Thursday, 1 September 2016

Rosshalde by Hermann Hesse


Rosshalde by Hermann Hesse
First published under the same title in German in 1914. English translation by Ralph Manheim published by Jonathan Cape in 1971.

This is my 1910s book for the Goodreads / Bookcrossing Decade Challenge.

Where to buy this book:
Buy from independent booksellers via Abebooks
Buy from independent booksellers via Alibris
Buy the ebook from Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository

How I got this book:
Charity shop purchase

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

'Rosshalde is the classic story of a man torn between obligations to his family and his longing for a spiritual fulfillment that can only be found outside the confines of conventional society. Johann Veraguth, a wealthy, successful artist, is estranged from his wife and stifled by the unhappy union. Veraguth's love for his young son and his fear of drifting rootlessly keep him bound within the walls of his opulent estate, Rosshalde. Yet, when he is shaken by an unexpected tragedy, Veraguth finally finds the courage to leave the desolate safety of Rosshalde and travels to India to discover himself anew.'

I found this novel to be a beautifully quiet and thoughtful book. Like another recent read, An Amsterdam Affair, it is driven by art and the compulsion to create is a strong theme of the work. Veraguth substitutes artistic acclaim and success for happiness in domestic life choosing to seclude himself in his garden studio rather than working to repair his bitter marriage. Hesse understands his protagonist completely and, since finishing, I have read elsewhere that Rosshalde does reflect his own circumstances at the time of writing. His exploration of a stilted, crumbling relationship is at times painful to read and the whole familial set-up is perfectly illustrated in Veraguth's great masterpiece painting. In contrast, descriptions of the Rosshalde estate are fluid and enticing making the gardens seem like the only warm oasis in a chilly life. For me, Rosshalde was a depressing novel although not unpleasant to read. I did find 'the tragedy' to be too overblown and almost Dickens-like in its heartstring tugging, but I imagine this was in the expected style of a century ago.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Hermann Hesse / Contemporary fiction / Books from Germany

2 comments:

  1. My copy of Rosshalde has been left for Bookcrossing on the Rowcroft Hospice table at Torquay Indoor Market

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