Hermann Hesse: Life, Work, and Criticism


49 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-919966-39-X





Reviewed by Roman S. Struc

Roman S. Struc is a professor in the Department of Germanic and Slavic
Studies at the University of Calgary.


Joseph Mileck, Professor of German at the University of California in Berkeley, has certainly performed a useful service in providing a study on Hermann Hesse, the recipient of a Nobel Prize for literature in 1946 and an unusually popular writer who captivated the interest of the North American reading public for some two decades.

German literature is a peculiar phenomenon. It can be divided into two canons: “international” German literature, and that known mostly only to Germans, which does not transcend the orbit of the German-speaking countries. It is not always easy to account for an author’s belonging to one category or the other. Hesse is without doubt a very “German” German author — i.e., his oeuvre is characterized by inwardness, romanticism, quietism, all qualities that do not necessarily make for literature of vast popular appeal. Professor Mileck, in tracing the reception of Hesse in Germany and North America, convincingly shows why Hesse, with his idealism and anti-materialism, captured the imagination of so many young North Americans.

The booklet follows the pattern of the series, first offering Hesse’s biography, then a list of his major works, a discussion of major works, and as mentioned above, a review of Hesse’s reception at home and abroad. The book concludes with a selected bibliography of critical commentary.

Considering the format and size (49p.), the book offers astonishingly much and, in spite of its somewhat inflated price, can be recommended as a first primer on Hesse.


Mileck, Joseph, “Hermann Hesse: Life, Work, and Criticism,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 25, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/37436.