schmid, that infinitely rewarding and yet so subtle relationship between an intellectual leader and a gifted child, came to full bloom in the case of Rector Bauer and me.
That strange, almost frightening- looking old man with his countless eccentricities and whimsies, who stared out, watchful and moody, from behind his small, greenish eyeglasses, who constantly filled the crowded schoolroom with smoke from his long pipe, became for a time in my eyes leader, exemplar, judge, demigod. We had two other teachers too, but as far as I was concerned, they did not exist; they receded like shadows behind the beloved, feared, honored figure of the old man, as though they had one less dimension.
At that time when my boyhood was in full flower and when even the first intimations and premonitions of sexual love began to stir, school, a generally so despised institution, was for more than a year the central point of my life around which everything else revolved, even my dreams, even my thoughts during vacation time. He did not need many words to express his praise.
If he commented on a Latin or Greek exercise: And if just in passing he happened to whisper without looking at me: He often talked to me in Latin, translating my name as Chattus.
Now there was no way for me to tell how far this experience of a completely special relationship was shared by my fellow students. Certain favored ones, to be sure, my closest friends and rivals, were obviously, just like me, under the spell of the old catcher of souls and, just as I had been handed the boon of vocation, felt themselves initiates on the bottom step of the sanctuary.
If I attempt to understand my youthful psyche, I find that the best and most productive part of it, despite many rebellions and many negations, was the ability to feel reverence, and that my soul prospered most and blossomed most beautifully when it could revere, adore, strive for that highest goal. This happiness, the beginnings of which my father had earlier recognized and cultivated in me, and which under a series of mediocre, lackluster teachers had almost withered away, which had burgeoned a bit once more under the dyspeptic Professor Schmid, came into full flower, for the first and last time in my life, under Rector Bauer.
Had our rector been able to do nothing except cause some of his better students to fall in love with Latin and Greek and inspire in them a belief in an intellectual vocation and its responsibilities, even that would have been a great and praiseworthy accomplishment.
However, the unique, the extraordinary thing about our teacher was his ability not only to nose out the more intelligent of his pupils and to supply their idealism with nourishment and support but to give proper due to the age of his pupils, to their boyishness and passion for play.
For Bauer, an honored Socrates, was also a clever, a highly original schoolmaster who again and again found ways to make school attractive to thirteen-year-old youngsters. This sage, able with such wit to teach us Latin syntax and the rules of Greek accent, had constant pedagogic inspirations too, and they delighted us boys. One must have some inkling of the severity, stiffness, and boredom of a Latin school at that time to be able to imagine how fresh, original, and inspired this man seemed in the midst of the usual crowd of dry bureaucrats.
Even his exterior, the fantastic appearance which at first made you want to laugh, soon became the instrument of his authority and discipline. Out of his oddities and hobbies, which seemed by no means suited to support his authority, he made new aids for education. For example, his long pipe, which had so horrified my mother, in the shortest time was no longer for us pupils a laughable or annoying appanage but rather a kind of scepter and symbol of might.
Whoever was allowed to hold his pipe for a moment, whomever he entrusted with the office of knocking it out and keeping it in working order, he was the envied favorite. There were other honorary posts for which we pupils competed eagerly. There was the office of "windbag," which for a time I proudly filled. The windbag had to dust off the teacher's desk every day and he had to do this with two rabbit's feet which lay on top of the desk.
When this job was taken away from me one day and given to another student, I felt severely punished. On a winter day, if we were sitting in the overheated, smoke-filled schoolroom and the sun was shining on the frost-covered windows, our rector might suddenly say: Have a race around the house. And before you do, open up the windows! Beautiful things are transitory and fine times never last long. For that vacation we were not assigned any school work.
However, Rector Bauer had called our attention to the "rules of life" of Isocrates, which were included in our Greek chrestomathy, and he told us that formerly some of his best students had learned these rules of life by heart.
It was left to each one of us to take this hint or not. Of that summer vacation, a few walks with my father linger in my memory. Sometimes we spent an afternoon in the woods above Calw; under the old white pines there were barberries and raspberries aplenty, and in the clearings loosestrife bloomed, and summer butterflies, the red admiral and the tortoise-shell, fluttered about. There was a strong smell of pine resin and mushrooms, and occasionally we came face to face with deer.
My father and I would wander through the forest or race here and there in the heather at the forest's edge. And once in a while he would ask me how far I had got with Isocrates.
