Author(s): Herman Hesse; Richard Winston; Clara Winston
Klingsor's Last Summer tells the story of a famous painter named Klingsor as he experiences a final burst of creativity in his last summer of life. He grabs the cup of life with both hands and drinks until he simply cannot take any more. Klingsor is an expressionist painter ruled by emotion, his commitment to art is total, for art is the embodiment of what he feels to be the essence of life. Klingsor's most prominent traits are his love of extremes. As a person he is violently opposed to moderation or mediocrity. He burns the candle at both ends and shuns the safety of moderation. Klingsor is very much a man of the moment. He does not like to plan ahead in any way. He does not believe in tomorrow and he regards every day as his last. Klingsor's two primary interests in life are creating art and making love and he succeeds in both endeavors. Like Demian, Siddhartha, Goldmund, and Joseph Knecht, Klingsor is no ordinary person. He has attained a remarkable degree of success in his chosen field and he works intensely to maintain this level of achievement. Like other Hesse's heroes, Klingsor seeks and finds his own unique and independent path to fulfillment. The style of the story is expressionist, it conveys a feeling of exuberance and excitement. The imagery is wild and colorful. The reader feels transported to Klingsorr's side as he attempts to embrace the wonders of life and nature with his entire being, only to accept that his time is nearly up. The novel is somehow autobiographical, Hesse began painting around 1917 and Klingsor's Last Summer was written in the summer of 1919, the novel is a more direct self-portrait of the Hesse of that year when Hesse settled in the Ticino mountain village of Montagnola to start a new life without his wife and children. Some of the characters have relevance to Hesse's real life. Hermann the poet could be a self reference and Louis was modeled on Hesse's artist friend Louis Moilliet. Klingsorr, the name, is taken from the magician who appears in Richard Wagner's opera Parsifal.