[Carl Jung’s letter to Hermann Hesse on “Demian.”]
1. To Hermann Hesse
Dear Herr Hesse, 3 December 1919
I must send you my most cordial thanks for your masterly as well as veracious book: Demian.
I know it is very immodest and officious of me to break through your pseudonym; but, while reading the book, I had the feeling that it must somehow have reached me via Lucerne.
Although I failed to recognize you in the Sinclair sketches in the Neue Zurcher Zeitung.
I always wondered what sort of person Sinclair must be, because his psychology seemed to me so remarkable.
Your book came at a time when, once again, I was oppressed by the darkened consciousness of modern man, and by his hopeless bigotry, as Sinclair was by little Knauer.
Hence your book hit me like the beam of a lighthouse on a stormy night.
A good book, like every proper human life, must have an ending.
Yours has the best possible ending, where everything that has gone before runs truly to its end, and everything with which the book began begins over again-with the birth and awakening of the new man.
The Great Mother is impregnated by the loneliness of him that seeks her.
In the shell burst she bears the “old” man into death, and implants in the new the everlasting monad, the mystery of individuality.
And when the renewed man reappears the mother reappears too-in a woman on this earth.
I could tell you a little secret about Demian of which you became the witness, but whose meaning you have concealed from the reader and perhaps also from yourself.
I could give you some very satisfying information about this, since I have long been a good friend of Demian’s and he has recently initiated me into his private affairs-under the seal of deepest secrecy.
But time will bear out these hints for you in a singular way.
I hope you will not think I am trying to make myself interesting by mystery-mongering; my amor fati is too sacred to me for that.
I only wanted, out of gratitude, to send you a small token of my great respect for your fidelity and veracity, without which no man can have such apt intuitions.
You may even be able to guess what passage in your book I mean.
I immediately ordered a copy of your book for our Club library.
It is sound in wind and limb and points the way.
I beg you not to think ill of me for my invasion. No one knows of it.
Very sincerely and with heartfelt thanks,
C.G. Jung ~C.G. Jung, Letters Volume 1, Pages 573-574.
2. To Hermann Hesse
Dear Herr Hesse, 1 October 1934
Best thanks for your detailed answer!
Naturally we shouldn’t quarrel about words.
Nevertheless I would note in all humility that the expression “sublimation” is not appropriate in the case of the artist because with him it is not a question of transfom1ing a primary instinct but rather of a primary instinct (the artistic instinct) gripping the whole personality to such an extent that all other instincts are in abeyance, thus giving rise to the work of divine perfection.
Excuse this terminological hair-splitting, but we have to deal with a wicked world in which innumerable flies get caught in the cobwebs of concepts.
With best regards,
C.G. Jung ~C.G. Jung, Letters Volume 1, Pages 173-174.
3. To: Hermann Hesse 28 January 1922
Heartiest thanks for you beautiful poems, and at the same time congratulations on their publication.
I see from the papers that you have given the Hottingen Literature Fraternitya touch of the horrors
with your far-ranging autobiography.
Who is the literary reporter on the N.Z.Z. anyway?
He is the possessor of a truly lamentable style.
In my thoughts I bad to pity you for this, but I hope the sun of Montagnola will rapidly bleach away these cisalpine vulgarities.
For a person like me, who never reads poetry, your poems are simply beautiful.
With best greetings,
4. To Hermann Hesse
Dear Herr Hesse, 18 September 1934
Thank you for your letter and enclosures.
I am much amused that you think I have ”become professoria.”
Evidently have success fully deceived even your eagle eye.
One must have a good exterior ”dans ce meilleur des mondes possibles”; for there is no point in having none.
Pearls should not be cast before swine.
You do me an injustice with your remarks on sublimation.
It is not from resentment that I fight this idea, but from copious experience of patients (and doctors too) who shirk
the difficulty every time and “sublimate,” i.e., simply repress.
Sublimatio is part of the royal art where the true gold is made.
Of this Freud knows nothing, worse still, he barricades all the paths that could lead to the true sublimatio.
This is just about the opposite of what Freud understands by sublimation.
It is not a voluntary and forcible channeling of instinct into a spurious field of application, but an alchymical transformation
for which fire and the black prima materia are needed.
Sublimatio is a great mystery. Freud has appropriated this concept and usurped it for the sphere of the will and the bourgeois, rationalistic
Anathema sit! But who understands any of these things today?
