Essays On A Life

First edition cover (1974)

AuthorHermann Hesse
TranslatorDenver Lindley
Ralph Manheim
Cover artistJustin Todd
CountryUnited States
PublisherFarrar, Straus and Giroux

Publication date

Media typePrint

My Belief: Essays on Life and Art is a collection of essays by Hermann Hesse. The essays, written between 1904 and 1961, were originally published in German, either individually or in various collections between 1951 and 1973. This collection in English was first published in 1974, edited by Theodore Ziolkowski.

The essays[edit]

The essays were translated in 1974 by Denver Lindley with the exception of "From a Diary" and "Anti-Semitism" which were translated by Ralph Manheim. The book is divided into two parts and the essay titles, with the year they were written, follow.

Part One: Essays 1904–1961[edit]

  • "At Year's End" (1904)
  • "On Little Joys" (1905)
  • "Letter to a Young Poet" (1910)
  • "Old Music" (1913)
  • "Letter to a Philistine" (1915)
  • "Language" (1917)
  • "The Refuge" (1917)
  • "Concerning the Soul" (1917)
  • "Artists and Psychoanalysis" (1918)
  • "From My Diary" (1918)
  • "Fantasies" (1918)
  • "On Poems" (1918)
  • "The Brothers Karamazov, or The Decline of Europe" (1919)
  • "Thoughts on The Idiot by Dostoevsky" (1919)
  • "Books on Trial" (1919)
  • "Variations on a Theme by Wilhelm Schäfer" (1919)
  • "On Reading Books" (1920)
  • "A Poet's Preface to His Selected Works" (1921)
  • "About Jean Paul" (1921)
  • "Exotic Art" (1922)
  • "On Hölderlin" (1924)
  • "Postscript to Novalis, Documents on His Life and Death" (1924)
  • "About Dostoevsky" (1925)
  • "Our Age's Yearning for a Philosophy of Life" (1926, 1927)
  • "A Night's Work" (1928)
  • "A Virtuoso's Concert" (1929)
  • "The Magic of the Book" (1930)
  • "About Good and Bad Critics" (1930)
  • "My Belief" (1931)
  • "Gratitude to Goethe" (1932)
  • "A Bit of Theology" (1932)
  • "On Reading a Novel" (1933)
  • "From a Diary" (1933)
  • "Memories of Klingsor's Summer" (1938)
  • "Postscript to Steppenwolf" (1941)
  • "Favorite Reading" (1945)
  • "The Peach Tree" (1945)
  • "Dream Gift" (1946)
  • "Description of a Landscape" (1947)
  • "Mysteries" (1947)
  • "The Omitted Words" (1948)
  • "Happiness" (1949)
  • "On Old Age" (1952)
  • "Interpreting Kafka" (1956)
  • "Anti-Semitism" (1922, 1958)
  • "Joseph Knecht to Carlo Ferromonte" (1961)

Part Two[edit]

I. European and American Literature[edit]

  • "Caesarius of Heisterbach" (1908)
  • "Giovanni Boccaccio" (1904)
  • "Casanova" (1925)
  • "Hans Christian Andersen" (1910)
  • "Walt Whitman" (1904)
  • "August Strindberg" (1909, 1949)
  • "Selma Lagerlöf" (1908)
  • "Maurice Maeterlinck" (1900)
  • "Romain Rolland" (1922, 1915)
  • "André Gide" (1951, 1933)
  • "Rainer Maria Rilke" (1928, 1927, 1933)
  • "D.H. Lawrence" (1933, 1934, 1930)
  • "Thomas Wolfe" (1933)
  • "J.D. Salinger" (1953)

II. Intellectual History[edit]

  • "Sigmund Freud" (1925, 1919)
  • "C.G. Jung" (1931, 1934)
  • "Jacob Burckhardt" (1935)
  • "Karl Marx" (1932)
  • "Henri Bergson" (1916)
  • "Count Hermann Keyserling" (1920)
  • "Oswald Spengler" (1924)
  • "José Ortega y Gasset" (1931, 1932)
  • "Leopold Ziegler" (1936)

III. Oriental History[edit]

  • "Introduction" (1929)
  • "Hinduism" (1923)
  • "The Speeches of Buddha" (1921, 1922)
  • "Chinese Literature" (1911, 1926, 1914, 1922, 1929, 1925)
  • "View of the Far East" (1959)


Hermann Hesse was a professional writer and spent a substantial amount of his time reviewing books, assembling anthologies and writing essays. His essays are significant as they provide a glimpse of the man behind the novels that made him famous.

This collection contains most of Hesse's important essays except for the political pieces published separately in If the War Goes On ... (1946) and the autobiographical reminiscences published in Autobiographical Writings (1937). They were written over a period of almost 60 years and can be divided into three distinct groups: literary criticism, personal beliefs and cultural criticism.

Hesse's earliest essays revolve around narrow literary topics but become more philosophical and political in the 1920s to 1930s and finally the reflections of a man who has retreated from the strife of dialectics and now deals with such matters with greater detachment.

Prior to the 1970s, only a few of Hesse's essays have been available in English. "The Brothers Karamazov, or The Decline of Europe" and "Thoughts on The Idiot by Dostoevsky" were translated to English by Sydney Schiff and published in 1923 under the title In Sight of Chaos. This collection gives English readers access to an important side of Hermann Hesse's literary career and contribute significantly to the understanding of his fiction.


External links[edit]

Essay about A Life Changing Event

949 Words4 Pages

“A Life Changing Event”

There are many events that stand out in my life that were significant and helped me grow stronger. One of these events stands out in particular to me and had the greatest impact in my life. When I attended high school my focus was never on the academics but only on sports and having fun with my friends. I never payed attention for more than five seconds and failed to complete any type of work given to me. My lack of care for high school affected me on going to a four year college, playing a sport in college, and taking remedial classes. First off when one’s grades are poor it is extremely hard to get into a four year college. I would sit in all of my forty-five minute classes doodling, telling jokes, and just…show more content…

The thought of asking any of my teachers for letters of recommendation was not even an option anymore because they knew my personality and work ethic. All throughout high school I was involved in sports. I excelled in football and lacrosse throughout the four years I attended my high school. I had no problem going home studying football plays for hours and looking to make myself better for the next game or practice. I could recite defenses and offenses with no problem, but give me a math problem and it was as if it was in another language. Unlike my teachers I got along with my coaches well and they would be willing to help me get into a good school to further my playing skills. That is in reality only about twenty five percent of what you need to get into college. I lacked the other seventy five percent of doing at least average in academics and being a well rounded student. I had some schools contact me about playing lacrosse at their school but once they had heard I hadn’t taken the SAT’s yet and that my grades were a little above failing their interest level dropped. I believe that I potentially threw away some opportunities that could have really benefitted me today. Even if I would have payed attention the slightest bit I could have easily achieved B’s and C’s. I had my priorities mixed up and it really came back to bite me four years down the road. In addition to those two of the many problems a I faced another problem arose quickly. Nearing the end of

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