Hermann Hesse (July 2, 1877 - August 9, 1962) was a German author, and the winner of the 1946 Nobel Prize in literature. He is most famous for his novels Steppenwolf and Das Glasperlenspiel (The Glass Bead Game).
Hesse's interests in existential, spiritual, and mystical themes and Buddhist and Hindu philosophy may be seen in his works.
Born on July 2, 1877 in Calw, Württemberg, Hesse emigrated to Switzerland in 1912 and in 1923 became a Swiss citizen.
A staunch pacifist, Hesse opposed World War I strongly, the residual fallout of his feelings towards war can be seen in many of his books. During World War II his writings found strange allies. German propagandist Joseph Goebbels initially defended Hesse's books, and as a result he was allowed to continue writing unmolested. However, after he demanded that certain portions in his book Narcissus and Goldmund dealing with pogroms be untouched, he found himself on the Nazi's blacklist. Despite this omnious bidding Hesse escaped World War II unharmed.
A prominent feature of many of his books, Hesse had many problems throughout his life with women. His first marriage with Maria Bernoulli, from whom he had three children, ended sadly, his wife having mental problems. His second marriage was apparently a brief flame with Ruth Wenger, lasting only a few months. He finally married Ninon Dolbin in 1931, and remained with her for the rest of his life.
He developed a sterile conservatism in his later life - in Das Glasperlenspiel, all music after Johann Sebastian Bach is denounced as superficial and bad, with Ludwig van Beethoven being an extreme example of bad taste.
Das Glasperlenspiel however, with its William Morris-like idealised medieval style was extremely popular in the war-torn Germany of 1945.
He died of cerebral hemorrhage in his sleep in Montagnola at the age of 85.
1904 - Peter Camenzind
1906 - Unterm Rad (Beneath the Wheel)
1910 - Gertrud
1919 - Demian
1920 - Klingsors letzter Sommer
1922 - Siddhartha
1927 - Der Steppenwolf (the name is more recently associated with a band of the same name, Steppenwolf)
1930 - Narziss und Goldmund (Narcissus and Goldmund)
1932 - Die Morgenlandfahrt (Journey to the East)
1943 - Das Glasperlenspiel (English translations have been variously titled, Magister Ludi, Master of the Game, and The Glass Bead Game.)