You know that feeling that you get after reading a few books by a favourite author when you really think you got to know the author a little through his books?
I always find it a little intimidating to try and read anything about the author because it might spoil my appreciation of, or my illusions about, that author. So, I have had this collection of Hesse's letters on my shelf for quite some time, because I really didn't want to spoil the idea that I had formed of him.
As it turns out, this collection of letters very much supports the ideas I had about Hesse from his books, except for one thing - I did not know he was as compassionate as he comes across in this book. In most of the letters included in this collection, Hesse tries to empathise with the people who wrote to him - be it friends, aspiring writers, students trying to understand his works, or readers who completely disagree with his point of view.
The only aspect that keeps me from giving this book a full 5 stars is that - as in any similar collection of letters - I would have wished for more information on what Hesse's letters were in response to.
I understand that reprinting the original letters written to him may not be possible, but each of the letters could have benefited from an abstract on the questions or issues that were being discussed in the correspondence.
This is not always clear.