Demian, Jungian novel of Hermann Hesse

Demian (1919) German novelist Hermann Hesse (1877-1962) is a work ‘magic’ by Maurice Blanchot ( The Book to Come , portfolio tests, p 233).

The author of Steppenwolf here tells the story of Emile Sinclair as the ‘Bildungsroman’ (bildungsroman) basking in psychoanalysis and allegory.

The reader follows the story both naive and this strange boy in search of himself, which meets significant individuals who help build a ‘me’: fascinating Demian ( daimon , demon or inner voice ), his mother Eve, organist and theologian Pistorius. Through the study of dreams, the analysis of his drawings, his introduction to religions and sects (related to followers of Cain ), acceptance of a world that unites good and evil (darkness to light , Jehovah to Abraxas ), the acquisition of concepts in meditation and concentration, Sinclair becomes a sort of ‘seeing’. Demian tells mostly self-realization, a painful rebirth still allowing access to a full life fruitful.

Hesse why he wrote this novel? What is the genesis? In 1914, German author retired to Switzerland, escaping any military obligation. Undergoing a profound existential crisis-related death of his father, his son Martin disease and schizophrenia crises of his wife, he indulges in psychoanalysis and became the student and patient of Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) – just as Rilke and Kafka reject this practice. This painful work continues from May 1916 to November 1917. In October, Hesse writes Demian in three weeks. The book will be published after the war in 1919.

At the same time, Carl Gustav Jung continued his research on the collective unconscious, archetypes and libido and published in 1919 (the year of his break with Freud) Metamorphoses of the soul and its symbols (paperback). In 1917/1918, Jung discovered the existence of such a central symbol, the mandala. In his autobiography My Life (Folio, p 525), we read: “The mandala is an archetypal image whose existence is verifiable through centuries and millennia. It means all of the Self, which shows the entire foundation of the soul – mythically speaking, the manifestation of the divinity incarnate in man ‘ .

One can for example see how the issue of religious symbols and designs like the mandala has profoundly influenced Hermann Hesse during his work with Jung, as well as the analysis of dreams. In Demian, found it through obsessive drawings made ​​by Sinclair, which keeps returning the ovoid shape of the egg from which eradicates the bird so full of meaning for him (as an obligation to pay) or the face Demian / Eve he likes to paint continuously (these two forms are similar mandalas most common in all cultures). Sinclair finds here his soul through the creation (drawing), covering the symbols of the collective imagination and universal, so dear to the eyes of Jung. We can still think of the figure of the bird that is prominent in the novel Hesse. We know that Jung associated with his work on the imagination and symbols of the unconscious birds Egyptian mythologies of the soul, Chaldean or Maui (New Zealand). But I digress from the main subject here.

More specifically, I believe that Jung found in Hesse’s novel in the guise of Pistorius (name borrowed definitely Johann Pistorius, a German theologian and cabalist, 1546-1608), professor at Sinclair universal religions and symbols the unconscious and the soul they contain. P 124: ” All the gods, all the demons were worshiped once, either by the Greeks, the Chinese and the Kaffirs, all we are, all are there in the form of opportunities, desires, means . ‘ Here we find the notion of the collective unconscious which Jung was the creator. You can also read (p 125): ‘ Often we told our dreams. Pistorius knew interpret. ” But a little later in the text, we glimpse the rift between the patient and the analyst (a phenomenon of cons-transfer): ‘Slowly, a sense of resistance against Pistorius arose in me . Sinclair-Hesse puts an end to the analysis with Jung Pistorius: ‘Pistorius, I say suddenly with a malice that surprised me and scared me myself, you should again tell me a dream, a dream come true you have made ​​the night. What you’re talking to me feels so terribly antique shop ‘ .

Despite their breakup, Jung and Hesse parallel pursued the same objective, that of raising their soul through their creations. This quote from Jung (4th Cover My Life ) could just as well belong to Hesse: ‘My life is the story of an unconscious that has made ​​its own realization . ” As for Hesse, his sentence could also have been made ​​by Jung: ‘The life of every man is a path to self, test a path, a path sketch’ . Not surprising that these two great authors are still considered ‘blind’ or ‘guides’ spiritual for many readers …