A powerful new translation of Nobel Prize winner Hermann Hesse’s masterpiece of youthful rebellion—with a foreword and cover art by James Franco A young man awakens to selfhood and to a world of possibilities beyond the conventions of his upbringing in Nobel Prize winner Hermann Hesse’s beloved novel Demian. Emil Sinclair is a quiet boy drawn into a forbidden yet seductive realm of petty crime and defiance. His guide is his precocious, mysterious classmate Max Demian, who provokes in Emil a search for self-discovery and spiritual fulfillment. A brilliant psychological portrait, Demian is given new life in this translation, which together with James Franco’s personal and inspiring foreword will bring a new generation to Hesse’s widely influential coming-of-age novel. For more than sixty-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
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Herman Hesse is a German author who is best known for his novel Siddhartha. Hesse's works explore themes of spirituality and self-identity. (This annotation contains an image)
CHAPTER ONE: Two Worlds
This novel begins with a flashback. Flashbacks give the reader a glimpse into a character's past, which often provides the reader with important context for what is to occur later in the story. To learn more about flashbacks, please watch the video below! (This annotation contains a video)
What can you infer about the narrator's character?
This passage is loaded with tension. Tension occurs when the mood of a story is intensified, and it helps to move the plot along and keep readers engaged. To learn more about tension, please watch the video below! (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following does NOT contribute to the tension in this scene?
There have been many allusions to religion in the first few pages of this novel. The narrator swears by God and everything holy, and he hopes to absolve his sins by confessing to his father, to name two examples. As you read, keep your eyes peeled for other references to Christianity or religion in general.
How old do you think the narrator is when he is telling this story? It is clear that this flashback takes us to when he was a fairly young boy, but how much time do you think has passed between this memory and the present? Use textual evidence to back up your guess.
This sentence contains figurative language. Figurative language is when words or phrases are not meant to be interpreted literally. In this case, Kromer's whistle does not literally force its way into the narrator's life and mind, it does so figuratively. Authors use figurative language to make their writing more expressive, and to create images in the minds of their readers. To learn more about figurative and literal language, please watch the video below! (This annotation contains a video)
What is the source of the narrator's agony?
CHAPTER TWO: Cain
The story of Cain and Abel appears in the Old Testament. Cain and Abel are brothers, born to Adam and Eve. Both brothers make offerings to the Lord, and when the Lord favors Abel's, Cain becomes jealous. In the end, Cain commits the first act of murder in the Bible (and, according to the Bible, in the whole world), killing Abel. This story is allegorical, of course, and it also plays into the themes of good versus evil and light verses dark that are beginning to emerge in "Demian." (This annotation contains an image)
This conversation hinges on one of the novel's central themes: good versus evil. A theme is a main idea or concept that an author wants to get across to his or her readers. Keep this theme in mind as you continue to read, and be on the lookout for emerging themes as the novel progresses. To learn more about theme, please watch the video below! (This annotation contains a video)
How does the narrator's understanding of good versus evil compare to that of Demian's? Is there any overlap in their perspectives? Use textual evidence to back up your claims.
At this point in the story, it is clear that the narrator is the novel's protagonist, or main character. It is also clear that Kromer plays an antagonistic role- he is an obstacle in the way of the protagonist's success and well-being. But what about Demian? Is he a force for good or a force for evil? Please consider this question as you watch the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
How does the author illustrate the narrator's feelings of helplessness?
Which of the following lists of adjectives best describes Demian's character?
Just for visual reference, this is what a loden coat looks like. Originally from Austria, loden coats are often blue-green in color and are designed to be warm and water resistant. (This annotation contains an image)
This sentence contains a simile. A simile is a literary device in which two things are compared to one another, using the words "like" or "as." Here, the narrator's feeling of relief is compared to a sweet, strong breeze. Please watch the video below to learn more about similes and another similar literary device, the metaphor. (This annotation contains a video)
Please compare and contrast Rudyard Kipling's portrayal of both Cain and Abel with Demian's. Use Kipling's poem (in the annotation above) and textual evidence from this book to back up your claims.
