© HHP 4/24/98


"Klein und Wagner is the story of a relatively ordinary man who had chosen to become a respectable member of society, a conscientious employee, a faithful husband, a good father, and a reliable provider. It is also the tragedy of a person who had not taken the trouble to find himself. Disillusionment, frustration, and resultant murderous impulses compel him to bolt. He embezzles a sum of money, forges documents, procures a revolver, and flees the country. Distraught, he tries desperately to assess himself and his actions, to ponder life and morality, and to become an authentic human being. His belated efforts to establish his own identity, to fashion his own values, and to live himself are futile. Long hours of excruciating thought, a bout of gambling, and a whirl of sex only add to his agitation. The blissful moments when he is at peace with himself and with life are too few and too elusive to sustain him. Guilt and anxiety plague him, his new way of life leaves him wallowing in self-contempt, and destructive impulses once more become urgent. Klein begins to falter, and flight again becomes imperative. Since life no longer holds any attractions for him and since his own inner resources are depleted, but one week after he has taken flight, he succumbs to his longnurtured passion for suicide. To break out of the narrow confines of the bourgeois world and to shed a role had been relatively easy. To escape the moral reaches of that conventional world and to learn to know and to be himself had turned out to be quite a different matter. Klein had simply proved inadequate to the many challenges of his bold venture."

(Source: Joseph Mileck, Hermann Hesse: Life and Art, Berkeley: UC Press, 1978, p. 141f.)