For I sat for a while every day with the book, memorizing those "rules of life. That sentence from Isocrates and a few verses of Homer are the sole remnant of my whole Greek education. Also, I never attained a mastery of all the "rules of life.
From time to time he writes me a letter in Latin and when I read it, working my way through the beautifully constructed classic sentences, then there is a faint smell of the garden of my youth and the pipe smoke of old Rector Bauer. That the sun departs, Weary from the labors of the day, That dark shadows fall From the encircling clouds, That the constellations sparkle down Upon the stillness of the night?
Now you are striding abroad Amid the sere firstlings of autumn, Sparse victims of the night's cold. But around you on the hill Mild wine matures, The ripening fruits in rich profusion Drink up maternal energies. There are even blossoms still astir In childlike content, And a friendly star, Nodding its thanks, Greets the flowers and vine-leaf garlands, Leaves and fruit, And the grave human countenance That rejoices in these things, And the wagon laden with grain That groans toward the granary.
These are images From God's untrammeled world. But they change in many-colored aspects, Only one returns to me unaltered: The human eye that fastens upon them! Were not you the flower, Dreaming on the maternal breast? Are you not still the ripening grape, Impatient for the vintner To test its strength, its lightness? But away from the ever-changing brood of earth You gaze upward to the eternal sky, And if the evening wind Blows leaves upon you, Withered leaves on withered hair, You look away from winds and clouds, Peering past the tired boughs Toward the blossoming light of the stars.
For that day has ended When youth's fiery might, Tiptoe upon the mountain's height, Swore to become a sun To countless minds. Now he perceives that evening has come, Life's sun is hidden In the deep-furrowed valley of earth, His only wish is to imitate the stars, Gazing eternally upon the sun, In radiant competition With those heavenly lights. You stand upon the threshold of your century. Here is the cradle in which you wept, There lie the worlds that await you!
And the perfected ones above Beckon you to happier activity. And the trusted ones below Stagger in noble effort. Stretch your right hand upward, The hand you bestowed on your eternal beloved, And she who has endured the battle Will aid you in the final step! But the left hand And your guardian eye And the memorial fires of love, Leave these to the younger pilgrims!
The author of this brilliant poem never again wrote anything similar. It was composed in the most confused and imperiled period of his life, shortly before this youth's "conversion" caused the enthusiastic pantheist to decide upon a life henceforth devoted to missionary work in India. I used to have an old copy of this poem of my grandfather's in my mother's handwriting, which I have since turned over to the Schiller Museum in Marbach at their request.
Through an accident the poem came into my hands again at a time when I was open to its obvious beauties as well as to the undercurrents of its thought, its shy secret, and it made so strong an impression on me at this second meeting that I decided to rescue the little gem. The Gundert heirs to whom I sent a printed copy thanked me politely for it but seemed rather astonished and bewildered, they did not know what to do with this odd gift, and the majority of the others who received it accepted it respectfully but without showing any sign of excitement at the strength of the youthful poetic effusion or of being touched by the secret fire that glowed in the lines.
Since then, however, other voices have reached me, and they greatly outbalance this initial small disappointment. The first to whom the poem really appealed and who was stirred by it was Dr.
I quote from his letter of February, At the time when I wrote my work about you and found the courage to classify your writing according to kind and origin -- today I have no idea how I came by that presumptuous daring -- this Hermann Gundert seemed to me from the start a strange, exotic figure about whom I would have liked to know more than could be learned piecemeal.
His combination of inspired enthusiasm and tough endurance, which in turn was lighted by mysterious 'Bengal' fires, gave me occasion for many conjectures and made him in my eyes the probable source and origin of many peculiarities which you too possessed. I was very happy to meet him again so strangely in this poem written in Unforgettable the essence and the profound silent influence that radiated from this young spirit a hundred years ago; they continue to this day.
If he had not been your grandfather we would scarcely have heard of him -- and yet all this would have existed.
It is my belief that such powers remain imminent in a nation and that, however much one may be tempted to despair in times like these, in the end one must not do so. In this world, just as in my grandfather's apartment, there was a smell of pipe smoke and coffee, of old books and herbaria; and since this intellectual world, theologically colored but unwilling to exclude any tendency from pietism to radical free thought, year after year took into itself the elite of the Latin schools of the district, there developed, generation after generation, a throng of important, original, eccentric figures, each one of whom, if he was not himself a center and fixed star, belonged nevertheless to the circle of friends and associates of such a star, left behind him essays, correspondence, drawings, and in his turn introduced sons or students into this tradition.