Please read the poem "Cain and Abel" by Rudyard Kipling via the link below. Be prepared to discuss what you have read in the following question. (This annotation contains a link)
CHAPTER THREE: The Thief on the Cross
Use the Define feature to read the definition of supercilious. Which of the following words is an antonym (opposite in meaning) of supercilious as it is used here?
Cain and Abel are becoming a sort of thread that runs through the entire story. When one image or idea is repeated throughout a novel it is called a motif. Motifs play an important role in texturing a work of literature, and they serve as reminders of connections between one part of a work and another. To learn more about motifs, please watch the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following literary devices appears in this paragraph?
Notice what this short paragraph reveals about the narrator. He is repressed- he either fears or is embarrassed of admitting what he desires. He is also passive. Instead of actively talking to Demian about his desires or his struggles to direct his will, he simply says nothing because Demian doesn't ask.
How are Demian and the narrator's world views different?
The Last Supper refers to the last meal Jesus shared with his apostles in Jerusalem before being crucified by the Romans. The picture below is a restoration of Leonardo da Vinci's depiction of the Last Supper. Jesus sits in the middle and his disciples are seated around him. (This annotation contains an image)
CHAPTER FOUR: Beatrice
What is the impact of the author's choice to have Sinclair describe his social isolation and lack of popularity in school, but not tell any specific stories that illustrate these things?
Heinrich Heine was a German poet and literary critic. He is best known for his written wit and his radical politics. (This annotation contains an image)
What can you infer about Sinclair from this statement?
What do you make of the fact that Sinclair doesn't reveal the entire name of his school? It is obviously "Saint---," like "Saint Mark's" or "Saint Catherine's," but that full name is never explicitly said. Does Sinclair do this because he wants it to seem like this story could happen anywhere? Is it another way of undermining religion? What are your theories?
This fragment contains a literary device called litote. Litotes are when negative language is used to evoke an understated but positive sentiment. For example, saying that a meal was "not bad" is a litote which means that your meal was good. If you were to say you were "not unfamiliar" with a certain genre of music, that would mean that you actually are familiar with it. In this case, Sinclair is "not unsatisfied" with his painting, meaning that he likes it. See some common litotes below. (This annotation contains an image)
Based on Sinclair's descriptions of the portrait before he identifies it as Demian, what do you learn about Demian's character?
Note Demian's psychological approach to Sinclair's drinking. Psychology has a major role in this novel, from depictions of Sinclair's development and angst to Demian's thoughts on free will and on reading people. Hermann Hesse, the author, underwent psychoanalysis himself, and his interest in the human mind is apparent in many of his novels. (This annotation contains an image)
The coat of arms above Sinclair's door is an example of a _____ in this novel.
CHAPTER FIVE: The Bird Fights Its Way Out of the Egg
Herotodus was a Greek historian who lived in the fifth century BCE. He is considered the "father of history" for having been one of the first people to organize and write out historical information. His most famous collection, called "The Histories" was of course written in ancient Greek, and it was common for scholars of Greek to work on translating it, as Sinclair is doing here. (This annotation contains an image)
How would Demian likely analyze the situation described in this paragraph?
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer and musician. He wrote music for the organ and piano, in addition to chamber music and pieces for entire orchestras. A lot of Bach's pieces are secular, but many of them are religious, as well. Click on the video below to hear a brief organ fugue composed by Bach! (This annotation contains a video)
Virtually every face that Sinclair describes in this book contains elements of both masculinity and femininity. Which of the novel's themes does this relate to?
The highlighted statement is an example of
Dietrich Buxtehude was a Danish-German organist and composer who lived in the late seventeenth century. He composed music in the Baroque style, which is characterized by frills and ornamentation. Please listen to a short sample of Buztehude's music via the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
You may have picked up on the fact that Sinclair's dreams are symbolic. What do you think this uncontrolled flight is a metaphor for? Use textual evidence to back up your claims.
