Part 1 of 2 (Part 2 here)
“It is fortunate you are not a historian,” Jacobus commented. “You tend to let your own imagination run away with you.”
“Unfortunately, the deep writer and poet Hermann Hesse was falsified and vulgarized by a world in decline. He needs to be re-read today by the same eyes that were once shaken by his mystery.”
“Many of the most bizarre features of [Heidegger’s] ontology appear to have been lifted right out of the occult aether wherein Schelling developed them: [such as] the historical destiny of the artist-scholars of a coming apocalyptic generation to build a new world whose architectonic is established by singing together their own epic poem.”
Some readers of Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus have speculated that the character of Chaim Breisacher, a “private scholar” who torments the culturally cuckservative circles of the minor nobility of Munich during the interwar period, is a caricature of a Kabbalah scholar who occasionally collaborated with Evola; others (such as me) wonder if Evola himself was the target. Making Breisacher an ultra-conservative Jew rather than a pagan enthusiast would have been both excellent cover and an added poke.
Thomas Mann depended heavily on the Jewish metaphysical philosopher Oskar Goldberg. Although Goldberg is little known today, his views on the significance of the Pentateuch caused quite a stir in Berlin between the two wars. His most important and controversial book was “Die Wirklichkeit der Hebraer” (“The Reality of the Hebrews”). Among those enraged by Goldberg’s “mystical rationalism” was Gershom Scholem, who maintained until his death such an antipathy for this man that he included a series of deprecating anecdotes about Goldberg and his “sect” in “From Berlin to Jerusalem” and, more importantly, “Walter Benjamin: The Story of a Friendship.” Let me quote from the latter, which speaks directly of Thomas Mann’s reliance on Oskar Goldberg:
“After ‘Die Wirklichkeit der Hebraer’ had appeared (1925), I wrote a long, critical letter about the book; (Walter) Benjamin and Leo Strauss disseminated copies of it in Berlin, and it won me no friends among Goldberg’s adherents. That others were impressed, indeed entranced, by the imaginative verve of Goldberg’s interpretations of the Torah . . . is evidenced not only by the writings of the paleontologist Edgar Dacque but above all by Thomas Mann; the first novel of the latter’s Joseph tetralogy, ‘The Tales of Jacob,’ is in its metaphysical sections based entirely on Goldberg’s book.”
Actually we know that Mann studied intensively under Goldberg while preparing the four novels and used more than Goldberg’s published words in his own writings. After directing his “pervasive irony” against Oskar Goldberg’s philosophy, Thomas Mann turned it on Goldberg, the man. As Scholem tells it, “(In ‘Dr. Faustus’) Goldberg appears as the scholar Dr. Chaim Breisacher, a kind of metaphysical super-Nazi who presents his magical racial theory largely in Goldberg’s own words.” According to a disciple of the philosopher, even though the Breisacher portrait was indeed very funny and accurate, Goldberg was not amused.
If Dan Jacobson, then, has given us “his own (my italics) highly individual understanding of the Bible,” Thomas Mann most certainly has not. He has, however, provided us with a literary rendition of the philosophy of Oskar Goldberg – not to mention a nasty sketch of the man – whose major works have never been translated and have virtually been forgotten even in the original German. JUDITH FRIEDLANDER Purchase, N.Y.
Metaphysical super-Nazi! Magical racial theories! Now that’s interesting; and also sounds rather Evolian. On the other hand, for Bruce Rosenstock, who is bringing those then-untranslated works to English readers:
Goldberg’s vitalist metaphysics of God as a living power challenges the mechanistic and reductionist scientific paradigm of the period and represents an imaginative approach to a “transcendental politics” that opposes the rising combination of biology and the nation-state in Germany.
A better-known doubling – since Mann himself commented on it in his Preface to the English translation of Demian, and Theodore Ziolkowski discusses it at some length in his Foreword to the English translation of The Glass Bead Game – is the resemblance between the latter book and Mann’s own Doctor Faustus, the writing of which was already underway in Los Angeles when Hesse’s book was published in Switzerland.
One, meaning myself, might wonder if there is any kind of Evola figure in The Glass Bead Game, as in Doctor Faustus. There is, I think, but only because there is a much more important parallel. The game in the Game itself shows Hesse attempting to come to terms with Evola’s notions of Order and Tradition.
Given their similar interests, from comparative mythology to “today’s youth,” it’s not surprising that each was aware – and wary – of the other.