This has produced a wealth, a superfluity of more or less intellectually oriented lives amassed in a way that can scarcely be equaled in any other district of Germany.
Thus in Grandfather Gundert and through him I became acquainted with a somewhat provincial intellectual culture which nevertheless reached to the heights, which had its own stamp, its own speech, its own highly original and at times whimsical vocabulary, and which in him never became attenuated or distorted either by the decades he spent in India or by his countless international relations and friendships conducted in many languages, or through his marriage with a French-speaking lady raised in the Calvinist tradition in a French-speaking district of Switzerland, or through his never- interrupted studies in Indology.
For me the liveliest and most precious memory of him concerns the following incident. I was not quite fifteen years old and as a scholar in the monastery seminary at Maulbronn was on one of the bottom rungs of the ladder that was to lead to training college, to learning, to the ministry or to the Swabian Parnassus, when I went through the severest crisis of my school life and committed a sin, incredible, scarcely to be expiated, that brought disgrace on me and my most honorable family: I had run away, been searched for in the forest for a day and had been reported to the police, had almost caught my death by spending the night in the open fields in freezing weather, and now after my release from the sickroom had come home for vacation, not permanently dismissed and expelled from the seminary but nevertheless with my academic career almost hopelessly compromised.
To be treated as a criminal and a foe, especially by one's relatives, would have been perhaps less terrifying to me than the kindliness and the embarrassed anxiety with which people tiptoed around me as though I were stricken by a mysterious and possibly contagious illness.
And now one of the first duty calls that I had to make after my return home, and for me the most important and most difficult, was on my honored, beloved, but at the moment very much dreaded grandfather. I could hardly doubt that my parents had great hopes for this visit and that they had begged the venerable sage to examine me heart and soul, and to bring home to me the magnitude and the presumable consequences of my misdeed. My progress on my way to him, into the dear old house and up the stairs to his high sunny study, was the progress of a sinner to the tribunal.
All this including the solemn, gray rows of the folios on the lower shelves of the bookcases, the exact regularity of the spacing between the faded titles on the long rows of bound periodicals, and the soft evanescent shimmer of gold on the leather spines, all this at that presumably fateful hour seemed to have a super-reality and significance that oppressed me.
It spoke of a world of order, cleanliness, and relevance from which I had already taken the first fatal step to withdraw and lose myself, that very step for which I would here have to give an accounting. And so I entered the sanctuary in fear and trembling, smelled the scent of pipe smoke, papers, and ink, saw the sunlight playing on the table covered with books, magazines, manuscripts in many languages, and saw opposite me with his back to the sunlit window, seated on an old sofa in a sun-drenched cloud of pipe smoke, the sage, who slowly looked up from his writing.
I greeted him in a low voice and gave him my hand, prepared for a hearing, a judgment, and conviction. He smiled, his mouth protruding from the wide, white beard, he smiled with those lips that were acquainted with so many languages, and he smiled even more with his bright, blue eyes, and the nervous tension inside me relaxed at once and I realized that not judgment and punishment awaited me here but understanding, the wisdom of age, the patience of age together with a hint of sarcasm and roguery.
And now he opened his mouth and said, "So it's you, Hermann? I hear that you've just taken a little temperamental journey. And it was not until many years later that I learned that once he too, my grandfather, the model Christian and scholar, had lived for a time in that dangerous climate in which such tricks of temperament are committed.
It was at just that ardent and dangerous period of his youth -- about which presumably my grandfather was thinking at that instant and which he and his closest friends had lived through in a lightning flash between the arrogance of gifted youth and suicidal despair -- at just that period he had written the poem that I brought to light again one hundred and twenty years after its composition. And apropos of this same poem, a Parisian Germanist wrote me recently: It is important to me too because this is the way the meaning of family tradition can be recognized; it is burdensome, but it helps one forward if one has the strength to rise above critical entanglements.
I was able to study this in the case of Albert Schweitzer; perhaps you know that J. Sartre is his great-nephew, that is, the grandson of Schweitzer's Parisian uncle. This uncle was a Germanist and a student of Hans Sachs, and he himself finally came precisely to resemble Sachs with his white beard and his rough humor. Life Story Briefly Told In the years immediately after the First World War, I twice attempted to give a kind of brief survey of my life in legendary and semi-humorous form for the benefit of my friends in whose eyes at that time I had become rather problematic.
