Herman Hesse’s legendary allegorical novel “The Journey to the East” is purportedly the history of a journey undertaken by a secretive ‘League’.
Written by one H.H., the group’s storyteller and choirmaster, an old and weak man who has never recovered from the failure of the journey and the disintegration of the League.
As H.H. struggles to string together his fractured memory of the expedition he reveals the existence of a fantastical, alluring and deeply intimate world in which a journey can cross not only the boundaries of time and space but even those of fact and fiction, in which one’s travelling companion might just as easily be Don Quixote as Paul Klee.
It is towards the end of this beguiling novel, however, that Hesse brings his greatest moral and philosophical powers to bear as he examines themes such as faith, cowardice and the relationship between an artist and their creation.
Close in conception to “The Glass Bead Game”, “The Journey to the East” is a succinct example of the Nobel Prize winner’s universal appeal.