For my eighteenth book of the year I decided to go with Pictor’s Metamorphoses and Other Fantasies by Hermann Hesse, marking my fourteenth book by the German-Swiss Nobel laureate. Hesse is an author who never seems to disappoint, and Pictor’s Metamorphoses is no exception. It is a collection of short stories from throughout Hesse’s life (including one from his childhood). Although the subject matter is diverse, they are united by certain magical or fantastic characteristics. Most of the stories are only a few pages long, and the longest are only a few dozen pages in length. This makes for a quick and relaxing read that is highly enjoyable.
My favorite story in the collection was “Bird”. This story is about a unique bird that lives in a Swiss town and becomes something of a symbol for the area. Eventually he becomes a legend and attracts the attention of a curious noblemen from the North. A bounty is placed on the bird’s head, and the townspeople struggle with their desire to earn the easy money and their respect and love for their mascot. One citizen in particular has had a special bond with Bird over the years, and decides to capture him. He readies a gun with the finest birdshot to be found and waits. Eventually Bird appears to him and the man shoots. Bird disappears, without leaving so much as a feather behind. He is never seen again. Hesse’s descriptions of the communal spirit and the relationship between tradition and modern issues are poignant and thought-provoking. His ability to create an authentic and enchanting atmosphere is unrivalled. I would recommend any book by Hesse, including Pictor’s Metamorphoses.
The Current Count
18 Read, 82 To Go