Writing as catharsis

Book review: Hermann Hesse – My Belief: Essays on Life and Art

Posted in Book review, Philosophy by Lachlan R. Dale on March 7, 2012

Hermann Hesse - My Belief: Essays on Life and ArtI’ve spent the last six weeks slowly reading through Hermann Hesse’s My Belief; a collection of essays, reviews and letters from the author of Steppenwolf, Siddhartha and Narcissus and Goldmund. I had high expectations for this book having been a huge fan of most of Hesse’s work, and I was not disappointed.

Hesse’s thought gravitates towards the universal and the spiritual. Each letter and essay delves into some of the deepest realms of human thought – the quest self-knowledge, psychology, mysticism, religion (Buddhism, Zen, Hinduism, Christianity), war, and, the ebb and flow of civilisations past and present, and the role of art and the poet in society. Each piece in this book must be given the mental space required for full appreciatons and consideration of the subject.

After carefully reading through this collection for the first time, I feel I am intellectually a richer person. Here the tantalising undercurrent of philosophy and the quest for self-knowledge that is so prevalant in Hesse’s fiction is laid bare. Hesse open talks about his experiences, his books and, important importantly, his intellectual and spiritual passions. Through his series of reviews, I’ve also added a number of new books to my reading list.

I feel I have been given a privileged glance in to the mind of this brilliant man, and I only wish there were still more for me to devour. Highly recommended.


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