In Ride the Tiger, Evola quotes twice from Hesse’s Steppenwolf, each time approvingly, or at least as examples of some trend of which he approves; first, the anti-bourgeois attitude that Evola flaunted from his own earliest youth:
A partly convergent testimony from another direction is that which Hermann Hesse puts into the mouth of one of his characters: “I’d rather feel burned by a diabolic pain than to live in these sanely temperate surroundings. A wild desire flares up in me for intense emotions, sensations, a rage against this whole toneless, flat, normal, sterilized life, and a wish to destroy something – perhaps a warehouse, a cathedral, or myself – and to commit outrageous follies. . . . This in fact is what I have always most hated, abhorred, and cursed: this satisfaction, this complacent healthiness, this plump bourgeois optimism, this life of the mediocre, normal, common man.”
Indeed, it’s not hard to imagine Evola himself writing such a screed.
A few pages later, Evola paraphrases Hesse on the perception of a lack of a stable ego or “soul” in modern man:
All this has long ceased to exist for modern Western man, and has long been “superseded” along the road of “liberty”; thus the average modern man is changeable, unstable, devoid of any real form. The Pauline and Faustian lament, “two souls, alas, live in my breast,” is already an optimistic assumption; all too many have to admit, like a typical character in Hesse, that they have a multitude of souls!
However “typical,” the “character in Hesse” is being described here from the “Treatise on the Steppenwolf” that in modernistic fashion interrupts the narrative in the novel, bringing in Evola-like wisdom of the East that deserves quotation at some length to show how profoundly Asian mythology has shaped Hesse’s thought:
The division into wolf and man, flesh and spirit, by means of which Harry tries to make his destiny more comprehensible to himself is a very great simplification. . . . For there is not a single human being, not even the primitive Negro, not even the idiot, who is so conveniently simple that his being can be explained as the sum of two or three principal elements; and to explain so complex a man as Harry by the artless division into wolf and man is a hopelessly childish attempt. Harry consists of a hundred or a thousand selves, not of two. His life oscillates, as everyone’s does, not merely between two poles, such as the body and the spirit, the saint and the sinner, but between thousands and thousands.
The delusion rests simply upon a false analogy. As a body everyone is single, as a soul never. In literature, too, even in its ultimate achievement, we find this customary concern with apparently whole and single personalities. . . . These conceptions are not native to us, but are merely picked up at second hand, and it is in them, with their common source in the visible body, that the origin of the fiction of an ego, an individual, is really to be found. There is no trace of such a notion in the poems of ancient India. The heroes of the epics of India are not individuals, but whole reels of individualities in a series of incarnations. . . . When Faust, in a line immortalized among schoolmasters and greeted with a shudder of astonishment by the Philistine, says: “Two souls, alas, do dwell within my breast!” he has forgotten Mephisto and a whole crowd of other souls that he has in his breast likewise. The Steppenwolf, too, believes that he bears two souls (wolf and man) in his breast and even so finds his breast disagreeably cramped because of them. The breast and the body are indeed one, but the souls that dwell in it are not two, nor five, but countless in number. Man is an onion made up of a hundred integuments, a texture made up of many threads. The ancient Asiatics knew this well enough, and in the Buddhist Yoga an exact technique was devised for unmasking the illusion of the personality. The human merry-go-round sees many changes: the illusion that cost India the efforts of thousands of years to unmask is the same illusion that the West has labored just as hard to maintain and strengthen.
Again, we see a passage Evola could easily have written.
Of course, these are two, somewhat random issues, and when we look at the whole of their work and lives, we can see many points of dissimilarity and even hostility. In the same book, Evola disparages “modern” art in these terms:
When speaking of modern art, the first thing to mention is its “intimate” quality, typical of a feminine spirituality that wants nothing to do with great historic and political forces; out of a morbid sensitivity it retreats into the world of the artist’s private subjectivity, valuing only the psychologically and aesthetically “interesting.” The works of Joyce, Proust and Gide mark the extreme of this tendency in literature.
Not many today would consider Hesse a “modernist,” but Mann, in his Introduction to Demian, makes that case, and uses Joyce and Gide as analogues to Hesse’s achievement:
And need it be stated that, as an experimental novel, Steppenwolf is no less daring than Ulysses and The Counterfeiters?
