Dostoevsky and Hermann Hesse: Analogies and Congruences

Posted: August 27, 2007 in Dostoevsky, Hermann Hesse

Hermann Hesse was strongly influenced by Dostoevsky’s artistic method, especially by his treatment of the fragmentation of the human personality and his portrayal of the decaying West. Their novels depict the tragedy of intellect – man’s problematic exist-ence taking place amidst the silent loneliness and disharmony characteristic of a diseased city, of modern culture, civilization, philosophy, and industrialization. Both writers believed that a “new man” would replace that educated individual whose reason cannot free itself from the problems and dilemmas it creates. This “new man” would unite Europe and Russia into one organic whole by revealing the nature of true, “active” love. Dostoevsky and Hesse insisted that salvation could be attained only through inner struggle and profound suffering. In their respective works, ey portrayed a progression from a state of internal chaos to the realization of the many polarities existing in man, culminating in a spiritual metamorphosis through man’s acceptance of his chaotic nature. The belief in an ultimate unity and harmony underlies the philosophies of both Dostoevsky and Hesse. It is toward this harmonious totality of all things and beings that man must always strive. Dostoevsky and Hesse considered it their responsibility to point to this ideal realm as the only way out of the spiritual and emotional impasse characteristic of their times, when traditional concepts and old beliefs and values were rejected. Both writers ardently advocated the advent of the Third Kingdom of the Spirit, in which all nations would form one family, perfect harmony would be established, and all concepts of good and evil would dis- appear of their own accord.

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