Saturday, December 28, 2013


Rating: 8 Note: While I give other books 8s regularly, including A Wizard’s Wings, Demian is a far “better” 8 than any of The Lost Years of Merlin saga was. While the ratings may look the same, my actual meaning attached to them tends to vary from the high end to the low end. Demian is at the high end of this spectrum.

Emil Sinclair is being brutally manipulated by a schoolmate. His fear recommends him to steal and lie, and he hates himself for it. Then, suddenly, a young man named Max Demian enters his life—and changes it forever. Sent off to boarding school, Emil is away from his friend, and in consequence, is forced to come to grips with himself through various and terrible personal trials. Where is Demian in his time of need? What are these mysterious dreams that plague him?

Demian is without doubt the weirdest piece of literature I’ve ever read. It focuses on the concepts of existentialism and, especially, individualism—all those “ism”s which are merely selfish and unfulfilling in spite of what people would like to believe. Because it is so focused on these concepts, as well as the unBiblical approach to God (half male, half female, and half good, half evil—known as “Abraxas”), I can’t recommend it for younger readers—sixteen and over is the youngest I would recommend for this book. It is also very Nietzschean, concentrating on the concept of “ultimate truth” (finding one’s own truth; also known as “relative truth” since Friedrich Nietzsche believed that there is no “universal truth”—things which are true for everyone). So please use caution when reading this book. It is masterful, but it is weird, and, as with The Stranger by Albert Camus, I would never have understood it without a teacher. Demian himself requires a lot of thought, because he’s terribly unusual. Yet in spite of all of what’s wrong (Biblically) with this book, it does have the good principle of going out by oneself to stop “conditioning” oneself (which is a subject that crops up more obviously in Brave New World by Aldous Huxley), because, for example, if you want to be an authentic follower of Jesus Christ, you can’t borrow your parents’ religion—you have to go out and find it for yourself. It also places emphasis on the spiritual help which is always with us (though, of course, it doesn’t specify that that spiritual help is only there if we ask Him to be).

Demian is one of Hermann Hesse’s lesser-known novels (he is probably most well-known for Steppenwolf and Siddhartha)—have any of you ever heard of it or read it? 


  1. Me! But you already knew that. I liked how you included the Nietzsche-ism of it too.

    1. Why thank you :) One of my most favoritest things that Demian said in this book was that we most often hate others because they have a character flaw which we have and which we hate about ourselves. I need to go edit my review of A Wizard's Wings to include that because it ties in to Merlin's hatred of himself and his relationship with his father.


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