It’s interesting that Evola refers to “characters” of Hesse, rather than Hesse himself. Ziolkowski says that the “Hesse cult” has revolved around such “painfully humorless works” as Demian and Siddhartha,
In which readers have discovered an anticipation of their infatuation with Eastern mysticism, pacifism, the search for personal values, and revolt against the establishment.
Again, a pretty good description of the later Evola “cult,” but of course we’d have to switch out that bit about pacifism for something like “warlike Aryan values.” And of course, that’s a big difference. In the aftermath of the First World War, Hesse and Evola (who served in the Italian artillery) drew diametrically opposed conclusions; Hesse embraced and promoted pacifism, while Evola consistently denounced what he called “gutless conscientious objectors.”
All Quiet on the Western Front versus Storm of Steel – Jung vs. Jünger.
Sticking with the same book, it’s not hard to imagine a confrontation between Hesse and Evola resembling that between Harry and his old friend, a professor of comparative mythology. Again, it’s too rich to imagine it happening to avoid quoting at some length:
He too gave me a hearty welcome and the awkward comedy came to a beautiful climax. He was holding a newspaper to which he subscribed, an organ of the militarist and jingoist party, and after shaking hands he pointed to it and commented on a paragraph about a namesake of mine – a publicist called Haller, a bad fellow and a rotten patriot – who had been making fun of the Kaiser and expressing the view that his own country was no less responsible for the outbreak of war than the enemy nations. There was a man for you! The editor had given him his deserts and put him in the pillory. However, when the professor saw that I was not interested, we passed to other topics, and the possibility that this horrid fellow might be sitting in front of them did not even remotely occur to either of them. Yet so it was, I myself was that horrid fellow. Well, why make a fuss and upset people? I laughed to myself, but gave up all hope now of a pleasant evening. I have a clear recollection of the moment when the professor spoke of Haller as a traitor to his country. It was then that the horrid feeling of depression and despair which had been mounting in me and growing stronger and stronger ever since the burial scene condensed to a dreary dejection. It rose to the pitch of a bodily anguish, arousing within me a dread and suffocating foreboding. I had the feeling that something lay in wait for me, that a danger stalked me from behind.
Indeed, Harry the Steppenwolf proceeds to insult the wife of his host over her sentimental ideas about Goethe; accidentally, but all too honestly to withdraw his words.
“I sincerely beg your wife’s pardon and your own. Tell her, please, that I am a schizomaniac [sic]. And now, if you will allow me, I will take my leave.” To this he made objections in spite of his perplexity. He even went back to the subject of our former discussions and said once more how interesting and stimulating they had been and how deep an impression my theories about Mithras and Krishna had made on him at the time. He had hoped that the present occasion would have been an opportunity to renew these discussions. I thanked him for speaking as he did. Unfortunately, my interest in Krishna had vanished and also my pleasure in learned discussions. Further, I had told him several lies that day. . . . [I]t was my duty to inform him that he had grievously insulted me that evening. He had endorsed the attitude taken up by a reactionary paper towards Haller’s opinions; a stupid bull-necked paper, fit for an officer on half-pay, not for a man of learning. This bad fellow and rotten patriot, Haller, however, and myself were one and the same person, and it would be better for our country and the world in general, if at least the few people who were capable of thought stood for reason and the love of peace instead of heading wildly with a blind obsession for a new war. And so I would bid him good-bye. With that I got up and took leave of Goethe and of the professor.
Of course, Evola was certainly no philistine academic, or a run of the mill patriot or “jingoist”; and although he would have agreed that party newspapers were “stupid” and “bull-necked . . . fit for an officer on half-pay, not for a man of learning,” he was in favor of a return of the Prussian-style aristocratic ideal of politics; an idea to which we shall return.
What, then, of the Hesse side of the equation? Although I’ve been an assiduous reader of Hesse, from the latter part of what the NYT called the Hesse Phenomenon to the recently “rediscovered” novella In the Old Sun, and consumed some of the early critical books, I can’t say I’ve ever seen a comment on Evola therein.
In fact, the only reference I’ve found is provided in “Evola’s Political Endeavors,” Dr. H. T. Hansen’s Introduction to Men Among the Ruins, and which might be the germ of this essay. There, Dr. Hansen reports on a letter from Hesse to the publisher Peter Suhrkamp, dated April 27, 1935: “This dazzling and interesting, but very dangerous author,” a line that Inner Traditions later appropriated as a blurb for Ride the Tiger. Hansen adds:
Hesse then goes on to accuse Evola of dilettantism in esoteric matters, which seems unjustified considering the many competent and distinguished positive voices, such as C.G. Jung, Mircea Eliade, Giuseppe Tucci, and Marguerite Yourcenar. His works about Tantrism and Buddhism were even published in India, which is very rare for Western authors.
