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Hermann Hesse and gnosis

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Chapter Summary

When in 1929 a young female reader drew his attention to some parallels between his concept of Kain and that of certain Gnostics, Hermann Hesse answered that he could well imagine that the Gnostics would have similar views about this topic, but that no literary sources concerning Kain were known to him. It is possible that Hesse knew Gnostic symbolism from his own experience and from a literary source. A good example of the first case is the "Steppenwolf ". Without knowing it Hesse has vitalised and rejuvenated a powerful Gnostic symbol, which can only be appreciated in its full meaning after the discoveries of Nag Hammadi.

Keywords: Gnosis; Hermann Hesse; Steppenwolf



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