Most of the authors we love seem to derive their genius from dark places. It would appear that a fair amount of brooding and sadness goes into creating fantastic works of art, and the ones we remember are usually memorable for the murky life tales which go along with them.
Hermann Hesse, most famous for his work Siddhartha, is no exception. And since we’re releasing an art print this month based on Hesse’s incredible, soul-searching work, we thought some interesting facts might be appropriate to celebrate the grand reveal. Of course, we didn’t bargain for Hesse’s life being possibly one of the gloomiest we’ve seen so far. Take a look for yourself and judge whether these 5 facts make Hesse a contender for 'Most Brooding Author':
1. Hesse came from a family of missionaries. Not only were Hesse’s parents Protestant missionaries, but his mother was born in India to missionary parents as well. As a result, religion played a large role in Hesse’s life, in particular Swabian Pietism. Pietism offered a strict view of personal faith which led to small, close-knit religious groups. However, as a result of his extremely religious upbringing, Hesse would experience a constant melancholy turmoil for the entirety of his life when it came to thoughts about his own personal feelings of faith.
2. Hesse was in constant conflict with authority figures. Possibly due to the rigid nature of his childhood, Hesse often found himself in conflict with his parents, teachers, and other figures of authority. When he was only 15, Hesse began to reveal his rebellious nature by running away from seminary. In that same year, following an attempted suicide, Hesse’s parents had him interred in a mental institution. Upon his release, Hesse further pushed the patience of the authority figures around him by taking up smoking and drinking with older companions.
3. Hesse had a deep-set love for books. This is probably one of the few happy facts we know about Hesse's life. Before transitioning into becoming a writer, Hesse worked as an apprentice in several bookshops. He garnered his first apprenticeship at age 16 and continued to work until the publication of his novelPeter Camenzind in 1904 allowed him to branch off into living the life of an independent author.
4. Hesse sought to regain his spirituality by traveling through Asia. In 1911, Hesse went on a prolonged journey which took him through Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Sumatra, Borneo, and Burma. The purpose of the trip was to renew his spirituality, but in reality Hesse only succeeded in further exhausting himself. Having struggled with depression throughout his life, the physical exertion of the journey caused it to resurface and grow worse.
5. Hesse had a relationship with renown psychotherapist Carl Jung. 1916 was a notoriously bad year for Hesse. In the span of a single year, the writer watched his father die, his son become seriously ill, and his wife descend into the clutches of schizophrenia. As a result, Hesse became a firm believer in psychotherapy and began receiving treatment. In this way, he came to know Carl Jung personally.
Herman Hesse’s life journey undoubtedly contributed to the breadth of his work. His struggles to find spiritual and emotional peace eventually led him to pen his most popular work Siddhartha in 1922. And it's nice to think that perhaps through the words of his spiritual book, Hesse was finally able to find peace. As he himself wrote in Siddartha:
“And all the voices, all the goals, all the yearnings, all the sorrows, all the pleasures, all the good and evil, all of them together was the world. All of them together was the stream of events, the music of life.”
Be sure to check in with us in two days to get a glimpse of our new Siddhartha literary poster. Reading these very words as they form a breath-taking image will make them all the more unforgettable!
Happy reading! :)