Herman Hesse


German-Swiss Poet, Novelist and Painter, Nobel Prize in Literature

Author Quotes

One has to be able to sequence into exactly the same like the tortoise.

Our friendship has no other purpose, no other reason, than to show you how utterly unlike me you are.

Perhaps he was handsome, perhaps I liked him, perhaps I also found him repulsive, I could not be sure of that either.

Sadly, I swallowed my tea and stared at the crowd of second-rate elegance.

No use lamenting over it! I was now living in a blaze of unsatisfied desire, of suspenseful expectancy, that often made me wild and crazy. I often saw the image of my dream beloved before me with more than lifelike clarity, much more clearly than my own hand; I spoke to it, wept before it, cursed it. I called it mother and knelt before it in tears; I called it beloved and sensed its ripe, all-fulfilling kiss; I called it devil and whore, vampire and murderess. It lured me into the tenderest dreams of love and into acts of dissolute shamelessness; nothing was too good and precious for it, nothing too bad and vile.

Nothing is caused by demons. There are no demons. Everyone can perform magic, everyone can reach his goal, if he can think, wait, and fast.

Obedient to no man, dependent only on weather and season, without a goal before them or a roof above them, owning nothing, open to every whim of fate, the homeless wanderers lead their childlike, brave, shabby existence. They are the sons of Adam, who was driven out of Paradise; the brothers of the animals, of innocence. Out of heaven's hand they accept what is given them from moment to moment: sun, rain, fog, snow, warmth, cold, comfort, and hardship; time does not exist for them and neither does history, or ambition, or that bizarre idol called progress and evolution, in which house-owners believe so desperately. A wayfarer may be delicate or crude, artful or awkward, brave or cowardly?he is always a child at heart, living in the first day of creation, before the beginning of the history of the world, his life always guided by a few simple instincts and needs. He may be intelligent or stupid; he may be deeply aware of the fleeting fragility of all living things, of how pettily and fearfully each living creature carries its bit of warm blood through the glaciers of cosmic space, or he may merely follow the commands of his poor stomach with childlike greed?he is always the opponent, the deadly enemy of the established proprietor, who hates him, despises him, or fears him, because he does not wish to be reminded that all existence is transitory, that life is constantly wilting, that merciless icy death fills the cosmos all around.

On growing old, one becomes more contented than in one's youth, which I will not therefore revile, for in all my dreams I hear my youth like a wonderful song which now sounds more harmonious than it did in reality, and even sweeter.

One knew nothing. One lived and walked about on the earth or rode through the forests, and so many things looked at one with such challenge and promise, rousing such longing: an evening star, a bluebell, a lake green with reeds, the eye of a human being or of a cow, and at times it seemed as if the very next moment something never seen but long yearned for must happen, as if a veil must drop from everything. But then it passed, and nothing happened, and the riddle was not solved, nor was the secret spell lifted, and finally one became old... and perhaps one still knew nothing, would still be waiting and listening.

Our goal is not to turn us to one another, but to get to know one another and learn to see the other and to respect what he is: our opposite and our completion.

Perhaps I was mad, as I thought at moments; perhaps I was not like other men? But I was able to do the same things the others did; with a little effort and industry I could read Plato, was able to solve problems in trigonometry or follow a chemical analysis. These was only one thing I could not do: wrest the dark secret goal from myself and keep it before me as others did who knew exactly what they wanted to be- professors, lawyers, doctors, artists, however long this would take them and whatever difficulties and advantages this decision would bear in its wake. This I could not do. Perhaps I would become something similar but how was I to know? Perhaps I would have to continue my search for years on end and would not become anything, and would not reach a goal. Perhaps I would reach this goal but it would turn out to be an evil, dangerous, horrible one?

Science, to quote your own words, is nothing else than a 'strange hankering after differences'. Her essence could not be better defined. For men of science nothing is so important as the clear definition of differences.

No you why compare yourself with others, and if nature has created him to bat, you should not aspire to be an ostrich. Sometimes you have for too rare and reproaches follow different paths that follow the majority. Let you that. Contemplate the fire, contemplate the clouds, and as omens emerge and begin to sound in his soul voices, abandon yourself to them without asking before whether or seems right to professor, dad or a good god either.

Nothing is effected by daemons, there are no daemons. Everyone can perform magic, everyone can reach his goals, if he is able to think, if he is able to wait, if he is able to fast.

Obeying is like eating and drinking. There's nothing like it if you've been without it for too long.

On no morning of his life had he ever been in good spirits nor done any good before midday, nor ever had a happy idea, nor devised any pleasure for himself or others. By degrees during the afternoon he warmed and became alive, and only towards evening, on his good days, was he productive, active and, sometimes, aglow with joy.

One must find the source within one's own Self, one must possess it. Everything else was seeking -- a detour, an error.

Our god's name is Abraxas and he is God and Satan and he contains both the luminous and the dark world.

Perhaps people like us cannot love. Ordinary people can - that is their secret.

Search is: have a goal. But find means to be free, open, no destination have... A seeker looks much not what stands close before his eyes.

Never before this time I felt that I had done so much damage simply because of having to live.

No, a true seeker, one who truly wished to find, could accept no doctrine. But the man who has found what he sought, such a man could approve of every doctrine, each and every one, every path, every goal; nothing separated him any longer from all those thousands of others who lived in the eternal, who breathed the Divine.

Nothing is harder yet nothing is more necessary, than to speak of certain things whose existence is neither demonstrable nor probable. The very fact that serious and conscientious men treat them as existing things brings them a step closer to existence and to the possibility of being born.

Of all the conceptions of pure bliss that people and poets have dreamed of, listening to the harmony of the spheres always seemed to me the highest and most intense. That is where my dearest and brightest dreams have ranged - to hear for the duration of a heartbeat the universe and the totality of life in its mysterious innate harmony. Alas, how is it that life can be so confusing and out of tune and false, how can there be lies, evil, envy and hate among people, when the shortest song and most simple piece of music preach that heaven is revealed in the purity, harmony and interplay of clearly sounded notes. And how can I upbraid people and grow angry when I myself, with all the good will in the world have been unable to make song and sweet music out of my life?

On one part of the footpath where a thin trickle of water from a small spring kept it damp, I found ... a swarm of ... small, blue butterflies drinking the water... I only went that way on sunny days and each time the dense, blue swarm was there, and each time it was a holiday.

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German-Swiss Poet, Novelist and Painter, Nobel Prize in Literature