Therefore they remain in darkness,
With best regards,
5. To Hermann Hesse
Dear Herr Hesse, 27 October 1936
Best thanks for kindly sending me “Josef Knecht’s Dream.”
Is it a dream? And who is the dreamer?
Excuse this question of a psychologist who, deeply impressed by the beauty of the form and content, cannot suppress his curiosity.
But you need not answer the question.
With best greetings,
6. To Emanuel Maier
Dear Professor Maier, 24 March 1950
I must apologize for the long delay in answering your letter of January 16th.
I’m a very busy man and suffer from an overwhelming correspondence which I’m hardly able to cope with.
I know Hesse’s work and I know him personally.
I knew the psychiatrist who treated him.
He died several years ago.
Through him Hesse received some influences originating in my work (which show for instance in Demian, Siddhartha, and Steppenwolf ).
It was about that time (1916) that I made Hesse’s personal acquaintance.
The psychiatrist was Dr. J. B. Lang.
He was a very curious, though extremely learned man, who had studied oriental languages (Hebrew, Arabic, and Syrian) and was particularly interested in Gnostic speculation.
He got from me a considerable amount of knowledge concerning Gnosticism which he also transmitted to Hesse.
From this material he wrote his Demian.
The origin of Siddhartha and Steppenwolf is of a more hidden nature.
They are-to a certain extent the direct or indirect results of certain talks I had with Hesse.
I’m unfortunately unable to say how much he was conscious of the hints and implications which I let him have.
I’m not in a position to give you full information, since my knowledge is strictly professional.
I have never done any systematic work on any of Hesse’s novels.
It would be, I admit, an interesting psychological study, particularly from the standpoint of my theoretical conceptions.
It is possible for anyone sufficiently aware of my work to make the necessary applications.
Unfortunately my time doesn’t allow me to go into detail, because this would amount to a new dissertation which would demand
an extra amount of work which I’m not able to produce.
I should be very much interested to know about the results of your researches.
7. To Hermann Hesse
Dear Herr Hesse, 19 August 1950
Among the many messages and signs my 75th birthday brought me, it was your greeting that surprised and delighted me most.
I am especially grateful for your Morgenlandfahrt,l which I have set aside to read at a quiet moment.
Since my birthday, however, this quiet moment still hasn’t arrived, for I am swamped with a flood of letters and visitors beyond my control.
At my age it means going “slow and with care,” nor is my working capacity what it was, especially when you have all sorts of things on your programme which you want to bring to the light of day.
I have made a late start with them, which may well be due to the difficulty of the themes that have dropped into my head.
Allow me to reciprocate your gift with a specimen of my latest publications bordering on the domain of literature.
Meanwhile you too have moved up into the higher age bracket and so will be in a position to empathize with my preoccupations.
With best thanks,
To Hermann Hesse
8. From Hermann Hesse to Emanuel Maier
Dear Mr. Maier, (? April 1950]
Being a friend of discretion, I have not opened Jung’s letter.
In 1916 I underwent an analysis with a doctor friend of mine who was in part a pupil of Jung’s.
At that time I became acquainted with Jung’s early work, the Wandlungen der Libido, which made an impression on me.
I also read later books by Jung, but only until around 1922 because thereafter analysis did not greatly interest me.
I have always had respect for Jung, but his works did not make such strong impressions on me as did those of Freud.
Jung will already have written you that, in connection with an evening of readings I gave as the guest of Jung’s Zurich Club, I also had several analytic sessions with him around 1921.
Then too I got a nice impression of him, though at that time I began to realize that, for analysts, a genuine relationship to art is unattainable: they lack the organ for it.
With kind regards,
9. H . HESSE
From Hermann Hesse to Hugo and Emmy Ball Zurich, (? April 1921]
I’m up and down.
City and work are very tiring, but I live in a very beautiful spot high up near the forest on the Zurichberg, and occasionally I see dear people.
But my psychoanalysis is giving me a great deal of trouble, and often Klingsor feels old and incorrigible, the summer is no longer his.
I shall stay here still longer, the fruit I have bitten into has to be eaten to the full. Dr. Jung impresses me very much.
I am so glad to know that waiting for me down in the Ticino are not just chestnut forests and typewriter, but also dear friends.
I send greetings to both of you in Agnuzzo and to forest and lake from the bottom of my heart.
Yours, H. HESSE