Of these attempts the one I preferred, "Childhood of the Magician," remained a fragment. The other, in which 1 daringly tried, after the model of Jean Paul, to anticipate the future in a "conjectural biography," was published in in the Neue Rundschau. It appears here with only minor corrections. For many years it was my plan to combine the two pieces in some way, but I was unable to find a means of reconciling two works so different in tone and mood. I was born toward the end of modern times, shortly before the return of the Middle Ages, with the sign of the Archer on the ascendant and Jupiter in favorable aspect.
My birth took place at an early hour of the evening on a warm day in July, and it is the temperature of that hour that I have unconsciously loved and sought throughout my life; when it was lacking I have sorely missed it. I could never live in cold countries and all the voluntary journeys of my life have been directed toward the south. I was the child of pious parents, whom I loved tenderly and would have loved even more tenderly if I had not very early been introduced to the Fourth Commandment.
Unfortunately, commandments have always had a disastrous effect on me, however right and well meant they may be -- though by nature a lamb and docile as a soap bubble, I have always behaved rebelliously toward commandments of every sort, especially during my youth. All I needed was to hear "thou shalt" and everything in me rose up and I became obdurate. As can be imagined, this peculiarity had a far-reaching and unfortunate effect during my school years. It is true that our teachers taught us, in that amusing subject called world history, that the world has always been governed, guided, and transformed by men who made their own laws and broke with traditional regulations, and we were told that these men should be revered.
But this was just as deceitful as all the rest of our instruction, for when one of us, whether with good or bad intent, summoned up courage to protest against some order or even against some silly custom or way of doing things, he was neither revered nor commended as an example but punished instead, made fun of and crushed by the teachers' dastardly use of their superior power.
Fortunately I had learned even before the beginning of my school years what is most important and valuable in life: Thus I had provided myself, as I have said, with a certain capacity to meet life long before the beginning of my school years.
I knew my way around in the city of my fathers, in the barnyards and in the forests, in the truck gardens and in the workshops of the mechanics, I knew trees, birds, and butterflies, I could sing songs and whistle through my teeth and much else besides that is important for living. To this was now added various sorts of school knowledge, which came easy to me and gave me pleasure; in particular I got real enjoyment from the Latin language and I was writing Latin verses almost as soon as German ones.
For the art of lying and of diplomacy I have my second year in school to thank, during which a preceptor and his accomplice afforded me mastery of these accomplishments after I had earlier brought down upon myself in my childish openness and trustfulness one disaster after another. These two educators successfully opened my eyes to the fact that a sense of humor and a love of truth were not qualities they were looking for in pupils.
They ascribed to me a misdeed, a quite unimportant one which had occurred in class and of which I was wholly innocent, and since they could not force me to confess that I was the culprit, the trivial matter was turned into an inquisition and the two tortured and beat out of me, not the desired confession, to be sure, but instead all belief in the decency of the teaching profession.
In time, thank God, I became acquainted with teachers worthy of respect, but the damage had been done, and my relations not only with schoolmasters but with all authority were distorted and embittered. On the whole I was a good student during my first seven or eight years in school, at any rate I regularly stood among the first in my class. It was not until those battles began which no one who is going to become a person is spared that I came more and more into conflict with the school.
Two decades were to pass before I understood those battles; at the time they were simply going on all around me, contrary to my will, and were a great misery. The thing was this: To this realization, however, was gradually added a further, painful insight. One could become a teacher, minister, doctor, mechanic, merchant, post-office employee, or a musician, painter, architect; there was a path to every profession in the world, there were prerequisites, a school, a course of instruction for the beginner.
Only for the poet there was nothing of the sort! It was permissible and even considered an honor to be a poet; that is, to be successful and famous as a poet -- unfortunately by that time one was usually dead.
But to become a poet was impossible, and to want to become one was ridiculous and shameful, as I very soon found out. I had quickly learned what there was to be learned from the situation: With the poet it was exactly the same as with the hero, and with all strong, handsome, high-spirited, non-commonplace figures and enterprises: The external consequences of this resolve -- or rather of this fatality -- were as follows.
When I was thirteen years old and this conflict had just begun, my conduct in my parents' house as well as in school left so much to be desired that I was banished to a Latin school in another city. A year later I became a pupil in a theological seminary, learned to write the Hebrew alphabet, and was already on the point of grasping what a dagesh forte implicitum is, when suddenly from inside me storms arose that led to flight from the monastery school, punishment by strict imprisonment, and dismissal from the seminary.
