Fondazione Hermann Hesse Montagnola
Since Hermann Hesse's parents were Christian Missionaries who had worked in India before his birth, he had been thus in touch with the Indian culture and religion since an early age. But throughout his life he reflected on his descent from a Christian background, the gospel of Jesus of Nazareth and what it meant. About 1900, when he was twenty-three years old, Hesse had developed a lively interest for St. Francis of Assisi and published a monography of him in 1904. The two novels Hermann Lauscher and Peter Camenzind also show the influence of the Saint on him during this period.

Hesse read Indian religious and philosophical texts, such as the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita; he analyzed Brahmanism and the teachings of the Buddha. The wisdom of these teachings and their belief in a divine Self in everyone strongly influenced Hesse and found artistic expression in many of his works, such as Demian, Klein und Wagner and, more than any other, Siddhartha.

Around the age of 30, Hesse began an intense study of Chinese teachings, encouraged by his father Johannes, who drew his attention to Laozi. Study of Chinese Literature in all its forms followed: besides Laozi, the conversations of Confucius, and the parables of Zhuangzi, also the ancient oracle book, I Ging and the classical poets, Li Tai Bo and Du Fu, fascinated Hermann Hesse.
The influence of Chinese Taoism, the doctrine of the bi-polar unity of life, of life as a continuous process of change, are evident in all his works. But Confucius as well, with his austere organization of the state and the behavior of the citizens, found the appreciation especially of the older Hesse, and is reflected in his literary work.

«[…] I attempted to find out and to say what is common to all religious creeds and all forms of human devotion, which is above all national differences, and which can be believed and revered by every race and every individual.» Letter from Hemann Hesse to a Persian reader, 1958.
© Fondazione Hermann Hesse Montagnola