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Hesse Web Magazine
Information and Commentaries



2012 -›

Published since 1997 by Prof.em. Gunther Gottschalk the Hermann Hesse Research Project (HHP)  at the University of  California, Santa Barbara. and  as a mirror in Germany   © All Rights Reserved HHP, 1996

Posted 2016-05-26





Phototgraph: Cathy Caruth


Ralph Freedman

Photograph Cathy Caruth 2015




Ralph Freedman, literary theorist and

'genuine mentor,' dies at 96






Ralph Freedman, professor of comparative literature, emeritus, at Princeton University, died May 5 of natural causes at his home in Decatur, Georgia. He was 96.

Freedman joined the Princeton faculty in 1965 and retired in 1988. He taught for two post-retirement years at Emory University.

"Over the course of his long career, Professor Ralph Freedman published works of literary criticism about modern European and American literature, translations from German, prize-winning historical novels, and several influential scholarly biographies," said Eileen Reeves, professor of comparative literature and department chair. "The range of Professor Freedman's critical and creative interests, and his commitment to the study of foreign languages and literatures, made him a crucial force in the early days of this department."

Freedman came to Princeton as a senior fellow of the humanities and a visiting professor of comparative literature after teaching in the English department at the University of Iowa for eight years. At that time comparative literature was only a graduate program at Princeton; it expanded to include undergraduate courses in 1972. Freedman was named professor of comparative literature in 1966.

Along with Joseph Frank, the Class of 1926 Professor of Comparative Literature, Emeritus, and Robert Fagles, the Arthur Marks '19 Professor of Comparative Literature, Emeritus, Freedman helped organize the program into the Department of Comparative Literature in 1975.

One of Freedman's hires for the department was John Fleming, now the Louis W. Fairchild '24 Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Emeritus. "In helping to recruit me to the department, he told me I had the highest possible qualification — a surname beginning with the letter F," said Fleming.

Fleming remembers Freedman with a mix of admiration and humor. "Those who knew him here will ever remember him as a delightful and generous colleague. He was a man of kind heart and good humor who combined the daunting polyglot erudition of the Old School European littérateur with an obviously sincere affection for his students," Fleming said. "He seemed to delight in honoring the stereotype of the absentminded professor, and even in such a highly competitive field he did achieve new horizons in administrative disorganization."

"Ralph Freedman taught me why it is important to be a humanist and that the true value of literature was that it allowed us to confront our best and worst moments with both critical distance and passion," said Kathy Komar, who earned her Ph.D. in 1977 and is a professor of comparative literature at the University of California-Los Angeles. "He was generous with both his time and his wisdom for students and colleagues alike. And he made sure that he did everything in his power to help us succeed in our careers. He was a genuine mentor who looked out for us over many years beyond graduate school," she said.

Ellen Frankel earned her Ph.D. in comparative literature at Princeton in 1978 and taught writing and literature at various colleges before becoming editor-in-chief of the Jewish Publication Society, a position she held until her retirement in 2009. She said her first impression of Freedman was that he was "definitely 'old school' — conservative in his attire, formal in his teaching style, addressing all of his students as Mr. and Miss. But although he was reserved in etiquette, he was just the opposite when it came to his favorite subject: Romanticism. In his graduate seminars he was passionate about the sorrows of Young Werther, about German Romantic philosophers, about the poetry of Wordsworth and Keats. I met my future husband in that Romanticism class. Ralph seemed especially tickled that a romance bloomed under his tutelage," she said.

Freedman taught regularly in the English and comparative literature departments, including developing the introductory course for graduate students as well as teaching undergraduate courses on lyric poetry and the lyrical novel.

As a literary theorist, his research focused on the lyric and prose fiction from the late 18th century through the present, primarily in English, German and French literatures. He formed the governing board of senior fellows for a new national school of literary criticism at the University of California-Irvine in 1975.

Born Feb. 24, 1920, in Hamburg, Germany, Freedman emigrated at 19 to England and then to the United States. He became a naturalized citizen in 1942, and from 1943-45 served in the U.S. Army, in intelligence in the field during World War II in Tunisia and Italy and, at the end of the war, in a counterintelligence team in Austria.

Freedman graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Washington in 1948. In 1950 he earned a master's in philosophy from Brown University, where he was a teaching assistant for two years, and in 1954 he received his Ph.D. in comparative literature from Yale University.

He is the author of two historical novels based on his war experiences: "Divided" (1948) and "Rue the Day" (2009). His published works in literary criticism include "The Lyrical Novel: Studies in Hermann Hesse, Andre Gide and Virginia Woolf" (1963, Princeton University Press). Freedman wrote the biographies "Hermann Hesse: Pilgrim of Crisis" (1978), which has been translated into German and Italian, and "Life of a Poet: Rainer Maria Rilke" (1996), which he began to research and write while at Princeton with a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1980 and was published after his retirement.

