Cover: Hesse: The Wanderer and His Shadow, from Harvard University PressCover: Hesse in HARDCOVER


The Wanderer and His Shadow

Gunnar Decker

Translated by Peter Lewis

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Product Details


$39.95 • £31.95 • €36.00

ISBN 9780674737884

Publication Date: 11/05/2018


800 pages

6-3/8 x 9-1/4 inches

40 photos


Decker’s wonderfully rich, insightful biography is a welcome reminder of Hesse’s painfully honest exploration of selfhood and is destined to become the standard work on this difficult, reclusive and often self-destructive writer.—P. D. Smith, The Guardian

Shows that Hesse’s life was an uneasy compromise between his spiritual absolutism, which pushed him in the direction of irascible isolation, and his human needs, which encumbered him with wives, children, and houses that he never quite wanted or accepted.—Adam Kirsch, The New Yorker

Top-notch… A masterful, penetrating biography…that deserves the accolade ‘definitive.’ …Decker lays bare Hesse’s complex, contradictory personality, his all-consuming dedication to the creative life, his tormented relationships with women, and the cultural and political forces that found their ways into his works… A richly detailed and supremely sensitive portrayal of an artist obsessed with the ‘terrible and magnificent’ act of creation.Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

The definitive English-language account of Hesse’s life… Decker makes clear that Hesse’s restless soul was the basis of his books, which spoke to many people around the world.Choice

Will not be superseded for some time.Library Journal

Will likely be the definitive biography… Decker restores depth and context to an author much maligned in his own time and much misinterpreted by later eras.Publishers Weekly

Gunnar Decker’s smartly written biography of Hermann Hesse captures the turbulent inner life and stubborn individuality which gave rise to such innovative and widely read novels as Demian, Steppenwolf, and The Glass Bead Game. Weaving in a wealth of sources, Decker unfolds the story of Hesse as the self-styled outsider and his engagement with the great conflicts of his age. In Peter Lewis’s sprightly translation, this outstanding biography will surely rekindle the enthusiasm of readers who witnessed the so-called Hesse boom of the sixties and seventies while also attracting new admirers.—Mark Harman, translator of The Castle by Franz Kafka and of Soul of the Age: Selected Letters of Hermann Hesse, 1891–1962

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