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Herman Hesse is ranked among the great masters of contemporary literature. He was born in Wirtemberg in 1877. He intended to follow in the footsteps of his father, a Protestant pastor and missionary. Until the end of Hesseís life, his father remained an inspiring example of living faith. At the same time, however, young Hesse sensed the discrepancy between his fatherís practices and beliefs. At times he almost hated his fatherís terminology and believed it to be thoroughly out of date.
Hesse rebelled against traditional academic education and worked as a bookseller, antique dealer and mechanic. His first novel, Peter Camenzind, was published in 1904. This novel reflects Hesseís early life in Basel and Swabia. Gertrude is another novel of a young man who finds himself. He is a musician discovering the secret of artistic existence. His next novel Knulp (1915) signified a turning point in his life. But its roots can be traced to the pre-war period. In 1919, as a protest against German militarism, he moved to Switzerland, where he lived in self-imposed exile until his death in 1962.
Hesse won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1946. The Nobel Prize was not the only sign of his growing international fame. The other sign was to be seen in the translations of Hesseís books into European and non-European languages.
Hermann Hesse went through psycho-analysis under Dr. J. B. Lang and Carl Jung. This led to self-realization. He used the subject of mental chaos leading to self - realization in Demian. He has used this idea intensely in his later novels like Siddhartha and Steppenwolf. He also became aware of the process of unifying opposites. He realized that good and bad exist together. He has emphasized this idea in Demian. There are references to eastern thought too in Demian. There is a reference to "Om" and also a certain type of intense meditation. Hesse had read about Hindu religion and Hindu mythology. He probably got some ideas from there, which he included in Demian. He believed that the wisdom of the east is permanent whereas wisdom of the west is transitory .
In Demian Hesse has made extensive use of symbols, imagery and dreams. He must have understood these because of the psychoanalysis, which he went through. Symbols and images are very important from the point of view of Jungian psychology, Dreams are an important source of information about the working of the unconscious.