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26+ quotes from Narcissus and Goldmund by Hermann Hesse

Quotes from Narcissus and Goldmund

Hermann Hesse ·  320 pages

Rating: (35.3K votes)


“We are sun and moon, dear friend; we are sea and land. It is not our purpose to become each other; it is to recognize each other, to learn to see the other and honor him for what he is: each the other's opposite and complement.”
― Hermann Hesse, quote from Narcissus and Goldmund


“Because the world is so full of death and horror, I try again and again to console my heart and pick the flowers that grow in the midst of hell.”
― Hermann Hesse, quote from Narcissus and Goldmund


“My goal is this: always to put myself in the place in which I am best able to serve, wherever my gifts and qualities find the best soil to grow, the widest field of action. There is no other goal.”
― Hermann Hesse, quote from Narcissus and Goldmund


“O how incomprehensible everything was, and actually sad, although it was also beautiful. One knew nothing. One lived and ran about the earth and rode through forests, and certain things looked so challenging and promising and nostalgic: a star in the evening, a blue harebell, a reed-green pond, the eye of a person or a cow. And sometimes it seemed that something never seen yet long desired was about to happen, that a veil would drop from it all, but then it passed, nothing happened, the riddle remained unsolved, the secret spell unbroken, and in the end one grew old and looked cunning . . . or wise . . . and still one knew nothing perhaps, was still waiting and listening.”
― Hermann Hesse, quote from Narcissus and Goldmund


“I call that man awake who, with conscious knowledge and understanding, can perceive the deep unreasoning powers in his soul, his whole innermost strength, desire and weakness, and knows how to reckon with himself.”
― Hermann Hesse, quote from Narcissus and Goldmund


“So you find yourself surrounded by death and horror in the world, and you escape it into lust. But lust has no duration; it leaves you again in the desert.”
― Hermann Hesse, quote from Narcissus and Goldmund


“I believe . . . that the petal of a flower or a tiny worm on the path says far more, contains far more than all the books in the library. One cannot say very much with mere letters and words. Sometimes I'll be writing a Greek letter, a theta or an omega, and tilt my pen just the slightest bit; suddenly the letter has a tail and becomes a fish; in a second it evokes all the streams and rivers of the world, all that is cool and humid, Homer's sea and the waters on which Saint Peter wandered; or becomes a bird, flaps its tail, shakes out its feathers, puffs itself up, laughs, flies away. You probably don't appreciate letters like that, very much, do you, Narcissus? But I say: with them God wrote the world.”
― Hermann Hesse, quote from Narcissus and Goldmund


“They slept profoundly, desperately, greedily, as though for the last time, as though they had been condemned to stay awake forever and had to drink in all the sleep in the world during these last hours. ”
― Hermann Hesse, quote from Narcissus and Goldmund


“our friendship has no other purpose, no other reason, than to show you how utterly unlike me you are.”
― Hermann Hesse, quote from Narcissus and Goldmund


“Wenn ich trotzdem weiß, was Liebe ist, so ist es deinetwegen. Dich habe ich lieben können, dich allein unter den Menschen. Du kannst nicht ermessen, was das bedeutet. Es bedeutet den Quell in einer Wüste, den blühenden Baum in einer Wildnis.”
― Hermann Hesse, quote from Narcissus and Goldmund


“He thought the fear of death was perhaps the root of all art, perhaps also of all things of the mind. We fear death, we shudder at life's instability, we grieve to see the flowers wilt again and again, and the leaves fall, and in our hearts we know that we, too, as transitory and will soon disappear. When artists create pictures and thinkers search for laws and formulate thoughts, it is in order to salvage something from the great dance of death, to make something that lasts longer than we do.”
― Hermann Hesse, quote from Narcissus and Goldmund


“Art was a union of the father and mother worlds, of mind and blood. It might start in utter sensuality and lead to total abstraction; then again it might originate in pure concept and end in bleeding flesh. Any work of art that was truly sublime, not just a good juggler's trick; that was filled with the eternal secret, like the master's madonna; every obviously genuine work of art had this dangerous, smiling double face, was male-female, a merging of instinct and pure spirituality.”
― Hermann Hesse, quote from Narcissus and Goldmund


“No road will bring us together."

"Don't speak like that."

