Book//mark – Knulp | Hermann Hesse, 1915

Knulp | Hermann Hesse, 1915
Knulp,  Hermann Hesse, 1915 / 1st edition                  Hermann Hesse, 1905

[Knulp] sang beautifully, and even if the words didn’t always make sense, the tune was lovely and that was enough.”

“Every human being has his soul, he can’t mix it with any other.  Two people can meet, they can talk with one another, they can be close together.  But their souls are like flowers, each rooted to its place.  One can’t go to another, because it would have to break away from its roots, and that it can’t do.  Flowers send out their scent and their seeds, because they would like to go to each other; but a flower can’t do anything to make a seed go to its right place; the wind does that, and the wind comes and goes where it pleases.”

“Sometimes I say to myself that the most beautiful thing in the world is a slender young girl with blond hair.  But that’s nonsense, because often enough we see a brunette who seems to be almost more beautiful.  And besides, there are other times when I think the most beautiful thing of all is a bird soaring free in the sky.  And another time nothing seems so marvelous as a butterfly, a white one for instance with red dots on its wings, or the sun shining in the clouds at evening, when the whole world is aglow, yet the light doesn’t dazzle us, and everything looks so happy and innocent.”
“Right you are, Knulp.  Everything is beautiful when you look at it in a good moment.”
“Yes.  But there’s more to it.  The most beautiful things, I think, give us something else besides pleasure; they also leave us with a feeling of sadness and fear.”
“I mean that a beautiful girl wouldn’t seem so beautiful if we didn’t know that she has her season and that when it’s over she’ll grow old and die.  If a beautiful thing were to remain beautiful for all eternity, I’d be glad, but all the same I’d look at it with a colder eye.  I’d say to myself: You can look at it any time, it doesn’t have to be today.  But when I know that something is perishable and can’t last forever, I look at it with a feeling not just of joy but of compassion as well.”
“I suppose so.”

“To me there’s nothing more beautiful than fireworks in the night.  There are blue and green fireballs, they rise up in the darkness, and at the height of their beauty they double back and they’re gone.  When you watch them, you’re happy but at the same time afraid, because in a moment it will all be over.  The happiness and fear go together, and it’s much more beautiful than if it lasted longer.  Don’t you feel the same way?”

“And do you know where a good day like this comes from?”
“No. Where?”
“From sleeping well and dreaming of beautiful things. But you musn’t remember what they were. That’s how it is with me today. I’ve dreamed magnificent, joyful things, but I’ve forgotten them all; I only know it was wonderful.”

“You could observe people’s folly, you could laugh at them or feel sorry for them, but you had to let them go their own way.”

“On the way home she wondered why he hadn’t kissed her again, now with a sense of regret, now with the feeling that in not kissing her again he had been really sweet and considerate. And this was the feeling she ended up with.”

“Every day I did something wrong, and in the end I began to enjoy it.”

“If a beautiful thing were to remain beautiful for all eternity, I’d be glad, but all the same Id look at it with a colder eye. I’d say to myself: You can look at it any time, it doesn’t have to be today.”

“He had thrown himself away, he had lost interest in everything, and life, falling in with his feelings, had demanded nothing of him. He had lived as an outsider, an idler and onlooker, well liked in his young manhood, alone in his illness and advancing years. Seized with weariness, he sat down on the wall, and the river murmured darkly in his thoughts.”

“But we’ll never again be so young … Or don’t you like dancing?”

“Can’t you see that you had to be a reckless drifter to bring … people a bit of child’s folly and child’s laughter wherever you went? To make all sorts of people love you a little and tease you a little and be a little grateful to you?”

“The air and earth had lived in response to his dreams and desires. … [E]ven today … this world belonged to him as much as to any owners of these houses and gardens.”

“[make] Sundays out of weekdays.”

Knulp, Hermann Hesse, 1915

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