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Demian (1919)

by Hermann Hesse

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6,860941,211 (3.93)1 / 80
First major novel by Nobel Prize-winning author explores the fundamental duality of existence through the tale of a troubled young man's confusion about life's conflicting values. Recounted in engaging prose, this brilliant psychological portrait offers a poignant statement of the terrors and torments of adolescence.… (more)

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 Name that Book: English Boy Thinks He Finds Eden3 unread / 3MyriadBooks, January 2012

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English (77)  Spanish (5)  French (3)  Catalan (2)  Dutch (2)  Portuguese (1)  Finnish (1)  German (1)  Italian (1)  Czech (1)  All languages (94)
Showing 1-5 of 77 (next | show all)
A loony book. I liked some of the storytelling but the overall story didn’t go anywhere, as far as I could tell. Too mystical for my taste, I guess, with the mysticism being some sort of early 20th century Germanic variety that just doesn’t do anything for me. ( )
  steve02476 | Jan 3, 2023 |
The description of this book, particularly that Sinclair enters "a secret and dangerous world of petty crime and revolt against convention" is completely off base and misleading. This is a deeply philosophical and spiritual book about finding one's self--giving birth to one's self--within the larger organism of humanity. It was in part based on some of what Hesse when through as a young man. Within the space of a few crystal clear sentences scattered here and there throughout Sinclair's experience, Hesse manages to capture the pain and confusion of life during the years when one is stuck between childhood and adulthood. It is also a book about how a certain segment of European society in general and German society in particular was changing in the years leading up to WWI and how and why so many young men saw the coming of war as an opportunity. It made me think of Willa Cather's One of Ours and why Claude, the main character, so willingly leaves Nebraska for the fields of France. ( )
  Chris.Wolak | Oct 13, 2022 |
My first Hesse book and will certainly not be the last. This one is the coming of age story of Emil Sinclair who, as I understand, is heavily based on Hesse himself. I think I would have loved this book had I read it when I was younger. All of Sinclair's feelings of isolation and inner angst would have totally resonated with my teenage self. But I'm encountering this book as an adult, and I'm of two minds about it. On one hand, I do think Hesse has a point about following your own path, regardless of what others or mainstream society thinks, even if it places you on a lonely road. There's definitely something to be said about finding your own (spiritual) path regardless of other people's beliefs. On the other hand, this is the exact kind of thinking that tends to make people refuse to grow and change and adapt to the reality they live in. Yes, there's something really romantic and beautifully tragic about the idea that you can't fit in because you know something that others don't, that your alienation is the product of being special and that other people just don't understand. But I find this line of thought to be largely immature. Anyway, I don't think this was what Hesse was going for, entirely, but the book is somewhat overwrought with metaphors and symbols and mystical/supernatural elements that Hesse's message is sometimes unclear. And I kind of agree with this other review I read that said Hesse seemed to be writing to make sense of his pain (like, why would God allow war?), rather than writing about self-discovery.

That said, there's still a lot to chew on in this thin book. I especially liked the different interpretations of well-known Bible stories, and the discussions about good and evil. ( )
  serru | Oct 6, 2022 |
FB (Vintage Paperback and Pulp Forum): Originally published in 1919, this paperback was published in 1970. More or less a story about a young man rebelling against his middle-class parents you can imagine that it had some parallels to life in middle-class America in 1970. That's why I bought it anyway.
  capewood | Sep 7, 2022 |
I read this book as a teenager and loved it. Inspired me to read a good bit more Hesse- Siddhartha, Magister Ludi, Narcissus .... but .... i hated this book now that i am older. Throughout the book we learn that Emil thinks deeper, feels deeper, carries the mark of god and is, of course, right to look down on all the common people everywhere and everywhen. That is except, for the special Demian, his bland mother, Napoleon, Loyola, Nietzsche and perhaps a couple of others - they were ok, after all- but - the rest- pshaw... away with them. How stupid and silly they all seem with their loves, their work, their gods. Thankfully we are so far above that - though it is so painful and lonely. Ack! While i can accept and appreciate this book for what i got out of it at 17- the pain of growing up and dealing with feeling out of place, etc., I assumed the book would move past that at some point- to some adult viewpoint ... but no. We do- mercifully, as it turns out, have WWI come up and that puts a stop to the whiny self indulgent blathering- and it turns out Demian himself wasn't too bad- it was always Emil that most especially grated. Yes, i should have stopped half way through, but i did finish because i remembered loving it long ago and wanted to give it the full go. ( )
  apende | Jul 12, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 77 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (47 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hesse, HermannAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bang, KarinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brice, SilvijaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lebeck, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mann, ThomasIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roloff, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sīmansons, MārisCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Strachan, Walter JohnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I wanted only to try to live in accord with the promptings which came from my true self. Why was that so very difficult?
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I cannot tell my story without reaching a long way back. If it were possible I would reach back farther still - into the very first years of my childhood, and beyond them into distant ancestral past.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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First major novel by Nobel Prize-winning author explores the fundamental duality of existence through the tale of a troubled young man's confusion about life's conflicting values. Recounted in engaging prose, this brilliant psychological portrait offers a poignant statement of the terrors and torments of adolescence.

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