"I'm serious. We are not meant to come together, not any more than sun and moon were meant to come together, or sea and land. We are sun and moon, dear friend; we are sea and land. It is not our purpose to become each other; it is to recognize each other, to learn to see the other and honor him for what he is: each the other's opposite and complement.”
― Hermann Hesse, quote from Narcissus and Goldmund


“One of the disadwantages of school and learning, he thought dreamily, was that the mind seemed to have the tendency too see and represent all things as though they were flat and had only two dimensions. This, somehow, seemed to render all matters of intellect shallow and worthless...”
― Hermann Hesse, quote from Narcissus and Goldmund


“Like animals we call to each other," was the thought that came to him as he remembered the hour of love in the afternoon.”
― Hermann Hesse, quote from Narcissus and Goldmund


“He let himself be led into the night, into the forest, into the blind secret wordless, thoughtless country.”
― Hermann Hesse, quote from Narcissus and Goldmund


“What are reason and sobriety without the knowledge of intoxication?”
― Hermann Hesse, quote from Narcissus and Goldmund


“I don't know. I really don't know. Perhaps that would be best, I thought I wanted it myself. But today I'm no longer sure what I really want and desire. Before, everything was simple, as simple as letters in my textbook. Now nothing is simple any more, not even the letters. Everything has taken on many meanings and faces. I don't know what will become of me, I can't think about that now.”
― Hermann Hesse, quote from Narcissus and Goldmund


“...to you, differences are quite unimportant; to me, they are what matters most. I am a scholar by nature; science is my vocation. And science is, to quote your words, nothing but the 'determination to establish differences.' Its essence couldn't be defined more accurately. For us, the men of science, nothing is as important as the establishment of differences; science is the art of differentiation. Discovering in every man that which distinguishes him from others is to know him.”
― Hermann Hesse, quote from Narcissus and Goldmund


“Romantic souvenirs had a way of attaching themselves to one when one wanted to move on, but they were not to be taken seriously.”
― Hermann Hesse, quote from Narcissus and Goldmund


“Some day you will think of what I am going to say to you now: our friendship has no other purpose, no other reason, than to show you how utterly unlike me you are.”
― Hermann Hesse, quote from Narcissus and Goldmund


“I do not wish to offend you, believe me. I have told you my decision. Nothing can change it. I must leave, I must travel, I must be free. Let me thank you cordially once again, and let us bid each other a friendly farewell.”
― Hermann Hesse, quote from Narcissus and Goldmund


“Men of dreams, the lovers and the poets, are better in most things than the men of my sort; the men of intellect. You take your being from your mothers. You live to the full: it is given you to love with your whole strength, to know and taste the whole of life. We thinkers, though often we seem to rule you, cannot live with half your joy and full reality. Ours is a thin and arid life, but the fullness of being is yours; yours the sap of the fruit, the garden of lovers, the joyous pleasaunces of beauty. Your home is the earth, ours the idea of it. Your danger is to be drowned in the world of sense, ours to gasp for breath in airless space. You are a poet, I a thinker. You sleep on your mother's breast, I watch in the wilderness. On me there shines the sun; on you the moon with all the stars. Your dreams are all of girls, mine of boys—”
― Hermann Hesse, quote from Narcissus and Goldmund


“..it is useless for you to build walls and dormitories and chapels and churches. Death looks through the window and laughs..”
― Hermann Hesse, quote from Narcissus and Goldmund


“All being, it seemed, was built on opposites, on division. Man or woman, vagabond or citizen, lover or thinker — no breath could both be in and out, none could be man and wife, free and yet orderly, knowing the urge of life and the joy of intellect. Always the one paid for the other, though each was equally precious and essential.”
― Hermann Hesse, quote from Narcissus and Goldmund


“One thing, however, did become clear to him—why so many perfect works of art did not please him at all, why they were almost hateful and boring to him, in spite of a certain undeniable beauty. Workshops, churches, and palaces were full of these fatal works of art; he had even helped with a few himself. They were deeply disappointing because they aroused the desire for the highest and did not fulfill it. They lacked the most essential thing—mystery. That was what dreams and truly great works of art had in common: mystery.”
― Hermann Hesse, quote from Narcissus and Goldmund


About the author

Hermann Hesse
Born place: in Calw, Württemberg, Germany
Born date July 2, 1877
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