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Thread: Hermann Hesse & INTPs

  1. #1
    Member ObtainGnosis's Avatar
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    Hermann Hesse & INTPs

    Hermann Hesse's literary works had a profound effect on me growing up. Demian, Steppenwolf, Siddhartha, and Narcissus & Goldmund, were some of the first novels to have a real impact on me in the world of literature. I felt like they were written by someone who felt almost exactly the way I did. Appreciative of nature, art, and beauty, bent on the quest for real meaning and true selfhood, solitary and contemplative, and disillusioned with the ignorance in society.

    Well, I've often had the thought that Hesse must have been an INTP and that probably a lot of INTPs have appreciated his work at some time or another?

    So I'm asking? Any of you out there in INTPx have a particular affinity to Hermann Hesse's writings? Do you think he was an INTP?

    I did a search and some are saying he's an INFP. I'm probably more balanced than the average INTP on the T/F axis. So that might explain the sense of profound identification I have with the attitudes and thoughts of the main protagonists (who are always Hesse or aspects of Hesse). I've also seen him listed as a 4w5 enneagram, and I am often unsure whether or not I'm a 5, a 4, a 5w4, or a 4w5? This also would explain the affinity.

    Hesse was actually a quasi-friend and patient of CG Jung's. So perhaps somewhere there's actually more confirmable data on this, but god knows where.

    But if any of you have read Hesse? Does it often seem like archetypical INTPism? Like a man coming to terms with having that personality type?

    I hate to reduce it all to that, but I want to know if anyone else sees this connection.
    Last edited by ObtainGnosis; 03-11-2014 at 11:28 PM.
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    I simply LOVE the man.
    To my knowledge I've read all of his works which have been translated into English.

    I'm pretty sure he was an I N T/F P ... a pretty even -- albeit ambivalent -- split/synergy on/of the T/F spectrum.
    To wit, he was both T Narcissus and F Goldmund in that book bearing that copulative conjunction.
    He experienced the pull of both Thinking and Feeling, the objective & subjective, sterile academia & dirt-under-the-fingernails grounded aesthetic experience, logic & art, etc. ... and WROTE about his aesthetic experiences and intellectual-aesthetic Awareness.

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    Steppenwolf is the only book by Hesse that I've read. I started The Glass Bead Game a couple of times, but never got past the first 30 pages or so. I think it was too complex for me at that time.
    I really liked Steppenwolf, and I identify with the story, particularly with the concept of the multifaceted personality. One of my biggest concerns these past few months are how to come to terms with ignored aspects of my personality. The other parts of me that want to go into focus. I have fantasies of indulging in different experiences, as if I was in the Magic Theatre.

    Since this is the only one I've read, I can't be sure what his type is.

    Thanks for creating this thread! This is just what I needed. I am going to read more of his novels, would you suggest my next one?

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    Global Moderator Polemarch's Avatar
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    I adore Siddhartha. I can't say that I relate to the character fully, but I thought the writing was beautiful and connected with me emotionally.
    We didn't land on Plymouth Rock. Plymouth Rock landed on us.

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    I read the Glass Bead Game, and that was really really interesting. I'd love to re-read it. And, having read that, I agree that he is coming to terms with being an INTP. Well, I'm not sure what to make of that ending, but I'd say a major conflict of that book is a conflict between Thinking and Feeling within a person. I don't think that main character is a feeler, but someone struggling with the pull of his inferior function, so to speak.

    I have read interpretations of the ending that imply that the book suggests the superiority of Feeling over Thinking, but isn't that kind of ending somewhat ambiguous? (Jung would not argue that, either. Jung writes against one-sidedness, and one-sidedness of the opposite function is just as one-sided. I am finally trying to read all of his "Psychological Types", and it's really, really interesting. )

    In former ages, during the wars and upheavals of so-called periods of “grandeur,” intellectuals were sometimes urged to throw themselves into politics. This was particularly the case during the late Feuilletonistic Age. That age went even further in its demands, for it insisted that Mind itself must serve politics or the military. . . . He would be a coward who withdrew from the challenges, sacrifices, and dangers his people had to endure. But he would be no less a coward and traitor who betrayed the principles of the life of the mind to material interests—who, for example, left the decision on the product of two times two to the rulers.
    Good stuff.

    I actually did not know about the Jung connection, but given what that book was about, it would not surprise me.
    Last edited by msg_v2; 03-12-2014 at 04:21 PM.

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    Member ObtainGnosis's Avatar
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    I think it's the "Treatise on the Steppenwolf" at the beginning of Steppenwolf that particularly strikes me as being an archetypical example of an INTP.

    Wiki: The "Treatise on the Steppenwolf" is a booklet given to Harry Haller and which he finds describes him. It is a literary mirror and, from the outset, describes what Harry had not learned, namely "to find contentment in himself and his own life." The cause of his discontent was the perceived dualistic nature of a human and a wolf within Harry. The treatise describes, as earmarks of his life, a threefold manifestation of his discontent: one, isolation from others, two, suicidal tendencies, and three, relation to the bourgeois. Harry isolates himself from others socially and professionally, frequently resists the temptation to take his life, and experiences feelings of benevolence and malevolence for bourgeois notions.

    If you can get hold of a pdf text, it's only about the first 30 or so pages of the book. It's enough to include anyone not familiar with Hesse in the conversation.


    As for the relationship between Jung and Hesse, these two books have some good info: http://amzn.com/3856305580 & http://amzn.com/0520033515.

    Demian & Steppenwolf are heavily influenced by Jungian psychology.
    Last edited by ObtainGnosis; 03-12-2014 at 06:05 PM.
    "Remember me as you pass by.
    As you are now, so once was I.
    As I am now, so will you be.
    Prepare for Death & Follow Me."


    -- Common Epitaph of Victorian-Era Gravestones

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    I read a lot of Hesse when around 20. It was a sort of passion. The book that I was most taken with was "Unterm Rad" 1906. It is called either "Beneath the wheel" or "The prodigy" in english.

    I have no idea if it was from an INTP perspective or not that I was drawn to Hesse. I had no idea about personality types at that stage in my life. All I know was that many of his works blow me away.

    I have tried to read Hesse again later in life, but the magic seems to be gone. I don't know if that is because he is a writer for the young mind, or if I have changed into a creature unable to appreciate his qualities.
    I was Isagel in another place....

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    Limber Member floid's Avatar
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    I read Damien, Steppenwolf, and Siddhartha between the ages of 14 and 16.
    Could not grok the Glass Bead Game at that age.
    I'm not drawn to read any fiction now so haven't picked them up again but probably wouldn't even if I were as I associate Hesse's novels with a time in my life when I suffered heavily from the paralysis of hyperactive analysis.

    I greatly enjoyed Conrad Rook's adaptation of Siddhartha to film, however, and have re-watched it several times.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mondschein View Post
    I am going to read more of his novels, would you suggest my next one?
    As I don't know your age, gender, development issues and such I'll recommend Hesse and Jung as it might give you some insights into the personalities of both, who corresponded and influenced each other.

  10. #10
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    Reading The Glass Bead Game in high school was a revelatory experience for me. I didn't get my hands on his other novels for a while after, and somehow they didn't impact me as strongly. GBG has remained a mental constant as I've pursued an academics-oriented and reclusive life. I had similar feelings while watching my colleagues pursue less cerebral careers- subtle pity, followed by wistful envy. The protagonist's introspective approach resonated well with me, to the point that it felt he was directly warning me. I'm not sure what my readings would be now.

    The book was given to me by my older INFP brother. He wanted to give me Siddhartha instead, but could only find GBG at the used book store.

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