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The Fairy Tales of Hermann Hesse

The Fairy Tales of Hermann Hesse

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by Hermann Hesse

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A collection of twenty-two fairy tales by the Nobel Prize-winning novelist, most translated into English for the first time, show the influence of German Romanticism, psychoanalysis, and Eastern religion on his development as an author.


A collection of twenty-two fairy tales by the Nobel Prize-winning novelist, most translated into English for the first time, show the influence of German Romanticism, psychoanalysis, and Eastern religion on his development as an author.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Merging Eastern mysticism with the motifs of the European fairy tale, the stories translated for this volume, many for the first time, offer insight into Hesse's development as an artist during the first two decades of this century. Sometimes lush and lyrical, sometimes in the simple language of the parable, these tales elaborate Hesse's concerns with mortality, the unity of life and the isolation of the artist. Characters renounce human society to become poets, vegetarians or, as in the fantastic story ``Faldum,'' a mountain. The artist as ascetic, observer and loner, misunderstood by his audience, is a recurring theme. Several of the stories reflect Hesse's pacifist stance during WWI, covering great spans of time to drive home the devastation of war and transience of civilization. Whether evoking the rise and fall of a nation or an individual, Hesse is preoccupied with the need for both to rediscover their ``undestroyed essence'' and begin anew. A refreshing lack of narrative closure distinguishes Hesse's tales, which mitigates an irritating tendency to equate self-knowledge with the return home to an eternal, spiritual mother. Quirky and evocative, Hesse's fairy tales stand alone, but also amplify the ideas and utopian longings of such counterculture avatars as Siddhartha and Steppenwolf. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Hesse unerringly creates the feel of a fairy tale in the first paragraph of all these works but then proceeds to alter their development in an unmistakably 20th-century way. The title character of "Augustus," for example, loses everything and passes through a series of tribulations, like the traditional fairy-tale hero, but attains happiness without regaining his fortune, looks, health, or the love and affection of his friends. Slightly more than half these tales were written during World War I and consequently deal with the great themes of war and peace, life, suffering, and death. Particularly poignant is "A Dream of the Gods," which depicts the enthusiasm that greeted the outbreak of war while subtly exposing its folly. Lay readers will enjoy this as much as literary specialists.Michael T. O'Pecko, Towson State Univ., Md.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 UpSix timeless, imaginative tales of individuals who struggle to fit within the boundaries of normal society are brought to life"The Poet," "The Flute Dream," The Dwarf," "Faldum," "Ziegler," and "Dream of the Gods." The characters are unconsciously compelled to search for meaning in their lives. Often Hesse involves elements of magic and fantasy to the delight of listeners. The tales are narrated by well-known singer, Donovan, whose voice has a special ethereal quality which is perfect for these fanciful tales. His raspy, resonant tones and slight accent add a mysterious touch, but he is easily understood as every syllable is clearly enunciated. The pace is slightly fast which is good, since Hesse gives many background details which could become tedious. The speed varies appropriately to raise interest. The few passages of direct dialog are differentiated for age and sex, but most is spoken by a narrator. Short musical passages heighten dramatic intensity, help to show the passage of time, and separate the stories. This tape will be an excellent introduction for teens where this author is studied.Claudia Moore, W.T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA
Donna Seaman
Fairy tales fascinated Hesse. Translator Zipes analyzes this attraction and places it within the context of Hesse's emotionally turbulent life in his illuminating introduction. Zipes also describes the progression of Hesse's aesthetics from his early self-absorption and belief in the artist as hero to a more worldly perspective embracing social and political issues and emphasizing the artist's role as witness and critic. This outlook greatly elevated his writing, an evolution evident in this remarkable collection, the first published English translation of Hesse's fairy tales. Written between 1900 and 1933, Hesse's lucid, captivating, and unusual interpretations of the genre often feature heroes in search of self-knowledge and inner peace. Old-fashioned tales such as "The Dwarf" (1904) give way to such modern fables as "The City" (1910) and "The European" (1918). As Zipes astutely points out, the ogres and obstacles in Hesse's tales are what he considered to be the banes of modern existence: "science, materialism, war, alienation, and philistinism." A boon for Hesse fans, this is an important addition to Hesse's ever-popular English-language oeuvre.

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Random House Publishing Group
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Meet the Author

Hermann Hesse (1877-1962) was a German-Swiss poet, novelist, and painter. Profoundly affected by the mysticism of Eastern thought, Hesse’s books and essays reveal a deep spiritual influence that has captured the imagination of generations of readers. His best-known works include Steppenwolf, Siddhartha, Demian and Magister Ludi. In 1946, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature.

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