CHAPTER SIX: Jacob Wrestles with the Angel
Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, would have had a lot to say about Sinclair's dreams. His sex dream, in particular, touches upon Freud's thoughts on psychosexual development. According to Freud, children often want to possess their parent of the opposite sex. Freud's Oedipus Complex explains that male children may subconsciously be sexually attracted to their mothers. The Oedipus Complex gets its name from the mythical Greek character Oedipus, who in fact murdered his father and married his own mother (unknowingly). (This annotation contains an image)
In what ways are Pistorius and Demian similar? How are these two characters different? Use textual evidence to back up your claims.
A theosophist is a person who practices theosophy, which is a philosophy which seeks to understand the nature of divinity, human life and the world. (This annotation contains an image)
What is the mood of this passage?
The Vedas are ancient Indian texts, written in Sanskrit. The word "veda" means "knowledge," and the Vedas are fundamental texts in the Hindu religion. The Vedas reveal fundamental truths, and instruct Hindus how to practice their religion. (This annotation contains an image)
Given what you know about Pistorius and his relationship with Sinclair, why would this comment be seen as particularly hurtful? Use textual evidence to back up your claims.
This paragraph touches on the notions of static and dynamic characters. Static characters remain more or less the same over the course of a work. In this case, Pistorius is something of a static character- he has not changed with the times. Sinclair's betrayal of Pistorius shows the reader just how much he has changed over the course of their friendship. Sinclair is a great example of a dynamic character- a character who changes and develops over time. Watch the video below to learn more about static and dynamic characters. (This annotation contains a video)
CHAPTER SEVEN: Eve
What is the mood of this passage?
Hermann Hesse greatly admired Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche was a German philosopher who wrote critically about religion, morality and science. (This annotation contains an image)
This novel was written and set in the early twentieth century. How does Demian's assessment of the state of the world compare to Carl Sandburg's commentary on twentieth century Chicago? Cite evidence from both texts in your response.
Please read Carl Sandburg's poem "Chicago" via the link below. Be prepared to compare Sandburg's outlook to Demian's. (This annotation contains a link)
Nature is personified in this sentence. Personification is when human traits are given to non-human beings or objects. In this case, describing nature as "waiting, standing worshipfully ready" is personification. To learn more about personification, please watch the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
Does Sinclair's experience support this statement?
In a novel that deals as seriously with religion as this one does, it is safe to assume that Demian's mother's name is a biblical reference. Eve is the original human woman from the Old Testament, who lived in (and was cast out of) the garden of Eden. The fact that Demian's mother shares a name with this fantastically important biblical character should be weighed carefully. What does Demian's mother represent? What does this name symbolize? (This annotation contains an image)
What is implied by this description of Eve?
The literary term for a story like this is an anecdote. Anecdotes are short, often witty stories that illustrate some idea that is related to the plot of a larger story. In this case, Eve's anecdote relates to Sinclair's desires for Eve, and his trepidation about acting on them.
In what ways is Sinclair mature? In what ways is he still childlike? Use textual evidence to back up your claims.
What do you make of Demian's dream? What do dreams in general portend or symbolize in this novel?
CHAPTER EIGHT: The Beginning of the End
How does this paragraph relate to Sinclair's emotional past? What stage(s) of his life does this harken back to? Does this paragraph illustrate change, or has Sinclair remained fundamentally the same, when it comes to his emotions?
Keep in mind that this novel was written during World War One. As such, it is likely that the war Demian speaks of is, in fact, the first World War. Hermann Hesse himself spoke out against the war and German involvement, an act which engendered a lot of criticism from his native country. As you continue to read, observe Demian and Sinclair's reactions to the impending war. Do they have similar perspectives, or do they differ?
What are these "stars" that shoot at Sinclair?
Wow! The one thing Sinclair and Demian never discuss- Franz Kromer- is finally coming up now. Unfortunately, Demian still does not explain what he did to make Kromer leave Sinclair alone. Why do you think Demian brings Kromer up, if he is not going to reveal this secret? How does this reference affect the tone of this encounter?
What is the effect of ending the novel without having concluded the war?