MÄrchen--fairy tales, especially those following the example of E.T.A. Hoffman--were much on the mind of German...

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PICTOR'S METAMORPHOSES And Other Fantasies

MÄrchen--fairy tales, especially those following the example of E.T.A. Hoffman--were much on the mind of German expressionist writers of Hesse's generation; and here are collected all of Hesse's attempts in the vein, starting with pieces he wrote as a child and ending with one he wrote while in his seventies. The more involving tales either function as sketches for novels or actual parts of ones: ""King Yu"" anticipates The Glass Bead Game with its metaphor of all-involving play; ""Bird"" foreshadows Journey to the East. The first mature piece here, ""Lulu,"" was a novel-section, from Herman Lauscher--and it exhibits Hesse's continual urge toward explicit theatrical enactment of his fantasies (cf. Steppenwolf) as well as a young man's need to explain his allegory in addition to merely presenting it. (""The old man shrugged his shoulders. 'Well,' he said, 'each and every human Soul that exists on a higher plane instinctively strives for that Harmony which inheres in the happy balance of the Conscious and the Unconscious. However, as long as the cognitive Self takes, as its life principle, a destructive Dualism. . .'"") The title tale--in which pairing is seen as the essence of Paradise--is the purest of these extended tropes; ""Report from Normalia"" (1948) is the most strained. But Hesse fans will find the freshets of theme here tantalizing in terms of scholarship and attribution, even if the stories are generally short on inherent narrative satisfaction.

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 1981

ISBN: 0312422644

Page Count: -

Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1981