The Prodigy (Paperback)
|Author: Hermann/ Strachan Hesse|
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The Prodigy, originally dating from 1905, is Hermann Hesses's bitter indictment of conventional education. It is the story of Hans Giebenrath, the brilliant young son of provincial bourgeouis in southern Germany who becomes the first boy from his town to pass into a prestigious Protestant theological college. His spirit, however, is systematically broken by his parents and teachers; over anxious about his success, they forget to consider his health and happiness. Subsiding into a fatal apathy, he is taken home for medical reasons. Here he falls in love, becomes an engineer's apprentice, learns to drink alcohol, and eventually dies by drowning. Out of his attitude to the treatment that he perceived was common within the German schooling system at the turn of the century, Hesse developed his own deeply personal views on the value of Eastern education in developing the self.
Hermann Hesse grew up in Calw, Wurttemberg, and Basel, Switzerland. His father was a missionary and publisher, and his maternal grandfather was a publisher in Calw. He attended a seminary briefly as a young man, and was an apprentice clockmaker and bookseller before devoting himself full time to his writing in 1903. Hesse served as a volunteer in the German foreign service in Switzerland during the First World War, but he reclaimed the Swiss citizenship of his childhood in 1923. He underwent psychoanalysis from 1916 to 1918 and that experience had a profound effect on his writing. Hesse moved to Montagnola, Switzerland (near Lugano) in 1919 and lived there until his death. The winner of the Nobel Prize in literature in 1946, Hesse was a leading voice of pacifism in the German-speaking world throughout his adult life, and his works were blacklisted in Germany under the Third Reich. In the years after his death in 1962, his works, many of which had not been translated into English before, became popular with the youth of the United States, who identified themes in his books which were relevant to many of the changes taking place in the U.S. during the late 1960s and 1970s.
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