Amusingly enough, Hesse adds the following remark: “In Italy, almost no one will fall for him, but it will be different in Germany.”
Lastly, their postwar fates could not be more different. The world couldn’t wait to award the Nobel Prize to this “good German,” doing so in 1947 for The Glass Bead Game, which was published in Switzerland in 1943 and hastily – and poorly — translated into English in 1948. Although he subsequently published almost nothing and was largely forgotten, by the 1960s the Establishment, in the form of the NYT and others, applauded how his books had been taken up by “youth.” While I suppose Hesse never really benefited financially from this largely posthumous surge, he lived in quiet seclusion in his adopted Switzerland, no doubt enjoying the role of World Guru.
Evola, however, remained in an apartment in the capital of his native Italy. His publications, aimed at youth, were met with the full force of the state; rather than being lauded in the papers, he was put on trial, literally for “misleading youth,” à la Socrates (as would, he was happy to point out in his Auto-Defensa, every other significant Western thinker prior to the French Revolution, if they had lived in modern times).
However, it would be unfair – to Hesse! – to contrast his success to Evola’s relative obscurity, since the former was largely a manufactured phenomenon, based on certain books, and understood in a certain way. As Serrano says:
It is absolutely absurd to believe that Hermann Hesse “went out of fashion,” as if a writer for the youth of forty years ago. In reality, Hesse was brought artificially “into fashion” and was used precisely in order to disorientate the new generations of the fifties and sixties. I remember very well that Suhrkamp Verlag, Hermann Hesse’s German publisher, was under obligation to sell forty thousand copies of Hesse’ oeuvre every month and, to that end, resorted to all forms of publicity and pressurizing of the young generations of that time. It was thus that in the United States was transformed and falsified Hermann Hesse, making him appear a “hippie,” a proponent of drug abuse, et cetera.
The Establishment was quite happy to see the anti-war protestors morph into hippies after reading Siddhartha (now out of copyright, it easily dominates the reissues), moving off to communes to meditate. 
Though no doubt of a different orientation than Serrano himself, orthodox scholar Theodore Ziolkowski concurs on the limited and meretricious nature of the Hesse Boom:
The Glass Bead Game, then, is indispensable for a complete understanding of Hesse’s thought. It is possible to read Siddhartha as a self-centered pursuit of nirvana, but Joseph Knecht gives up his life out of a sense of commitment to a fellow human being. It is possible to see in Steppenwolf a heady glorification of hip or even hippie culture, but Joseph Knecht shows that the only true culture is that which responds to the social requirements of the times. The Glass Bead Game, finally, makes it clear that Hesse advocates thoughtful commitment over self-indulgent solipsism, responsible action over mindless revolt. For Joseph Knecht is no impetuous radical thrusting non-negotiable demands upon the institution and demanding amnesty from the consequences of his deeds. He attains through disciplined achievement the highest status in the Order and commits himself to action only after thoughtfully assessing its implications for Castalia and the consequences for himself. Above all – for the novel is not a philosophical tract or a political pamphlet, but a work of art – Hesse suggests that revolt need and violent, that indeed it is more effective when it is rational and ironic.
Hey, what’s wrong with being an “impetuous radical thrusting non-negotiable demands upon the institution and demanding amnesty from the consequences of his deeds”? A glance at today’s campuses shows what lessons “youth” took from Hesse; although after all, he’s just another dead White male, right?
So The Glass Bead Game is necessary as a corrective to the Hippie Hesse image formed from, and for, his ‘60s boom.
In fact, more essentially in terms of our theme, we can see a clear progression in the sequence of Hesse’s writing, from the Bildungsroman and its emphasis on the individual to the Bundennovellen, which takes its center of gravity from the idea of an Order.
One of the important discoveries Ziolkowski makes is that the spiritual progress of the protagonist in each novel continues where he left off in the successive novel (i.e. Demian develops into Siddhartha into the Steppenwolf into both Narcissus & Goldmund, into the realm of Castalia in The Glass Bead Game).
