Thursday, October 8, 2015
Being won over
I was really lukewarm on Siddhartha but I think I started to "get" Hesse in my reading of Demian. That novel feels less awkward and more deep - Siddhartha is your classical young man on a journey to enlightenment whereas Demian is a story about a young man whose questions don't really find answers but only more questions.
The characters and their dramas are a lot more digestible too. I mean, that doesn't mean you process their actions or motives in every case but Demian has actions that hit closer to the human and home feelings than Siddhartha's monks and hedonists. It's easier to relate to a confused student than it is to a boy who leaves his father's home to wander the wilderness even if both boys are searching for meaning.
The book is pleasantly creepy too - all those big, sweet, metaphysical dreams of the world and sparrowhawks that fill up the background make the foreground of normal life seem sinister and confusing. Which normal life is! Hesse does a great job of attempting to explain the separation between people, the spaces they can't speak to fill, and appreciating the simplicity of the mundane.
I think what I liked best about this book is that no one really knows what's going on and everyone is a mess. There are no answers, only searching, and I think that's pretty true of the real world as well.
Hesse, Herman. Demian. Bantam Classics. New York: New York. 1960. (1919).