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Demian

Hermann Hesse

Book Overview: 

Somewhat autobiographical, this "coming of age" novel unfolds an introspective boy's formative years in pre-World War 1 Germany, from grade school through college. Hesse likens this confusing process to a giant bird struggling to break out of its egg (the protective shell of home, family, social norms), to be reborn as an individuated adult with his own goals, ideas and ideals. Much importance is given to dreams and their interpretation, Fate vs individual choice, Gnosticism (particularly the god Abraxas), opening up to one's unconsciousness, all showing the influence of Carl Jung's psychology. One of the book's major themes is the existence of opposing forces (good vs evil, society vs individualism, God vs Devil, etc.) and the idea that both are natural and necessary parts of the Whole. Adjacent themes are about puberty, sexuality, bullying, loneliness, mentorship, the divine feminine, psychic connections, questioning religious dogma, and the herd mentality. It is also a story of one soldier’s experience on the battlefield of WWI, feeling part of and being willing to die for a cause outside ones own control. Due to its controversial themes, Demian was first published under the pseudonym "Emil Sinclair" (the narrator of the story) but Hesse was later revealed to be the author.

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Community Reviews

Demian: Die Geschichte einer Jugend = Demian: The Story of Emil Sinclair's Youth, Hermann Hesse
ّFirst Publication date 1919. Emil Sinclair is a young boy who was raised in a middle class home, amidst what is described as a illusory world. Sinclair's entire existence can be summarized as a strugg...more

i am so glad i give authors three books to make me love them. this was hesses last chance to woo me, and he really almost got a five-star valentine from me, but we will call it a four and a half - must be a little coy, after all. this is a book that i would love to go back in time and give myself...more

I wanted only to try to live in accord with the promptings which came from my true self. Why was that so very difficult?

This quote stands alone on the very first page of the novel, and it tells you all you need to know.

I loved this book. I want to make you love it. I sit here at this keyboard a...more

Man knows how much powder it takes to kill a man, but doesnt know how to be happy.Demian

Update, 7/3/19: I reread this with a small group of students reading Growing Up novels. We have read so far James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Jeffery Eugenides' The Virgin Suicides and now...more

قرأت حول هرمان هسه في كتاب اللامنتمي وقرأت عن اللامنتمي في كتاب العالميّة الإسلاميّة الثّانية هكذا قادني القدر إلى دميان وسنكلير لكن لماذا الرّواية الّتي كان بطلها سنملير تعنون باسم دميان

سنكلير يرمز إلى هسه .. الباحث عن نفسه كما يعبّر في بداية كتابه: " لم أكن أريد إلاّ أن أعيش وفق الدّوافع الحقي...more

I realize today that nothing in the world is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to himself.

Demian is a sad and lonely read; it is a thoroughly depressing exploration of the human soul and the adolescent mind.

The book portrays a general sense of detachment and disposse...more

The things I do for BTS...

Joking, this was one of the few books that really had an impact on my way of thinking. It talked about religion, belief and growth in a very profound way, as if Hesse wasn't really writing but more conversing directly with my mind.

Sinclair and Demian, though being very p...more

Hermann Hesse's Demian influenced me more than just about any book although I haven't read the novel in twenty years. Through my late teens and early twenties I searched out every Hesse book I could find, including the rarities, journals, letters, etc., going as far as to ferret out European edit...more

"But every man is more than just himself; he also represents the unique, the very special and always significant and remarkable point at which the world's phenomena intersect, only once in this way and never again. That is why every man's story is important, eternal, sacred; that is why every man...more

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