Hesse’s writing lodged itself from the start solidly in the Bildungsroman, or novel of education, tradition, a study of the protagonist’s development, mainly cultural. Hence, his novels tended to have po-faced titles taken directly from the main character, almost parody-like, such as Knulp or Gertrude; others more exotic, like the perennial potboiler Siddhartha or the teen fave Demian.
Steppenwolf already marks a change; there is a framing narrator, and the bulk of the novel, titled “Harry Haller’s Records,” is only a document within the book, which takes its title – Steppenwolf — from the narrator’s self-imposed nickname, which we will learn is really more of the name of a role he plays, reluctantly, within bourgeois society; the phantasmagorical last third drives home the message that one or even two selves (Harry and The Steppenwolf) is already a gross simplification of an endless stream of personalities.
Narcissus and Goldmund is something of a step back, but the banal back-and-forth chapter structure takes place within the context of a literal Order, as well as the relatively freer but still highly structured society of mediaeval times. By the time of The Journey to the East, Hesse has his new theme well in hand, basing himself not on the well-known Bildungsroman but the more esoteric Bundennovellen, of which Jean Paul’s The Invisible Order and parts of Wilhelm Meister are best known in English; both, of course, seminal influences on Hesse.
Though very different, The Journey to the East picks up where Siddhartha left off and captures a crucial transitional phase on the way to Castalia. Here, Hesse has actually defined his “Third Kingdom” (Third Reich – a term hijacked by the Nazis to Hesse’s chagrin when he stopped using the term), the realm of the spirit; which can only be reached through magical thinking.
1. Hermann Hesse, The Glass Bead Game, translated from the German Das Glasperlenspiel by Richard and Clara Winston, with a Foreword by Theodore Ziolkowski (New York: Bantam, 1970).
3. Jason Reza Jorjani, Prometheus and Atlas (London: Arktos, 2016).
4. Doctor Faustus: The Life of the German Composer Adrian Leverkühn as Told by a Friend (New York: Knopf, 1999).
5. As I described it before: “This was a milieu . . . where the intellectual extremism and atavistic primitivism (as Mann sees it) that led to the rise of Hitler is explored through a series of grotesque figures in ‘the Kridwiss Circle,’ such as the painter Baptist Spengler (Spengler having thought painting an impossible art under modern circumstances), Daniel zur Höhe (author of a single book, on “hand-made paper”; a “lyrico-rhetorical outburst of voluptuous terrorism”; Stefan George?), and my own role model, the polymath “private scholar” Dr. Chaim Breisacher (a “corrosively ugly” Jewish Evola, sneering at the very idea of “progress” in a world declining since Solomon built his temple).” See my “Forward — Into the Past! Circling the Cosmos with Herr Prof. Dr. Ludwig Klages.”
6. The New York Times, Letter to the Editor, Dec. 19, 1983.
7.Announcement of a lecture, “Bioengineering God.” See now Transfinite Life: Oskar Goldberg and the Vitalist Imagination (Indiana, 2017).
8. Published by Holt in 1948, later as a Bantam paperback in 1966.
9. Ride the Tiger (Rochester, Vt: Inner Traditions, 2003), p. 25.
10. Ibid, p. 45.
11. In the first editions, the text of this Treatise, supposedly handed to Harry Haller by a carnie, yet seeming to him to acutely diagnose his psychological state, was separately printed and bound into the text of the novel itself.
12. Hesse, Steppenwolf, pp. 57-60.
13. Ride the Tiger, p. 153.
14. Demian, p. ix of the Bantam edition.
15. The Glass Bead Game, p. viii of the Bantam edition.
16. “Despite any antimilitaristic propaganda culminating in the shallow, spineless, and gutless ‘conscientious objectors,’ there is a heroic dimension in the Western soul that cannot be totally extirpated. Maybe it is still possible to appeal to this dimension through an adequate view of life.” Men Among the Ruins (Rochester, Vt: Inner Traditions, 2002), Chapter 9, “Military Style – ‘Militarism’ – War.”
17. Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1963), p. 80.
18. Hesse, Steppenwolf, pp. 82-83.
19. Again, a bourgeois class Evola always “professed” to despise, declining to take a degree and even giving away his books so as not to accumulate a library.
20. See his views on Fascism – Fascism Viewed from the Right (London: Arktos, 2013) and especially National Socialism – Notes on the Third Reich (London: Arktos, 2013). See also H. T. Hansen’s “Julius Evola’s Political Endeavours,” published as the Introduction to the English edition of Men Among the Ruins, op. cit.
