Friday, 26 April 2019

Demian by Hermann Hesse


Demian by Hermann Hesse
First published in German in Germany by Fischer Verlag in 1919. English language translation by Hilda Rosner published in 1923.

D for my 2019 Alphabet Soup Challenge, one of my 2019 Mount TBR Challenge reads and one of my Classics Club Challenge reads.

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Demian is a classic coming-of-age story that continues to inspire generations of readers in its exploration of good and evil, morality, and self-discovery. The main character of this classic novel, Emil Sinclair, is a young boy raised in a bourgeois home. Emil's entire existence can be summarized as a struggle between two worlds—the show world of illusion and the real world, the world of spiritual truth. According to Hesse, the novel is a story of Jungian individuation, the process of opening up to one's unconsciousness.

It's been two and a half years since my first Hesse book (Rosshalde in September 2016) and I've been meaning to read more of his works since. Now I've finally got around to it thanks to featuring Demian as one of my Books From The Backlog. Unfortunately I felt this one was nowhere near as good as Rosshalde. It's a fairly standard coming of age story where young Emil Sinclair first discovers lying to his parents, then getting drunk at boarding school, then has a massive crush on an older boy, the eponymous Demian, before realising it's actually Demian's mother who is the real target of his affections. As you do!

Emil's personal disasters and consequent emotional growth do make for a pretty interesting story, but this is hidden in pages and pages of religious philosophy, plus our Emil is possibly the most pompous precocious egotistical little oik I have ever 'met'! Now, I don't mind an unlikeable protagonist (Fatboy Fall Down being a recent example), but Emil is, frankly, insufferable and I spent most of his story cheering his misfortunes. Oh, and his view of women is decidedly bizarre too. At times I wondered if Hesse had ever actually spoken to a real woman. However you probably shouldn't take my complaints too seriously if you're deciding whether to read Demian for yourself. I saw a lot of Goodreads reviewers raving about this being a life-changing philosophical novel for them so I'm wondering if this is a book which should be read at a certain age in order to truly appreciate it?


Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Hermann Hesse / Coming of age fiction / Books from Germany

4 comments:

  1. Not everyone is going to like the same books so I take reviews I read with a grain of salt. We all have our own tastes when it comes to books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true! This was more of a miss than a hit for me, but I know it's been an inspiration to other readers

      Delete
  2. Okay, this one does not sound like one for me. As you said, his mishaps sound interesting but I don't want to deal with a terrible main character and a lot of religious philosophy ;.;

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly! As a classic for my challenge it was a fairly quick read, but disappointing after the previous Hesse book I had quite enjoyed

      Delete

Due to increased spam, I've turned on comment moderation for the time being. Genuine comments will appear after I've checked them!