To read Hesse's fairy tales is to enter a fabulous world of dreams and visions, philosophy and passion. These tales will enthrall and delight listeners of all ages. Some stories examine the dilemma of the artist, torn between the drive for perfection and the temptations of pleasure. Others reflect changes and struggles within society. Full of visionaries and seekers, princesses and wandering poets, Hermann Hesse's fairy tales inspire us with deep spiritual longing, and harbor the greatest joys and the deepest wounds of the heart.
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.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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September 29, 1995
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