Then for a while I struggled to advance my studies at a gymnasium; however, the lock-up and expulsion were the end there too. After that, for three days I was a merchant's apprentice, ran away again and for several days and nights, to the great distress of my parents, disappeared.
For a period of six months I was my father's assistant, for a year and a half I was an employee in a mechanical workshop and tower- clock factory. In short, for more than four years everything that was attempted with me went wrong; no school would keep me, in no course of instruction did I last for long.
Every attempt to make a useful human being out of me ended in failure, several times in shame and scandal, in flight or expulsion, and yet everywhere they admitted that I had ability and even a reasonable amount of determination! Also I was nothing if not industrious -- the high virtue of idleness I have always regarded with awe, but I have never mastered it. In my sixteenth year, after my school career had ended in failure, I consciously and energetically began my own education, and it was my good fortune and delight that in my father's house was my grandfather's huge library, a whole hall full of old books, which contained among other things all of eighteenth-century German literature and philosophy.
Between my sixteenth and twentieth years I not only covered a quantity of paper with my first attempts at poetry but I also read half of the world's literature and applied myself to the history of art, languages, and philosophy with a persistence that would have abundantly sufficed for any normal college career.
Then I became a bookseller in order finally to earn my own bread. I had always been on better terms with books than with the vises and cogwheels with which I had tortured myself as a mechanic. At first, swimming in modern, indeed the most modern, literature and in fact being overwhelmed by it was an almost intoxicating joy. But after a while I noticed that in matters of the spirit, a life simply in the present, in the modern and most modern, is unbearable and meaningless, that the life of the spirit is made possible only by constant reference to what is past, to history, to the ancient and primeval.
And so after that first joy was exhausted it became a necessity for me to return from my submersion in novelties to what is old; this I accomplished by moving from the bookshop to an antique shop. However, I only stuck to this profession for as long as I needed it to sustain life. At the age of twenty-six, as a result of my first literary success, I gave it up too.
Thus, amid so many storms and sacrifices, my goal had now been reached: I had triumphed, and now if I did the silliest or most trivial thing it was thought charming, just as I was greatly charmed by myself. Now for the first time I realized in what dreadful isolation, asceticism, and danger I had lived year after year; the warm breeze of recognition did me good and I began to be a contented man. Outwardly my life now ran on for a good while in calm and agreeable fashion.
I had a wife, children, a house and garden. I wrote my books, I was considered an amiable poet, and I lived at peace with the world. In the year I helped to found a periodical which was principally directed against the personal government of Wilhelm II, without myself taking this political aim very seriously. Everything seemed to be in order. Then came the summer of , and suddenly everything looked different, inwardly and outwardly.
It became evident that our former well-being had rested on insecure foundations, and accordingly there now began a period of misery, the great education. The so-called time of testing had come, and I cannot say that it found me better prepared, worthier, or superior to anyone else. What distinguished me from others at that time was only that I lacked the great compensation so many others possessed: For that reason I came to myself again and into conflict with my environment, I was once more put to school, had to unlearn my satisfaction with myself and with the world, and in this experience I stepped for the first time over the threshold of initiation into life.
I have never forgotten a little encounter during the first year of the war. I had gone to visit a large military hospital in the hope of finding a way of fitting myself in some meaningful fashion into the altered world -- something that still seemed possible to me at that time.
In that hospital for the wounded, I met an elderly spinster who had formerly lived on a private income in comfortable circumstances and was now serving as a nurse in the wards. She told me with touching enthusiasm how happy and proud she was to have been allowed to witness this great time.
I found that understandable, for in this lady's case it had taken the war to transform her indolent and purely egotistical old maid's existence into an active and useful life. But as she expressed her happiness to me in a corridor full of bandaged and shell-crippled soldiers, between wards that were full of amputees and dying men, my heart turned over. Well though I understood Auntie's enthusiasm, I could not share it, I could not commend it. If for every ten wounded men such another enthusiastic nurse came along, then these ladies' happiness cost too much.
No, I could not share the joy over the great time, and so it came about that from the beginning I suffered miserably from the war, and for a period of years strove in desperation to protect myself against a misfortune that had seemed to fall upon me out of a clear blue sky, while everybody around me acted as though they were full of happy enthusiasm over this same misery.