Thursday, 20 August 2009

Diminutive Volume, Immense Book-1


This trivial volume of less then hundred pages is an immense book, written by one of the finest fiction writer Hermann Hesse (1877-1963). This work first published in 1956, is one of best from this Nobel Laureate. Hermann Hesse was born in Claw to missionary parents and remains one of the great literary figures of the German-speaking world. His novels such as Glass Bead Game, Steppenwolf, Siddartha and Demain won him a place among leading contemporary writers' and thinkers'.

The Journey to the East, is an allegorical novel in which the narrator travels through Time and Space in search of the ultimate Truth. This pilgrimage to the East is symbolic of a state of mind, and, although the journey is across an imaginary land, it also embraces Europe, and takes place in the twentieth century but in the Middle Ages and Renaissance as well. The people who have been part of the League are include both real and fictitious-Plato, Pythagoras, Don Quixote and Baudelaire.

The Novel opens with following passage:

"As it has been my destiny to take part in a great experience, and having had the good fortune to belong to the League and allowed to share in that unique journey, the wonder of which blazed like a meteor and afterwards sank into oblivion-even falling into disrepute-I have now decided to attemt a short description of this incredible journey. No man since the days of Hugo and mad Roland has ventured upon such a journey, until our own remarkable times; the troubled, confused, yet so fruitful period following the Great War."


  1. So then we are both interested today in small yet immense books...and both have something to do with the Journey Eastward and with time as much more flexible than before and with the sense of open wonder about the future (which may be soon in a whole new sense - at least in each our own state of mind, perhaps?)

    The Beast and the Lion by Khurram Sahib has fully got my attention and has been what I needed to more fully grasp the poignant and powerful Secrets of the Self by Iqbal as a whole and to understand that it covers so much more than I realized in levels inward and outward...historically and geographically - so much more open than I even had grasped before...

    Here is just a bit in Beast and Lion discovered during my night...your day:

    To his translator and former teacher R. A Nicholson upon some reviews that were completely misunderstanding Iqbal's intent - he merely graciously says (yet metaphysically - rather sweeping, I feel):

    "I am afraid the old European idea of a blood-thirsty Islam is still lingering in the mind of Mr. Dickinson. All..and not Muslims alone are meant for the kingdom of God on earth, provided they say goodbye to their idols of race and nationality, and treat one another as personalities..."

    Now to see how we might start living in this Age of Openness even NOW - and that I am not "stuck" here in the West nor in Western structures of philosophies...

    Sahib, I look forward to seeing the intersections you suggest with Herman Hesse in your immense little book...

  2. Yes, that book by Hesse has been one of my favorites. Thanks for reviving such memories :)

  3. And also, I find it very interesting that Hesse describes the period after the Great War (WWI) as "the troubled, confused," but also "fruitful". That last epithet is an interesting one, about which I have been thinking again for some time now.

  4. Connie and Khurram, thanks. The world literature is replete with statements and observations, not only of historical importance, but also prophesies that are continuously unveiling and we are witnessing the dance of life never as dazzling as it is now!

  5. So the spiritual and whole vision challenge must constantly include seeing and expressing the "dance of life with such dazzling movement and light. The Beloved Vision must look for and find the "fruiful", the humane and loving in the best our cultures have given to us - even within such "troubled and confused" I am understanding our role if we are to plant seeds and nurture older ones of germinating and beneficial value for our children, our nations, our spiritualities...

    And even as an activist, I must see to such priorities - this is what I'm seeing from you both, from Iqbal, Rumi and your interpretation of the Quran...

    Now one of my larger concerns is within these more ecstatic positive visions to know how to "hold" and keep this Beloved Community of us All SAFE until our poorest and most powerless among us are able to find their voices at last.