"'The Lyrical Novel' was a landmark in literary studies because it showed us how to do comparative work when there weren't too many models around, and because it brought together three writers who were not obviously connected — Hermann Hesse, Andre Gide and Virginia Woolf — showing just how strong their theoretical and experimental connections were," said Michael Wood, the Charles Barnwell Straut Class of 1923 Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Emeritus.

Wood also commended Freedman's biographies of Hesse and Rilke. "[The mixture of generosity and cool critical sense in the writing was immediately recognizable, indeed unforgettable," he said. Wood published a review of the Rilke biography in the London Review of Books in 1996.

A prolific essayist whose work appeared in journals such as Texas Quarterly, Modern Fiction Studies and Comparative Literature Studies, Freedman also edited "Virginia Woolf: Revaluation and Continuity." He translated into English Sten Nadolny's novel "Die Entdeckung der Langsamkeit," which was published in 1987 as "The Discovery of Slowness." His works have been translated into German, French, Italian, Spanish, Korean and Japanese.

Freedman held fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and was active in professional societies such as the Modern Language Association and the American Comparative Literature Association.

He is survived by two sons, Jonathan, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Mark, of New York, and six grandchildren. A public memorial service will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 5, at the Maison Française at Columbia University, near the 116th Street and Broadway entrance. Contributions may be made in Freedman's memory to the Planned Parenthood Foundation.




Quelle: Limberg, 2016

Posted 2012-08-26


Barry Stephenson

Veneration and Revolt

Hermann Hesse and Swabian Pietism


"Taking his title from Hesse, Barry Stephenson has given us the first thorough appreciation of the Nobel Prize-winner within the religious culture from which he emerged. Hesse's debt to pietism, against which he rebelled yet which he always venerated as his spiritual heritage, was long a commonplace. But no previous scholar approached the problematic topic with the requisite background in religious studies that informs this book. Beginning with the history of Pietism and its role in Swabia and German Romanticism, it moves through Hesse's life and oeuvre, exposing significant new dimensions from his early religion of art to The Glass Bead Game. This major and highly readable contribution forces us to contemplate Hesse's novels in a wholly original and edifying light."

Theodore Ziolkowski, Princeton University


Veneration and Revolt: Hermann Hesse and Swabian Pietism is the first comprehensive study of the impact of German Pietism (the religion of Hesse's family and native Swabia) on Hesse's life and literature. Hesse's literature bears witness to a lifelong conversation with his religious heritage despite that in adolescence he rejected his family's expectation that he become a theologian, cleric, and missionary.
Hesse's Pietist upbringing and broader Swabian heritage contributed to his moral and political views, his pacifism and internationalism, the confessional and autobiographical style of his literature, his romantic mysticism, his suspicion of bourgeois culture, his ecumenical outlook, and, in an era scarred by two world wars, his hopes for the future. Veneration and Revolt offers a unique perspective on the life and works of one of the twentieth century's most influential writers.

Wilfried Laurier University Press

75 University Avenue West

Waterloo, ON (N2L3C5)


Cloth, 300 Pages


Canadian $ 85.00

For more information contact Clare Hitchens, publicist,

at clare@press.wlu.ca


Source: University of Toronto Quarterly

Posted 2012-08-25


[Reduced image of the cover of DER SPIEGEL from August 6, 2012.  © DER SPIEGEL, 2012]



The Legacy of Hermann Hesse, 50 Years Later


Jacob Comenetz


The cover of the Aug. 6, 2012 issue of Der Spiegel magazine features an illustration of Hermann Hesse, winner of the 1946 Nobel Prize in literature, glaring almost menacingly at the reader and giving the middle finger. “Der Störenfried” (“the troublemaker”) is written in bold letters, under which appear the labels “Sinnsucher, Dichter, Anarchist”—“seeker of meaning, poet, and anarchist.”

Der Spiegel covers are well-known for being provocative, but does this one go too far? Does it make sense to depict the peace-loving author, painter, and nature-lover who wrote about the search for self-discovery and deeper meaning, in such an aggressive pose? The editors clearly hope this challenging image will spark a debate about the role of the famous German-Swiss author, one of the best-selling German writers ever, 50 years after his death on August 9, 1962.

The title of the article, “Ich mach mein Ding,” “I just do my thing,” probably points more accurately at the true nature of the man. Born in 1877 in Calw, halfway between Stuttgart and Baden-Baden, Hesse lived through the great upheavals of the early twentieth century. Rather than going with the mass of society that clamored for war in the summer of 1914, Hesse published an essay, “O Freunde, nicht diese Töne” (“Oh friends, not these tones”), which appealed to brotherly love and Europe’s common heritage as reasons for not going to war. For this he was vociferously and publicly lambasted. This personal crisis partly explains why Hesse shied away from the public eye later in life.

