Tuesday, November 13, 2018


also see the weekly standard's irmscher piece

As the translator of three Hesse novels – Beneath the Wheel, Peter Camenzind and, with conviction, DEMIAN  – perhaps you will allow me to comment on what I regard as the customary superficial manner in which Adam Kirsch discusses the work of German language authors.
       I came to translating Hesse, via Roger KIein, Harper & Row editor, as someone who had translated some Brecht,  stylistically demanding later Ernst Juenger with Louise Bogan, and as a Musil translator [ also a dissertation subject, to whose work I was drawn notby the customary literary references but via my interest in physic, A. Mach] and thus I found Peter Camenzind as well Beneath the Wheel to be stylistically anachronistic  thus unrewarding  on the linguistic level, whereas Demian, written under the aegis of a Jungian analysis -Kirsch absolutely needed to note as much if he read the book - that familiarized this translator with the concept and practice of projection, was also stylistically more agreeable.
 Thus what I chiefly find lacking in Kirsch’s reductionism of Hesse’s life and work to an on-going adolescent revolt is not only sufficient note he takes of the development of Hesse’s lead characters from Camenzind to via Emil Sinclair and Goldmund and beyond, -by way of the wild civilizationally unhappy  Harry Haller, the Steppenwolf, who goes  - prophetically it evidently seemed to Hesse’s American followers through a wild drug- & sex filled revolt against modern life

[“ The story in large part reflects a profound crisis in Hesse's spiritual world during the 1920s while memorably portraying the protagonist's split between his humanity and his wolf-like aggression and homelessness.[1]]] Kirssch also fail to note Hesse's– his development as an artist from moderately realistic beginnings to the very considerable complexity of Steppenwolf and to the amazing formalism of Narciss and Goldmund. That is, maybe you never find another story but your adolescent trauma but you can find ever more beautiful and interesting ways of telling it & that is where your efforts and neglect of your wife are then devoted to!
 However, Kirsch is spot on in noting that Hesse never wanted followers, I recall editing a selection of Hesse letters for Farrar, Straus, a firm to which I then brought two of my translations and 20 Hesse titles after Roger Klein ended his own life prematurely, letters where Hesse keeps advising all those who beseech him that they are asking the wrong person. Hesse I think will be an author who will continue to be fruitfully read , as he was by the American kids of the 60 and 70, who project their own wishes onto a writer who certainly knew a thing of two about projecting within the on-going American night mare. Sincerely, Michael Roloff, Seattle

„Das Glasperlenspiel“. Hesse hatte mit seiner „Lebensbeschreibung des Magister Ludi Josef Knecht“ den Geist gegen die Macht, Schönheit und Wahrheit gegen eine hässliche Wirklichkeit (die der NS-Zeit) verteidigen wollen. Sein letzter, größter und schwerster Roman sollte die Summe seiner Ästhetik, Ethik und Politik werden, ein musikalisch getönter Jahrhundertroman wie Thomas Manns „Doktor Faustus“. Aber als er nach mehr als zehn Jahren Arbeit 1943 endlich in der Schweiz erschien, erreichte er, sehr zum Verdruss des Autors, nicht mehr „die Leser, für die er bestimmt war“....Als Hesse 1946 den Literaturnobelpreis erhielt, wurden auch kritische Stimmen laut, die ihm vorwarfen, er habe in seinem Idyll zu lange laviert und geschwiegen, um noch moralische und literarische Autorität beanspruchen zu können.
Das freilich war perfide. Hesses Absage an Hitler war vielleicht manchmal wirklichkeitsfremd oder sprachlos „pantomimisch“ (Thomas Mann), aber doch unmissverständlich; sein Einsatz für verfolgte Juden und gestrandete Exilautoren wie Brecht oder Peter Weiss war mutig und selbstlos. Hermann Hesse war Schöngeist, Sinnsucher, Träumer, Aussteiger, ein unruhiger, weltabgewandter Eskapist, jedenfalls mehr zum stillen Erdulden als zum Kämpfen an der Meinungsfront geschaffen. Aber das Gewissen des Magister Ludi war rein, wenn und solange er spielte.

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MICHAEL ROLOFF exMember Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society this LYNX will LEAP you to all my HANDKE project sites and BLOGS: "MAY THE FOGGY DEW BEDIAMONDIZE YOUR HOOSPRINGS!" {J. Joyce} "Sryde Lyde Myde Vorworde Vorhorde Vorborde" [von Alvensleben] contact via my website


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