21. In contemplating Evola and Hesse on war, I am again reminded of a book I’ve referred to several times in other contexts, The Same Man, which expounds the idea that Orwell and Waugh shared the same view “against the modern world,” while differing in the remedy: an atheistic socialist future, or a return to mediaeval Catholicism and feudalism.
22. Most paperback covers in the ‘60s-‘70s claimed that “The Hesse Phenomenon ‘has turned into a vogue, the vogue into a torrent. . . . He has appealed both to . . . an underground and to an establishment . . . and to the disenchanted young sharing his contempt for our industrial civilization.”—The New York Times Book Review, date unknown.
23. Hermann Hesse on Evola, letter to Peter Suhrkamp, April 27, 1935; quoted from the jacket of Julius Evola, Ride the Tiger.
24. Men Among the Ruins, op. cit., p. 99. Evola certainly had his greatest political influence in Italy, where he found protection from the bully boys through certain elements in the Party, while Mussolini himself had a superstitious dread of the “magician” Evola; see Renato del Ponte’s Preface to the English translation of Introduction to Magic (Rochester, Vt: Inner Traditions, 2001), as well as Hansen’s “Julius Evola’s Political Endeavors,” pp. 46-57. On the other hand, Evola was persona non grata in the Third Reich. Just as proponents of a Master Race tend to believe they belong to it, and Traditionalists imagine themselves as wise Brahmins, those who advocate an Evola “style” rule by a uniformed “elite” should reflect on how Evola’s influence was stymied by Himmler’s reliance on the flim-flam man Karl Maria Wiligut, aka Himmler’s guru “Weisthor”; see Hansen, pp. 62-69 and Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, The Occult Roots of Nazism (New York: New York University Press, 2004), pp. 189-190. Ironically, it was Weisthor who was instrumental in setting up the whole Ordensburg, or Order Castle system that, as we’ll see, was of considerable interest to Evola; see Stephen Flowers and Michael Moynihan, The Secret King: The Myth and Reality of Nazi Occultism (Los Angeles, Ca.: Feral House, 2007), pp. 49ff.
25. Translated as the Appendix to Men Among the Ruins, op. cit.
26. By contrast, Evola personally attempted to “orient” postwar youth; see his Orientations (1950).
27. Serrano, “The Falsification of Hermann Hesse.”
28. An idea, for what it’s worth, that continues to be popular among the conspiracy-minded.
29. Pp. xiv-xv of the Bantam edition.
30. Apparently, all those white folks on those white Bantam covers were drawn by some white artist in Maine, using his own family as models; including, I guess, the King Ginger on the GBG cover. And that chapter about the scholar who goes “native” and retires to a Taoist-inspired hut and garden – cultural appropriation at its worst!
31. Nelson reviewing Theodore Ziolkowski’s insightful study of Hesse, The Novels of Hermann Hesse (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1965). Actually, Dr. Timothy Leary makes the same point in “Poet of the Interior Journey” (Psychedelic Review, No.3, 1966, reprinted in The Politics of Ecstasy, 1970); he lists the novels and adds: “. . . different versions of spiritual autobiography, different maps for the interior path. Each new step revises the picture of all the previous steps; each experience opens up new worlds of discovery in a constant effort to communicate the vision.”
32. It’s easily the most boring of the major works, though the always perverse John Simon maintained it was the best.
33. Another anomaly among the titles, his second book, Beneath the Wheel, also takes place within a seminary-type school.
34. “The Bundesroman is German for the lodge or ‘league novel,’ a style popularized in the latter half of the 18th century when secret orders such as the Masons were emerging in response to an un-invigorating status quo. . . . The common theme is a secret society with a hierarchy of orders similar to the Rosicrucians. There is a Superior who represents the spiritual ideals of the order whose seat is in some mysterious castle or building with archives and secret chambers.–From Christopher Nelson’s review of Hesse’s Journey to the East on Amazon. A lengthier description of this type of novel as it related to Journey to the East can be found in Theodore Ziolkowski’s study, op. cit. See also Hermann Hesse: Life and Art by Joseph Mileck, p. 221. Recent books in the Dan Brown genre might be considered an example of Marx’s “repetition as farce,” although it might make me sound like a prickly defender of the Lord of the Rings genre, and even Germanists refer to the genre as Trivialroman.
35. Nelson, op. cit.
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