Hermann Hesse (below) clinks glasses on July 2, 1947, in the garden of the castle Bremgarten with his son Martin (second from left ), Max Wassmer (third from left), the arts patron of Berne and Mr. Leuthold (right) on the occasion of his 70th birthday.


/© Hesse Editionsarchiv, Offenbach a.M, 1979.


Hesse had just been awarded the honorary doctor of the university of Berne and the honorary membership of the body of students of the city of Berne in a festive ceremony. According to the autobiographical sketch on the Nobel Prize website, his wish to be a poet had developed at the age of 12. Although he was a good learner at boarding schools in Württemberg, Hesse “was not a very manageable boy,” as he described himself. “It was only with difficulty that I fitted into the framework of a pietist education that aimed at subduing and breaking the individual personality.” Indeed, at the age of 15, Hesse fled his monastery school and was sent by his parents to a private clinic, where he attempted to take his life. Thereafter came a four-month consignment to a mental institution. The diagnosis: “melancholy.”

With no clear career path for a would-be writer, Hesse became an apprentice mechanic and worked in antique and book stores in Tübingen and Basel. His mother being partially of French Swiss descent, Hesse had lived in Basel as a young child, from 1880-86. After his first literary success, the novel Peter Camenzind, published in 1904, Hesse moved to the country, to Gaienhofen on Lake Constance, on the border with Switzerland. “At that time a rural life, far from the cities and civilization, was my aim.”


[Hermann and Ninon Hesse in front of their house, © Hesse Editionsarchiv, Offenbach a.M., 1979]

/© Hesse Editionsarchiv, Offenbach a.M, 1979

Hermann Hesse in front of his residence in Montagnola, undated picture. He was to live there until 1912; thereafter Hesse lived in Switzerland, in Basel, Bern, Zurich, and Montagnola, a small village in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino. In 1911, however, at the age of 34, Hesse embarked on a trip to India, where his parents had worked as missionaries. Though the ship actually sailed to Indonesia, the “India” journey would influence the young man’s thinking. His impressions from the trip, along with his studies of Buddhism and eastern philosophy, found their way into more than one of Hesse’s novels.

In 1923, he resigned his German and acquired Swiss citizenship. In picturesque Montagnola, overlooking Lake Lugano, where he lived for half his life, from 1919 to 1962, Hesse produced his most enduring works: Siddhartha, Der Steppenwolf, and Das Glasperlenspiel (The Glass Bead Game).

All of these novels deal with themes involving the individual search for self-knowledge, spirituality, and the inward turn. Though his novels proved popular during his lifetime, it was only after his death that his popularity skyrocketed, making him one of the most widely-read German authors of the twentieth century. One hundred fifty million copies of his books, published in 60 languages, are thought to be in circulation around the world. Significantly, only a sixth of these are in German. Hesse’s popularity thus far surpassed the cultural sphere of his origin.

But why? An engaging style and compelling narratives can only explain this in part. A fuller explanation of his significance in literary history — and history more broadly — must consider Hesse as emblematic of certain values that resonated—in particular in the late 1960s, in Germany and in America.

[Image of Udo Lindenberg in Calw, 2012 © Schwarzwälder Bote, Pforzheim, 2012]

Foto: © Schwarzwälder Bote, Pforzheim, 2012


German rock star Udo Lindenberg, an acknowledged fan of Hesse, performs as part of the yearlong Hermann Hesse Festival in Calw on July 7, 2012. The surge in Hesse’s popularity coincided with the so-called “68er” generation in Germany, the Woodstock and Vietnam-protest era in America, when rebellions against the established, conformist society became mainstream. Hesse’s writings were rediscovered at the time, the themes coinciding with the ideals of the hippie and counterculture movements. Rebellion against conformity, listening to the self rather than authority—these ideas, also found in the works of Henry David Thoreau, who also drew inspiration from Eastern philosophy, defined Hesse’s appeal. The band Steppenwolf, best-known for “Born to be Wild” and “Magic Carpet Ride,” named itself after Hesse’s novel of the same name. Like with Thoreau in America, Hesse became required reading at schools across Germany. Today, a large number of schools are named after him.

With so many people encountering him at a young age, it’s no surprise interest in Hesse is not fading fifty years after his death. They are encountering him not only through his books, but through music. Since 2008, the foundation of German rock star Udo Lindenberg has organized the Hermann Hesse Festival, celebrating “die Kunst des Eigensinns.” While “Eigensinn” is a difficult-to-translate concept, the festival title means something like “the art of having one’s own will; a vigorous, determined inner voice.”

For Lindenberg, as for millions of other fans around the world, this devotion to “Eigensinn” is the source of fascination with, and inspiration from, Hermann Hesse.

© Germany.info-2012

Copyrighted by, and with the kind permission

of the Cultural Section of the German Embassy on August 28, 2012


Note that the images on this page have a different origin

from those in the original publication because of release restrictions

Source: Lawrence Zani, Kaiserslautern, Germany