Demian

Demian: The Story of Emil Sinclair's Youth (1919) by Hermann Hesse

  • Each man had only one genuine vocation - to find the way to himself. He might end up as a poet or madman, as prophet or criminal - that was not his affair, ultimately it was of no concern. His task was to discover his own destiny - not an arbitrary one - and live it out wholly and resolutely within himself. Everything else was would-be existence, an attempt at evasion, a flight back to the ideals of the masses, conformity and fear of one's own inwardness.
  • (from the Prologue) "But every man is more than just himself; he also represents the unique, the very special and always significant and remarkable point at which the world's phenomena intersect, only once in this way and never again. That is why every man's story is important, eternal, sacred; that is why every man, as long as he lives and fulfills the will of nature, is wondrous, and worthy of consideration."
  • I was only trying to live my life in accordance with the principles which sprang from my own true self. Why was that so very difficult?
  • He who wants to be born must destroy a world.
  • In each individual the spirit is made flesh, in each one the whole of creation suffers, in each one a Savior is crucified.
  • If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us.
  • One never reaches home, but wherever friendly paths intersect the whole world looks like home for a time.
  • Only the ideas we actually live are of any value.
  • Each of us has to find out for ourselves what is permitted and what is forbidden--forbidden for him. It's possible for one never to transgress a single law and still be a bastard. And vice versa. Actually, it's only a question of convenience. Those who are too lazy and comfortable to think for themselves and be their own judges obey the rules. Others sense their own laws within them; things are forbidden in them that every honorable man will do in any day of the year, and other things are allowed to them that are generally despised. Each person must stand on his own feet.
  • Gaze into the fire, into the clouds, and as soon as the inner voices begin to speak surrender to them, don't ask first whether it's permitted or would please your teachers or father, or some god. You will ruin yourself if you do that.
  • Live those dreams, play with them, build altars to them. It is not yet the ideal, but it points in the right direction.
  • The things we see are the same things that are within us. There is no reality except the one contained within us. That is why so many people live such an unreal life. They take the images outside them for reality and never allow the world within to assert itself. You can be happy that way. But once you know the other interpretation you no longer have the choice of following the crowd. Sinclair, the majority's path is an easy one, ours is difficult.
  • I live in my dreams... Other people live in dreams, but not in their own. That's the difference.
  • I belong to my fate and to no one else.
  • A stone had been dropped into the well, the well was my youthful soul. And for a very long time this matter of Cain, the fratricide, and the 'mark' formed the point of departure for all my attempts at comprehension, my doubts and my criticism.
  • You knew all along that your sanctioned world was only half the world and you tried to suppress the second half the way the priests and teachers do. You won't succeed. No one succeeds in this once he has begun to think.
  • Suddenly, a new image had risen up before me, a lofty and cherished image. And no need, no urge was as deep or as fervent within me as the craving to worship and admire. I gave her the name Beatrice.
  • We who bore the mark, felt no anxiety about the shape the future was to take. All of these faiths and teachings seemed to us already dead and useless. The only duty and destiny we acknowledged was that each one of us should become so completely himself, so utterly faithful to the active seed which nature planted within him, that in living out its growth he could be surprised by nothing unknown to come.
  • Perhaps you'll need me again sometime, against Kromer or something. If you call me then I won't come crudely, on horseback or by train. You'll have to listen within yourself, then you will notice that I am within you.
Last modified on 28 October 2011, at 07:36