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The second of my vacation books was Knulp by Hermann Hesse.  This book is made up of three short stories about a wanderer named Knulp.  Each story presents a single episode in Knulp’s life, with the first two set in the prime of his life and the last set at the end of it.  The first two show Knulp happy in his vagabond life.  The last finds him dying of tuberculosis and angry at God for not allowing him to accomplish anything of consequence in his life.  Knulp meets God in a forest during a snowstorm and demands an explanation.  God replies that Knulp’s purpose in life was to bring joy to others and give them a longing for freedom.

I have said numerous times on this blog that Hermann Hesse is one of my favorite authors, and this novel is the perfect example of why.  Hesse is a storyteller with an incredible knack for illuminating the lives of his characters with a minimum of explanation.  Three isolated incidents in Knulp’s life, spanning only 114 pages, make him completely relatable to the reader.  I got the sense I was hearing stories about an old friend that I hadn’t seen in a long time.  Hesse’s ability to create people rather than characters make his works truly remarkable.

The Current Count:

45 Read, 55 To Go