Hermann Hesse (1877-1962) was probably the most famous and most widely-read German author in America in the 1960s, although he was virtually unknown until he received the Nobel prize for literature in 1946. Today, his work continues to enjoy waves of popularity. Influenced by German Romanticism and late nineteenth-century aestheticism, Hesse was ultimately most celebrated for the novels Siddhartha (1922), Steppenwolf (1927), and Narcissus and Goldmund (1930), all of which emphasize the split between the worlds of the flesh and the mind. Hesse strives through his work to effect a reconciliation between these two sides to every person, always with the aspiration of transcending the realm of the individual man and entering the dominion of the universal spirit.
Siddhartha is legitimately the most famous, and the popular favorite, of all Hesses works, and is the novel that inducted him into the flower-power hall of fame, making its author a hero of counter-culture. It was first translated and published in America at the end of the 1950s by New Directions, a publishing company connected with the growing Beat movement and famous for discovering other renowned Beat writers such as Ferringhetti and Kerouac. The theme of the novel–the universal desire and quest
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