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I returned to one of my favorite authors today with Peter Camenzind by Hermann Hesse.  This novel was Hesse’s first, published in 1904.  It traces the life of the titular Peter Camenzind as he grows from a child in a remote Swiss mountain village into a respected and well-travelled writer.  In typical Hesse fashion, Camenzind is haunted by a melancholy heightened by the frivolity of modern culture.  His eventual return to his village and recognition of the superiority of a simple life brings Camenzind full circle.  Along the way, he experiences love, friendship, loss, and grief.  Camenzind realizes that the painful side of life is a necessary part of being alive.

I enjoyed this novel very much.  It hints at many of the themes that would characterize Hesse’s later works.  His examination of modern life is insightful and moving.  The most remarkable part of this novel is the language.  Hesse’s writing is crisp and refreshing, despite being written more than 100 years ago.  This is my ninth Hesse book to read over the past few years, and I recommend any of them.  Peter Camenzind is a great place to start.

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35 Read, 65 To Go