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Since the publication of Peter Camenzind in 1904 Hermann Hesse has been loved and hated by his own people, ignored and worshipped by the English speaking world, accused of being a Nazi sympathizer, and blacklisted by almost every newspaper in Hitler's Germany.

He accomplished all of this simply by writing some of the most honest and introspective fiction in modern literature, and by allowing the entire literate world to act as spectator to his own tumultuous internal journey. From Siddhartha to Steppenwolf, his characters faced the most complex questions of life, coming from different places and times, different backgrounds and ambitions, but all of them represented Hesse, and all of them wrestled with questions of self and soul that haunted their author throughout his life.

Hesse was a prolific author, publishing seventeen novels as well as several poems and essays, and, though mostly fiction, his works tended to follow the path of his own life, and his protagonists wrestle with the same problems he faced. He was constantly battling with the conflict of the mind and the body, the spiritual world and the sensual one.

During his life he struggled with questions of nationalism and pacifism, living through two world wars that nearly destroyed his native country. He desperately craved social acceptance, but found himself to be awkward, a natural loner, and wondered if the role of the artist was inevitably to be an outsider; an observer, but not a participant in life.

These questions and more are mirrored in his fiction, as he uses his characters to live out the different paths available to him, and the readers are reminded of similar dualities in their own lives. His novels tend to feature pairs of characters, one representing the ideal he wishes he could achieve, and one the less romantic reality he knows he must accept.

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