Reading post #7

I read Hermann Hesse’s Demian, paying it more attention that I usually do while reading. Demian is about adolescence and self-realisation. It is one of the best books I have read about that particular subject, and one I can identify with (if not on all levels, then at least more than most Young Adult novels.) Demian not only uses very clear and understandable plots, it makes itself look dignified and not at all fragmented while possessing a lot of influential ideas from notable persons such as Carl Jung, which is also a really great thing about this book.

The book is subtitled The Story of Emil Sinclair’s Youth which just about sums the book up. The main plot is about Sinclair’s daily struggles with the two realms, of which he has to choose one. Whichever one he decides to live in, the other comes up haunting him. One is the difficult world of religious and moral purity – a child’s realm – with no sin; the contrasting world is of corruption, mysticism and ultimately too adult for the main character, who longs for a life with elements of the both worlds.

The story begins with Sinclair’s description of the two worlds, while he is firmly stuck in the more childish, virtuous realm. As the plot progresses, the more important scenes are all ones that make Sinclair doubt his real place and the purpose of the two realms – having a bully take advantage of him, forcing Sinclair into the other realm; meeting Demian, who makes him question the wisdom of God, but allows a deeper look at the ideals that Sinclair hold within himself (and of course saves Sinclair from the taunting bully Kromer); becoming a drunkard and a nuisance at the boys’ school until he finds a strange foreign god and a new master who keep his ideals and hunger for spirituality satisfied. When he has gained the knowledge from all these experiences and met all these people, he can finally begin courting his ideal of love (and what does one desire more in one’s heart than love?) as well as meeting Demian again and gaining a group of fellow-minded companions. Sinclair’s doubt is finally subsiding, when suddenly war is being declared. The ending is quite sad and poignant, with Sinclair losing the one most important to him.

I found the story quite uplifting in parts, and liked it very much since fiction about adolescence (in both compulsory reading as well as the reading I have done for my pleasure) tends to try too hard to be realistic, and I can’t take it very seriously. I can really identify with Hesse’s understanding of growing up, though, and that makes this book a bit special for me. (Sorry for the very unbiased review.)

I have no idea what I’m going to read next.

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